Sutra 1:14

The practice of mindfulness, introspection, concentration and meditation(sah tu) becomes firmly rooted when observed continuously (nairantaira), and with sincerity (satkara), for a long time (dirgha kala).

Patanjali emphasises not only the importance of practice, but also its regularity, and duration. The three attributes that define Devotion are the degree of concentration on a subject matter, regularity of practice, and duration of your practice. The duration being in the matter of both, the length of the daily sessions, and total number of years. Accumulated, these qualities can also be defined as commitment. The level of concentration depends on the degree to which the mind is silent from intrusive thoughts apart from the subject, or object upon which the attention focussed.

Practice (abhyasa)

You cannot create a new state of being just by imagining that you are a new and successful person. You need to put that new person into action on a consistent basis. When you practice, you produce coherent thoughts that produce corresponding emotions. As a result of this, your internal chemistry changes and as this happenes there is an alteration in your neurological makeup. The old synaptic connections are replaced by the new intended ones. You begin to express your genetic code in a whole new way creating your desired reality. Without perserverence and diligence, there will be no change.

We put great effort in developing strategies when it comes to our material and social interests but give no heed to cultivating our heart in matters of compassion, and our mind in the science of spirituality. Even though we know intuitively that this is the most important areas to focus on for the welfare and well-being of all that exists.

QUESTION: If Self Knowledge is so important, then why is it that we neglect this practice to such gross degrees?

It is because we have been carefully conditioned to give importance to materialism rather than spiritual practices of introspection and meditation. If media, society, and our economic structure began putting more emphasis on spirituality than fame, fortune, and adornment of a body that is rotting and dying by the second, then humans, who do all out of Drive and Affiliation based inclinations, will take to spirituality in droves. Because then, spirituality will be perceived as the new cool thing.

Note: Among many things, Yoga is also the science of recognizing how we have been conditioned, and then systematically dismantling the conditioned mind.

Self mastery is our only aim in life. Strive to be the best you can be. When you are faithfully engaged if performing the acts of a decent and gentle soul, seeking to conform your intentions and acts to the divine will, you do not feel victimized by the malicious words or deeds of others. To the contrary, those words and deeds seem childish, and people who propagate them; ridiculous. Practicing to be a gentle and humble soul gives you a chance to enjoy life to the fullest provided you do not become attached to the outcome of your expectations.

Non-attachment (viragya)

In the Bhagavad Gita ch2:v47, Lord Krishna advices Arjuna on the concept of vairagya thus:

"You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. In selfless duty is your salvation."

Whenever you become emotionally attached to an outcome, your inherent threat mechanism gets activated at every dissapointment. When things don't go the way you want, you begin to worry and ruminate. As compounding disappointments mound, anxiety and anger becomes order of the day. The brain starts getting stress signals which distubs the exchange of coherent electrical transmission between you and the universal consciousness that wants to maintain order and abundance in your life. As a result of this imbalance, you end up pushing away the beautiful life you deserve. The idea is to do your duty to the best of your ability, but remain detached to the outcome.

Even-Mindedness

Regardless of what is unfolding around and within you, make the best of what is in your power, and take the rest in a stride. If it is our feelings about things that torment us rather than the things themselves, then blaming others is silly. Therefore, when we suffer setbacks, disturbances, or even grief, let us never put the blame on others but find an opportunity to examine our own attitudes.

Remember that small-minded, envious and jealous people, habitually reproach others for their own lack of ability and talent. A person who has self-knowledge, reproaches themselves; not others. Those who dedicate themselves to a life of wisdom understand that the impulse to blame something or someone is foolishness. One of the first characteristics to evolve from a life of self-examination is the gradual extinguishing of blame. If you can trully cultivate this quality in demeanor and being, in-time you stand to intergrate wisdom into your life fully.

  • Sutra-1.13 tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa
  • tatra - of these two (abhyasa and vairagya)

  • sthitau - stability, steadiness, stable tranquility, undisturbed calmness

  • yatnah - effort, persistent, sustained endeavour

  • abhyasa - by or with practice, repeated practice