Recently I have had a renewed appreciation for the wisdom of the practice- this cultivation of awareness and alignment that many of us begin through the exploration of assembling our bodies into the wide range of yoga āsanas.
Almost immediately, the āsana practice affects our mental and emotional landscape, whether we are aware of it or not. Our friends and family may notice. We become less emotionally volatile, more content with “what is” and less reactive when life’s challenges surface. Not to say that there are not emotional rollercoasters, just that they are less extreme.
With time and practice, the spaciousness and alignment we create in the mind-body complex begins to radiate ever more into our daily lives. With awareness we let go of things that do not serve us anymore. Sometimes it is as simple as donating books that will not be read again or perhaps it is more complicated such as dissolving a relationship gracefully. With understanding alignment, we honor our responsibilities and commitments with ever more patience and joy. This too can manifest in an array of forms, from simple, such as reorganizing work tasks, to more complex such as providing care for a challenging relative. But though practice, we bring ease to our daily lives and to those around us- the practice of ahiṁsa, non-harming, manifests.
It is a practice. We must “stay at it”. We must constantly refine, tune. We won’t always “get it right”. We must be kind to ourselves when we realize we could have made a better choice and then get “back on the horse.” I heard a wise teacher once say, “the magic moment is when we begin again”. When the awareness drops, the magic moment is when the light comes on, but we must strike the match.
With practice our awareness is cultivated, and mindfulness and intellect become clearer, more effective tools, to sow seeds with our actions. We are advised very clearly through ancient texts and wise teachers, to not become expectant or attached to the fruits of these seeds, but nonetheless, advised to stay on the path.
Recently, I experienced the fruits from seeds I planted several years ago. At the time they were planted, I genuinely never thought I would see the fruits. I assumed another being would be present for them and was operating from a place of alignment hoping to bring ease and efficiency to responsibilities I was leaving. However, four years later and a circuitous path filled with many lessons, I have been led back to these former grounds, witnessed the fruits from the seeds, and have the opportunity to sow new ones. On multiple levels, it is auspicious.
Often “yoga darśana” is translated as “yoga philosophy”. Although one of the core tenets of the yoga practice is that it is “experiential”. I heard a wise teacher define “darśana” as “conviction through experience”. For me, with the unfolding of recent events, my yoga darśana continues to deepen and I am ever grateful to have found this path. I hold immense gratitude to all of my teachers and the teachers before them that have continued to share this vast matrix of wisdom that is yoga.
by Rainer Maria Rilke (translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)