Yoga aims to slowly remove fixed and rigid habits, dogmas and conditioning, so that the individual is adaptable to new situations and perfectly receptive to new experiences. Most people live a robot, automated existence with stereotyped responses to situations and people. There is absolutely no spontaneity. Since birth we have been conditioned and trained to act in fixed and automatic ways to given situations. We are like Pavlov's dogs: ring a bell and we begin to salivate. This may seem a little exaggerated, well perhaps it is, but we are trying to convince you of how most people lack freedom and spontaneity in their actions. Look around you at the activities of others, or even better, look at your own actions. You will find that many of them are deeply ingrained habits. And these are only the obvious ones.
It is a fact that the more aware one becomes, the less habitual one becomes. A peaceful, trouble free and deconditioned mind has incredible powers of clarity, perception, decision, that can adapt itself to any situation. Furthermore, a deconditioned mind responds perfectly to a given situation, and the forth coming actions are those that are relevant to the circumstances. There is tremendous agility and flexibility of mind. Whereas a conditioned mind will respond according to its own limited dream world interpretation of the situation, or according to its habitual programmed response. The resulting action is very rarely the best possible in view of the circumstances.
There is a wonderful example of conditioning given in Zen Buddhism. The master asked his disciple a question. When the disciple answered, the master was satisfied. On another day the master asked the same disciple exactly the same question. The disciple remonstrated that he had previously been asked the same question. The master acknowledged this fact, but nevertheless, asked the disciple to answer his question again. The disciple duly did this, giving exactly the same answer as he had before. The master became very angry and the disciple could not understand this, so he asked the master why he was pleased on the first occasion and yet angry on the second occasion, even though the answer was the same. The master explained that every moment in life is a different situation and therefore if one is truly spontaneous one will respond according to the new situation. The disciple had frozen and merely reproduced a stereotyped answer from past memory. He was not living in the present, but was following the dictates of his conditioning.
How does a man become conditioned? The answer is simple. Since childhood one learns to react to outside impulses in a certain manner. This results in a certain physical action, speech, mental activity, etc. When the actions are repeated over and over again then they become habit and one becomes conditioned. The more we accumulate these habits, the more rigid and automatic our life becomes. Instead of responding spontaneously, we become a walking robot that does whatever it is programmed to do with little relationship or consideration of the life situations as they really are. One lives in one's own little dream world. Swami Sivananda has summed up this process perfectly in the following poem:
Sow a thought and reap an action.
Sow an action and reap a habit.
Sow a habit and reap a character.
There are some people who believe that our entire life is totally conditioned by our personality and that there is little we can do about it. Actually this is true, but only at low levels of awareness. The more aware one becomes the less one is conditioned. The great saints, sages and yogis were definitely not conditioned, for they are living in and experiencing that which is beyond conditioning. They live in the realms where destiny and free will have no meaning. Anyone who tries to predict the actions and reactions of a person in higher consciousness is in for a great surprise. His actions and responses are unpredictable. The reason is very simple - they are not conditioned in the way that most people normally are. If you ask him a question, the answer will more than likely be unexpected. Ask another person and you will probably know beforehand exactly what they will answer. Feed in the outer impression and the automatic response will result. Most people are conditioned by ingrained and deep-rooted habits of thought and action.
How can one start to eliminate this conditioning? The answer is through yoga; in fact, one of the main purposes of yoga is to dissolve conditioning so that one becomes a spontaneous and receptive human. Remember, by spontaneity we don't mean automatic reactions; we mean perfect perception and receptivity to the environment, inner and outer, so that when one performs actions they are in complete harmony with everything around and within and beyond. Remember also that it is impossible to either force or create spontaneity; it can only happen as a natural consequence of a free and uninhibited mind. By practising meditation, the conditioning and habits will slowly but surely be expelled. The mind will be slowly reverted to its original and normal function, namely a perfect reflector.
There are further methods. While acting in daily life try to reflect on your actions. When you perform an action or think in a certain way, ask yourself why you acted in that particular manner. Is the action a conditioned response, without relevance to the given situation? Once you begin to recognize your conditioning you will unconsciously start to take steps to remove it. Recognition is the important thing. Most people don't realize that they are acting like robots. The same is with all your beliefs. Question them realistically. "Are they valid, or am I holding on to those beliefs without any real conviction or reason? I have the belief that all people who leave doors open are idiots. Why do I have such a belief?" It is the same with all our desires. "Why do I have such a strong desire to eat five bars of chocolate every day? Why do I take such great pains to impress my neighbours?" The list is endless and you must consider the question yourself. But reflection is important for the process of deconditioning the mind of habituated actions and patterns of thought. Don't suppress your actions under any circumstances but at least try to recognize them and reflect on them.
At first you will notice little effect on your life, yet slowly but surely you will feel a great sense of freedom in your activities. The more the mind is emptied not only of conditioning but all types of problems (though these are really no more than forms of conditioning) the more aware you will become. If one has a higher experience, even for a few seconds, then this taste will act as a wonderful incentive and dispeller ofconditioning. Personal experience is the best way of removing conditioning. But for the mind to have these experiences of higher knowledge it must first become less clouded with limited patterns of thought. Meditational practices, reflection and any other method you think suitable will help to decon-dition your mind. Notice that we did not say recondition, for that would be replacing the existing patterns in your mind with another cloud or set of limitations. And this is totally defeating the aim. It is not necessary to add anything to your mind, only empty it of the mental disturbances and conditioning that are obscuring its clarity. What you seek is already there; all you have to do is to clear the mind sufficiently to contact it and know it.
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Yoga is extensively know as a form of exercise that stretches and strengthens the body through various poses know as ASANA. For other people yoga is the realization of inner self satisfaction. For other it is a religion that the believe and must follow. Learn more within this guide by downloading today.