nadi nadi

Nadi Nadi

Not this. Not that. 

There’s a mantra in Sanskrit that goes nadi nadi. It means “Not this. Not that.” The idea is that suffering is caused by identifying with transient things, by an ego that is grasping being something, instead of just being. Nadi nadi, we repeat. I am not this. I am not that.  

Peeling the layers

Imagine feeling an uncomfortable emotion, like shame. Nadi nadi. Directly on the heels of that feeling comes negative self-talk. “I’m so selfish.” Nadi nadi. Then comes a moment a reprieve, “I’m alright, I’m okay.” Nadi nadi. I am none of these things. Like peeling the layers of an onion. We keep peeling and peeling until we get to the core of something. Which begs the question. What is at the core?  

You are purusa

In the yoga philosophy, the core is purusa, or consciousness itself. Purusa is the true self. It’s the force within you that has been you through various identities, uncountable incarnations. It’s the you that inhabited your infant self, your teenager self, your adult self. You’ve always been you, right? But you look and feel and sound so different now than you did before. Where were you before you were born? Yoga insists you were your purusa. Where will you go after you die? I don’t know, but you’ll still be your purusa. You didn’t always have this body, the way it is today, and you won’t always have it. But you will always be your purusa. You will always be consciousness.  

Yoga brings us closer to our true selves

The practices of yoga, from the ethics of yama to the physical discipline of asana to the depth of meditation in dhyana, are all about clearing the layers upon layers that separate you from knowing your true self, your purusa. Grasping for our desires distances us from the ever-present, steady gaze of pure consciousness. Physical discomfort distracts us from finding the stillness where purusa can be reflected back to us to know, unmarred by ripples and waves. Mental chatter steals our concentration, drawn away from being a witness of life and into the vicissitudes that pull us this way and that. Nadi nadi. Not this. Not that. And on and on and on until… 

…we abide in our own true nature. Yogah citta vrtti nirodhah. Tada drashtu svarupe avasthanam. Sutra 1.2-3. Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind. Then the seer will abide in its true nature.  

The rest that we’re told in the Yoga Sutras are the details about how we get there and what we might encounter along the way.  

With practice and non-attachment (to the identities, to the desires, to everything. Nadi nadi.), we persevere towards less suffering, more inner peace, and a familiarity with the eternal flame that exists within each of us.   

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels