Imagine the movements of thoughts, as brightly coloured threads, blowing incessantly. Each thread representing emotions, reactions, preferences, aversions, memories and fears. This is the citta, what Patanjali describes as the fluctuating impressions of the mind. Yoga's most resounding goal is citta vrtti nirodaha, to calm the fluctuations of the mind-chatter. And really all it requires is Sakshi, the witnessing aspect of self, or the 'one that lends its shine.'
I dont know if you have children, but even if you haven't recently seen a child do this we all have moments of scurrying away quietly to do something 'not allowed'. This is the child figure or mischief maker, fervently caught up in a desire to do something with the rush of knowing it's unchecked. There is also the parent figure in the house who senses a distinct change in atmosphere, the tell-tale ominous quietness. It just takes one moment for parent to SEE the child and the child drops the treasured thing in a second and looks up wide eyed as if waking from a dream. It is the same in our minds - look in and catch the citta mid-drama, and just by watching the mind, feel the thoughts slow or even let go of their story.
"At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred space and use it, eventually something will happen. Your sacred space is where you find yourself again and again."
Yoga's rich philosophy sounds out again and again, the citta is not all you are. We get caught up in the drama and beauty and chaos of these threads that weave what we feel to be the tapestry of our lives. But You are not your emotions, you are not your intellect or judgements or thoughts, you are not your preferences likes, dislikes or possessions. Anything that will succumb to change cannot be who you are. So strip away the idea of I and me until you are left with something that does not change. These threads weave a veil (maya) the occludes something deeper and much much brighter within. Whilst we identify with the citta, there will be suffering. If we can de-tangle or calm the threads of the mind, and weave it into a sitting mat, the real self walks right in and sits down. Your biggest version of yourself, unqiuely an expression of you with all your quirks and idiosyncrasies and qualities. Just by watching, the witness self emerges. Sometimes a grimy business, sometimes a complete pleasure - this is the heart of the practice - shining the torch and light of your awareness back inside to the heart of things, back to your centre, your sacred space.
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open." ~ Martha Graham
5 STEPS TO SAKSHIN
1. Eyes close, complete body scan from toes to crown of head
2. Notice how you are breathing and where you are breathing into your body
3. Sense any emotions and begin to decipher the general tone of the mind, then specific recurring thought-loops
4. Begin to watch the process of watching, trying to not get caught up in judging the thought-threads, just letting them blow and weave, letting sensations fall to the bottom of you like sediment falls in a glass of water.
5. Eyes closed, look back in by focusing on the space between your brows - channelling all your mind-energy to look in and see the self that is calm and bright hidden beyond the threads. Dwell here, whilst continuing to participate fully in life as you leave meditation, stay sitting close to this centre for as long as you can, day after day.