Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, April 8th 2022
Reflecting Asana in Practice of Daily Life:
Battling the Mind of Complaint in Asana and Daily Life
In Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi has often spoken about how, “one should not complain,” and also, Anandamali has often explained to us that what Shri Mahayogi means by “complain” is much more than “what we might think complaining could be,” or that there are a variety of subtle forms that complaints can take, many of which we may not usually consider as complaints, or which may easily go unnoticed by us. One of my immediate reactions whenever I have heard about this “mind of complaint,” has been to hope that this is not my case. Other times, I may convince myself confidently, “this is not my problem,” and feel relieved. And at times, I simply push forward with what I think is “my practice” and ignore the topic altogether.
But recently, I have begun to think about this “mind of complaint,” and realized that, just like what Anandamali has been explaining, there are actually many ways in which I have been complaining. When I hear or see someone or something, I may silently react with, “What a bother!” “I am not doing that!” “Why do things have to be this way?” “I am not interested at all.” “I would do things very differently.” Or even, “That is great, but not for me.” These are not actual words that appear in my mind, but they represent attitudes that can arise from feelings of disdain, a sense of superiority, a lack of empathy, or an unwillingness to understand others or to learn and contribute positively to a situation.
If I think about it, there are many ways in which my mind can complain, because complaints will manifest in many ways when my mind is set on justifying itself, feeling that it is right, or seeing others as being wrong—same thing. By pointing to these things in myself, it may seem as if I am putting myself down, or being unnecessarily negative toward myself, but in fact, if Shri Mahayogi or a senior disciple talk about the need to work against the “mind of complaint” this must be related to the aim of Yoga, and if this is so, then it is important to know that there is something to work on. Besides, regardless of the person, it is not at all uncommon to have this kind of mind tendency because the ego-mind (the mind that is interested in preserving “me” and “mine” above all else) is always looking for ways to succeed and have its way, and will resort to all kinds of methods to achieve that. So, these complaints, though ultimately not effective, are our mind’s way of believing that it is in control and getting its way.
Nowadays, more than before, I have begun to work on my mind that gets troubled by various things, by facing it. So, recently when I read, “because our minds are clouded by desire and attachments, and therefore unable to perceive Sanatana Dharma [the Truth, or the Divine Essence behind everything],” in the recent blog (Echo from the Cave: 176) about the 5th Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela held on April 3rd, I began to think that it may be the complaints in my mind that cause and sustain my state of cloudiness and attachment, because they keep me from perceiving the Truth—and this, I suspect, may very well be the purpose for the complaints of an ego-driven mind to begin with.
Then, I came to realize clearly that for me, if I truly want to experience Yoga, it is important to get rid of the cloudiness and the attachments as swiftly as I can, so that my mind can take down its defenses and allow me to perceive the Divine Essence behind all, the Guru, the Truth itself. That is why I figure that I need to take the short and precise suggestion of getting rid of the “mind of complaint” as something very serious, as a priority.
What can help build the will to fight a complaining mind? Through constant training, just as how Shri Mahayogi always says, we can fight against the tendency of our mind (a question and answer was recently published on this topic in Pranavadipa Vol. 89), and just as how Sadhya spoke recently at the end of the Asana and Meditation class, about how the mind tries to get out of holding steady in a tight pose and exhaling longer; in asana, through the long and complete exhalation, we can train the mind to go past the fears and concerns that arise when it is pushed to go past its perceived limits (Echo from the Cave: 177). I believe, and we can each test this for ourselves, that by repeating this training in asana day after day, the mind that is attached to fear and comfort gradually begins to loosen its grip. Likewise, in our daily lives, when the “mind of complaint” kicks in, we also need a strategy!
In asana, the prolonged exhalation is not necessarily about putting effort, but more about a gradual surrendering, not of the breath, but of the mind’s thoughts themselves, any thoughts, even the thought of “I am exhaling” or “I am breathing.” So, after learning and recognizing this not long ago, I feel that this repeated surrendering is offering me a clue for what I could do in daily life. During the day, when “the mind of complaint” wants to take over and trick me into becoming tangled up in its complaints, knowing that those complaints are the soldiers of the ego-driven mind and the very obstacles to the Truth, I can refuse to pay them any attention and instead pierce through and dissolve them as I move nearer to the Essence of God, Shri Mahayogi, or any form of the Truth, while seeking the stillness deep within. Just like in asana, in daily life too, I can extend my focus inwards, past the ideas that are on the surface of the mind that creates cloudiness and that holds on to the attachments preventing us from deepening Yoga.
Even from the initial efforts that I have made, I sense that the result of working little by little and continuously against the “mind of complaint” in asana and in daily life, is less reactiveness and less agitation, because as with the army of any enemy, (just like Gopala also talks about in a recent Testimony, Pranavadipa Vol. 87) the ego-mind will start to retreat once it realizes that the uselessness of its plot has been exposed. And, just like in asana, for a new habit to take root, it must be repeated, sustained, tested, and used as a training over and over, every day. That is what I hope to do in order to work against the “mind of complaint.” I must say that, though I never thought about it until really recently, it seems to be that the training of controlling the “mind of complaint” in asana is very necessary and practicable, and the same thing can be said about this training in daily life!
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