Have you attended a yoga class? Have you practised meditation? When the teacher tells you something like this – ‘Leave out all thoughts, bring your attention to only the sound of your breath….’, what do you feel? Do you feel thoughtless – there will surface a thought or two – but my question is does your mind keeps on being active? You know what I am saying? Imagine the state where you need to solve a problem. Your mind will think about alternatives, then evaluate each of them, maybe you write something, you weigh the pros and cons in your mind and this goes on.
This is the state where your mind is ACTIVE. In meditation your mind in NOT active. It is just being an observer – that is the difference. As I said, there might arise a thought or two, but you don’t start to analyze them. You just let them pass and bring your attention to the one thing you are focusing on i.e., the breath. So hopefully you understand the difference now. But what effect does it have on the mind? In the analytical state, the mind is not rested – it keeps on churning its cycles and is constantly engaged. In the meditative state, the mind is rested. This is the difference. The key sutra of Patanjali sutras is the definition of yoga – Yogaschitta vrutti nirodha. This means the cessation of thoughts or the control of mind is yoga. Meditation takes you to that state. If your mind is active during a meditation session, then you might feel bored. You might even be asking yourself – what’s going on? If these questions arise, then you know it is time to quieten the mind. You have time elsewhere outside of a yoga class to engage your mind. In a yoga class, you have a chance to rest the mind. The mind is like a sponge. The more you squeeze the water out of a sponge, the more it can absorb. Meditation provides you that opportunity.
I have found that it takes about 3-4 minutes of focusing on the sound of my breath to tune myself out of the surroundings. The feeling is magic – you become unaware of the outside influences and you get to a state where you hear only the sound of the breath – it is another world. Give it a try next time.