The best way to make progress on the path is to completely exhaust yourself. Like wring yourself out, turn yourself upside down, lay yourself bare. It is like running a marathon. When you hit the 18 mile mark, your mind goes blank and you see all bodies, all colors, all the space around you as one.
In yoga, in the olden days, we used to power it up. We would jump backward and forward and burn through poses until we lay in savasana in a puddle, completely exhausted, down for the count, like a big KO. But over time your joints and sinews can’t take the punishment. So you stop burning your body and exhaust yourself in other ways. But how? The 12th century Chan master Hongzhi said, “You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness.” Instead of your tissues and sinews, now you incinerate the part of your mind/heart that gets entangled in jungles of projection. It is a kind of cremation. You have to cremate your negative thinking, your self-judgement and your blaming, fearing, obsessing self. You have to burn your whole anxiety production center to the ground. This, mind you, is old style yoga, called tapas. Not like the Spanish yummies, but full- on conflagration of all pettiness and doubt and small mindedness. It is like running a mind marathon, a “mindathon.”
Yogis know that what is left over after the great burn, after the ritual sacrifice, is sacred. What remains is a sweet, high-octane, purified substance. After the burning what’s leftover is loving kindness and radical openness and an undying wish that, world-wide, all beings be free.