PYS IV.33 Ksana-pratiyogi parinama-aparānta-nirgrāhyah kramah
The succession of changes (the uninterrupted sequence of moments) is only recognized as distinct moments when one has transcended those moments and is at the other end.
Ksana means a point in time. It's the equivalent of a point in geometry. It has no dimension. It is a moment so small we cannot really contain it. I think the words of William James expressed it succinctly. "Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming."
Can we capture ksana, or are we constantly anywhere but here at this moment? Are we holding on to the past or anticipating the future, even if this past or future is mere minutes or even seconds ago? How often is it that we have a conversation with someone, and we mull over it, thinking we should have said something else? Or we are reading a book and realize we have gone through an entire paragraph with our eyes scanning the words but our mind not really comprehending it? Or closer even to our yoga asana practice, how often do we wonder in shoulder stand if the pose is going to be over soon?
Is it our nature to never be really here? Or can we train ourselves to be conscious all the time, so that we are here now and now and now, and that when we look back at the series of nows we were present in, we can say that we are able to look at those individual points clearly?
When we practice yoga asana, we get to observe where we are in terms of being in the moment. For example, in surya namaskar b where we make quite a few transitions, notice if you get into your full downward facing dog, or perhaps you are in a rush to get to warrior 1, or that maybe you hold the warriors for three seconds but low push-up for only half a second. Are we able to practice equanimity, catching that precise moment we get into the pose and yet not holding on to it when it is overdue? The art is in capturing it as it happens and releasing it just as momentarily, as if we held on to it but just barely.
The yoga sutra also teaches us the connectedness of events. We are able to be where we are now because of points in the past. There are no such things as accidents where things just "happen to us". Our individual past actions contribute to what is now our reality. Think of a situation you are having difficulties with. Now, instead of taking on the victim role, we start to take responsibility. What were the thoughts we had, words we said, actions we took that led to this? This is not to blame ourselves, but to bring forth the clarity that will allow us to move forward and make the necessary changes. Knowing the individual points that led to this outcome, can we now be fully conscious of the individual points moving forward to steer ourselves to a different direction? Taking responsibility is liberating in that we learn our freedom is in our hands.
All that we do in our yoga practice helps cultivate the consciousness to be present. And when we are able to capture that ksana as it happens, then we will understand that the future is nothing that we need to worry about. In being completely present, right here and right now, we are fully alive, complete in the expression of who we are.