Maya means an illusion and invites us to take a refreshing new perspective over a very sensitive topic – the sense of self. If you sit still and simply try to let thoughts, emotions, and sensations come and go without actively engaging in thinking or evaluating what you feel, you might passively observe the so-called “flow of consciousness”. It is similar to a 3D movie that streams through the head uninterrupted. On one hand, this flow gives you a sense of very personal involvement in life: “I think, I like, I love.” On the other hand, it gives you a feeling of separation: “they do it to me”, “you and me”, “their opinion and my opinion.”
If you go on and perform this mindful observation more or less regularly, you might begin noticing one surprising feature; all that you experience as “your inner personal world” or seemingly solid “self” is just a row of small separated events: thoughts, sensations, and emotions.
Moreover, mental events and sensations come and go, and appear and disappear without any effort; the same can be said for when we breathe; our diaphragm tightens and relaxes without our conscious engagement or control.
Indeed, “the flow of consciousness” is similar to a rainfall of mental events and physical reactions. Furthermore, it seems that there is no single “control room” that rules the flow of consciousness. It is Interesting to note that modern neuroscientists support the opinion that there is no “creator” or “author” of our thoughts.
It is a waste of time to cling to the solid self and argue with others that we are right and they are wrong. It is better to cultivate mental flexibility and search for compromise and consensus. The idea of an illusory solid self or Maya gives us a glimpse into our mental flexibility and internal freedom. We do not have to be suspicious protectors with a solid persona in a hostile world, instead we are free creators of our own ways to engage with all facets of life.
Practice mindfulness. Once a day, take the position of an observer of your own “flow of consciousness”. Look for details in the “Training: Mindfulness, be content” section.
Read Francesco Varela, Daniel Dennett or other modern philosophers. Look for details on the “Sati’s Reading List”.
This modern view is given here as an invitation for your further reflection whether you have just started with mindfulness & yoga lessons for beginners, regularly attend mindfulness & yoga classes, a student at yoga teacher training or someone who looks for a chance to find some depth in everyday life.
Yoga is a pragmatic science where everything is tested and verified through direct experience.
Just as space isn’t defined by the objects that move through it, awareness isn’t defined or limited by the thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and so on that it apprehends. Awareness simply is.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Conscious human minds are more-or-less serial virtual machines (hint: Made of rules rather than wires) implemented – inefficiently on the parallel hardware that evolution has provided for us.
Let’s not forget the joy of doing something slow and difficult.
The ego could be defined simply in this way – a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment.
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