अथ योगानुशासनं (Atha, Yoganushasanam)
With these words Patanjali started the Yoga Sutras. “Now, with prior preparation, the practice of Yoga must begin”.
Thirty Days Hath September. I want to lay out 30 practices for a full life in this month.
We will begin with NOW. The Sanskrit word Patanjali used is atha (अथ). Atha is an auspicious word, with the same status as Om. It means now; this one word contains all of existence.
Now is a culmination of all the preparation that has happened before. Everything, the Big Bang, the stars, the supernovae, the stardust, the primordial soup, the little creatures of life, the dinosaurs, the monkeys, apes, humans, agriculture, language, Internet, artificial intelligence…all this had to happen in order for us to be here, in this now.
Now is the path to every future that can exist. There is nothing that is possible in the future that doesn’t lead from now.
The wheel of time passes quickly, touching the ground at any point very briefly, and it turns again. Now was here, and now it’s gone. Another now, and another, moving without any stops or kinks.
Close your eyes and think about what’s happening right this moment. It is difficult, because our mind is busy trying to create the future, connect with the past and in every way trying to postpone the inevitable encounter with the stopping of time. But even if it is difficult, sit for a few minutes and think about what’s happening right now.
Our relationship with our selves is a relationship with time. We can only live in the now, every moment, but every act of our conscious mind seems to expand our self in time. The future does not exist, and yet we think about it. The past no longer exists, and yet we think about it all the time. We normally live in all parts of time except the now.
And that’s why atha is an auspicious word. It’s a reminder of life itself.
As a meditation practice, atha is about dropping time and looking at the moment as it happens. The future will take care of itself, and the past, there’s nothing that can be done about it.
Once we learn to live in the now, we know what it is to be alive.