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Yoga Sutra 1.4

Yoga Sutra 1.4
vrtti sarupyam itaratra
Otherwise, we identify with our fluctuating thoughts.

This sutra explains why reaching a state of yoga is beneficial. When we are not abiding in our own true nature (clearly connected to our Self), we mis-identify with the things we are not. We identify with our temporary states rather than our permanent Spirit. We think we are our thoughts, feelings, roles, words and actions. For example, you might identify yourself as "happy", "angry", "an accountant", "a son", "an optimist", or "a wife." If your situation were to change, say you lost your job or your children grow up, you might feel like you have lost your identity. But we are not what we do, what happens to us, what we think, or how we feel. We are something much greater than any of that. These are all temporary experiences. Our innermost Self is who we really are and it is steady, unlimited and always there. It is not affected by the changing nature of our daily life.

A lot of yoga practice is learning what we are not. In Sanskrit, "neti, neti" means not this, not that. Meaning whether we are actively engaging in life or quietly meditating, we watch, reflect and recognize that all these things we observe are temporary. After we realize that we aren't all these things - what is left? The witness, the one who is watching, the only thing that does not change - our sacredness, the Atman (Self, Spirit, Soul).

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