The first principle of yoga which we have to remember is to know ourselves. Socrates said, "Know yourself": to thine own self be true. There are dormant centres of perception, of energy, which we can know and tap inside ourselves. We can awaken these centres after we have understood the expression of our personality, after we have resolved the conflicts that go on in our emotional and intellectual areas. There are many people who have been practising meditation, but they have not been able to gain anything because they fight with their minds and with themselves.
The second principle in yoga is to watch, observe and accept ourselves. There is a beautiful poem by St. Francis which reads:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."
We have to learn to accept and to observe objectively, not subjectively. When we become subjective towards a problem that we face in life, what happens to the mind and to the awareness? What happens to the consciousness and to the level of energy in our system? It is all dissipated and we reach a state of very high tension.
However, if we just sit back and observe for a few minutes with a cool mind, without becoming agitated or involved with the problem, then we can easily discover the solution. So, observe and accept is the second principle in yoga. Because of our inhibitions and ambitions we struggle with life, we want to fight with life. Because of our rashness and hard-headedness, we go through life like a bull in a china shop. This is where we fail. How do we develop mental clarity and objective awareness? There is only one answer - yoga.
The third principle in yoga is non-attachment. Whatever you do, whether it is very simple or very complicated, do it for the sake of experience; do not expect any result, either positive or negative, from it. Now, we find in our life that when we perform an action, there is an expectation behind that action. To have expectation is part of our nature. Whether we call it selfish or selfless, in both there is expectation. We expect the result to be beneficial, to give satisfaction, and we expect to gain name and fame.
Name and fame is not the problem here; we all want name and fame. But when we do not achieve want we want to achieve, then there is conflict because of the expectation. Whatever actions we do, whatever thoughts we think, whatever emotions we feel, again there is conflict. So, in yoga it is said that we should perform all actions with perfection but without expectation. We should develop this attitude if we want to have clarity of mind and if we want to discover the different dimensions of our mind.
The fourth principle of yoga is relaxation. How should we relax? Not by sensual pleasures or enjoyment, not by acquiring things, not by experiences that give us some temporary happiness or feeling of peace. Relaxation in yoga does not mean physical or emotional relaxation. Relaxation here means letting go of our personality, letting it run wild, letting it express itself. But in order to do this, one part of ourself has to be relaxed. Smoking a cigarette or holding a drink in the other hand is not really a state of relaxation. Relaxation here means simple to 'let go'.
Let yourself go in all the different areas of your work; let yourself go in all the different channels that are open to you. Mentally find out which is the best channel and which is the best course of action. With a cool mind, first think of the problems, not of the benefits. If you can work out the problems, if you can find The solutions, you will have attained inner relaxation. But, of course, we try to look at all the benefits before and all the problems later, and there is no relaxation in that. There must be relaxation of awareness. You are aware, fully alert, fully awake, but in that state of alertness there is complete relaxation.
These are some of the principles of yoga. If we can adopt them in our daily lifestyle, we will find our awareness is gradually and slowly awakening, and we are more in control of our mind. Right now, the mind says, "Do this", so we do it. If the mind says, "Do not do this", we do not do it. If the mind says, "Accept this", we accept it. If the mind says, "Do not accept this", we do not accept it. Most of our life is governed by the mind and the different manifestations of the mind.
In yoga it is the reverse of the process. We try to control, we try to become the master of the mind. In the world, we find many different types of yogas: Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, etc. But, out of all these, there is one yoga that is the most important for everyone. It is known as the seer's yoga, the yoga of common sense. In this yoga the practices are really simple. They are very helpful for dealing with the tension in which we live.
Yogis have always believed that man is not only thought, desire or ambition, that within us there are different dimensions which can be experienced in the form of vibration, sound and colour. They developed the science of Nada Yoga to become aware of the vibratory aspect of the personality. They developed Laya Yoga to become aware of the unconscious aspect of our personality. To become aware of those areas of the subconscious and unconscious mind which are dominated by archetypes and symbols, they have developed the science of yantras and mandalas.
So, in this way, the yogis have developed a form of yoga for every experience of personality. When we are able to integrate these four different types of yoga in our life, when we are able to awaken the energy in our personality, then we practise the real yoga, which is the seer's yoga.