4 06 2007


By Derek Beres

Yogascittavrttinirodhah – Yoga is stilling the fluctuations in (one’s) consciousness. Such is the translation of the main tenet of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a main text for modern yoga practice when delving to the roots of what this practice is all about. More importantly, it remains the central focus of yoga: to still the mind in meditation, and become absorbed in samadhi, or, roughly put, to understand the the process inside you and the processes of the world partake in the same patterns. Enlightenment is recognizing this, and being present with all the fluctuations, so as to find that inner stillness.

So when a friend sent me a link to Cyber Yoga, I could only shake my head.  Purporting itself as “The Science of Meditation,” it combines biofeedback awareness to the art of meditation. What struck me immediately was seeing how they referenced the Dalai Lama’s welcoming of the cross-disciplinary work (not of Cyber Yoga, but of nueroscience). In fact, his book The Universe in a Single Atom is devoted to his lifelong passion of finding ways to integrate modern scientific findings with the ancient Tibetan philosophies, ones evolved from Indian yogic techniques. In it he writes

“The amount of scientific knowledge and the range of technological possibilities are so enormous that the only limitations on what we do may be the results of insufficient imagination.”

He heralds the cause of ethically-pure scientific research, if it, in some way, alleviates the suffering of humankind. A few paragraphs later, however, his plea reminds what of exactly what Cyber Yoga and such initiatives are guilty of.

“Much of what is soon going to be possible is less in the form of new breakthroughs or paradigms in science than in the development of new technological options combined with the financial calculations of business and the political and economic calculations of governments.”

When scientific studies show proof that practices like meditation help reduce stress, that’s great. Thing is, people that meditate already knew that. Hooking someone up to a computer program – for the price of $249, no less – is not only unnecessary, it’s dishonest. Mediation is the practice of ekagrata, or one-pointed focus. While that one point can be on many things, such as mandalas, breathing or an image of a deity, it’s hard to swallow following computer guidance will help the process in any way.

In their testimonial section someone writes, “Cyberyoga is the most advanced and fastest method I have seen for getting real results and mastering the essential skills of meditation, relaxation, and stress reduction.” Meditation has nothing to do with speed. If anything, it’s anti-speed. Hurrying up to get somewhere that requires slowing down is not going to cut it. Some people use those sacred images, or mandalas, or mala beads as tools to help focus the mind. Once that focus is attained, the instrument is no longer necessary. Trying to charge people into spending an absurd amount of money for something inherent inside of us reminds me of trying to sell someone jade mala beads instead of simple wood ones. It may look pretty, but it’s only going to be a distraction if inner peace is really your goal.




One response

4 06 2007

Well said, and I agree in almost all respects.

My only disagreement is this. Some people have to spend money in order to believe they’re getting something of value. Others are so enamored of technology that they automatically see it as providing advantages. These sorts of folks are unlikely to become involved in meditative practice unless the way to them speaks to their learned prejudices.

If we take the position that whatever gets them into practice is good, then we must accept that — for some, not all — this may be the only route that is likely to do so.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: