If you had something precious to hide, where would you hide it? In the present moment, because we have forgotten how to look at the present moment.
Yoga is about letting go and accepting: letting go of conditioning in the mind, letting go of expectations, letting go of assumptions and accepting that suffering is part of life. Most people come to yoga to deal with myriad forms of upset, stress, lack and pain, but yoga is about complete acceptance of reality. Suffering (dukkha) is a part of this reality. The path to healing begins in the heart, with love. Not personal love, but the impersonal force of love that heals by extending itself to the most interrupted, broken and ruined parts of ourselves.
For this article, I draw from “The Inner Tradition of Yoga” by Michael Stone to highlight some of the transformative dimensions of yoga.
Suffering continues in cycles.The turning of the wheel of suffering (dukkha) is called 'samsara'. Samsara is a metaphor for meaninglessness. It refers to the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Each moment of experience, whether in stillness or reactivity, sets up the pattern for the next consecutive moment (karma). Since we take actions (karma) based on our habitual patterns, we reinforce in the mind and body those same patterns.
We are unable to experience the present moment without filters of perception. These feedback loops we create form our psychological and physical patterns, as ingrained and self-perpetuating matrices, keep us bound to samsara -- this perpetuating wheel of conditioned existence, preventing us from experiencing each moment with freedom. Hence, we see the world in certain ways based on our past experiences.
Our ability to meet each and every moment with openness is possible with practice. When we are open, and our habitual psychological and physical ways of being are suspended, we arrive in the present moments of life free to respond with an open and creative heart.
Yoga is a path out of our present conditioning towards freedom from habit. The opposite of samsara is an open space of possibility in which we can flourish. The heart always seeks a path out of discontent, but the mind and body put up resistance. To challenge our habitual grooves of comfort, we must practise yoga not only on the mat, but in every action we take, including everyday chores, etc.
Practice and awakening are less about standing on a yoga mat and more about how we respond in the here and now to the great questions in life. On the other hand, treating our yoga postures and breathing practices as meditation techniques opens up deeper and deeper feeling pathways.
Yoga means union. It is not something we seek outside of ourselves but rather the recognition, in the present moment, of the unification of life, the inherent interconnectedness of existence, nondualism, the collapse of separations. Yoga is a way of being and a mode of existing in the present moment.
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