Saturday, 10 August 2013

Procrastination and the distractions of the mind

Today and tomorrow i was supposed to attend an interesting workshop about anatomy under a yoga perspective. I could't because i waited to book online until this morning at 7.30, on the website there was no cue about being sold out but i couldn't book, i called and, of course, the course was full... this is the effect of procrastination in your daily life... you have already planned to do something but you procrastinate in taking the necessary steps... procrastination will usually lead to consequences you won't like... procrastinate to book the flight for your planned holidays and you will see the price going up and up and up!

In the traditional sources of yoga (i'm referring now to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, verse I.30) 9 main distractions of the mind are listed as main obstacles on the yogic path... if we broaden our point of view we can define them as general obstacles in our life, in our daily quest to obtain results, may them be in our job, sport, relationships, whatever! We can consider them as "wrong" attitudes of your mind, defining wrong as something bringing you away from your chosen/expected goal, obviously we can define right as something bringing you nearer to your chosen/expected goal... just an introduction on the right/wrong argument!

Let's see them one by one, i'll describe them talking of yoga practice but can be adapted to any of your activities:

1-Vyadhi: illness/disease, physical or mental. Of course when you have a cold or pain in your teeth you will use them as excuse for not doing your practice.
In Ayurveda vyadhi is defined as a state of your body or mind in which they're subject to discomfort, pain or injury. The fundamental cause is the imbalance between your 3 doshas, vata-pitta-kapha... equilbrium is called health, disequilibrium is called disease, unbalance is the root of all diseases!

2-Styana: apathy, dullness, idleness, mental laziness... leading to procrastination. This is a very tamasic attitude, "i'm tired now, i'll do it later", "i've something else to do, i'll do it later", "it's not so important, i'll do it later", "i don't like to do it but i have to... anyway i'll do it later", "i don't feel ready to do it, i'll do it later"... are these words familiar to you? in my case yes, it's something i've to work on, lot of us should work on this... the usual problem in procrastination is that tomorrow never comes... and if it comes, it will be much more expensive than yesterday!

3-Sanshaya: doubt. Of course you will start doubting, on yourself, on your capacities, on what you are doing, on your teacher... doubt is a state in between belief and disbelief, the mind is stuck between two contradictory propositions... the "valley of maybe vs maybe not" is a very dangerous place to stay for your well being!
How to overcome doubts? -Theoretically- is very easy, you only need a faith, a certainty that what you're doing is right, sometimes you only need to take a decision and stick with it!

4-Pramada: indolence, negligence, inattentiveness, carelessness. Pramada will impact the quality of your practice, whatever you do the attention to details is the key to reach a superior performance. Pramada is on the opposite side, moreover it is the factor leading to forgetfulness and again to procrastinate!

5-Alasya: sloth, laziness. Should i add something? Is there any single aspect of your life that can improve through this attitude?? Discipline is on the opposite side!

6-Avirati: it is the constant desire, necessity and craving for wordly objects, you want this and that, those, everything, constantly! This is the root of the non-cessation of your mental and physical activity, always on because always running behind the infinite stimuli coming from outside.

7-Bhranti darshana: misinterpretation, wrong perception. Is it actual nowadays? How many people read a couple of lines in some article in some magazine and build a full cosmogony on that? They become so convinced to know, to have the right understanding that some are even ready to fight for their credences... whatever the magazine was advertising...!

8-Alabdhabhumikatwa: the sum of all the previous... the inability to progress! Often being unable to progress is synonym of being stuck... and being stuck is the prologue for decline... or acquiring the ability to progress! You can't be stuck forever, something will happen and it will be your choice... up or down?

9-Anavasthitatwani: you got there... but you lost it! This is the inability to maintain your progress. Unfortunately (or maybe luckily!?!?) wherever you'll get in this world will bring you the responsibility to maintain your new position, be it your new job or your new relationship or the new asana you finally went into, whatever!

So? Did you find yourself in any of these? That's very good, understanding clearly some of the tricks of our mind is a good way to change our patterns for the better. I call them tricks because in a certain way your mind is fighting against you, the mind can be like a drunk monkey bitten by a scorpion... can you imagine its reaction when you try to tame it? Your mind will do everything for not being tamed, you can only keep on doing your practice, day by day, step by step and the results are bound to come, you are bound to success!

All this factors generally can work all together, they are all connected and one opens the road for the others... example? Today i don't feel good as usual, it was an hard day (vyadhi), maybe i will rest and practice tomorrow (styana). Tomorrow i feel again a little down, maybe rest again or do something else instead. After one week finally i practice again and feel some discomfort in my usual poses, i don't feel enough flexible for this yoga (sanshaya), i'm not focusing anymore and don't pay attention to alignments and details (pramada). Last practice wasn't very exciting, should i do it today? Or should i stay in bed one more hour... or day (alasya)? Well, maybe i could go out for some chocolate muffin and coffee, or should i opt for a full english breakfast (avirati)... i'll do yoga tomorrow. After 2/3 weeks like this my mind gives me this nice suggestion... "i'm too stiff, yoga is not for me"... stiffness is the problem, yoga is the solution for stiffness but i wrongly perceive (bhranti darshana) that -because i have that problem i can't access to that solution- mmmh, here we are, mind is giving checkmate on me! At this point obviously you can't progress anymore and you could even lose your past results if you really let yourself sink...

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