The idea that the mind can change (self-directed neuroplasticity) is considered a foundational principle of modern psychology. Mindful practices - yoga and meditation - have been shown to affect the brain, giving rise to the popularity of meditation apps, retreats, and a multimillion dollar “mindfulness industrial complex” that supplies the public with endless options to calm the mind. All of which can serve to accomplish the opposite. And it all exists because most people are unaware of the non-pharmaceutical, natural pain relievers and tranquilizers in their own minds.
It filters down to what we notice. When we are unaware of how we are receiving messages through our senses, we can find ourselves at the mercy of outside influences and incongruent social messages. At the center of the chaos is our mental experience, swirling with memories, with its inevitable feelings of pleasure and pain. This unconsciousness leads to distraction, confusion, and chaos that creates a mental continuum of clutter. How can you possibly know the truth about anything - much less, your fabulous SELF - with all that mental noise? Without discriminative thinking, knowledge remains veiled by ignorance.
Patterns and habits of thought are the result of subliminal impressions linking together in thought chains. Left unchecked, these chains create neural pathways that keep us repeating the same behaviors without much thought. Through conscious action, this cycle can be broken.
The Yoga Sutras tell us that the mind can change through experience. Yogic breathing practices can help center and balance the mind, building sustained mental calm that fosters resilience to withstand the storms of life. Control over emotions occurs naturally from the resulting clarity -the kind that can only exist once the clutter and noise of inner experience settles. By learning to regulate awareness, attention, and emotion, unconscious negative patterns fall away, having lost their utility. And that, my friends, is freedom. Awareness is freedom.
Swasa Yam: The Yogic Science of Breath Control (Sun 3/8 @ 3 and again Thurs 3/12 @ 6) $20
No experience with yoga? No problem. We will take the time to establish a comfortable seat before teaching and guiding you through simple breathing practices, letting you experience for yourself the calming effects of your own actions.
If you work on yoga,
yoga works on you.
-Baba Hari Dass
Written by Astra Apsitis, Broken Tusk Wellness Education