By the river is meant the spinal cord of the body, which is man’s centre. It is known mystically as the Altar of Brahman and many philosophers have written about this centre and of how, if man strays from this centre, he loses his soul.
Have you ever thought of how one steers a car as it moves off centre, gently pulling it this way, then that way, always keeping to the middle of the street?
If one has a centre, it must be physically located. Then there must be a conscious effort to return to this centre, in this case, the spine. This kind of effort applies to your conscious self as well. If you do not keep steering yourself to the centre each day, you will find yourself suffering tempers, moods, anxieties, fears, disgusts, likes and dislikes.
Today so many people ask how they can master their tensions and their feelings of lack of control. When your steering is faulty, you find yourself veering this way and that but, the sooner you return, the sooner you will become calm and relaxed.
Stress is the fruit of effort that has no results, whether it is at work, at love, at eating, at sleeping or simply just living. Stress is when you put in all your effort and receive nothing in return. Let me explain.
Plants need sunshine, water and air and the plant knows exactly how much nourishment is needed to be extracted from them in order to flourish. But, as the saying goes, man will eat a whole sack to extract the nourishment of a pea.
All around us nature is bursting with requirements for our nourishment, yet we do not realise that what we extract from these sources is in direct proportion to our ability to assimilate it. It is no use eating all kinds of health foods if your power to assimilate them is nil. If you are tense while eating, full of worries, fears or even hate, then you may as well be eating poison.
If you do breathing exercises or go jogging and all the while your mind is concerned and preoccupied with your daily tribulations, then you are reducing the value of what you are doing to nil.
So many people claim they lead healthy lives. They do try to, yet they suffer from so much stress. The answer is very easy. The depth of assimilation is determined by your consciousness and awareness of what you are doing. When you take a deep breath, draw it into your centre, feel it being drawn into every pore and fibre of your body, then every channel of your nerves and the vital essences of nature that were supplied for your nourishment will be received.
Ask yourself how much extra work you do to get a simple result? Learn from nature. Plants use the minimum effort to achieve the maximum result.
Yoga teaches that the secret to achieving a calm, happy life, free from all that is boring and to acquire and keep “a sparkle” is to practice vairagya, which means “dispassion” and “detachment”. The essence of this is to understand that we ourselves make our own lives and that what ever happens to us is our own making.
It is futile to blame others because of their moods, opinions, remarks and attitudes. You are responsible for your own and they are responsible for theirs. But people find great difficulty with this because most people pour their experiences of life into two separate bowls – one bowl holding all the sweet and one all the bitter.
The result is that the sweetness in their lives becomes like swimming in honey, sickly sweet and frustrating; whereas the bitterness bowl makes their lives painful, like trying to quench the thirst of seawater. The result brings tiredness, restlessness and stress.
The aim of life is to have only one bowl, wherein the sweet and bitter are mixed. This gives piquancy, a taste to life. The bitter sweet is the ideal recipe for happiness and we must learn to assimilate this mixture. This is the middle path – a return to the centre and, in the middle of the river, no poisonous plants can grow.
By Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger