The Sushi Train of the Mind

A few years ago we had a Japanese restaurant across the road from the Shala. Whilst sitting there one day it occurred to me that the Ahamkara and the mind work very much like a Sushi train. Seriously!

The Ahamkara is like the sushi chef; it puts little plates of thoughts/ideas/memories in front of us and waits to see what we’re tempted by. The movement of the train is like the movement of the mind, conveying a constant procession of ideas through our awareness, with little gaps in between. If the chef sees us take a plate off the train they’ll make another one of the same, hoping to hook us in again with the tasty idea/morsel that got us involved previously. And if we don’t take anything off the train for a while, they’ll try to think of something different to send our way in the hope of re-engaging us with them and their offerings.

Now, when we’re hungry it makes sense to eat; and of course there’s nothing wrong with having a preference for certain types of dishes. To eat when you’re hungry is to engage with the present, both in the culinary sense, and in the way we can use the mind to respond to current circumstances, or relevant ideas. But what if, regardless of how full you were, you couldn’t refuse a particular type of dish whenever it came by? And even worse perhaps, what if you were so enamoured of the spectacle before you, with it’s pretty delicacies and constant movement, that you couldn’t refuse ANY dish that came along?

In the same way that indiscriminate eating results in a whole rang of health problems, devouring every single thought, or constantly holding onto the same thought, creates a wide array of health problems in our mind and heart. The practice of Yoga is about being able to discern not just which dishes you like or don’t like, but also whether or not you actually need to eat. It’s about taking and using what’s relevant in the moment, and leaving everything else to simply carry on its little journey into, through, and out of your awareness.

If we use our practice intelligently, and with alertness, we get better and better at ignoring the dishes we don’t need. And if we keep ignoring the irrelevant, the chef stops piling food (which will simply be discarded due to our lack of interest) onto the train. And so instead of a constant procession of meals on the train there’s big gaps, and the chef simply makes what we need when we need it. And so the mind and the ahamkara become our friendly servants, rather than our demanding masters; and awareness is left uncluttered, undistracted, to experience the present just as it is. Spacious, clear, and peaceful. And that is the purpose of our Yoga practice… :-)


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