Svadhyaya on The Move

I was in a cafeteria eating meegoreng, carefully sniffing and suspiciously poking at things, not sure whether it is entirely vegetarian, though I said ‚Äòsayur sayuran sahaja’. While engaged in this investigation, suddenly realized that I am also being observed. Looked up and saw one of the basic students in the next table. Among other things she said that she wants to control her emotions. ‚ÄòWhat emotions exactly?’ I asked. ‚ÄòAnger’, she replied angrily. And after a pause added.. ‚ÄòAt my husband.. he always put rock music so loudly..’

She then said that she is into vipassana and that she will practice mindfulness..

Understanding that she is not looking for any answers from me, shifted my gaze back into my plate to check whether anything is moving inside it.. she left soon..

She very well might be knowing how to go about practicing awareness of her predicament.. however if I was in a class set up, i would have guided her along with the following questions.. by which her general awareness could be stretched to a state of specific attention on her would perhaps run like,

‚ÄòWhat is exactly that you don’t like? Is it the rock music? Or the loudness of it? Or, the husband? Or, is it not about the music at all?

Is it because a particular liking of you is not met with? Perhaps you like silence, and the anger is against the breaking of that liking? Or, you want husband to listen to you, but instead he is listening to the singer?

How is the feeling of this dislike? Have you noticed the subtle transitions between dislike, irritation, anger and action? How do you feel dislike? Have you noticed how dislike is felt in the body? Which part constricts?’ And so on..

Now scenarios like this keep on happening in our life.. many times people tell me with irritation, ‚ÄòI am irritable’.. two waves are here.. originally an irritation exists as a first wave of emotion.. then an irritation at being irritated arises.. second wave.. then we want an exact answer as to why we are irritated.. an answer that will rationalize and justify our emotions.. ‚Äòmaybe, it is the premenstrual thing.. i think i am just jinxed.. maybe it is my past life causes.. have to go for a regression session’… these add third and fourth waves of further irritation…

See, these are all reflections by the mind on the emotions plaguing it..

However, in yoga, when we say svadhyaya.. svadhyaya is different from this kind of reflection.. Normal reflection wants to close the reflection quickly by looking for answers through questions such as ‚Äòwhy this is happening? why me? How this could ever?’, etc. Clear answers seldom come, but almost always such questions pull us down into the problem, and leaves us identified with it.

Svadhyaya is different, as it is about observing what is happening with an open ended curiosity..

Instead of asking ‚Äòwhy is this happening’, svadhyaya is about looking at the emotion, and asking, ‚Äòwhat is this?’.. it is not about trying to come to a conclusion, but an open exploration.

Then, when we look at things in this kind of friendly, accepting way, rather than in an unfriendly way (‚Äòwhy this is happening’ is totally unfriendly to the emotion rather than ‚Äòwhat is this’), we bring a certain brightness to it. For eg, if we’re feeling sadness, investigating the emotion of sadness without any aversion to it, adds a friendly quality to the worry, making it easier to experience. Then we don’t get identified with it. Instead of experiencing the situation as the ‚Äòsad person’ we take the position of “investigator.”

Now, how to go about investigating? Since I have some time (40 mts before cricket match begins).. i am just trying to find a simple mnemonic code.. and i don’t know why, i finally settle into MANASA.

M: Mindfulness.. being aware of.. or recognizing the emotion

A: Attention..attending or focussing on the emotion.. awareness is general, and attention is specific awareness, really connecting to it.. being attentive of your words, expressions and actions..

N: Naming it.. whether anger.. dislike.. contentment..delight.. or whatever is the emotion

A: Accommodating.. not reacting to the emotion, such as trying to push it away in aversion.. (why am i sad.. this stupid anger..etc), nor liking it so much that you cling to it.. let it just be..

S: Svadhyaya.. investigating the emotion.. by applying the ‘what is this question.. anger is a word.. but what is this in terms of experience.. how is body experiencing.. breath experiencing..

A: Anatma (Not-I)… This feeling is a passing process.. it is a process of mind and ego.. it rises.. and hence it will sink too.., it’s not who I am.. i am the witness.. i am free.. i am consciousness

Ok, I agree.. it is perhaps not possible to go through all the steps.. but most times just staying with first two steps itself will keep you from getting totally entangled with the emotion..