One of my biggest yoga inspiration – Dylan Werner
Do you have a meditation practice?
Dylan: Well is meditation only sitting in one spot with the eyes closed? That’s what people think meditation is. How do you define meditation?
Me: Being still in both body and mind.
Dylan: How do you create stillness?
Me: Through breath.
Dylan: Which is movement.
Me: That’s true.
Dylan: How do you calm the mind?
Me: With the breath.
Dylan: Which is movement. We use the breath to slow down. But anybody who tries to meditate realizes you can’t control the mind.
Me: But I don’t think that’s the point.
Dylan: I’ve been studying “yogás citta-vrtti-nirodhah” (the second verse of the yoga sutra) and trying to understand all the different translations of what it means. The common translations of this sutra basically read: “Yoga is the stopping of the fluctuations of the mind.” Generally something that has to do with ceasing, stopping, controlling the way that the mind vibrates and fluctuates. Vrttis – one of the translations is “modification”. What modifies the mind are emotions, thoughts, anger, happiness, these are the vrttis. Who you are… If it can be taken away from you then it’s not apart of who you are. If it can be taken away, how is that you? What is constantly making the mind move is not necessarily you, they are just things like emotions that come and go. And nirodhah, “cessation” or “removal”… Well the mind or mind stuff (citta) is something that is always thinking. That’s the purpose of the mind. To stop the purpose of the mind is impossibility. Even if you say, “I’m not thinking” you are still thinking. There is a saying: Trying to meditate is like trying to smooth water with your hands. The more that you try the worse that it gets.
Joseph Campbell talks about the mind being a body of water, like a lake. And “reality” is everything that happens above the water while our mind is the surface of the water. The vrttis would be any of the distractions, a lot of it is ego, these things that cause the ripples on the water like leaves and wind, it’s our ego, our emotions, all these things that distract us or change us. So when you look into the water, what you see is a reflection but it is a distorted reflection of reality. And this is where we live.
Meditation is finding stillness, not for the sake of just being still. If you do anything you have to understand what the point is. Why do we want to be still? Why do we want to let the thoughts come to rest? When all the things stop, the water becomes smooth, no fluctuations, it’s completely still and clear. So when you look into the water all you see is the reflection of the truth. Meditation is basically coming to this point of understanding of living in truth. One effective way to do that is to sit there, close the eyes, breath and allow you to come to rest. Another way is to challenge yourself in the most physical manner to bring yourself to the presence so the only thing you could experience is what is happening right now.
Before I started yoga I was a skydiver and I was looking to be present. I found my meditation in jumping out of planes. But once that became routine, my mind went to other places. When I found yoga I was still skydiving, but all of a sudden I had an intention behind what I was doing. To be present, to allow this laying to rest, or allowing to be or in the flow. Everything in nature moves in flow, moves in harmony. The stillness is moving. The stillness is constantly changing. Even if there is no movement at all.
Original yogis who started to meditate, I don’t think they all meditated with their eyes closed. This is what I did when I was on my vision quest: When you sit there in nature, you look out and lose the separation of what separates you from nature and you look to see how the outer nature of your surroundings reflect your inner nature. And then you understand what it means to be in that flow, what it means to settle in, to surrender to that. Meditation is a practice of surrendering to the now, that’s all it is. It can look like anything, but you are surrendering to the now. So however you do that becomes your meditation practice.