Yoga and the Mirror of Perception

By Jeff Martens

Tada drastuhu svarupe avastanam…   Yoga Sutra 1.3
When we are in a state of yoga our form is one of pure awareness.

Vritti svarupyam itaratra…  Yoga Sutra 1.4
When we are not in a state of yoga, our form becomes our mental disturbances.

Light is a form of energy.  It reflects off of surfaces as waves which our consciousness freezes into particles to create the mystical experience of observation.  This is the process known by spiritual masters and scientists alike as that point where the perceiver creates the perceived.  Since observation is the exercise of fixing energy in place for that millisecond necessary to process information as our very own, we literally have the power to create the world we live in through our perceptions.

Today quantum physicists have reached a level of observation where particles are so impossibly minute that they teeter on the realm of pure potential energy where just the expectation of observation is enough to allow new properties to be discovered.  It’s as if the very act of expectation creates the space for what we are seeking to bloom into existence.

The ancient science of yoga or unity helps us to clean the mirror of our perception by training us to let go of expectations on a cellular level.  In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali speaks of devotion to a clear discernment so that we may discriminate between the influences of our past conditioning and future expectations to see the world as it actually is.  When we freeze a tight spine in place with our powers of observation for example, it is not the actual spine we are observing, it is our own projection of a spine created by years of memory and expectation though it sure feels real enough!

In order to let go of that inflexible spine, we first open to the possibility of change by letting go of past history and expectations based on past limitations.  In other words, we have to let go of identifying with the mind and it’s constant judgement and limitations. This surrender creates the physical, mental and emotional potential for our spine to change by creating the possibility for a spine that is different from how it was in the past.  Yoga teaches us that, until we reach this point, the glorious mirror of the world can only reflect back to us that energy and expectations which we place before it.  We begin to see things as they are instead of seeing our own problems and limitations everywhere we look.

Many religious and spiritual traditions state that as your faith is, so you become.  By the same token, when we expect our bodies to be a certain way, we leave little room for alternative paths and exclude ourselves from perceiving people, guidance and techniques that could help our awareness value and then transcend the role of illness or injury we may be experiencing.  As a result our natural soul  “form” (svarupam)  becomes limited and we suffer because we are not living in Truth.

The practice of Yoga allows us to see the world as it really is by training our bodies and minds to stay in the present moment – that only point where the world actually exists.   Everything else is just projection of an imagined future or memory of the past.  It is up to us to make sure that our perceptions emerge from a fearless place of love and acceptance.  This is the key to living in the eternal present where all things are possible and the world can bloom anew.

Jeff Martens is a teacher, writer and co-owner of Inner Vision Yoga.  All suggestions are voluntary.  Consult a qualified teacher or your physician before you embark on any practice in which you are unfamiliar.