News & Thoughts on Yoga in DC

Be Like the Tortoise

In Essay, Religion on April 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Maryland Tortoise in deep prayer

As luck would have it, I came across a tortoise out walking this morning. It had pulled in its limbs to the extent Lola, my dog, seeing me crouched over, and unaware the tortoise was a living being, flopped down on top of it.

My meditation and prayer room has a beautiful view of  fields. It also shares space with my desk and computer, and as I have a somewhat scattered mind, every time the iMac pings to notify me of a new deposit in my e-mail inbox, I want to jump up to read my mail.

Sea Tortoise, Flying Pig Pottery

My mind is like a tiger on the prowl. Its ears perk at anything new, and it pounces first right and then left, forgetting the path it was taking.

My mind prefers a Webpage with juicy links promising new information — the bliss of eternal distraction never having to follow one thing through — to a cloth and paper book with type running into the future like endless train tracks.

The Bhagavad Gita offers some advice to the spiritual seeker:

Even as the tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. Aspirants abstain from sense pleasures, but they still crave for them. These carvings all disappear when they see the highest goal. Even of those who tread the path, the stormy senses can sweep off the mind. They live in wisdom who subdue their senses and keep their minds ever absorbed in me [Krishna].

Like a tiger, my mind feels alive and important in action. But like the tortoise, it finds life in prayer.

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