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Resetting the Mind

6. The Reset Program

The Reset Program is the sixth in the series: Resetting the Mind.

Let us refresh all of what we have covered in this series so far.

In the first session, we discussed: habitual living; the 'I' fabric, or ego; some lessons from the past; and practical tips for awakened living.

The second session built on the first and we looked deeper at: what the flow of life enabled prescribed by the sages of yore provided and its need in our life today.

The third session focused on: the dynamics of inner slipping, what to let go, abandoning otherness and four good friends on the path.

In the fourth session we looked into: practice on the mat and we discussed: understanding what practice is, why we practice, the foundations for practice and getting started in practice.

The fifth session focused on: practice in life and we discussed: the principles of practice in life and six areas of change.

Today, we get to bring all of what we have covered together in a 7-14 day program for practice on the mat and in life. I say 7-14 day because though I recommend the full 14 day period, you will have to decide for yourself the period as it benefit you more if you can cut or significantly reduce the external stimulus while you are getting your reset foundation established.

We will not be going into each area or practice on the mat or in life as that has already been covered in this series and other which are on the website. Instead, we will get straight into a bird’s eye view of the program and lightly touch just the practice portion without repeating the philosophy or psychology.

Earlier, practice on the mat preceded practice in life – this was to cultivate the ability to look within in a contained environment before using this in life. Now, we start with practice in life first as this is where the awareness or consciousness gets mixed up with thought.

Bird’s Eye View of the Reset Program

Six principles of practice in life

  1. Self-responsibility and vigilance.

  2. Train yourself in thought selection and thought association.

  3. Reduce unnecessary input or information.

  4. Don’t lecture others.

  5. Never advertise change.

  6. Shut down the complaint the fault-finding departments.

Five areas of practice on the mat

  1. A little routine of asanas.

  2. A little pranayama.

  3. A little study.

  4. A little meditation.

  5. A little kirtan.

Include these too…

  1. Swami Sivananda’s Trident: Resolve in writing, daily schedule and self-accountability.

  2. Simple vegetarian diet.

  3. Do your own chores.

  4. Take a brisk walk or jog daily.

  5. Avoid all forms of negative thinking.

  6. Pray often.

I. Six Principles for Practice in Life

1. Self-responsibility and vigilance. Taking responsibility for our condition in the present and the future will empower you to do something about it. We do not need to do something about what is out there, or what may be out there, but the reactions on the mind to what is out there or what may be out there. Vigilance is a state where the mind is brought into the field of observation - along with all other perceptions - so things can be seen clearly for what they are, and wisdom is not clouded by conditioning. That wisdom can do what needs to be done.

2. Train yourself in these two new habits: thought selection and thought association. Thought selection is what you think on, or think about, and thought association, which is what you feel about things. Once you have the awareness to see things as they are, you must be able to think on things that are good that elevates, and feel in better ways about all things. What we call the old ways is habit - and vigilance should disallow it from interfering. These two are your most powerful tools, and if you master just these: what you choose to think about and how you feel about things, you would have done much good for yourself.

3. Reduce unnecessary input. The mind is already too cluttered, especially today in the data-overload age. Consider that everything that enters usually gets some value infused - and all of this goes somewhere for storage, which is in the mind, … which is in you! Do not open the mind’s borders to this wanton immigration, as you will have to support each one with part of you only. And this is how the mind gets heavy. Learn to walk lightly. You don’t have to access information just because it is out there - or soon you will have the whole world in your mind - in yourself! - and if this continues, you will lose yourself to them - to in-formation - formation within.

4. Don’t lecture others. Listen more, … speak less. Before you speak, remember what you’ve heard and consider what you about to say. What you say should be succinct and not a lecture, or you may be quite surprised at how it is taken - even though you may have had the best intention - good intention, but bad judgment.

5. Never advertise change. Understanding is where change must begin and then flow outwards to the way you look at things, think, and feel. This should continue to flow into action - or our responses to life. In most cases, it takes a while to get all this, or get our act together -as being sincere, and advertising change before change has happened, can result in reaction and resistance that is much more than you will be able to handle, or may be able to handle, without giving in to some self-doubt or mid-stream changes. It is futile to talk about change after you have changed because change is already in the past, and its effects would be self-evident.

