Horses sometimes wear blinders so they don’t get spooked, or injure themselves or those that they might be transporting around.
Their sight is only straight-forward; what’s directly in front of them. This is great because this way they don't multitask or become disturbed by things around them. They have been taught to go and stop on a command. They have limits and boundaries. Those limits and boundaries keep them, and others, safe. It also contains them only to the one routine on the one road that lies in front of them, stopping and going on command, no vision of that what might lie in the peripheral. A perfect one-pointed awareness of moving meditation, like what an asana practice can offer us, giving its own freedom to go "inside."
I wonder what those horses might experience when they are set free from the blinders, with no reins, no commands, and just an open field of green grass and multiple roads around them? Would they run and gorge themselves on grass? Or would they freeze, not knowing what to do, and wonder what the “right” move was?
We have just now changed these horses' circumstances. They now think in different ways then when they were on that one road with blinders. What the horses will do, I cannot say. But something has shifted.
So, are disturbances of the mind good? We think, we question, we challenge, or we get challenged. How do you react when things change your life, whether expected or not, whether offered or not?
I feel it depends on the type of circumstance, the situation, and many other things. I believe that the blinders serve a purpose. Those blinders keep awareness and focus in a more concentrated way, just as we are taught discipline and what having boundaries can do for our clarity, safety, and growth.
And, yet, still we are also taught to “think outside the box,” get creative, to “push the boundaries,” and even to ”break the mold” and rush out into the peripheral. I believe this to have great benefit as well. Just as trying a different style of yoga, a different teacher, or challenging ourselves to a new level of practice can be beneficial.
We are taught that yogic practices will make us stronger and wiser, so we discipline ourselves in our practice for growth.
So, what is better? To get thrown off from our norm, and become what I might call "challenged," or to stick to the path ahead with a more central focus, letting nothing disturb us? There is no right answer!
Only you can decide, when such a moment arises in your life, what you will choose—when a circumstance calls upon us for guidance and discernment*. What blinders do you want to keep, and when will you take them off fearlessly? What do you want to keep in focus in your life—like the road ahead and like your core values? And what do you want to let go of—like going off the road and like getting a little crazy?
*A good word to ponder:
Dis·cern·ment Diˈsərnmənt/ Noun
1. The ability to judge well. 2. Perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
[The above definitions came from the web.]
As Sally Kempton once wrote:
“Discernment—or viveka, as it’s called in Sanskrit—is also the quality that will ultimately allow us to make the subtle spiritual decisions about what we truly value, what will make us happy, and which of our many competing inner voices are important.”
We must all practice awareness and discernment—like when something has knocked us off of our paths, how we might use it as a way to more deeply know ourselves, and to know when we want to create a new path of our own.