Saturday, 29 January 2011
Citta Vrtti Nirodhah
Citta - mind/consciousness
Vrtti - austerity/religious vow - mode of operating
Nirodhah - restriction - stoppage
The most basic translation of this aphorism is that yoga is the stilling of the mind. Another translation that fits well with traditional ideas is "Yoga is the mastery of the activities of the mind" from swamiJ.com.
In many yoga classes, this concept may be brought up when discussing the correct mental attitude to take while practising either yoga or meditation. Instead of thinking about what to buy for dinner, or who we are going to see later, or any of the myriad things that may run through our minds during the course of the day, the aim is to focus on breathing and just being in the posture and the place you are.
Another writer I really like, Alberto Villoldo, gives his translation as: "Yoga is vigilance, awareness, and stillness of mind." It seems to me that this is somewhat less draconian. You don't have to actively still your mind, to master it, but rather to be consistently aware and allow that stillness or peace to come. For me, this echoes the concept of mindfulness which has become a real trend in most branches of psychotherapy and self-help. It is also something recommended by many weight loss experts these days, too - eating mindfully, rather than while doing something else.
A salamander baby pokes its head out from its egg. Other eggs around it are still intact, but a flame burns around them, warming and hatching them.
I see this little salamander peering out curiously into the world. As an Ace, it represents beginnings, seeds. As a card from the suit of Fire, it highlights enthusiasm, passion. So, not taking anything for granted and just being curious, allowing the practice itself to light my fire and inspire me. Perhaps also a message about not trying to be perfect, not forcing or mastering, but accepting that I am still at the beginning of this path.
Do you struggle to calm your mind? Try drawing a card to see what would help you find that inner calm today, and let us know what you get :-)
Images: the Hermit from the Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti, and Ace of Fire from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.