Sutra 3.11: sarvarathata ekagrata ksaya udaya chittasya samadhi-parinamah
The attainment of the samadhi state involves the elimination of all-pointedness [i.e., wandering] of the mind and the rise of one-pointedness [i.e., concentration]. Translation by Edwin Bryant
Like most children, I took an interest in what my mom did in the kitchen. Mind you, this education through observation didn’t yield a love of cooking. I can’t say I’ve often delighted in my own food preparation, but I did love watching the effortless spontaneity that seemed to be my mother’s meal making.
Which is why, I suppose, I was not a little dismayed when I got into my own kitchen and cooking felt nothing like it! First, there was all that chopping! and measuring! Secondly, without any experience in “making” anything but pasta and rice, I had to use recipes, and I’ve never enjoyed following instructions. Cooking turned out to be a chore with no merriment (for me)! I quickly established a habit of throwing simple ingredients (rice + beans!) into a pot and calling that dinner, sidestepping even mildly “complicated” meals for my preferred method of spontaneous combustion.
I survived like this for years. Then I married.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I traded the office for the kitchen, but every now and again it just makes sense for one of us to cook a meal for us both (and he doesn’t take a fancy to cooking either). Such stalwart resistance have I shown to this, however, that in eight years I’ve learned how to prepare with ease perhaps three things (including spaghetti). But people change, that’s life, and as my preference for restaurant eating has started to subside, I decided enough was enough. Even I! can learn to cook without dread.
Taking a lesson from yoga, or really just a lesson from learning, I devised a way to practice: every month, I’d take on a new recipe and cook it every week in an effort to sort out its quirks and the invariable modifications I’ll make to it (still don’t like to follow instructions), until hopefully, preparing it is about as easy to contemplate as making spaghetti (which I did master back in high school). I’ll be able to see the steps clearly in my mind and move within them until my goal is accomplished.
A dollop of effort over a bed of practice, with just a pinch of selfless trust, will transform any ingredients into a reliable masterpiece.
That’s how, I imagine, the yogis found the state of concentration known as samadhi. With focus and practice and surrender. Practice focusing your mind on one thing for gradually longer periods every day, and you’ll discover it too.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.