What is consciousness? The movements of your mind? of your brain?
I happen to think so, but that’s just my opinion. Humanity has yet to agree on a definition of consciousness and there isn’t enough evidence to sway us towards unity.
Individual schools of philosophy, however, do operate with definitions of consciousness. Yoga equates true consciousness with spirit (or whatever you call the eternal spark). This means that the movements of our mind are something else. Your thoughts may be products of consciousness, but they do not constitute consciousness. Thus:
Sutra 4.18: All movements of the mind are always known to the Spirit, which is sovereign, because it is itself changeless. Translation by Kofi Busia
Whether or not you call it spirit, or it fits your definition of consciousness, you may nonetheless know a feeling of being self aware. Aware of your emotions, feeling, thoughts –and aware of the impetus for your choices, both good and bad. You can learn to see yourself succeed or fail and think: “huh, there I go again.”
Like almost every. single. morning. when my cat paws at our TV while I’m trying to write… and for a moment (or several) I completely lose my cool. “Why must you interrupt me every morning, Radar, WHY?!?!?” –even though any efforts to explain his annoyance to myself is futile. Especially on those days when I do end up chasing him down the hallway all while realizing that, duh, he’s a cat. He doesn’t know he’s hurting our TV. So why would he ever stop pawing at it? You gotta hand it to him, actually. He’s discovered at least a dozen reliable ways to get my attention, every. single. morning.
Now that I can see the whole scenario outside of my emotional reaction, it’s clear that it’s I who needs to smarten up. I need to practice patience, logic, and remember to shut the living room door while I’m working.
The more we observe ourselves in motion, the better we can become at abandoning our undesired actions. The more we observe ourselves in thought, the better we can become at changing our undesired thoughts.
As my teacher says, you can learn to recognize the manueverings of the mind as separate from yourself. As you do, you will start to move through life guided by spirit, your link to universal consciousness.
And the more we move through life guided by the stalwart spirit, the less we need to rely on the ever-changing movements of the mind.
Can you think of a time when you seemed to stand just outside of yourself, watching as you did something you were proud of? Or something you realized, even as you were doing it, was downright lame?
Awareness is step one.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 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.