In the first part of this two part series on Negative Habits & Yoga we looked at the work of Yoga Master BKS Iyengar and how he understands the structure of the mind to perpetuate a negative habit.  Either through an external challenge (like a disappointment) that causes a primary ripple on the surface of the mind, or from an internal secondary wave, that rises from what Iyengar refers to as a ‘mound’ at the bottom of the ‘lake of consciousness’, which is formed from repeated ripples over time at the mind’s surface.  Are we destined to be indentured slaves to the secondary wave activity in the depths of our minds?  Fortunately, Yoga says we’re not.  Through awareness, and with time, we can free ourselves from these ingrained patterns that have been built up over many years, or over the course of our entire lives.  How can we free ourselves from these ingrained patterns you might ask?  Here’s what Iyengar has to say:

“If you want to intercept the secondary waves rising, you need speed and clarity of perception, an acute self-awareness.  If your lake is muddy and impure, if there are lots of toxins in your system clouding your vision, clarity of vision is impossible. . .  Someone who is clouded, toxic, sluggish, discontented (blaming others is a prime cause of discontent), and restive in mind is never going to catch a secondary wave coming to the surface.  It will have expressed itself in action before they even notice it.  It is through the acute awareness and speed of action that we cultivate in asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing practices) that we can reform ourselves.  In addition, by breathing before acting, we are able to slow down our responses, inhale divinity, and surrender ego in our exhalation.  This momentary pause allows us the time for cognitive reflection, corrective reaction, and reappraisal.  It is the momentary pause in the process of cause and effect that allows us to begin the process of freedom.

The endless process is breath, cognitive reflection, corrective reaction, reappraisal, and action.  Eventually this process blends into the present moment, no past, no future, but action and right perception soldered together in a peerless moment, and then another moment and another.  Eventually, we are no longer caught up in the movement of time as a sequence or current sweeping us along, but we experience it as a series of discrete and present moments.  No rising thought wave can escape the sharpness of such vision.  It is what we call presence of mind.”

How present are you to the activity going on in your own mind?