Wk. 82 – Seven Stages of Yoga – Stage 1 – Self Awareness

The first stage of Yoga is Self Awareness. This begins the invitation to change, to be present and to be conscious. If you think about it, most of our day is spent unconscious, lost in thought and entertaining the Doer-ship of our existence. This first step engages our light of intellect (Prajna) and our innate wisdom (Buddhi) to dissolve the veil of ignorance (Avidya) and expand our perspective to what is really going on in any given moment. 

We use our practice as the opportunity to have an honest self-reflection on the distorted negative illusions we recycle, then open to more positive truths. Self-honesty is an honest look at ourselves preparing us to be humble, compassionate and regain our serenity, this develops trust in ourselves to make wiser decision from a place of knowing what is truly important to us. 

The goal of working through these stages is to arrive to Citta Vritti Nirodha – Stilling the roaming tendencies of our heart mind. First we need to become aware of those tendencies, issues, disturbances and habits that cause the Citta to roam. As we practice listening to Buddhi, making informed decisions using Prajna we recognise the pain and suffering that is present. We become aware of our bias, judgements, insanity, habitual patterns and our “stuff”. Sutra 2.27 states that Self-Awareness is the first step to liberation as we heighten our awareness of the human condition of what is going on to cause the Citta to wander. Sutra 1.31 states that what is noticed as we become more self-aware is the symptoms of suffering, in the form of 

  1. Negative thinking 
  2. Emotional distress 
  3. Instability in the body 
  4. Disturbances in the breath that mirror the mind

Self-awareness opens us to the different stories that we have lived through and what stories are being told now. We may not relate to each others stories, however we all understand the shared feeling of anger, sadness, lust, jealousy, grief, righteous indignation, hurt, stress, worry…We as Yogis welcome these feelings as teachers, acknowledging this reality of pain and suffering then use these poisons as medicine. The idea is not to wallow in it, but taste it. The analogy that is made is – if there are 1000 bowls of sugar, you dampen your finger and put it into one, you get the taste of all the bowls of sugar. So when you really taste your anger, you taste the anger of all sentient beings. When you taste your sadness, you taste the sadness of all sentient beings. This opens us to universal feeling.

We all share the feeling of emotions and this is what we use to connect to other beings and self-reflect to our own experience valuing what it teaches us. This is how we start to have compassion. First with ourselves, then we can practice with others. We are not alone, your feelings aren’t unique, holding onto resentment, pain and hurt just creates the cycle of suffering. So GO into your feelings, this is the invitation to change how you relate to the feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, disappointment. When you feel the “me” that is triggered, ask yourself, Is that who you truly are? What you are? 

Who is wounded? What is wounded? What will heal it? Dissolve the ignorance of what holds you in your pain & suffering. OPEN to the potential of healing, grow and flourish, thrive in your life. Let go of the story and connect to the rawness of the feeling. Instead of going out, we go in. Breathe in for self-awareness and Breathe out tenderness, compassion, healing, light, love, breathe out as you. Compassion abiding, Tenderness abiding, Love abiding. Link to humanity and invite change with a fierce tender heart. 

Sutra 1.33 states we should be consciously cultivating in practice 

  1. Non-judgemental awareness
  2. Friendliness 
  3. Joy 
  4. Compassion

To whatever arises…learn to meet your pain and suffering with these intentions to one day able to see the truth within your humanity and meet it with indifference. 

But until we can respond to what triggers us, we practice facing our reaction wakefully.