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Discernment: Holiday Tips For A Healthy Mind

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For several decades, Jivamukti Yoga has empowered a generation of critical thinkers.  Individuals who question so-called norms and lifestyle choices when those norms fall short of basic tenets of compassion with respect to animals, humans and Mother Earth. Jivamukti Yogis and aspiring Jivamukti Yogis world-wide have embraced a more evolved lifestyle and are more conscious of how we live our life and how we treat each other, all species and our relationship to the planet.  Using the simple but profound tool of compassion, Jivamukti Yoga has advocated for liberation for all beings.

As we approach the holiday season, we might face challenging and sometimes deeply disturbing news from around us.  In recent weeks and months, there has been a wave of harassment scandals that have exposed the once mighty and powerful in the media industry and have given voice to many women and men who silently suffered or who quietly bore witness to mistreatment, at the least, and abuse at the worst.  This can be a confusing and anxious time for many people.

The good news is there are quintessential teachings we can fall back upon that will guide us to keep our sanity, our optimism and be undaunted in our spiritual pursuits. The state of living liberated (Jivanmukta) is everybody’s fundamental right, according to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, the founder and spiritual teacher of Ananda Ashram as well as a Grandfather Guru to Jivamukti Yoga. 

In the age of Internet journalism and free reign of expression without respect for the truth, the truth seems to be whatever anyone makes of what happened.  We are constantly bombarded with news, commentary on that news, and very articulate commentary on top of those commentaries and tweets and emails influencing our thoughts and opinions to tilt one way or the other. Some people have suggested that we live in a post-truth world. While sometimes fact, fiction, and smear all get mixed up, it is clear that we need a guidepost to tell us what to believe and what is just a waste of time.

The Yoga Sutras explain the concept of Pramāna – the means of right knowledge.  Right knowledge has three main sources: pratyakśa – direct perception by means of the senses and sensory organs, anumāna (inference) and from Sabda or Shruti, based on expertise from agama shastras and other recognized sources of knowledge.  Unverified Internet Blogs are not one of them! 

With modern technology and the ease of sharing and expressing (sometimes with regret that follows soon) and increasing Maya (illusion) all around us, one has to be careful. The power of using our voice comes with great responsibility. A casual forward of falsehood laden email or blog post can fuel more falsehood and create more distrust and cynisicm. Evolutionary biologists of speak of the lazy brain that interprets things to conserve mental energy, sometimes with catastrophic results. Rushing to judgement and outsourcing our intellect to an automated algorithm drives our own growth backwards.

Tips for a mental detox to establish a clear thinking mind:

1. Stay off social media for a week. 

2. Try a media-detox for a few days.

3. Practice more discernment and mindfulness.

4. Meditate daily

This will help you regain your clarity, your sense of judgement and faculty based on your own intuition and intelligence.

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

“Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable (people). All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no (person) will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my (kin) or hate (them); for we have come into the world to work together…”

– Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)