‘Refresh!’ Your Mind

Headlines, Yoga as Life — By on April 11, 2011 8:50 AM

‘Refresh!’ – an internet correspondent told me, when I questioned him for info that, unknown to me, he had just updated.  Having navigated to his page while he was uploading, I wasn’t aware that, seconds later, I was staring at an outdated page. 

The command hit the right spot.  Immediately, in my brain, a mental mouse zoomed over and clicked the refresh icon, and suddenly I saw the world with fresh, invigorated and open eyes.

The training by my yoga teachers and gurus to see the world in context of mental liberation has not been without fruit.  The spiritual disciple in me acted immediately.  Refresh!

On the spiritual path, everything starts from the mind and ends in the mind.   Consciousness itself being infinite, this leaves more than a world of possibilities, as long as we are open to it.  The more we narrow it with limits and closed ideas, the smaller, less visible, and more stale our conscious world becomes.


While I was looking at my friend’s original post,  the post had already been updated with the information I was missing.  As long as I kept looking at what my internet had uploaded moments before, I was as if blind, unable to see what had changed.  I sent him a quick query, and his reply came back as eye-opening as the rod of the Zen master hitting the disciple’s shoulder:  ‘Refresh’ !

The word was in fact a phrase completed by ‘your page!’, but at the first word, my mental mouse was already zooming.

We see the world around us like the web pages in front of us, with a momentary page grab of a constantly changing world. We take the page grab, the single frame, as real, forgetting to look again and again with new eyes and open minds.  Taking a handful of sand, we conceptualize it as the entire beach, and from that handful of sand we then construct castles, edifying them as pre-conceptions that will define and defend our next encounter with the world before even allowing it to take shape.

Our mind is a massive internet where our consciousness receives a constant input, from all around us, of sensory objects and mental consciousness, in instantaneous downloads of enormous size.  Like the internet we know well, it can also at times crash, get overloaded, stuck, or temporarily frozen.

Afraid of information overload, wary of the potentially overwhelming impact of constant sensory and mental input, our brains seem wired to generalize, categorize, and pre-conceptualize.  As useful and necessary as this is sometimes, it is also about as reliable as a wooden foot bridge with rotten or missing planks, and as safe as crossing that same bridge over a gaping chasm.  With so many gaps and gaffes of awareness, it is dangerously easy to fall through, into a distorted delusion that may have very real consequences.

We see the world around us, moment to moment, not as it is, but with a variety of preset lenses that filter and color, providing us with a view of the world as we imagine it to be.  Carrying around our ideas and preconceptions as facts, we allow our ideas to define what we hear and see around us, rather than be formed by it. The mind not constantly aware is foiled like the guard man on duty, diligently watching a camera feed that has been frozen on a peaceful frame, while the thief steals in under the camera’s eye.

‘Refresh!’ said my friend, and my mind jumped.  In the one second that followed his command, my mind momentarily threw out its preset frames, emptying itself of pre-conceptions in order to see things as they are.  I can only assume that my mind had been waiting for the excuse to do just that.  One word of internet jargon, and off it went, jumping without hesitation, straight into a split second of auto-refresh meditation.

You might even accuse it of being pre-meditated, in which case, you would be absolutely right.  The study of yoga teachings is not for the sake of knowledge.  Yoga teaching is active knowledge, meant solely for the pro-active experience of absorbing it so that the mind itself will use it as its own jumping board or bridge to wisdom.  Yoga cannot be learned, it can only be realized.  By giving the mind the teaching of yoga, you are giving it the tools with which to transform itself, the pole vault by which to leap.

Our conscious minds are, naturally, at times sleepy, drowsy, inattentive.  Learning yoga teaching is rather like installing yoga software in our mind; the unconscious mind becomes programmed to take the wheel when we start nodding off, reminding itself: Stay aware, Stay awake.

A split of a second later, with my auto-refreshed mind and fresh senses, my eyes continued on to the rest of the sentence: ‘your page!’ and I obeyed, moving my mouse to click on the ‘Refresh’ icon.  Something magical happened.  The world in front of my eyes, as I had imagined it to be, on the screen, disappeared, and a new one took shape. I could suddenly see what had remained hidden to me, as long as my mind was stuck in an old frame. ‘Refresh!’

  • The six senses, or Indriya, include the five senses of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch, plus the sense of mind..
  • The internet correspondent who admonished me with his net-Zen is, fittingly, called Deep Kyoto: www.deepkyoto.com
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