Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah (Patanjali 1.2) The state of yoga ceases the fluctuations of the mind (when you are in a state of yoga, all misconceptions that can exist in the mutable aspect of human beings disappear)
When the rare occasion allows for a game of chess, I often observe my mind wandering into the future while awaiting the other player’s next move. I speculate about the pieces in play and the subsequent moves that could unfold, assessing which moves would be more profitable and which would weaken my, or the opposing player’s position. This is how I lose sight of the task at hand, to take the king (and consequently end up losing the game).
In life as in chess. At any one time there are an infinite array of people and actions, and as these two forces come together, events unfold. It is impossible to plan for how and when the big moments in life will play out, and this wreaks havoc on the human mind, clinging onto power and control to prove our existence is worthwhile. Some people spend a lifetime assessing, speculating and planning for the future, some becoming so preoccupied with this task that the present moment is missed. As John Lennon so eloquently put it, “life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans”.
It has been my experience that the majority of us use this obsession with the future or past as an escape from living in the present moment. The present moment can be an uncomfortable place, after all; the place where ideas transform into action, where hearts are opened and merged (or broken), where birth and death intersect with the human body and spirit, where limitless possibilities are zeroed in on to create a single reality. Despite the fear involved with living in the present, Buddhist teachers and spiritual guides maintain that the present moment is the only moment that lacks nothing; according to Thich Naht Hanh, it is a moment that is perfect. Eckart Tolle has made a living writing not one, but several books that maintain that no other moment exists, except in the human mind.
The mind, so clever and deceiving, pulls us again and again away from this perfect moment to remind us of our transient existence, and also of our ego; our individual ability to control, manipulate and manage our vulnerabilities.
My own experiences have allowed me to witness the present moment where everything does actually feel complete and wonderful, and also the state when the speculating, wandering mind assesses my own life chess game in play. My current version of taking the king entails making it successfully through a high risk organ transplant surgery, and my strategy is to stay well physically and mentally. After months and months of experimentation with various diets and medications, my doctor has arrived at the decision to keep me on interchanging antibiotics. This coupled with a high calorie, high nutrition diet and daily yoga practice helps me to be strong and resilient in body and mind. Mentally, along side the yoga and meditation practice, I have decided to go on living my life to the best of my ability, and consider myself an extraordinarily blessed woman who loves my family, friends and work. I am extra lucky to have a honest doctor who communicates with me as a partner rather than as a superior, and who has let me know that there is no one in front of me on the list in my blood group or size. When my mind starts to wander about all the various possibilities, speculating about when, where, who and how, I bring myself back to my end game and my strategy and I can more readily return to the present moment where truly, every thing is as it should be. If only chess were so easy.