Yogis are enjoined to develop certain attitudes in life – as we learn aasans that improve our physical wellbeing, so do we hone our mental faculties to experience more empathy, to think about the needs and feelings of others, to maintain discipline and structure in life. When I teach a yoga class I find that I learn more and more about yoga all the time. I also discover more about the workings of my body and my mind. So whether I teach a yoga class or practice yoga by myself, it is a constant learning experience for me.
I am sure most of us would agree that we must continue to learn and discover throughout life; that at no point of life are we too old or too wise to learn new things. At no point of life can we afford to stop ‘abhyas’ and discovering because the body of knowledge in this world is simply so vast; no one can ever know all that there is to know. I also believe that when one remains curious, one remains youthful; when one is eager to learn, one remains humble. When one keeps learning, one continues to grow and evolve as a human being. The concept of ek tatva nirantar abhyas in yoga is something similar.
As we know, ‘nirantar’ means without break and ‘abhyas’ means study or learning or revision. Yoga seeks to help us concentrate our energies and to make the best of our abilities. For instance, a person may be intelligent and talented but may be easily distracted; never managing to achieve the type of success they would otherwise have been capable of. In the event, yoga offers instruction on how to train and concentrate the mind.
Concepts such as nirantar abhyas tell one how to remain a ‘yachak’ or a seeker all throughout life. Concepts such as ‘ekagrata’, ‘bhumadhyata’ highlight the importance of alertness and mindfulness. As various desires, distractions and unimportant thoughts crowd our mind we are unable to concentrate our mind or our energies into achieving what is important. That single pointed focus we need in order to fully utilize our potential can be very elusive. To this end, one has to train and discipline the mind. It is possible to gradually learn to ignore distractions, focus deeply and to enhance the innate power of the mind.
The ancient sages were indeed wise; having studied the workings of the human mind and body in depth. All we have to do is to take advantage of their wisdom!