Posts Tagged ‘Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’

Remedies for Avoidance

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Karuna’s current 500hr advanced teacher trainee’s were recently assigned to reflect on their personal avoidance behaviors. Students were asked to make a list  and, using the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, come up with remedies for avoidance.  Here are some of their thoughts.

Paul Menard, Karuna Teacher, Student in Advanced Teacher Training

Avoidance Techniques:

  • Doubt
  • Boredom
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Anger


  • 1.23  Isvara pranidhanad va
    Or from devotion to the lord
  • 1.27  tasya vacakah pranavah
    The name designating him is the mystical symbol om
  • 1.32  tat-pratisedhartham eka-tattvabhyasah
    Practice on one  object in order to eliminate these disturbances
  • 1.33 Maitri-karuna-muditopeksanam sukha-duhkha-punyapunya-visayanam bhavanatas citta-prasadanam
    By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.
  • 1.34 Pracchardana-vidharanabhyam va pranasya
    Or stability by exhaling and retaining the breath.
  • 1.35  Visayavati va pravrttir utpanna manasah sthiti-nibabdhani
    Or else, focus on a sense object arises, and this causes steadiness of the mind.
  • 2.8 Duhkhanusayi dvesah
    Aversion stems from experiences of pain.
  • 2.11 Dhyana-heyas tad vrttayah
    The states of the mind produced by these klesas are eliminated by meditation.
  • 2.16 Heyan duhkham anagatam
    Suffering that has yet to manifest is to be avoided.
  • 2.33 Vitarka-bandhane pratipaksa –bhavanam
    Upon being harassed by negative thoughts, one should cultivate counteracting thoughts.
  • 2.46  Sthira-sukham asanam
    Posture should be steady and comfortable

Utilizing the remedies:
The largest ways that I avoid the now are doubt, boredom, nervousness, restlessness, and anger. I do, however feel that the majority of these avoidance techniques are rooted in doubt. I have had very severe doubt, to the point that it has created crippling self-fulfilling prophesies.  I have, however, realized some remedites, based on the yoga sutras that aid in removing or quieting these techniques of avoidance.

  • Doubt and nervousness– When working with doubt, the methods that I find most successful are simple remedies that are sensible and straightforward. Sutra 1.23 (Isvara Pranidhanad Va) is incredibly helpful to me in this respect. If I am struck with doubt, I can always hand it over to god, releasing the ownership of the outcome.Sometimes with doubt, all I need is to be calmed – and exhaling and retaining the breath provide a simple stabalizing  method to bring me back to the present and relax and sooth me.When my mind is being rational, I will then tap into sutras 2.33 and sutras 2.16. Instead of focusing on the pane I am inflicting on myself, I can create a counter thought. And if I can, I work with understanding that this pain is causing more pain, so I understand the need to remedy it.
  • Boredom – I often use boredom as a mechanism to stall or pull myself away from the present. Boredom is strange. I find that boredom will actually lead to more boredom if not put in check. I have found that the best methods to check boredom is busying the mind and body – for example with asana practice or breathing.
  • Restlessness – For years I have strived to be the best- never allowing myself the time to sit and enjoy what I have earned with this work. Restlessness, like other afflictions, tends to balloon. If you are a restless person, nothing is ever good enough or happens fast enough. Restlessness breeds discontent and the inability to focus.  I have found that the best remedies for restlessness are items that can keep my mind busy, but can also move me to a calmer, content mindset. I often try to apply “stop and smell the flowers” remedies for restlessness, to great effect. Sutras 1.32 and 1.35 work very well in these situations. By focusing on a sense object, I can either enjoy moments or pull myself inside enough to calm myself and take me back to a more present place. Whether I am physically stopping to smell the flowers or allowing myself to focus on one thing, I can typically can restlessness using these methods.
  • Anger – I have been working very closely to anger for the past year. I have been trying to understand my anger and exactly where it is rooted. I have spent a lot of time meditating on sutra 2.8 – suffering has its root in past pain. So in terms of the mind, Determining what the actual past pain is, and acknowledging the past exists (without letting it rule your life) can help you get to the root of the matter and finally let go of personal thoughts that you may be brooding on or holding inside. By being aware of the anger, I can either process it correctly or allow it to float off of me.

Chris Hamel, Student in Karuna Advanced Teacher Training, Poet

Lighting the Way

Can’t you see?
All of these endless possibilities,
open questions,
right answers,
and unresolved feelings,
from the same source.
As soon as its about
right or wrong,
we start to miss the point.
its no secret at all,
that whats lighting the way
of this whole life we share,
is our deepest
and most sacred
The source of our existence,
from the beginning of endless time.

