This sutra tells us what happens when we can regulate our ways of being or internal activities successfully. It is often translated as: As a result, the seer abides in its own nature. The previous sutra defined the active aspect of yoga, this sutra complements it by providing a definition of yoga as a state. The yogic state is best summarized as being. In other words, sutra 1.2 presents the “doing” side of yoga and 1.3 presents the “being” side. One perspective then, is to see yoga as a dynamic process of balancing our doing with our being.
Just being with what is as it is and being with yourself just as you are. In the state of yoga, when body, mind and emotions are integrated and focused, you experience your true nature, the aspect of you that has not changed at all throughout your whole life.
The question is, what is your true nature? Remember we explored the fundamental question, who am I? When you recognize that your body, your mind, your breath, your thoughts and emotions have been changing continually, you start to ponder what is it in you that is not changing.
Presence is a deep connection to this fundamental aspect of your being. At the end of every day, you return to the core of your being when you relax deeply and fall asleep. In your dreams you are still processing some of your daily experiences. In dreamless deep sleep you release all the ideas you have about who you are (or should be) and the notion of being separate from everything outside gets blurred. Yoga, regulating your ways of being, makes your ways of being more evident and helps you connect to the presence that underlies all your actions, thoughts, movements and emotions. Yoga strengthens your ability to access your deep awareness consciously. And perhaps this prompts you to recognize that you are not, and have never been, alone in a seemingly hostile world. Instead you are more likely to feel deeply interconnected to all that is. You can contemplate with deep curiosity and patient persistence: “Who am I?” “What is my true nature?” “Am I the changing phenomena I perceive?” “Is there something in me that does not change?” Remember that pondering these questions is more productive than rushing to come up with conclusions, opinions, beliefs and stories to entertain yourself.
To abide in your own true nature seems like such a simple idea. Simple things tend to be powerful ways to examine ourselves, because their simplicity prevents us getting entangled in the process itself. The following exercise can be an effective inquiry into your true nature.
Find a position that is comfortable so that you can be very relaxed yet attentive. Remember that lying down may be so relaxing that you might fall asleep, which would be fine but would not help you explore what your true nature is. Close your eyes softly. Notice the sounds and noises and other sensations like temperature, level of humidity and scents around you. For the following questions, try to answer based on your direct experience as it is happening right here and now. Your mind will try to offer answers based on what you know or think you know. Invite your mind to help you focus on feeling the questions and their possible answers. Be open to the possibility that there are no clear cut answers to these questions. Be as still as possible. First question: How tall do you feel? Savor the question and try to feel your height. Notice how tall you feel you are without referring to a number that you think you know. Just try to feel your height. Next question: What is the color of your eyes? Can you feel your eyes? Is there a way to feel the color of your eyes without referring to anything else other than the actual internal experience you are having right now? Now, can you feel your age? Rely only on your current sensory experience. Without going into stories or ideas, can you feel your age? What does your age feel like? You probably know your name better than anybody else, but can you feel your name? Notice any tendency to want to have an answer in words or stories, and choose to just stay with the sensations of your name. Although height, eye color, age and name serve as identifiers to associate with who we think we are, what happens when you choose to stay with these wordless sensations and the combination of everything that you are feeling without having to add an opinion or a story? How does that feel?
Can this exercise be a portal to experience your true nature? No words can ever fully describe your true nature. But you can experience your true nature directly. Is it possible that your true nature feels spacious, formless, ageless and nameless? Might it be possible that your true nature feels timeless, without beginning and without an end? Is it possible that this sutra is encouraging you to know your true nature through your direct experience?
Another avenue of exploration is, first thing in the morning, as soon as you discover that you are awake but before you get up, notice the first thoughts and emotions that arise. Is it possible to delay the onset of internal and external activity, just for a few minutes so that you can deliberately experience the state of transition between sleep and being awake? Can you stay in the deep peace that you retire into as you sleep? Can you keep a subtle connection to that deep peace throughout your day? What do you discover as a result? Can this exercise influence your mood and set the tone for your day and your interactions?
Of course, you can also choose to feel this sutra directly by chanting it and feeling its vibrations.तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् ॥३॥ tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānam
Or the simplified version with each word chanted individually: