Yoga for the Mind

The Work of Byron Katie could be called Yoga for the Mind.

Yoga is a holistic discipline that approaches body and mind with a view to transcend. Meditation, contemplation, stillness and attention brings awareness to the very nature of who we are.

In the yoga tradition we are given four paths for a yogi to take. This could be the path of devotion and love, called Bhakti Yoga, or the path of work and service, called Karma Yoga, the path of self-inquiry and wisdom, called Jyana Yoga or the path of meditation and transcendance called Raja Yoga. In fact non of these paths are separate, and all can be followed by a yoga practitioner.

And when you explore these four paths in some depth, you may come across a description of the 8 limbs of yoga, which include the Yamas and Niyamas (moral codes), Pranayama (breathing) and Asanas (postures and movement) these are followed by practices of withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation and finally bliss or Samadhi all taught as ways to access deeper levels of consciousness.

So while most westerners will equate Yoga with the asanas or mostly to do with some sort of physical activity we can see from this very brief explanation that the asanas are just one eighth of one quarter of the complete practice of yoga.

This is therefore why I can see perfectly that the The Work of Byron Katie is a modern version of an ancient yogic practice called Atma-vichara (Sanskrit) or self - inquiry of the Jyana Yoga path. The Work is also part of the meditation and contemplation of Raja Yoga path, dealing directly with looking at the mind, thoughts and how to transcend them.

The founder of The Work, Byron Katie came upon this version of self-inquiry by accident, when she describes she "woke up". She became liberated from believing her thoughts. She stopped believing she was a separate thinking being. She came to know herself as the Self. Consciousness, awareness, part of the continuum of life. She saw there was no life, nor any death but what our thinking tells us through the stories of the mind.

This awakening became something she shared with others quite freely. She saw how other people suffered from their believing their thoughts and offered them a form of self-inquiry to help them. She called this self-inquiry The Work.

I have been practicing Yoga and The Work concurrently for nearly 20 years. And the two disciplines are both so wonderful for bringing me back to this moment now. They are practices that allow me to meet the incessant chatter and noise of the mind with kindness and awareness.

Aaaah the body breathes out a sigh of relief as it meets the ground. No longer needs to hold itself up by itself.

Aaaaah the mind lets go of the story of fear, danger, anxiety or stress as the question "Is it true?" is asked.

Aaaaah the heart opens with love and gratitude to the lineage of teachers and the practices and the gift of awareness they can bring to me.

Aaaah the pain is met. The physical pain of restriction in a body that has held tension for too many years. The emotional pain of sadness or grief from some loss or trauma or other. The mental pain of trying to figure it all out and striving to do it all. The spiritual pain of feeling lost, alone and without connection to my source.

"Can you absolutely know it's true?" I can ask the question to my body. To my emotions. To my mind, heart or spirit. Is it true this is painful?

And exploring the pain as a witness. Asking myself and exploring how I react. Coming to know it as an old friend. No longer being afraid of it. Seeing the habit I have got myself into in creating it through repetitive thinking. Repetitive behaviours. Repetitive emotions. The wheel of life. The cycle of karma.

And breaking through the pain with the question "Who or what would you be without this?" Being willing to let it go. To step into the unknown. To be fearless. To jump out the aeroplane even without a parachute and still enjoying the ride! Feeling the connection to the deepest question a human being can ask him/herself. "Who am I?"

This is what we are exploring through a yoga practice. The very nature of our existence. And it is why The Work of Byron Katie is so perfectly aligned to yoga. How yoga is aligned to The Work.


Kathy White October 2018

More details of Kathy White Yoga studio and online courses can be found at www.kathywhiteyoga.com and Kathy will be teaching a day of Mindful Inquiry using The Work of Byron Katie at OUR ecovillage on Vancouver Island Nov 10th 2018

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