Throughout the day, so many events happen to us. Life is full of ups and downs, it seems. Some days are so easy, and others are terribly stressful. Whether it’s relationships, work difficulties, finances, health problems, accidents, traffic, or just bad weather – there’s no shortage of issues to point to and complain about.
That all feels pretty ordinary but let’s contrast that with what it means to live in yoga. As we know, yoga means union – and a life lived in yoga means living in union with whatever life throws at us. It means remaining lovingly open to these events, with curiosity and keen awareness rather than resistance.
That’s easier said than done. At first it may seem absurd to suggest that one’s reaction to say… a car accident, just to pick an example, should be anything other than dismay, consternation, and aggravation. Just the sheer inconveniences that pile up, even if no one was hurt – let alone the pain and suffering, and legal issues, that arise if there were injuries. How can we suggest that there is another perspective?
We can draw on two pillars of experience. One is internal, and the other is an external case in point. The first one is apropos if we are a well-practiced meditator. In that state of absolute stillness, we are aware of anything happening as just a whisp of creation that arises and is, for a moment, and then falls back into Source. Why is that lens of silence and stillness only available on the meditation cushion? Our aim should be to apply that inner perspective to daily life. Of course, this takes years of practice to achieve, so in the meantime we can point to our external observation of one who has attained. Consider a spiritual master whom you admire. What would her or his reaction be, say in a car accident? Quite simple: If there is an injury, attend to the injured person. If there is no injury, it’s almost as if nothing has happened at all – just another ordinary occurrence is a life full of occurrences.
We can immediately see the contrast. In us, there is an immediate value judgement and grasping. For those grounded in pure awareness, there is only equanimity and spontaneous action in the moment. We can all aspire to this level of engaging with life, but it takes a commitment. The challenge is to notice our reactions, and then to question them. Our reactions are borne out of our lifelong conditioning, and that is what we have to uproot.
At first it begins with tangible things – big things like that accident or difficult relationships, and little things like traffic or bills. We apply the balm of pure awareness to whatever is going on in our day-to-day. Perhaps eventually we get to a point where we handle life events without judgement, which is wonderful, but that’s not where the road ends. With spirituality, there is no end, there is only the more subtle. There is always more room to explore, so instead of waiting for something to trigger us, we can ask, what am I resisting? We can always feel the contraction against some aspect of our humanness. Those areas are pointers to what still remains locked up inside and need to be loosened, released. To most people, an aggravation equals unhappiness. But to one who is in the process of awakening, whenever the ego bristles, that is a welcomed opportunity to explore the psyche with curiosity and discovery.
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