Living Your Yoga
Yoga off the mat
Yoga is not a series of postures, really! Somehow in the West we have come to know yoga by its physical form. The physical forms of yoga are about keeping the body, mind, and nervous system healthy to pursue a spiritual path. If we are diseased we must put our energy into healing leaving us less energy for other endeavors.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning to yoke—union. Taking yoga off your mat means feeling connection, being aware of how we react and treat others and the little things we do to dis-connect. We practice Yoga to be Enlightened, enlightenment is the realization that we are all one, realizing that we are all one is feeling our interconnected and interdependent relationships with all creatures great and small. Yoga is a peaceful practical philosophy enhancing our connections to those around us, those we don’t know, animals, plants, and nature! Living yoga requires compassion, patience, understanding, and devotion, serving others, and remaining aware of our own actions—adjusting our attitudes not only daily but during trying situations even hourly or by the minute!
All of life is sacred
Living yoga requires awareness, awareness of our thoughts first and foremost. The mind is where our egos flourish. Our egos are the main causes of the feelings of dis-connect and un-ease with others. So we need to take inventory of our thoughts (this is part of the reason we meditate) and learn to laugh at some thoughts and recognize them as the ego taking over, and then to put our thoughts on more positive feelings and actions. Thoughts become words, words become our actions, so brewing on a thought can actually manifest into reality! Be aware of what you are manifesting!
This awareness does take practice and effort (abhyasa and vairgya!) I have two quotes from the Gita for you to help you on this path of awareness:
This first quote is from the 6th chapter where Krishna is telling Arjuna to meditate; this is what Arjuna has to say about controlling the mind:
Bhagavad Gita 6:34,35
The mind is restless, unsteady, turbulent, wild, stubborn; truly it seems to me as hard to master as the wind!
Krishna spoke, You are right Arjuna: The mind is restless and hard to master; but by constant practice and detachment it can be mastered in the end.
Bhagavad Gita 2:40
The second quote is from the second chapter of the Gita where Krishna is explaining Dharma to Arjuna, and Krishna says:
On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort toward Spiritual Awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.
So as you hang out in Downward Dog, what are you manifesting? Practice bringing the mind to the present moment and experience what is real each down dog . . . and each pose . . . and as you walk out the studio . . .
Ego Land vs. Soul Land
There are 2 planes of existence
- The ego plane – on this plane our ego deals with the egos of those around us
- The soul plane – This is where we operate from our soul and see each others souls. “Are you in there, it’s me—in here”
Identify with your soul not your ego. You are a soul going through an incarnation just like everyone else around you. Our egos give us the strength we need to do our dharma, so egos are not bad, we just need to learn to use our egos in this positive way. The good news is, if we end up living too much on the ego plane, we feel it! Our egos are easily hurt so we get lessons to try to teach us not to live in our ego, if you are suffering in some of the relationships with people around you, check to see if you are dealing with them on the ego plane, remember that everything we experience is to help us recognize our True Nature so as our egos cry our Souls rejoice! When trying to get off the ego plane the first step is DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY, when you feel someone else’s ego attacking your ego, realize that is all it is and it is about their ego not you. When we live in Soul Land we rise above the ego plane of existence and we do not suffer those ego pains.
Live in “Soul Land”.
Living in Soul land requires compassion. Most of us are in our “householder” stage of life (in this stage our life is about work, family, homes, etc—things that require ego!), during this stage it is our challenge to Live in the world but not allow the world to live in us. (The Gita was written for the householder who is trying to walk the spiritual path.) We must view life as a great teacher (remember everything we experience is to help us recognize our true nature) and strive towards a spiritual life of connectedness in the midst of worldly temptations and distractions.
Compassion is this means. There is a saying I learned in my Al-anon program that has helped me with compassion: hurt people-hurt people. So if someone is trying to hurt you it is most likely because they have been hurt themselves. Remember this little saying and soften, feel your connection realizing that behind the body/ego/mind they have the same Thing in them you have in you—if you see your Divinity standing in front of you would you want to hurt them? (Oh, and remember that is God bagging your groceries too.)
Living yoga is about DEVOTION to the path, not emotion.
The Field and the knower of the field
We have been learning ways of seeing the Divinity in others, but how about in ourselves? Connecting to our higher Self will help us connect with others on that same Higher Plane.
The gita explains our body/mind/ego as the field. Just as a farmer has a field, for many years he harvests his crops and works the fields, learning how to sow seeds, when to irrigate, how to keep the soil healthy. Then one year, perhaps a disaster strikes, ruins the entire crop—now the farmer has something to learn about that, if he is a good farmer he will figure out how to protect his crop against such a problem in the future. Of course he could choose not to grow and learn and think of himself as a failure, get angry at life . . .
In any event, the farmer can step back and look over the fields and he can work in the fields; he is the knower of the fields, NOT the fields themselves.
So it is with our bodies, our bodies are our fields, we can actually step back and look at what our body/mind/ego are experiencing, we can choose to learn and grow from it or not. We can recognize that we are actually NOT our body/mind/ego. We are the knower of that field; we are observing what is happening to our field and we are working in our field.
So when we try to meditate and we observe the thinking mind and watch the thoughts come and go, we realize we are not the thinking mind, otherwise we could not be stepping back and observing it? So who is It that is watching??? Identify with who It is that is watching.
Kind of a mystery . . . the mystery is exciting and keeps us happy and honest; if we knew all the answers we would just become complacent anyway! Remember every day to feel the mystery; if you remember that you are more than what you look like, and remember that you are the mystery itself, you will be happy. And when others come along who do not realize the mystery in themselves, or even if they try to make you forget you are the mystery, as long as you stay connected to your mystery you will be happy.
So time to go work in our fields . . .