RESOURCES FOR THE MODERN YOGI

Citta Chatter

Posted by: on Dec 26, 2013 | 7 Comments
Citta Chatter
image from @stish_illustrate

Yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah
Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness (Translation by Georg Feuerstein)
Yoga Sutra 1.2

Lately I have been thinking of nothing but citta (the fluctuations of the mind).

I even wondered: if you make citta the steady object of your focus, is it still citta?  Chew on that for awhile…

I’m fascinated by those whose minds behave for them—people who can switch into physics mode when called upon to explain string theory, yet are just as able to still their minds in meditation.

I am, by nature, a monkey mind.

Today in yoga class as I watch Anna float up into the perfect headstand, my citta takes a turn in her direction, and I wonder if ever I will achieve such beautiful, compsosed, focused strength… and I also wonder where she got that top and why lululemon stuff is so expensive.

After class I asked Anna, owner of Davanna yoga and mother of three, how she manages such consistent focus.  She told me that the moment she went into headstand, her head turned to peanut butter –she had forgotten to buy more.

REALLY? You mean I’m not alone here in citta city?

Her revelation piqued my curiosity… after all, there is something about citta that’s like gossip.  And who doesn’t like a little gossip with their gomukasana?  I became obsessed with uncovering the wandering thoughts of yogis while they’re on their mats.  When they’re supposed to be thinking about grounding their big toe mound and floating their collar bones – what’s really on their minds?  I decided to do a little research…

Oliver, the executive director of the Iyengar Institute in NYC,  confessed that when he’s practicing, his mind goes to his new baby girl, and then to all the work not getting done while he’s on the mat, and then to how he has to leave NOW. Still, he manages to control the urge and looks utterly composed in all his poses.

Alexander has a wonderful technique for quieting his citta chatter—he begins a body scan that takes him, with his breath, up and down his body in each of the poses, keeping an internal flow that both deepens and focuses his practice.

From what several other teachers and students told me, it seems food and escape are the two main subjects for citta while in yoga class.

In supta virasana, Cristine was wondering what to make for dinner and if she would have time to swing by the green market. Then, in downward dog, looking toward her navel as the teacher instructed, her mind shifted to figuring out what NOT to make because looking at her belly made her feel fat—so she should have fish and lentils, but David hates them so maybe just spinach instead.

And escape? I have spent hours in my life – and not just on my mat! – trying to get out of situations that I didn’t like, places that gave me discomfort, people who made me feel uncomfortable or challenging poses that made me want to run for the hills!

I know for a fact that I have more than once looked longingly at the door while coming out of camel—why is it called camel anyway?—I mean I understand crow and rabbit and tortoise, but what about that pose is like a camel?  And here I go again – more citta chatter!

Then one day while I was in uttanasana thinking about how they changed the flavor of Crest and how I don’t like it any more, I realized that citta is the most constant thing in my practice.

So I’m trying to find a way to use my citta as part of my journey inward.

But now at least I know that when my mind goes out the door and gets a smoothie, at least  I’m in good company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Cristine
    November 26, 2013

    Great article and so very true! It’s a continuing practice to keep out the citta vritti and it’s nice to know that quieting the mind is as difficult for many as it is for me – even the experienced yogis 🙂

  2. terrinakamura
    November 26, 2013

    I don’t understand most of the yoga words, but thoroughly enjoyed reading, and related to parts of the piece. Wonderfully written, GA! And I like the fact that you are using capitalization! (inside joke) 🙂

  3. Kahuna Dave
    November 26, 2013

    GA, you’re such a citta girl. I tip my hat to you. Such fun to read.

  4. delta668 .
    November 26, 2013

    brilliant transition analogy..never read/heard a better connection bet my yoga and my life. Thankyou namaste!

    “…I have spent hours in my life – and not just on my mat! – trying to
    get out situations that I didn’t like, places that gave me discomfort…..Then one day while I was in uttanasana thinking about how they
    changed the flavor of Crest and how I don’t like it any more, I realized
    that citta is the most constant thing in my practice……

  5. nuala bean
    November 28, 2013

    LOVE THIS. Thank you for a good laugh – and a great sense of relief to know I’m not the only one thinking about double-A batteries while trying to meditate. Alexander’s body scan idea is wonderful. Great piece GA!

  6. rk
    November 29, 2013

    Thank you for sharing!!! I am so happy I found your articles and can’t wait for more!!

  7. Bri
    December 3, 2013

    Thank you for this post Gailanne, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Your writing style is extremely smart and fresh, and this post applies to all human beings. I look forward to reading more from you in the future. Namaste