The Relevance of Yoga in the Modern World

What is Yoga? How to achieve the state of Yoga?

Classical Yoga was systematized by Sage Patañjali as one of the six systems of orthodox (āstika) Indian philosophy. The Classical Yoga system is not a religion but a psychology that involves the individual’s peaceful, non-dualist relationship with oneself, the world, and others in the world, by refining the workings of consciousness (known as citta-vritti) towards a finely tuned level of complete clarity and awareness (known as nirodhaḥ). When the consciousness is refined and able to absorb fully, the person is ready to experience the journey of ecstasy and spiritual awakening (known as samādhi).

Yoga is not a state. Rather, in Patañjali’s non-dualist paradigm, it is an experiential practice of progressively refining the vritti of the conscious mind from the state of kṣiptā (a highly agitated state) or mudhā (a stupefied state) through to the state of nirodhaḥ (where the individual can completely understand the true nature of an object), preparing the body-mind for samādhi (ecstasy).

Kleśāḥ

There is a natural tendency for the mind to be preoccupied with the endless flow of conscious thoughts that affect our lives, from our past memories to dreamscapes of fantasy. The “causes of afflictions” of the mind, or kleśāḥ, include: the inability to let go of misperception (avidyā); the inability to let go of bonding/attachment (rāga); the inability to let go of aversion/suffering (dveṣa); the inability to let go of false conception of identity (asmitā); and the inability to let go of the fear of death (abhiniveśāḥ).

If we allow the kleśāḥ to overrun our lives, then the emotional torment (known as klista-vritti) may produce a negative effect on our lives and on our relationships with people.

The klista-vritti and aklista-vritti represent defensive mechanisms built into our DNA and memory. When people are cheated, betrayed or robbed, they become more distrustful of others. They cultivate a response of distrust, or some other coping mechanism, when they confront a new situation that resembles their previous traumatic experiences of being victimized.

People interpret things differently, depending on their cultural background and age groups, their value systems, their methods, and their motivations. Misinformation, malinformation, incomplete or missing knowledge, irrelevant information can potentially waste a lot of time, and cause confusion. According to Patañjali, developing a clear conscious (citta) mind allows the person to understand the true nature of knowledge, and to make valid decisions.

Iśvara-praṇidhāna

For those who are not born with a clear conscious (citta) mind, attaining the state of nirodhaḥ requires faith and conviction (śraddhā), strength (vīrya), and memory (smṛti).

Patañjali acknowledges the concept of transcendent awareness (iśvara-praṇidhāna) as an option for those whose faith in their selves is not as strong as their religion.

Meditation

Meditation is the process of becoming aware of the workings of consciousness, and of the environment in which the body-mind inhabits and functions, relative to its constraints, contracts, roles, interdependencies, threats, and capabilities. By freeing the body-mind from its natural tendencies to kleśāḥ, meditation allows the self to be fully present, and non-judgmental.

We are the blind leading the blind

There is a phrase we sometimes use in the corporate world, and that is: “we are the blind leading the blind”. It is a wonder that we can make any progress in life. Segregation of work processes ultimately means that each employee is knowledgeable in his or her own tasks, but ignorant of any knowledge of the whole cradle-to-grave process or framework. While such introversion may suit a task-oriented approach to work, it leads to myopic career vision and contributes to constraints in protocols and non-ownership of projects. We complain of “having one arm tied behind the back”, and of the observance that “the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing” (referring to closed departmental knowledge and protected interests). We discover that we are unable to ascend to a senior level in the corporate ladder because of “the glass ceiling” (lack of mentoring). We shelve creative solutions and any other noble opportunities due to lack of cooperation, collaboration, synergy, vision and approval from stakeholders and partners.

The complete embodiment of morals and values teaches me the centre of being a civilized person. Self-appreciation, self-esteem or self-worth hinges on the intimacy and maturity of relationships, comprised of constraints, contracts, roles, interdependencies, threats, and capabilities. Dealing with these variables that govern our perception of ourselves, of others, and of how we relate to others in our communities, is the real benefit of integrating Yoga practice with daily living. The contentment in the relationships that you inspire (teach) in the given moment is the value that gives meaning to living, and affects your health, family and business.

For instance, the concept of work teams in a corporate environment operates on the knowledge of constraints, contracts, roles, interdependencies, threats, and capabilities. Whenever a person joins a group, the individual assumes and plays a role with certain responsibilities. Apart from the explicit role, some of the services offered by a person form part of an implied or verbal agreement (known as contract) with others (who are consumers) in the group or work team; the quality of the contract describes the close-knit nature of the group compared to disparate work teams (where the service level contracts must be more clearly defined). The nature of role-play is such that the role can change, depending on the individual’s relation to the group, the work team, and the location. The nature of the perception of status and success can also change, depending on the role of the perceiver and its corresponding responsibilities.

Perception of Status and Success

Central to the bane of modern society is the ideology and perception of attaching status and success to money, and attaching time and effort to status and success, based on the value judgement and perception of associating money with love/joy/bliss (ānanda). Ultimately, the greater emphasis on working life contributes to a stressful lifestyle with not much love and the depletion of any remaining time in the day to do the things you loved to do in the first place. To learn how to actualize ānanda through resolute detachment (abhyāsa-vairāgyam) from cult mentality or blind faith, and developing progression (bhāvana) in life is why Yoga is relevant.

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