Yoga Sutra 1.13: Define Practice

by Darla Hueske

TATRA STHITAU YATNO’BHYĀSAH.
Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.

Effort toward steadiness of mind. In other words, meditation.

Meditation can take many forms, such as the seated practice most people think of or more physical practices. Asana itself can be a moving meditation when we tune in to the body and the breath and make our focus single-pointed. Meditation can be done in the form of walking, singing, chanting, and even eating. Anything you do can be a form of meditation if you are practicing with your entire awareness.

Bonus: Here’s a simple meditation practice you can work with to get started.

Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Sit up straight but without too much effort or strain. Close your eyes, and pay attention to your breath. Begin counting your breath — each complete round of breath is one count. Inhale, exhale: one. Inhale, exhale: two… and so on.

Attempt to focus strictly on your breath and the counting until you reach ten. If your mind wanders to other topics, start over. If you’re being honest, chances are good that you’ll have to start over several times. Remember: Thinking about how great you’re doing counts as thinking. Start over.

This exercise is simple, yet challenging and serves to show you just how much our minds tend to wander! Practice it a few times this week, and next week we’ll answer the question on everyone’s mind: When do we get to be enlightened?

Yoga Sutra 1.14: Are we there yet?
Yoga Sutra 1.12: Practice and Let Go

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