What I’m teaching…Remain neutral

It’s so amazing how you can be at just the right place at the exact right time.  I caught a few minutes of the View the other afternoon on a break at work.  Paulina Pinsky, daughter of the famous addiction specialist “Dr. Drew” and former figure skater, was on the couch opening up about her 7-year battle with eating disorders. The ladies were asking about her recovery and how she deals with her body image today.

And she said, simply:

I remain neutral.

It could have been a phrase offered to her by specialists in her recovery or perhaps she came up with that articulation on her own. Either way, it was profound and I had never heard it before.  Remain neutral.  In other words, offer no judgement.  I can see how this strategy can be extremely helpful in healing an eating disorder, when the balance of judging body image as “good” or “bad”, “fat” or “skinny” is so delicate with so many consequences.

We can all cultivate more self-love and acceptance by remaining neutral in any temptation to self-judge or criticize.

Yoga practitioners aspire to follow the principle of ahimsa (non-violence, non-harming, non-injury), the first of the yamas (disciplines) which we learn about in the Yoga Sutras (II.35). Non-judgment is an important aspect of ahimsa, as the suffering that judging causes is harmful and painful.  To remain neutral gives permission NOT to judge.  It means there is no NEED to label.  There is no obligation to discern what is good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate.  Remaining neutral steers us away from suffering.  It’s a way to find more freedom in your life, relationships, yoga practice, or work.  When judgment turns to criticism, a portion of that negative, critical energy remains with you. It’s exhausting and painful to constantly carry that negative energy around with you.

It is possible to look on reality without judgment and merely know that it is there.

A Course in Miracles

Not to mention that often our judgements are misguided or incorrect. What we think we know to be truth, may actually be far from it. With more information, opinions shift and change.

eyore

So I think it’s a far safer and more healthy plan to remain neutral.  The next time you’re faced with the desire to cast a judgement, whether it be directed internally or externally, see how it feels to simply remain neutral.

 

What I’m teaching…Viparyaya

viparyaya विपर्यय

reversed, inverted, perverse, contrary to, unreal cognition, indiscrimination, perverse cognition, wrong knowledge, misconception, incorrect knowing, not seeing clearly

Sutra 1.8  mithyajnanam atadrupa pratistham- Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.

I was walking my dog last night. It was dark. We approached a mountainous pile of leaf-filled garbage bags.   He freaked. Did NOT want to pass by. Pulled me away on the leash. He was scared.  I pulled him in the direction of the leaves, close enough so I could touch the bags and hold him at the same time. Once he realized I could touch them without harm, he sauntered over, sniffed them and we moved on.  Same thing happens with turned over garbage bins, some parked cars, things that make loud noises, etc.  Once he realizes that what he thought he saw was not indeed what he thought, he’s fine.

When we perceive a thing as being other than what it is really; that is viparyaya. 

When we accept the unreal as real, it is viparyaya.  

Jumping to conclusions is viparyaya.

It’s not having all the information, but passing judgement anyway.

Viparyaya is one of the five vrittis (fluctuations of the mind which disturb our peace, thought patterns) the yoga practice aims to control.  It is like a blanket of confusion. Through our practice, we begin to see where we have made these mistakes in perception and try to see more clearly. Misperceptions lead to all sorts of ego driven responses that push us farther from realizing our true self- responses such as fear, aversion, anger, hurt, or attraction.

So let us learn to PAUSE before assuming, believing, judging, or interpreting so we avoid misconceptions which lead us down a very unhelpful path on this journey.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

What I’m teaching…Enlightenment is everywhere

Love this clip!  A beautiful illustration of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2:

Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah

The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga

The entire outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude.  The entire world is your own projection.  Your values may change within a fraction of a second…If you feel bound, you are bound.  If you feel liberated, you are liberated.  Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.

Sutra commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda