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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Talk on Hyperactivity

May 29, 2004
Raghuramji - The President of the 1st Yoga Festival - Istanbul / Turkey

Before we start the session, I would like to start with a brief meditation.
I will give you the instructions:
You may sit cross-legged. Try to keep your shoulders straight. Close your eyes. Relax your whole body in this position. While your eyes closed, observe your breath. Inhale and exhale completely…
Follow the breath from the nostrils until the lungs… Once the breath gets slower and relaxed, observe the mind… No tension and no tightness of the mind… Imagine a wonderful flower in your mind with beautiful colors and a wonderful smell. Try to think that this moment is the most blessed moment of your life. Let us say three times “aum” while breathing out. Join your hands at the heart level and repeat after me. Bend forward while exhaling. And saying ‘aum’… Aum…
In English, the word “man” comes from the word “mind”. Also in Sanskrit, the word “man” comes from the word “mind”. One who has a mind, is a man. When we say man here, we do not only mean the male but also the female. The important aspect of human being is the mind. Essentially, the idea of yoga is to see how we can develop in harmony at the mind level. When there is harmony, there will be peace of mind. It is easier said than done.
What we really need to look at is how to get into that peaceful state of mind. There are very few people on the streets whose minds are naturally peaceful. They were born with a peace of mind. They really do not have to do anything. Nothing can disturb their minds. There are two types of people. One category of people who have peace of mind but they do not do any constructive activity. They are very dull and they are not really useful to the society. In the understanding of yoga they appear to be peaceful but in reality they are not but their disturbances are in the seed form. But people in the other category are very peaceful and very creative at the same time. Yoga wants people to have peaceful minds and at the same time be creative. When we look at the non-creative people, they do not even exercise their minds. They do not make any activity and they are just above the simple material level. They do not fight against the challenges or the difficulties of life. Therefore they are not creative or active at all. When we put these people in some kind of an activity, we see that they really suffer. If you can put them in protection, then they can not harm themselves. This is the category of people who have not yet been evolved. Looking at the other people who are active, we can say that they have evolved.
A person who is active or hyperactive has lots of creativity and has lots of ideas unlike a dull person. A dull person is not sensitive. An active or hyperactive person is already sensitive. Sensitivity is growth. We need to develop sensitivity. Developments in technology and science are actually making us more and more sensitive. Hundred years ago people were not this sensitive. A person who is sensitive is a person who is developed. Sensitivity is growth. In hundred years of time, people will be much more sensitive than us.
Let me give a simple example regarding this. Hundred years ago men did not have a cleanness concept. But today we have developed and we wonder how people lived at those times. We are also sensitive to information these days. Thanks to the information technology growth. People wonder about how they used to live without a radio or a television. We wonder how they lived without knowing what is going on around the world. Today we have all these things available.
Hundred years ago traveling to U.S.A. took three months by boat. Today you can go anywhere very fast. I wonder how people could take a trip as three months to go to America. Hundred years later, things will be totally different. We are now sensitive to spending such a time in travel. May be people in future will look at our televisions and think how primitively we have lived. This is how the sensitivity grows as the technology develops. Another thing is the inner speed. We complain about the speed out side. But the real problem is not outer speed but it is the inner speed which is a problem. Let me state an example which is common for most of us. When I was at school, I used to visit my brother who was working at a bank. At the bank, they used to keep a notebook called daybook to keep track of everything that was done at that day. They had to add the four to six digit number and it used to take around 15 minutes which they used to do leisurely. Today we have computers and all the data is on the computers. All you need to do to close the day is just hit a button and the computer adds. In one minute, the calculation is finished. We are restless. If we wait just a few seconds more, we start complaining. Twenty years ago, men would give 15-20 minutes where as today, we can not wait for even 15 seconds. This means that the outside world is getting faster and faster but our inside world moves much faster than that.
The outside world has become fast and inside world has become faster. The outside world gets more sensitive but the inside gets even more extra sensitive. Outside becomes active and the inside becomes hyperactive. Hyperactivity does not belong to outside but to our inside.
