There’s a reason we started practicing yoga – to be able to see things differently. If you grew up during the Cold War and Vietnam and then experienced a youth movement that revolutionized the way society thought about itself, then you might have found your way to the practice of yoga. If you have never known anything but civil unrest and totalitarian political regimes, then the practice of yoga will have offered alternatives. Even today, in the midst of devastating events around the world, it’s difficult to keep a positive and hopeful outlook towards life. We ask ourselves, “Is there another way to live?” And the answer is yes! You just have to concentrate on what feeds your heart and inner being, on what really makes you happy. You may not find everything you’re looking for with your practice of yoga, but you’re going to find a lot of it.
Let’s talk about yoga, let’s talk about life. For sure when you were young you thought everything would work out and you would be happy. We definitely didn’t think that getting older was about becoming unhappy. Problem was that in many ways our education was incomplete. Probably, we studied to have a good job and many of us didn’t even worry about that. We might even have said to ourselves, “Whatever comes along is great with me.”
Where was our education incomplete, in what direction didn’t we study enough? I think maybe that there weren’t too many university courses about learning how to really listen. Or the idea that we don’t always have to be right. Did someone tell us honestly and with kindness that tomorrow we would change and so would a lot of our ideas about the world?
No one told us about Shaucha – diet – that taking care of the body was important. Or that the habits we were “into” or accepting as part of everyday life would end up defining us. Remember that quote from Renee Descartes, “I think therefore I am.” So negative thoughts about oneself or the people you live with or the world at large, end up affecting you. What about anger, jealousy, greed and a whole host of fear generating ghosts that can and will consume all your waking moments. And if you add the need to compete to get ahead in life, then the picture is almost complete.
So living through a few failed romantic relationships, feeling betrayed by friends, colleagues and family, learning that we aren’t really happy in the jobs we have worked hard to get, we probably find our way to yoga as a means to work it all out. Yogi Bhajan said that leaving the family home and going to an ashram at an early age to study with a Guru, was an accepted part of Indian culture. Most of my generation waited until they were in college or had left the family home in order to explore new ideologies and, in some cases, to find a Guru or teacher.
What was the message? The message was that there was a lot more to learn about living than what one thought. It was not about “fitting in” but rather “finding in.” Finding in that inner voice what to do and what to say. Finding in the silence that you are okay alone, just as you are. It is about finding in your chanting how everything changes for you. You feel differently. It is about matters of the heart and letting the heart in you come out. It is about learning to say, “I love you” as often as you can and really meaning it because there may come a time when you feel you should have said it more.
We are travelers on this cosmic voyage, here to learn to love one another and the creation and to know the age-old secrets of how to live. Heraclitus said, “I sought myself.” He lived a long time ago, even before Socrates. He was talking about finding those truths which lie so hidden inside of us. They are undoubtedly about seeing or witnessing your own self-worth as an individual. It is about wanting, more than anything else in the world, to give your best and to treat someone else with love and caring. And to need that in return. It is about deciding what is important in life and having the courage to go for it. Therefore, it is about choosing a different path to follow if the old one you were following didn’t lead you to where you wanted to go.
Yoga is not only something we do but also an idea. It’s an enriching idea because it talks about bringing out the best in one another. That is in itself, a secret to be learned. It is human potential embracing human potential. It is a search for what is positive and true in life, and that which can let us touch the highest clouds. It is about overcoming fears – those that hold us back from greatness – and other self-imposed limitations, so that we can do our part and perhaps make a difference in the world.
Yoga is about finding harmony, which in large part is the meaning of union. Because in harmony you find purpose, being, oneness, beauty, true love and everything else that seems to make sense. Harmony is vibration and it is a type of vibration that makes every cell in your body dance with joy. It is a giver of life as everything about you begins to function as it was meant to be. It eliminates disharmony from your life. It is coming full circle and understanding the law of karma, polarity and attraction. It is seeing its face in everything before you: the sky, the grass, the trees, the flowers and the birds singing. You see it in the efforts of someone else as they try and sometimes struggle to find their own sense of wonder – of harmony. Where harmony is, the soul has its voice. Where harmony is, the heart can be free. It becomes a giving heart and therefore free, for freedom is about giving.
We follow this Dharmic path of yoga to become free individuals, those that understand the true meaning of freedom and search for it in the smallest unit of each day. The thought of not being within its embrace or to feel yourself far from its home and solace, is simply too much to bear. When that freedom is felt I learn to think, decide and walk forward in my life. That freedom, this kind of freedom, springs from the heart and I find the never ending source of love I was always searching for.