Yoga gives us insights to stabilize and strengthen positive changes

By Dr. Ganesh Mohan

We all have times when we feel better, broadly: calmer, more pleasant, with good energy, and more. These states are what we term svastha and sattva, traditionally. They indicate that we have greater balance in body and mind.

Yoga gives us keys to strengthen these positive transformations in our lives, whenever they occur. The heart of these transformations is the experience.

When we have a positive, peaceful experience in body and mind, we must pause, take note, and immerse ourselves in that experience. This is what yoga classically terms as samādhi, the absorption or immersion of our awareness. This will immediately make that experience deeper, more real and powerful.

As a result, that pattern grows stronger. We will then find it easier to recall that experience at other times. Even when the circumstances are not necessarily favorable to that experience, it will be easier to keep it in our mind. This practice of recall is termed smti.

And then, we can set the intention that we will continue to repeat that experience or stay with it. This intention is termed saṅkalpa, and the determination that we will not stray from that practice is termed vrata, a vow.

For instance, we may cultivate the feeling of kindness, as a meditation practice and in our daily life. When we experience that kindness, we can deliberately absorb our awareness in it. Deepen the feeling.

Later, when we are in a situation that may make us angry or upset, it will be easier to recall that kindness because the pattern, the impact, that it has left in us, is stronger.

The more we practice this kindness, the easier it is for us to set the intention to return to it. When we verbalize that intention, it makes the practice of the experience concrete, definitive. This intention can become the foundation for strong determination—a vow.

This process establishes a virtuous cycle that makes it easier for us to return to that experience that we wished to cultivate in the first place.

This ancient wisdom of yoga is timeless. These behavioral and transformational insights remain just as relevant today as they were centuries ago. We can benefit deeply from learning and applying them to our lives.