To learn about hyperactivity is to actually see within. A simple experiment our philosophy asks us to try to sit quiet for some time and see what happens. We can sit for 5-10 minutes. May be that will create a force inside because we will get restless. We want to do something or we will get bored. The way hyperactivity manifests in us is in the form of boredom. Boredom, hyperactivity and hypersensitivity are very closely connected. Less developed countries have less problems of hyperactivity. When the country is less developed, people do not complain about boredom also. Our grandfathers and grandmothers did not have televisions or radios but they never complained about boredom. My grandfather used to come from the field and sit comfortably in his chair without any complaints. My father, being the next generation, used to complain about boredom in his 40-50s. In my own generation, this boredom starts with the early ages like 20s. Fifty years ago a child of six or seven years hardly used to complain about boredom. Fifty years later look at my son he started to complain about boredom when he was 6 years old. This hyperactivity and boredom start to be seen in people at earlier ages. The reason appears to be the technological progress we see. When we did not have all these play things etc we were less restless. With all the supports to engage us today we are growing more and more restless. A more developed country has greater problem of this. That is why we can see small children being hyperactive and complaining about boredom in developed countries more than in the developing countries. If we don’t solve this problem now, a couple of generations later, the children will be born not by crying but by saying “I’m bored”.Maxim Gorky a Russian noble laureate when he visited USA once, was taken round the various places of entertainment, as they wanted to show him how rich America is and how much people have. At the end of the whole tour Gorky said with sad face wondered how poor people are! The officials who were with him asked do you mean Russian people who do not have such things. He said no I am talking about Americans who need so many things to engage them otherwise they get bored! I am sorry about the restlessness in American public.
We somehow need to get rid of this restlessness. Let me come to some ideas of yoga. Inside our body, there are no different kinds of energies. There is only energy that we call the life energy, prana. Prana is responsible for our respiration and activities. It is also responsible for boredom and restlessness. When we can not control prana, it becomes restless. When we have control over it, then we become better people. This restless energy goes more to the brain region. As the pressure gets bigger we somehow spend it away. What normally do we do when we are restless? We walk to spend that energy away. Another way to get rid of the energy is to gossip. It gives such a wonderful relief. You throw away your inner restlessness and the emptiness is created inside. What you enjoy in gossip is that emptiness. Some people smoke to get rid of this restlessness. When you smoke, the nicotine takes away the restless energy and you get rid of it. Sex is another way to get rid of this restless energy. We have several sensory organs through which we involve in activities. These are all the centers through which we spend this restless energy. These centers are called the chakras. Basically, when we feel the urge to smoke, it is because of the restlessness inside not because of the mouth or lungs. What is wrong if we spend this energy in the form of sex, smoking etc.? What happens is that, they take away our restlessness when we are in contact with objects but it comes back to us soon as we are denied of the object, afterwards. The problem with these ways of spending the energy is that they make the mind much more restless. After involving in a gossip, you feel the relief first. But afterwards, you observe that your mind become much more complex. All these methods to spend that energy have evil attached. Spending this restless energy by hyperactivity is unhealthy. Gardening on the other hand is a wonderful way of spending this energy. But today we have so many concrete buildings that there are almost no gardens at all. In India, women knit while they wait for the bus at the bus stop. I am sure same way women do activities all over the world. That is a way wonderful way of spending their restless energy inside. I always wonder why women have such wonderful activities but not men. Therefore women always are knitting to conquer their restlessness where the men spend restlessness by smoking in India. Smoking is a problem for the health where as knitting is not. Another way people spend their restless energy is by eating. The whole bubblegum business survives on our restless. Probably the bubblegum business will be even better as we get more and more restless. That is how we spend that energy and become peaceful.
In all these activities, we spend that energy but we do not address the basic issue as to how not to become restless inside again. This is a very important point. Spending the restless energy is important but how not to become restless is much more important. Essentially, yoga works in that area.
The role of the yoga is to make you less restless inside. One of the most important key factors in yoga to control that restlessness is being aware. Being aware of yourself, you will be able to control your restlessness.
There are two ways of looking at this awareness. There is a positive and negative awareness. One of the greatest thinkers of India is Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He used to tell a simple story to explain this awareness. There was a farm house in a land of 100 acres and there was a watchman for this house. This watchman used to travel around the farm and check if everything was all right. He was a very good watchman. He used to know all the details about the farm. If anything was missing in the farm, he would be aware of it. If there was a thief or an animal jumped into the farm, making a sound, he would be aware of that too. He would recognize any small sound. That is his job. He does this job only for the 8 hours that is his work hours. After that he becomes tired and he could not continue that awareness as a watchman for more than 8 hours. He would like to break off! If he does more than one day he becomes sick.
And there is another person who also has awareness. His awareness is of different nature. He knows what things are available in the farm house. If there was a problem in the car, he could go into his garage and get the necessary equipment to fix it. If a guest comes, he knows in garden, which tree to pick the good fruits from. He is aware for 24 hours, and he is the owner of the farm house. Those 24 hours of awareness is not a burden on him. A watchman’s awareness is a burden after 8 hours; where as the owner’s awareness is not a burden for 24 hours. Watchman’s awareness is a pressure where as the owner’s awareness is a relief. What is the difference between the watchman’s awareness and the owner’s awareness? The watchman’s awareness is always the awareness of negativity. Watchman’s awareness is around what is wrong, where is the weakness, where the thief, etc can enter. The owner’s awareness is a positive awareness. Ramakrishna used to say that the watchman’s awareness is bad, but the owner’s awareness is good. Watchman’s awareness is a burden but the owner’s awareness is a relief. God sent you not as a watchman of your body but as the owners of your body. Ramakrishna therefore suggested don’t have watchman’s awareness on you, have owner’s awareness. A hyperactive person is generally thinking what is wrong. We are tutored to think that the more negativity we see, the more intelligent we are. We think that if we can find fault, we are great. While listening to music, when we see a small fault and point-out the mistake, we feel proud that we know about music. Education is making us more and more negative aware people.
Yoga awareness is about positive awareness. If you become more and more negatively aware, then the world looks negative. It is very easy to see something that is negative. In a white sheet, we can immediately see a black spot. You do not need to put any effort to see that black dot. Mind very easily goes to that negative awareness. The closer you look at something, the more negative you see. This is how we get closer to hyperactivity and negative awareness. We have to develop consciously positive awareness.
When you look at a rose garden, there are actually more thorns than roses. One flower at least has ten thorns. The more you look at these thorns you wonder why they call it the rose garden instead of the thorn garden. That is right according to the democratic ideas also. When you start negative awareness, it is like looking at the thorns instead of the roses. The more you look at the thorns; you may even start blaming the rose flower the more. Then you can say that the flower is having a conspiracy against you. The flower is attracting you and therefore the thorns can harm you. When you start looking at the negative, even the positive will appear negative to you and you feel you are really smart.
On the other hand, the more you see the flowers, the more you appreciate the garden. If you look at the flowers, you may even appreciate the thorns. You may start saying that the thorn is beautifully placed there to protect the rose. Yoga tries to improve positive awareness. The first help of yoga to come out of hyperactivity is to learn to look at everything positively.
Let us look at our daily life. What do you do first when you get up in the morning? You look at the clock. It is time that you have to get up. You have a lot of things to do. A horrible day has started again, you curse the day! But you can’t help it. You start the day with negativity! Yoga says, stop all these. Think about the positive things. Before you start any activity just spend 10-15 minutes thinking of the positive things. Then your day becomes positive.
The practice of yoga gives a great advantage to you. When you stretch you body, your muscles excite hundreds of neurons in your brain. When you stretch the body, these neurons get activated. Activated neurons add to your awareness. By stretching your body, you are actually developing your awareness. Awareness is nothing but trying to build a harmony between the mind and the body. When you stretch your body in the yoga, use this awareness and look at the stretch positively. When you do that, your stretches will be able to take you to deeper levels of relaxation. Don’t worry about your pains or the bending that you can not do. Think about it positively and think you can do so much. That positive awareness will help you go to a positive relaxation.
This relaxation will make you less restless. Try to do the practices of yoga slowly and gently. The positive awareness helps you to agree with self in just a moment. Stay in the final posture. Allow yourself to observe all the changes taken place in your body. Observe your blood flow and pulse rate. Listen to the vibes inside your body dispassionately. All these will help you to go to deeper relaxations. Thereby you are actually trying to reduce your inner hyperactivity. You will not lose your sensitivity meanwhile. Once you are peaceful inside, you can always bring in energy when an activity is needed.
This is valid for the second category of people I have explained earlier namely the people who are basically very sensitive but they are not restless. They can do the activity calmly but they do not need to become hyperactive. They are aware of everything but they do not react. Actually you can do a set of exercises to see how aware you are inside. In Sanskrit the word pragna which is translated to English as “awareness”. There is no better word for it than awareness. Awareness is always object oriented. Awareness always has “of what?” Where as pragna is not object oriented, it is subject oriented. Pragna is a state inside, not a state from outside. We are aware of all the things around the world. We are aware of what is happening in America in India; we are aware of the politics today. We are aware of all these things but we are never aware of our inside. This is not pragna; it is awareness alright but not pragna.The practice we will do today is about how to bring bout that awareness from outside to inside. We will see how our blood flows and how our heart works. We will see how we can enter the sound resonance, and see the various impulses of the nerves. We will improve our awareness about all these activities. This is done basically by reducing the scattered and fragmented awareness out side. Finally we will eliminate all the things and we will become mere awareness. That mere awareness is what is called the pragna. Other objects, we have to show with the help of light. Even the moon can not be seen without the sun light. We don’t need another light to see self. Pragna is light itself. With the help of pragna, we can see other objects. Once we become pragna, then we can bring the pragna into all our actions. If you do this yoga practice 45 minutes a day you can become pragna yourself. Once you bring in pragna in all your activities, your activities will neither become dull or hyperactive. You will be wonderfully active and at the same time you will not be hyperactive. You will be the master of the activities; the activities will not be your masters. You are here and now. I can answer a few questions now.
