Ashok Kumar Malhotra–Faculty Columnist
Yoga Life Column
During the past 35 years, I have taught the original system of Yoga to more than 6,000 students in the United States, Europe, Japan, China and India. The ancient text of the Yogasutras (500 B.C.), created by an Indian sage Patanjali, is the basis for all other types of yoga advertised during the 21st century. In addition to discussing the philosophy of Yoga, I teach students the physical postures to help make the body disease-free, train them in breathing exercises to take charge of emotions, work on meditation techniques to control the mind and indulge into visualizations to inculcate optimism so that they can enjoy the gift of life.
Occasionally, students have asked me the fundamental question, “Is meditation an escape from reality or has it any use in the workplace? Though one feels good after practicing it, what can you do with it?”
I respond to this excellent question through my personal maxim of “a calm mind is a productive mind.” To explain further, I cite the research done on the highest achievers in the fields of athletics, music, art, literature, politics, business and other creative endeavors by indicating that when a person is calm and collected, s/he accomplishes tasks better than those who are disturbed. One-pointedness attention towards any action brings about better results than a mind that is stressed out. During an emergency, when a pilot or a ship captain or a driver who is in a panic makes a decision in that stressful state, disastrous results might be the outcome. On the other hand, when a similar situation arises and the person in control of the airplane or the ship is composed and collected, a disaster could be averted.
The practice of physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques performed for 15-20 minutes each day are a model of calmness that could be carried on to whatever job or activity one indulges in throughout the day. Yoga gives us the tools that open up the pathways to one’s inner self: the heart of stillness. It acts as a conduit between our daily agitated lives (like storm) and the tranquility that resides inside (similar to the eye of the storm).
Exercise: The exercise listed below is a suggestion only. If practiced properly and on a regular basis, it might help.
Meditation on Sound and Silence
Sit in the easy posture. Keep your back, neck and head straight up. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out. Become aware of the sounds around you. Pay attention to the sounds followed by silence, followed by sounds, followed by silence and so on. Keep your mind on the rhythm of sound, silence, sound, silence and so on. After doing this for two minutes, go back to normal breathing.
When you are trying out this meditation exercise the first time, practice it for two minutes. Go back to your normal breathing for two minutes. During the first week, practice it for a total of ten minutes at each sitting with a break for 1-2 minutes of regular breathing. You can also do this meditation exercise while you lie down on your back or sitting in a chair.
Dr. Ashok Kumar Malhotra is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy and founder of the Yoga and Meditation Society at SUNY Oneonta. As a service to the community, his program on “Yoga for Relaxation” is shown at 9 a.m. every Saturday on the Public Access Channel 23 and is also available on YouTube. His articles are condensed from his books on “An Introduction to Yoga Philosophy,” “Journal of Yoga and Meditation Now,” “Transcreation of the Bhagavad Gita,” “Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching,” “Instant Nirvana,” and “Sartre and Yoga.” These books are available through Amazon and the starred ones as eBooks through [email protected] and Kindle. He gives away all his royalties from his sixteen books to the Ninash Foundation (www.ninash.org) which builds schools for female and minority children of India.