Yoga is more than just asana — the practice of physical poses. It’s a means of accessing our infinite possibilities and power.
You can hear a voice in your head reading this sentence right now. Trippy, right? Maybe go back and read that again.
That voice you hear is your mind. Your mind’s job is to receive information through your senses and either send impulses to your body to respond to this information or store it for later use.
But who is the one listening to these words right now? That silent observer and listener of your mind, according to yoga philosophy, is your consciousness.
Consciousness, the mind, and the body are separate entities. The mind and body are limited by the confines of their physical nature, while consciousness is all-pervading.
It’s said that consciousness is the light that emanates from within the body. Some people call this our soul or higher self. Meditation is a tool that we can use to better access our higher self — our soul self (atman), also known as our pure conscious state.
It’s important to understand that we’re able to perceive reality beyond the physical. This idea alone expands our awareness past the ego toward the infinite nature of our consciousness.
After we understand that atman is beyond mind and body, we can test this theory through pratyahara (i.e., cutting off our senses). For example, when we limit our senses by closing our eyes or blocking out hearing, we’re essentially starving the mind of information.
We notice that we’re still sentient and aware even when the mind is empty, which shows us that consciousness and the mind are indeed separate. This state is called samadhi, and yogis practice their whole lives to stay in this space at all times.
Even taking 10 minutes a day to enter a state of samadhi is deeply beneficial for mental well-being. We live in a world that tells us our worth is equal to our productivity. This state of constant doing can burn us out and leave us feeling disconnected from our true selves.
When we take time to sit in meditation, we return back to our center, are able to truly rest, and remember that we are not our work, our ego, or even our minds. We’re simply beautiful, infinite observers of reality.
Samadhi can also positively affect our relationships. The practice of living through the state of samadhi during our daily lives is called mindful living. When we’re engaging with the world more mindfully, we’re in a neutral state of awareness.
This state is how we can make decisions that are based on love, logic, and patience, as opposed to making decisions from our mind, which operates from impatience, or emotions that are fleeting and usually skew our judgment.
If everyone practiced meditation to access consciousness, it could help unify humanity. According to yoga theory, there’s one source for all of our consciousness — the Divine. We can see this when we notice the collective consciousness.
Have you ever thought about someone and then they called a few minutes later? Did you know that several inventions, including that of the wheel, were created in separate parts of the world around the same time — before humans could communicate with others who were so far away?
These examples show us that we’re all more connected than we believe or behave, and this is because we’re all connected by the common thread of divine consciousness.
Here’s a five-step meditation you can do at home to access your consciousness:
- Take a seat somewhere quiet. Sit tall, close your eyes, and begin to breathe deeply. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the air in your body for 4 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Feel yourself getting heavy in your seat.
- Notice your mind. Notice how it’s constantly seeking, thinking, and processing. Rather than trying to quiet your mind, simply notice its true nature. Your mind’s job is to think, so we will not punish it for doing its job.
- Become curious about who is noticing your mind. It is separate from that chatter and those thoughts. Notice how quiet that space is. Notice how stable and constant that space behind, or perhaps even above, your mind is. See whether you can start to transition from the mind space into this quiet observing space.
- Once you feel anchored in the quiet space, see whether you can expand that space beyond the body and mind. Perhaps you notice that even with your eyes closed, you can look down on your body and see the room that surrounds it. You’re expanding your awareness.
- See how far you can expand this awareness. Can you feel 10 feet outside of your body? Can you hear 30 feet outside of your room? Can you see up into outer space? Notice that whatever you wish to access, you can, because your true self, your atman, is infinite.
This is a practice. It’s OK if you aren’t able to accomplish all five steps the first time. Continue to be compassionate with yourself, and try again tomorrow. The more you come to this practice, the easier it will get.
Meditation is truly a balm to soothe our tired minds and bodies in this chaotic world, for the soul never tires, the soul is forever.
Meesha is a queer Desi (half Punjabi and half Kashmiri) currently living in Puerto Rico. After practicing yoga for 7 years in America and noticing how Westernized and exclusive the yoga culture was, they were inspired to create Alchemystic Studio. The purpose of this virtual yoga studio was to reclaim their heritage and create a trauma-informed, intersectional, body-positive experience for all folks who have felt ostracized by cultural appropriation, white supremacy, patriarchy, gender binary, the caste system, and cisheteronormative culture. Alchemystic has blossomed into a worldwide community of folks who connect through spirituality, holistic wellness, and activism.