6. Two departments to close down: the complaint and fault-finding departments. Consider these carefully and see if either does any good at all! When you complain or fault-find, you are inwardly critical and this gives rise to sorrow within that pours out as a complaint or a fault-find. Since both these require a framework of duality, you separate yourself from others psychologically and in the mind-space, there are fragmentation and scars that occur. These also cause hurt to others and give rise to hostility. Better to let things be as they are - and smile - rather than shake the hornet’s nest within and without.

Examine these for yourself and see, in each instance, how checking these habits can heal the mind to its natural state. What we have spoken about are habits, … limitations we impose on ourselves - and no one can do anything to heal this except each one for himself or herself.

What I have tried to suggest today is that in letting go of the walls, we ourselves are constructed in the mind, … we once again discover fullness of being where sorrow cannot reach.

If we can do this - and it can be done - we should have a solid foundation of self-correction and self-improvement that continues till the mind is reset to a healthy, peaceful, and joyful spirit which reflects in your lives each and every day.

II. Practice on the Mat

In yoga we practice on the mat so that we can understand ourselves a little bit better. We can develop vigilance, we can develop all these faculties of looking within to keep thought from interfering with action, and then later to keep thought from interfering with self.

For self-mastery, these two things are essential: number one: to keep thought out of action. In the earlier videos we have seen that our problems are not because of life, or things out there. Our problems are because awareness or consciousness of our sense of being seems to be very interested in thought. It faces thought continually instead of facing what’s out there or resting in itself.

1. Asanas or posture

Make a routine of about ten basic asanas. The idea is not to get into an asana, … to force yourself in, … all of that, … and the health benefits of doing asanas will come – but don’t worry about that. Don’t put anything beyond your practice. You’re not in competition – yoga is not competition. Can you go to as far as you can go? The mind stops the minute the order has been given to do this. The mind is not needed any more. It just gives the order to the organs of action: ‘This asana, please.’ And see – that that is the only role of the mind: to gather information from the organs of senses, and to give the command to the organs of action. That’s it! It should not go any further.

I’ve got a video on YouTube that’s on my website also that you could download, along with a hand-out and a poster, little things that will help you along. And remember: we are not trying to be experts at that position, and do it so picture perfect, because we’ve got a goal that is far beyond that expertise of a position. But what we are trying to learn is another position: how can I position myself in life so thought does not interfere with action? The asana is a way to understand your own self; so the asana is yoga.

Suryanamaskar (sun salutations): This is a good way to start asana practice and it is seen more as exercise than asana as there is constant vigorous movement. Suryanamaskar or sun salutations will exercise the entire system including the cardiovascular and respiratory system. It does not take any special equipment and can be practiced indoors or outdoors.

Routine: One cycle consists of all 12 movements done in one direction, and then reversed or done in the other direction. Start with 8-10 complete sets (which is all movements with the right leg forward first, followed by all movements with the left leg forward next) and work your way to 20 complete sets.

1. Padmasana

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched forward.

Hold your right foot, bending the leg at the knee and place the right foot on the left thigh.

Similarly, now hold your left foot, bending the leg at the knee and place the left foot on the right thigh.

Keep the body erect and place your hands between the heels in chinmudra.

Time, repetition and utility: As long as possible without moving in japa and meditation. Begin mental japa as soon as you assume the posture; it turns the attention within.

2. Siddhasana

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched forward.

Bend the left leg at the knee and place the heel at the space between the anus and scrotum.

Fold the right leg and place the heel against the pubic bone or just above the genitals.

Keep the body erect and place your hands between the heels in chinmudra.

Time, repetition and utility: As long as possible without moving in japa and meditation. Begin mental japa as soon as you assume the posture; it turns the attention within.

3. Sirshasana

Step #1: Sit in vajrasana or on your knees with a folded blanket or soft seat in front of you. Interweave and interlock your fingers and place it on the seat so the arms form a triangle with the locked fingers and forearms. Place the top of your head on the blanket, close to the finger-lock. Raise the body and bring the knees to the chest, toes still touching the ground. (not shown above)

Step #2: Slowly raise the toes from the ground till they can be folded above the thighs.

Step #3: Raise the thighs so the bent legs fall back naturally and the knees are facing up.

Step #4: Straighten the knees so the toes are pointing straight up and the body erect, in one straight line.

Benefits: The king of asanas, sirshasana, has many benefits including improving memory, eyesight, hearing, chronic constipation, preserves vital energy.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 3 minutes, repeat 2 times.

