Yoga for Health & Wellbeing
Driving to work I had a realisation, an insight and understanding of why concentration is so important in daily life, and why it is an important aspect to develop in yoga practice. Although I can’t remember the detail now, my mind was troubled with both strong emotions and a multitude of negative thoughts flowing in the mind about something. These thoughts and emotions were distracting and disturbing. In this situation I had to dig deep so that I could maintain concentration on the driving and what was happening in real life, thereby ensuring I didn’t crash, but also to get away from unhelpful thoughts and emotions. In time the thoughts and emotions that troubled me left me, and I became concentrated on the moment and the task of driving. The solution to my problems were in the moment, using the tools had been developed during yoga and meditation.
The other time concentration and awareness are important is because at work (and other times of course) it’s easy to become distracted from what were doing. Sometimes the quality of what were doing suffers, or we forget or miss something important. The awareness in this case shows us the distractions are occurring, and the concentration can then be re-engaged to focus on the task to hand.
Without awareness concentration isn’t much use, and again awareness is also something we develop during yoga. The two are different sides of the same coin in effect. Very often it is written that something is important, in yoga, especially meditation, concentration is a foundational aspect to develop for a number of reasons. In terms of meditation, the yoga sutras of Patanjali are primarily concerned with Raja yoga which is meditation. See yoga sutras I.32 and II.29 specifically.
The question becomes why are Concentration and it’s shadow Awareness so important. Is it just for yoga or meditation practice? and if it’s important for other things, what other things and why is it important for them. The other things in this case could probably encompass a book of their own, but in simple terms it is ones whole life that can benefit.
Concentration and awareness are important because if we can place our awareness outside of our mind and remain aware (concentrated) upon this something else (say the breath) we give space from our ever thinking mind. However, meditation can be on anything, including things in the mind. The point is you need to be able to control where your awareness is so that you can develop concentration and gain self control.
The reason concentration is important is that it takes a strong force to keep us away from troubles in the mind or strong emotions, and is important in being efficient in getting things done. Self control is “Control of one’s emotions, desires, or actions by one’s own will” (according to www.thefreedictionary.com/self-control). Therefore awareness is the the way we determine something is wrong or needs our sustained energy. Concentration is the muscle that keeps us away from, or more importantly on something more useful. Therefore self control is the use of awareness to understand the need to concentration on something. This develops self discipline. Therefore concentration is important in daily life because we can use it to move away from our troubled mind, or sometimes away from disturbing emotions.
Mental and emotional health greatly benefit and the efficiency and quality of life is improved. We need awareness so that we know when we need to concentrate. Sometimes we naturally feel okay and can flow through life. Other times, emotions or thoughts trouble us. In these times we need to become aware of these difficulties and then concentrate on something more healthy. Should the mind be troubling us, focus on what were doing and how were feeling in the moment. Or if the emotions are troubling us, focus on something we need to do or think about that’s not connected with the emotion.
Concentration is like a muscle and Awareness like an extra subtle sense which watches the mind, body, emotions etc. So the reason why Concentration and Awareness are important in daily life is that they are like the wind and sails on a boat, if used with appropriate direction can help you sail the seas through calm and stormy times. Each time you attend class, or practice at home, you are incrementally developing these abilities. In time you find new levels, although in the beginning you will find it might be a while before the awareness and concentration become practically useful in daily life.
To be honest, this article only touches the surface there is so much more that could be written. However for now I wanted to share some insight into why concentration is important in daily life.
In training the mind, perspective is of crucial importance. We cannot expect to transform our minds in a few minutes or even a few weeks, thinking, perhaps, that the blessings of an enlightened individual will enable us to obtain immediate results. Such an attitude is not realistic. It takes a long time, sometimes years or even decades; but if we persevere, there is no doubt we will make progress.
“Whatever the intellectual quality of the education given our children, it is vital that it include elements of love and compassion, for nothing guarantees that knowledge alone will be truly useful to human beings. Among the major troublemakers society has known, many were well-educated and had great knowledge, but they lacked a moral education in qualities such as compassion, wisdom and clarity of vision.”
“As human beings we possess determination and intelligence, the combination of which offers many opportunities. It is important to direct our intelligence with good intentions. Without intelligence, we cannot accomplish very much. Without good intentions, the way we exercise of our intelligence may have destructive results.”
“Yoga – namely, the understanding and complete mastery over the mind.” Taken from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”
Taken from the Upanishads
When you see lightness
Joy will return
It’s there, don’t
ever forget it!
Copyright Russell Smithers 2012 (A.k.a Yoga Bija)