Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi


by Daniel Hertz

My mom passed away in 1990.  Sometimes I think of all the things that have happened in the 25 years since she left.  If she could come back and see everything, she would be in shock trying to take in all the differences.  The concept of impermanence can be seen very clearly when you contemplate this.  The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux.  If you live long enough, the large amount of ongoing change becomes very clear.  She would notice right away that in 1990 I was single and now I am married.  Many other obvious changes come to mind.  For example, I can walk by a house in my neighborhood and see that in the last 25 years several different people have lived there.  At one time I was good friends with the occupants and now someone is living there who wouldn’t know me from a complete stranger.  Another example is how my job has changed since I entered Minneapolis Public Schools in 1985.  When I started, class schedules were made by hand and the School Counselor kept track of the number of students in each class by using tally marks on a piece of paper.  Thirty years later, all the information is entered, organized, and saved on a computer.  These things are a small reminder of how everything continues to change and evolve.

But you do not have to live a long time to get first hand insight into the idea of impermanence.  All you have to do is sit quietly and watch the march of thoughts that travel through the highway of the mind.  I read recently that each person has between 12,000-50,000 different thoughts each day.  Whatever the number of thoughts actually is, it is clear to anyone who has practiced meditation that many, many thoughts come and go.   Most flow through very quickly.  Once in a while, I have noticed that a thought will arise that sticks around for days, weeks, or longer.  This type of thought usually has a strong emotional component. How long it sticks around depends on my reaction to it.  I try to fully acknowledge it.  If I can maintain my composure, and don’t grasp at it or push it away, then eventually it loses the intensity.  What I have found to also be of great help is if I can find a way to feel gratitude for the thought. I give thanks that it is helping remind to get back to the task at hand, go deeper inside, and increase the level of concentration.  Learning to love the things that bother you the most feels like an act of real emotional purification.  I then continue to relax the body, slow the breath, and bring my attention back to the mantra and/or movement of the breath.  When this process is followed, no matter how intense the thought, it will always start to loosen its grip. Gradually it begins to dissipate, and eventually disappears completely. It gives me comfort to know that because of the quality of impermanence, no matter how fierce a thought is, it will recede over time.

Editor's Note

Daniel Hertz (E-RYT 500) is an award winning teacher and counselor in the Minneapolis Public Schools and is on the faculty of The Meditation Center. He is the author of two Yoga-Meditation related books that benefit SRIVERM, the school in the remote Himalayas founded by Swami Hari.  Please see www.DanielHertzBooks.wordpress.com  for more information.



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