The Way of the Spiritual Warrior

By August 21, 2018 November 30th, 2018 No Comments

Yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ. Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Chapter I, Sutra 2
« When you stop identifying withyour thoughts, fluctuations of mind, then there is Yoga, identity with Self,which is samadhi, happiness, bliss and ecstasy. » (Sharon Gannon)

I remember a warm and quiet evening in Lebanon, when a terrible sound resonated loudly in the sky. It overpowered our senses and thoughts. The country was being bombed. It was terrifying. The sound was shaking the walls of our home and shaking us to our very core. We felt like a mosquitos, I did not know how to get rid of the fear and the feeling of vulnerability.

Our culture is obsessed with power and control. On a global scale, we want to control other nations, their actions, the animals, the Earth and our fut­­ure. This comes from the small self, ego. Feeling that things are “under control” gives the ego an illusionary sense of power over the unknown. Residing in the ego keeps us in ignorance and separation from our true source of power, our divine nature.

As yogis, we come to realize thatthe only thing we can have control over is how we allow thoughts to affect us. Master Patanjali defines the practice of yoga and its goal as: ”yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ”. Yogaś means union, bliss; Citta means mind stuff; vrtti means fluctuation and nirodhah, means cessation. The practice of yoga is to let go of identification with the movements of the mind and connect more to the core of being, the unchanging reality.If one is not practicing this, one ends up identifying with its fluctuations, which pull in many directions. It becomes a “yoyo” life, versus a yogic life. We have the choice to either be passive passengers on the roller coaster of the thoughts; or we can become the master of our thoughts, using the mind as a tool for attaining peace and serenity, chitta prasadasam.

The yogi’s job is to train the mind to detach from external thoughts and find peace within.One of the tools in this practice is Nada Yoga, the Yoga of Sound. Imagine a situation where you are identifying with an obsessive thought. The mind goes around and around on the same thought, like a record stuck in agroove. At a time like this, it can be helpful to play uplifting music. Listen and chant to it. Dance too. Watch how the drama diminishes. The vibrations of sound affect and realign all the cells of our being. They uplift the worried mind and lighten the emotional state. Many ancient traditions use music as medicine.

Using a mantra is a form of Nada Yoga. Man means “mind”, tra means “to traverse, go beyond”. Mantras are formulasthat cut into and through the spinning mind. The repetition of mantra (japa) creates breath patterns thatrelax the activity of the mind. During japa, the tongue rhythmically strikes the palate and some of its 84 energy channels (nadis). This process stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands creating a neurochemical release that affects the hypothalamus and controls th ebrain-mind-body-emotions loop.

When one pulls the strings of a guitar and then stops, the vibrations continue and remain for a while. Similarly, when we repeat mantras, the vibrat­­ions of the sacred sounds continue to affect us, even after we’ve stopped. Choose a comfortable seat, sit straight, be still and repeatedly chant the sound “AUM” aloud for five minutes. Notice the subtle effects — the changes in your breath, in your emotional state, and in your mind. Patanjali states in the Yoga Sutra, that through the experience of repeating mantra andreflecting upon AUM, you experience the primal sound of the divine(YS I, 27 to 29).The scriptures tell us that the soundAUM is God. Repetition of God’s nameprotects the mind and uplifts us beyond the ego. The more attentive and focusedthe mind becomes, the more tuned to itspower source.

The yogic practices enable the yogi to observe thoughts and resistances in the mind as an impartial witness, sakshi. Through witnessing the mind, avidya (ignorance of the true self) is dissolved. The yogi gains clarity. Through this alchemical process, the mind and ego are purified in the fire of transformation, tapas. Yoga transforms controlling tendencies into humility and faith. It opens the door to identify with one’s true nature, the highest Consciousness.

Unlike a military soldier, a spiritual warrior fights for Peace and Truth. In our heart, we all longfor peace. Although “fighting for peace” may sound like a paradox, a spiritual warrior recognizes conflict is often present in the depths of themind and knows the true battlefield is inside the self. By controlli­ng the mind, she controls her world. By means of a committed practice and discipline to cut through non-serving thoughts,a spiritual warrior learns how to meet the challenge, cross over obstacles and develop lasting peace and truth within the heart. When Truth of the heart is found, the mind resides in Peace. Through peace of mind, one can reach the heights of Consciousness. Even in the midst of conflicts, whether inner or outer, a committed warrior is not disturbed at her core. She/ He is able to discern the path and remain aligned to act from Truth. To stand steadily for Truth in the presence of conflict builds courage, power, integrity and commitment. That night in Lebanon, I chanted sacred sounds the whole night long, to counter the destructive sound of the bombs. A spiritual warrior tunes her mind and takes refuge inthe sweet sound of the divine. Chanting, she/he sends uplifting vibrations that benefit all nations, humans, animals and the Earth. Even leaders of nations know the power of chanting to create a certain mindset – people go to war chanting. By finding Peace within, the Spiritual Warrior inspires all of humankind. She/he exemplifies a peaceful lifestyle. Peace is a practice, an experience of Truth in action – personal, cultural, and universal. The life of a Spiritual Warrior is an action for peace. This is the way of the Spiritual Warrior. This is the true identity,the true Victory.

Carol Issa Karing Kaur – from “Décalage”