Techniques versus skills

There are many techniques that can be learned. In pursuing those techniques, one can be left with a bewildering sense of uncertainty about “why” all of the methods are being learned, aside from a general idea that the methods are for “Self-Realization” or “Enlightenment”.

Difference between techniques and skills: To put it simply, there is a vast difference between a skill and the methods or techniques that were used to attain that skill. Think of the way an infant does many actions in those early months and years. The child may be playing with this or that toy, or exploring the new environment of this new world. Yet, all of the play and exploring leads to development of a few underlying skills, such as the motor skills of being able to hold an object in the hand, or to move the legs so as to go from here to there.

Techniques are tools to gain skills: In Yoga science, all of the techniques are used to develop certain skills by which one can meditate at a depth that will reveal the Center of Consciousness, the Self within. It is not so much a matter of the techniques themselves being important, but rather the techniques are tools to cultivate the underlying skill.

Learn the skill, not just techniques: Below are seven skills to cultivate for Meditation. It is the skill we want to learn, not merely techniques (though, again, the techniques are quite useful). For example, we want to gain the ability to directly relax the body, smoothen the breath, and quiet the mind in a moment, with no technique needed to do it.

Apply that skill in the moment: Having the methods, but without the skill mastery is not the goal. We want to have the direct ability to apply the skill in a moment. However, to gain mastery in the skill, we may need to learn the techniques and gradually advance to the point of directly applying our learned skill.

Many techniques, but only a few skills: By remembering that the goal is to attain those few skills, the underlying simplicity of Yoga is seen amidst the seeming complexity of all the techniques.

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