4. Sarvangasana

Lie on your back and slowly raise the legs.

Lift the hips and legs vertically, resting the elbows on the ground firmly to support the back with both hands.

Raise the legs till they are vertical, toes pointing up.

Press the chin against the chest and hold.

Benefits: Excellent overall toner, it massages the thyroid glands, gives spinal flexibility, promotes healthy blood flow, removes constipation and other stomach disorders and rejuvenates the entire system.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 3 minutes, repeat 2 times.

5. Matsyasana

First sit in padmasana and slowly lay backwards till you are lying on your back.

Lift the trunk and head, resting the top of the head on the ground by arching the back.

Catch the toes and hold the position.

Benefits: Relieves neck cramps caused by sarvangasana, strengthens the waist, back and neck, opens the larynx and trachea and fills the lungs with a deep supply of fresh air.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 3 minutes, repeat 2 times.

Note: Should be performed after sarvangasana, especially if you have held it for more than 2 minutes.

6. Halasana

Lie flat on your back, keeping the two hands near the thighs palms down.

Without bending the legs, raise them gradually, keeping the hands on the ground.

Raise the hips and lower back and bring the toes to the ground just beyond the head.

Keep the knees straight and close together.

With the chin against the chest, breathe slowly through your nose.

Benefits: Stretches the muscles of the back, strengthens the abdominal muscles, pulls on the whole spine giving each vertebrae and ligament plenty of fresh blood supply, tones the spinal nerves and rejuvenates the nervous system.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 3 minutes, repeat 2 times.

7. Pachimotasana

Lie flat on your back with your legs and thighs extended and straight.

Slowly raise your head and chest as if you are rolling forward gradually and bend the trunk forward till you are able to reach and hold onto the toes.

If possible, you can bury your head between your knees.

Benefits: Rouses the gastric fire and makes the breath flow through the sushumna nadi, tones and reduces fat in the abdominal area, tones spleen and liver, increases bowel movements, removes constipation, cures piles, controls diabetes and increases spinal elasticity.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 3 minutes, repeat 2 times.

8. Mayurasana

Step #1: Kneel as shown above with arms joined or touching each other, resting on the ground palms down and fingers pointed to the feet. Curving the fingers slightly, will offer better balance. Support the body with the forearms and bring the abdomen slowly down against the joint elbows.

Step #2: Stretch the legs and rest the toes on the ground. Inhale and raise both legs together so they are parallel to the floor and the body is in one straight line from the head to the toes.

Benefits: Restores stomach disorders, tones the liver, pancreas, stomach and kidneys, strengthens the hand muscles and improves balance.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 5 seconds to 30 seconds, repeat 2 times.

9. Bhujangasana

Lie on the floor face down, completely relaxed, arms stretched out before you, palms flat on the floor.

Raising your head and torso, let the spine bend nicely while the rest of the body, from the waist down, touches the ground.

Benefits: Tones the deep and superficial muscles of the back, relieves back pain due to prolonged sitting and overwork, tones ovaries and the uterus in ladies.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 30 seconds to 1 minute, repeat 2 times.

10. Salabhasana

Lie on the floor face down, completely relaxed with your hands along the body, palms up.

Rest the chin on the ground by raising the head up a little.

Inhale, stiffen the whole body and raise the legs together while keeping the knees together and straight.

Raise the sacrum or lower back a little along with the legs. The weight of the legs will shift to the chest and hands. Hold while keeping the thighs, legs and toes in a straight line.

Benefits: Develops the upper half of the body, tones vertebrae and sacral regions, strengthens all abdominal muscles, relieves constipation and tones the liver, pancreas and kidneys.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 10 seconds to 45 seconds, repeat 2 times.

11. Dhanurasana

Lie on the floor face down, completely relaxed.

Bend the knees to fold the legs over the thighs.

Raise the head and chest and hold the ankles with the hands.

Raise the head, body and knees by pulling the legs. The weight of the body will rest on the abdomen.

Keep the spine nicely arched so it resembles a bow. The arms and forearms should be straight and firm and the knees together.

Benefits: Supplements bhujangasana, massages back muscles, energizes digestion, reduces fat and invigorates appetite.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, repeat 2 times.

12. Ardhamatsyendrasana

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched forward.

Bending the right leg at the knee, set the heel against the perineum.

Bend the left knee and lifting it with your hands, extend the left foot over the right leg and place it on the ground next to the right knee.

Pass the right hand over the left knee and catch the left foot firmly.

Swing the left hand back and try to hold the left thigh. Give a steady pull to twist the spine and turn towards the left.

Repeat the same process on the right side also.

Benefits: Increases spinal elasticity, massages the abdominal organs and tones spinal nerves.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 2 minutes, repeat 2 times.

13. Padahastasana

Standing upright and inhaling, raise your hands over your head.

Exhaling, bend forward till the hands touch the toes and the head touches the knees.

Keep the knees straight and unbent and your arms touching the ears all the while.

In time, you will be able to bury the face between the knees and keep your palms flat on the floor.

Benefits: Includes all benefits of pachimotasana, increases height, tones abdomen and overall body, reduces abdomen fat and makes the body lighter.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 1 minute to 2 minutes, repeat 2 times.

14. Savasana

Lie flat on your back with your legs and thighs straight but relaxed.

The heels should be together and toes naturally apart.

Close your eyes and consciously relax the mind and all the muscles of the body. Then, after taking a deep breath and exhaling completely—feel the prana in each part of the body from the toes to the top of the head.

Working one side at a time, start by focusing your attention on the toes, then go on to the calf muscles, knees, and thighs. Now, feel both sides of the lower body relaxing at the same time.

Next, feel the prana in the abdomen, chest, back  and buttocks area.

Next, the hands, first working one side at a time from the fingers to the forearms, biceps, and the whole arm. Now, feel both arms relaxing at the same time.

Next, feel the prana in the shoulders, neck, face muscles and the top of the head.

Finally, feel the prana filling the brain with fresh energy and relaxing it completely.

Gently roll from side to side and get up gracefully.

Benefits: Can be done anytime you feel the need for conscious total relaxation.

Time and repetition: Slowly increase the time from 8 minutes to 15 minutes one time.

2. Pranayama or breath control

Sukh Purvak Pranayama

Sit comfortably in padmasana with eyes closed.

Close the right nostril with the right thumb and breath in very slowly through the left nostril.

Keeping the right thumb over the right nostril, close the left nostril with the last three fingers of the same hand and retain the breath 'as long as' you comfortably can.

Releasing the thumb from the right nostril, gently release the breath through it.

Reverse the cycle by first closing the left nostril with the last three fingers of the right hand and breathing in through the left nostril.

Close the right nostril with the right thumb of the same hand and retain the breath 'as long as' you comfortably can.

Release the last three fingers from the left nostril and release the breath trough it.

Alternating the cycle is one pranayama.

Benefits: All of what we have discussed in the yoga element with asanas apply to pranayama as well. Physically, the body becomes healthier as deeper breathing dispels residual carbon dioxide and one feels increased energy levels. The increased supply of fresh oxygen results in better repair and maintenance and digestion and sleep improve significantly. Mentally, regulation of prana significantly reduces lethargy and restlessness of the mind or tamas and rajas. The mind is in a better state for concentration and meditation.

Time and repetition: Start with 10 pranayama cycles and gradually increase the number to 20 cycles and practice twice a day, in the morning and evening.

Practice Chart (click here to download the pdf of the below image)

Asana and Pranayama Practice Chart

Padmasana and siddhasana are mainly for japa and meditation. Recommend sitting in them while sitting in your normal activities at home to increase flexibility. Sitting in vajrasana for about 10-15 minutes after your meal helps digestion.

3. Swadhyaya or study

We are not studying the scripture, through the scripture we are studying or trying to understand our self.

Take up daily reading of three or four scriptures: Bhagavad Gita, Upanishad, Yoga Vasistha, … anything else – I recommend the Sivananda Daily Reading. One page, or a little more, on each scripture; then put a bookmark – you know you’re going to come back there to that point the next day. While you read – either aloud, or you’re reading mentally – better if you’re reading mentally, … can you watch the rise of the ego agreeing with it, disagreeing with it, or in trying to interpret it? Let it go – let it exhaust itself! And try, instead, to understand in your heart not what the words mean.

There’s a difference between the translation and the meaning. Often people read the translation and through the translation they try to infer a meaning. Instead, the author of that scripture had an experience that he or she witnessed, or experienced. They are trying to point to that through these words. Can I see that in my heart, which is the center of my understanding? If that which feels bound somehow and would like to be free listens while you read this aloud or mentally, you will find a way to actualize the teaching so the author’s experience becomes your own.

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