Kendra Renzoni: Karuna Teacher, Studio Manager, and Student in Advanced Teacher Training


  1. Not being present (especially fear about the future)
    1. Sutra 1, Atha Yoganusasanam: Now, being present.  “Notice, you have never had this breath before”
    2. Sutra 1.27 OM and Surrender (particularly surrendering at the top of a mountain being filled with light from the world)
  2. Becoming Excessively focused on the goal
    1. Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan-nirodha: the vrtti states of the mind are stilled by practice and dispassion AND the phrase from the gita, be not attached to the fruits of your actions but on the action itself, smelling the wind, feeling the light on my skin, connecting with someone, receiving the exhale) Ahhhh… that’s bliss baby!
    2. Sthira Sukkha Asanam
    3. Sutra 11.47: Such posture should be attained by the relaxation of effort and by absoption in the infinite (doing 60% of my max has shown me that my maximum just perpetuates the cycle of old habits and that doing less creates so much more learning and the ability to be effortless)
    4. Sutra 1.13: concentration on the stepping stones of the journey and maintaining the stepping stones, moving from concentration forward not where I am going ( realizing that I am getting all wrapped up in some future goal and totally creating a present hell, has helped me completely let go of it and experience total bliss and presentness and success in the current moment)
    5. Sutra 1.14: Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion over a long period of time. Remembering to remember to have patients and understanding about how long it takes and the different qualities (mild, mediocre, and extreme)… frees me of expectations.
    6. Sutra 11.7: Attachment stems from experiences of happiness
    7. Sutra 11.42: from contentment, the highest happiness is attained
    8. Sutra 11.33: The task is not to berate oneself upon finding oneself contemplating a negative thought, but to deal insightfully with such occurances (instead of going into this negative whirlwind and then berating myself for having that happen, just seeing that I’ve got my work cut out for me and that the path is illumined, knowing that all I have to do is deal with what is happening has immediately given me freedom.)
  1. Seeking relief / Desirous / Avoidance / Judgment of myself
    1. Sutra 2.1 Kriya Yoga, the path of action consists of self-discipline, self-study, and dedication to the lord (deeply ingrained habits cannot be removed without self-discipline and the tendency of the mind to pursue sense gratification can be broken only with self-discipline (of a gentle kind) because if austerity and self-discipline are practiced in a way that disturbs the mind (creates some psychosis)  they defeat the purpose of yoga (citta vrtti nirodha)  Noticing where I have psychosis and neurosis and perserverating thoughts tells me that these are the places that I have been self-disciplined in the wrong way (eating), in a way that generates more thoughts and perpetuates the cycle… just knowing that I need to try something else.
    2. Yamas and Niyamas
    3. Sutra 11.33: create a counteracting thought… not one of labeling “bad” and not counteracting it with another label… but with a non-label… what a relief
    4. Atha yoganusasanam: becoming present
  1. Ego stuff!
    1. Sutra 11.2 Avidya, Raga, dvesabhinivesah, klesah
    2. Sutra 11.5 ignorance is the notion that takes the self, which is joyful, pure, and eternal, to be the nonself, which is painful, unclean, and temporary (knowing that when I feel these things I am being overtaken by ignorance)
  1. Being Triggered:
    1. Sutra 11.4 Ignorance is the breeding ground of the other klesas, whether they are in a dormant, weak, intermittent, or fully activated state
    2. Sutra 11.33 : Pratipaksha bhavanam : cultivating their opposites, using the trigger as a path toward upliftment rather than downfall, knowing that these things WILL come up.  AND cultivating opposite thoughts, knowing that I get emotional by my reaction to my mind’s judgment of things being labeled as “good” or “bad” so a practice of non-labeling, and non-judging… but first a practice of observing myself labeling, then observing the judgment, and then Karuna, compassion for myself, understanding why I have the label, allowing the emotion to be okay, and then non-labeling things.

Dawn Clarisea Heilman, Student in Advanced Teacher Training, Poet

The sun appears and the moon appears, all within the “now”

I appear standing.

Watching the sun, in its beauty of multiphase’s…

Sun giving warmth, growth, health to my body, to the bright garden…

To the endless space that surrounds the standing…

I appear still like the mountain.

Wearing away… an deterioration from ordinary use in the

“Now” of the appearance in the “now”….

I appear sleeping.

Dreaming the moon, in its amaze of multiphase’s….

Moon giving coldness, rhythms, health to my body, to the sleepy garden…

To the endless space that surrounds the mountain…

I appear breathless like the corpse.

Silence wavers… unknown music from ordinary use in the

“Now” of the appearance in the “now”….

Am I always in the now?

The sun appears and the moon appears, all within the “now”

I may think of yesterday, in the now

As the sun appears over head standing in the now!

I may think of tomorrow, in the now

As the moon appears above the mountain in the now!

My stories of long ago may appear like they are wearing away…

In the power of now, without time!

My dreams of images for the future may appear like sleepy waves of rhythm…

In the power of now, without time!

I may think breathing is like an awake born of the baby.

Yelling waves…of an unknown magic from ordinary use in the

“Now” in the power of now, without time!

It’s apparent…

I am always in the now!

All within the “now” I may stand above the mountain, wearing away sleepy waves of rhythm.

Breathing is like… an awake born unknown magic without time!

It’s apparent I am always in the now!!