There is so much background noise in our lives, noise that most of the time we don't even notice. In fact, for many of us I think that having a period of silence is almost intimidating — it’s a space that needs to be filled. I include the space in my head when I say that; my mind is always chattering away to me in the background and I find it a real challenge to quieten things down. I often wish I could just press the mute button.
I was back in Liverpool last weekend and found myself walking along Crosby Beach, about 3 miles North-West from the Seaforth Dock, in the Port of Liverpool. Crosby Beach is the home of a piece of modern sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley called 'Another Place'. It consists of 100 cast iron sculptures of the artist's own body standing and facing the sea.
The beach fairly deserted of people, I found the iron men standing there evoked a sense of peace and serenity. When I did some research on the piece after getting home, I read that each sculpture represents “the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet."
This linked in my mind to another of the eight limbs of yoga — Dharana.
Sutra 3.1 — "Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea."
Yoga can be defined as the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Dharana is the key to this process.
Our hectic, fast-paced lifestyle forces us to develop chattering 'monkey' minds. We seem to have lost the ability to just sit still and be without feeling guilty or bored, or that we should be doing something more interesting. And yet many of us would say that we don't have enough 'me time', that we feel stressed, anxious or worried for too much of our lives.
If we are to become calmer and let go of some of our stresses and worries, we need to try and withdraw from excessive stimuli and allow ourselves to spend a little time doing nothing.
Maybe we should try and become more like the iron men of Crosby, standing still and trying to breathe despite all the chaos going on around us. The iron men allowed me to bind my mind to a place, object and idea, which is the definition of Dharana.
I think we all need a little more peace and quiet in our lives.