Question and answer session:
What is the person when he is having this awareness?This question was asked by Arjuna to Krishna in the second chapter of Bhagavad-Gita. There he asks what a person is like in the state of pragna. To be aware of everything outside us, science helps us. Science does not have any prescription for inner awareness. Your self awareness is what the yoga alone can do. In this respect yoga is not against the science, it supports science.
We are very much object- oriented. Do we have to spend some time alone and quiet?
We are trained by the present day life style to live in object orientation. We have no opportunity to be in subject orientation. That is the way meditation practice is to be taken. This is essentially to be quiet and take this quietness into deeper inner layers of us.
When there is a hyperactive person in front of me I try to be calm. When I am calm, he gets more hyperactive.
A person in the state of awareness would never harm another person. A person who is aware could only help others to grow. If that person’s silence is going to help the other person, he will remain silence. If that person’s silence will make the other one even more hyperactive, he will be silent inside and will not allow his silence to exhibit outside which can harm other person. So he will show his emotion with out getting caught up in emotions so that the other person will mend himself. A person who has established a world of pragna can never harm the outside world. I would like to give an example from my son. He was very peaceful at school. His friends used to tease him and make fun of him. He would come home and cry. All the others have told him not to fight with those kids. But my son used to say that the quieter I am, the more they tease me. I told my son without loosing awareness to go and show his strength to them because he was strong enough. But do not keep any anger within you while doing this. The next day he went and just showed his strength to them. Afterwards they all became good friends of him. When I say be peaceful, I do not mean lose your self respect. You know our Indian gods. One of their hands is in the pose of granting boons with peace but the other hand has a bow and arrow or any other weapon. I can be peaceful when I am strong when needed. Never lose your self respect in the name of yoga and spiritually.
How can we be aware of something outside us?
That is the fundamental difference between matter and consciousness. Matter is not aware of being aware. For example a tape recorder gives all the material that it has. But the tape recorder is not aware of itself. The essential thing about human being is that we are aware that we are human beings. The question of awareness is not like a mirror that reflects but like something from inside to outside. Mirror only shows what is there in front of it. Similarly, tape recorder only gives out what is in there. Self-awareness is what reflects the inside to outside. It can choose or it can reject. I can choose to take something or reject it. When we add spirituality to awareness, then we can get the positive things and reject the negative. If I can find awareness in myself then I can be aware of whatever I want.
Practical session:
We can go to some practices now.Lie down comfortably in shavasana. Join the legs together and hands on the sides of the body. Close your eyes. Tighten the toes and heels. Tighten the knee caps. Tighten the thighs and the waist. Exhale and tighten the stomach. Inhale and hold the breath. Turn the hands as fists and tighten the hands. Tighten right up to the shoulders. Continue to hold the breath. Tighten the neck, tighten the face… tighten….tighten…Relax… Exhale freely… Relax the whole body. Now let us do it one more time. This is how the awareness is gathered in the body. Slowly turn to the side and stand up. Close your eyes. Stay straight. Put your hands freely over the shoulders. Observe… Inhale and the exhale freely. Gently move the body from right to left and left to right. Give your weight to right foot and then to left foot. Then give your weight to the center again. This way the body is aware of its weight. Observe the weight equally distributed to both legs. Move the body to front and to back. The weight now goes to toes and to heels. Then move it to the middle. Observe your weight equally distributed to both legs. Both legs have equal awareness. Now let us improve the awareness in our right side. Inhale and raise the right hand slowly. Observe the stretching at the right side of the body. Exhale and bend to the right side of your body. Stretch the whole right side of the body. As you are stretching, observe the awareness on the right side of your body. Maintain the posture as long as 8-10 inhales. Relax and breathe freely. There is a smile on our faces. Slowly inhale and go up straight while the hand is up. As we go straight up, the stretching disappears on our right side. Now our right side is full of awareness more than our left side. Our right side is livelier. Stay in this awareness for as long as 8-10 respirations. Now let us do the same thing for our left side. Now both sides of my body have awareness and they are livelier. Release the arms freely from the shoulders. Inhale and exhale. Bend forward. Recognize the stretching in the thighs. Stretch the waist and the spinal cord. Bend down fully. Stretch the back of the body, and you will be aware of your pulse. Remain in this final posture for about 10-12 respirations. Slowly come back. Inhale. As you go up the stretch is released. The awareness continues to maintain. As we go up, the blood flows downwards. The head feels lighter. This way we have improved our awareness in our body. We have also developed a personal awareness. Slowly slide your hands up towards your waist. Push the elbows back. Exhale and inhale. Stretch your thighs as you go back. Stretch the neck completely. This exercise will improve the awareness in your front areas. Inhale and say “aum”. Slowly go back to normal and let the blood flow back to the brain. Relax. Now your whole body is full of awareness.

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