Yoga changes your experience of pain. Whether it is physical, or emotional, you come to know that pain is merely your mind’s reaction. It arises when you’ve lost your Self, your divine essence. It’s easy to do. You lose your Self in other people, places or things.
Pain is also the fear that comes when you object to whatever is happening in the moment. Pain is what happens when you’re anywhere other than right here, right now. The mystical dimension within you is available only when you are in the here and now.
I struggled with this for much of my life, always wanting things to be other than the way they were. I was either lost in the past or worrying about the future. Even in the most sublime moments, I could find something to complain about. I remember one beautiful fall day, the sun streaming through golden leaves, being irritated by having to drive my son to his preschool. In the back of my mind, I knew something was very wrong about this. Why wasn’t I present? That awareness opened something inside of me that day. Not long after, I discovered the Svaroopa® Yoga Sciences, and my spiritual teacher, who would change everything.
heyam duhkham-anaagatam — Yoga Sutras 2.16
The pain yet to come can and should be avoided.
This sutra isn’t saying you should hide from your life, avoiding what might happen next. Yoga says that the pain you experienced in the past, is over. There’s no need to hang onto it or to run instant replays through your mind.
And the pain you feel now, your mind’s reactions, can be transformed. How? By the light of your own awareness. When you are aware of the reality of what’s going on, but not lost in your reaction to it, it’s not painful. This is because awareness is your Divine Essence. It shines through even your bleakest moments.
By being aware that you are aware, you get a handle on your mind. You can experience whatever is going on, but without your usual knee jerk reactions. Instead of retreating from the experiences you’re having, you step into them fully. Only then can you understand what’s happening, make decisions and initiation action to make changes.
Only when you are fully present, are you able to embrace your experiences and learn from them. Every experience is a form of the Divine, coming towards you. When you practice seeing this mystical truth every day, when future pain does come, you won’t get lost in it the same way. You will remain whole, undisturbed, because you’re coming from the depth of your own Divine Self.
I can tell that my mind is being cleansed of old mental patterns and fears. How? Through repeating mantra and my daily meditation. I am rooted, more and more, in the conscious awareness that is my own Self. I can now perceive that there’s a deeper dimensionality to the present moment, something I couldn’t have imagined before yoga.
Life is about having experiences. Some of these will be wonderful, some will be ho-hum, while others, painful. The gift of a human life is to experience it all, even the hard stuff, while you are in the middle of it. As Swami Nirmalananda teaches:
“Experience the experience you’re experiencing, while you’re experiencing it.”