I am currently studying in a kriya program in Rishikesh. It feels much like juggling but with the mind only.
To give some idea, our very first kriya was a combination of viparita karani, ujjayi breathing, and chakra conciousness practice. This all done simultaneously while counting 21 rounds on a mala.
From here we have learned 7 more, with 13 to go. The practices continue to increase in complexity, often building on the ones that came before. We have added varying mudras, bandhas, asanas, khumbakas, mantras, and dristis into the mix depending on the intention of the kriya.
It feels like nothing short of a mental circus act. And of course this is the goal : to tire the mind into a state that is ready for the bliss of meditation.
Tuesdays practice had me wheeling with confusion and frustration. 59 rounds of a complex and uncomfortable mudra. It had my mind only focusing on how much I disliked what I was doing. I experienced this part of my mind, denying the benefits of growth, allowing every slip up to wind me into a frustrated coil. Meanwhile, I also experienced another mind that was clear and which desires the perseverence of growth and change. These two experiences combined to made me feel like I was being asphyxiated.
I could not imagine how this could ever be streamlined let alone pleasurable. But it did perfectly and evenly reveal our two minds, which sometimes are hard to see, as one is often louder. Revealed was the mind of my divine self and the mind of my material habituated one.
After 8 hours of restful slumber, I woke up and returned to practice. Good sleeping had somehow embedded the practices within me and they were flowing smoothly. Time was moving at a pace I was neither fully aware of nor could protest.
But here is the rub. Our afternoon session came. We sat again to practice. Now that my body/mind was comfortable and could practice without too much arguement, my habituated mind was able to wander.
In the midst of all of these complicated techniques I watched my material mind wander accross the space of my thougts making lists or plans or whatever. It was as if it were locked in a room and it was still trying to sneak out.
This mind, the one that is controlled by our lower selves, is cunning and mysterious. I obseved how it will watch new patterns form (both healthy and unhealthy), looking for the cracks, the unrealized space, and then turn to vapor in order to slither between them.
It is a continuous pattern, our higher selves observe the cracks and fill them. Our lower selves observe them too and finds new ones through which to pass. This is our forever game we play. As watchful as this self gets, our highest must become more so.
Nothing demostrated this more fully than this practice has for me as the contrast is so stark, the lines of delination so clean.
The purpose of all this yoga is to quiet this mind, to peel it away like the skin from an orange and allow the gorgeous essence of the fruit beneath to breathe.
New practices, of any kind, can reveal this aspect of ourselves to us. I continue to find them incredibly valuable, challenging, and pleasurable as well.
I always feel the goal of our lives is first to see clearly and then make the choices that will serve our highest good based on what we are clearly seeing. I have noticed too that if our practices are too comfortable, too habitauted, they are like our habituated minds – becuase they are being crafted by them – and they will trick us into believing we are growing and changing, when we are in fact not.
Learning fresh, actually being a beginner, not just acting like one, is such an amazing way to see our true natures – both low and high.
From here we get information to grow and from here it feels we have a living choice again.
Who is to say when we are ever done babysitting our own selves, but it is a practice that requires love and dedication.
To sit or plank or walk or sing with the awareness of just which mind is leading this sitting, planking, walking, singing, is a forever rewarding practice.