There are many among us who cannot raise their heads without a cup or two of tea in the morning. We then look forward to going through the daily newspaper as some would look forward to reading the religious scriptures. Some children may pity us for having become such slaves of habit but most children copy what the parents do and it is no use telling them not to do this or that.
Here example is better than precept. If for that moment it is not so easy, then let us take them along with ourselves to the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger. There we findthat all the inmates get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. We soon join the others in our gratefulness for a new day of life by prayers chanted together. After that everyone is free to complete their morning routine. The chirping of birds reaches the ears. The coolness of the dawn is felt inside out. While moving about the beauty of leaves and trees, the colour and fragrance of flowers, the splendour of the rising sun is noticed. One cannot help closing one’s eyes to thank the Creator.
There is such a good healthy feeling because of the asanas and pranayamas. We realize we have missed much by getting up late. Now a quota of so many hours has been added to our daily life. We discover we can do so much and enjoy the satisfaction of doing it well at our own pace without being pushed or hustling others. It is possible to do things which we otherwise took for granted we could never do, thereby helping or relieving others. We increase our chances of improving even a crooked tree without much heartache.
Thus a good habit lifts us from the mire while a bad habit drowns us completely in it. It is never too late to have such good habits which can compensate for any lapses in the past, which not only improve the body and mind, but heal as well. Force of habit helps in self-examination and concentration, whereby slowly and steadily, layers of dust, impurities are removed from the mind.
Whereas the house and its surroundings have to be kept clean, yet that alone is not enough. No municipal authority will come to remove the refuse from the mind. Thus the yoga teacher helps each one to clear away, and the weeds in the mind are turned into flowers. As the weeds are removed, the force of good habits makes work less difficultfor us.
Children tell untruths for fear of punishment, but where an understanding and loving teacher shows there is nothing to fear, the children become cheerfully obedient. This conditions them to be so with their parents also. Later they learn to abide by what nature has in store for them, because an ideal of good habits has been set before them.
When force is used in handling children, the results are not good. An understanding teacher knows their weakness and fully realizes their difficulties. That the teacher cares and feels for them is a great working force. It becomes a very strong unseen motive power to make them listen. The result is that they do their work well and cheerfully. They feel a certain satisfaction and happiness when it is well completed.
The ideal the teacher has and expects of the students makes them both work with patience, thus fillingwhat is lacking and making them whole and complete as far as possible. With the love and affection they receive, they radiate more love and work intensely in unity. Because of greater receptivity and awareness they are easier to teach how to keep the good and throw aside the useless.
As they gain confidencein themselves, they rise higher and higher, until they findvast inner sources of strength and power within themselves. They are being trained in endurance, relieving and in helping themselves when there will be no relation to guide them.
Belief and faith in the teacher’s love makes them remember what is good for them and forget the bad. The good in them becomes a habitual behaviour in all spheres of life. If life hits hard, it is faced cheerfully, though all may not give it the same reception.
Parents and children who were easily upset at one another’s behaviour, now findthey have more self-control and are patient in the face of annoyance. There is an all-round adjustment and development, because the mind has opened to new work, new surroundings, where slipshod ways are given up.
This change and effect is the result of an ordered mind. It can be made more and more beautiful and used to reach the highest ends of life. The least we can do is to reflect the good that God has given us and not allow any opportunity to slip by uselessly.
—Ishwari printed in YOGA 1965, Vol. 3, No. 3 and 4 (March/April)