Last month I wrote about what is yoga. What does it mean for you to practice yoga and how can its practice integrate into our daily lives? And that ultimately, Yoga, whether practicing asana, meditation, pranayama, or any other form - is really to foster the connection within (union); so that from within, we can rest into our inherent goodness and shine the light in our hearts.
But often think that we are not good enough as we are, that there is something wrong with us on a fundamental level that needs fixing. We see yoga, or any other spiritual practices as a way to become better human beings - as a path to reach enlightenment. Spiritual practices indeed can lead us to enlightenment, but not in the way that many of us think.
First, I want you to remember, that whatever brings you to yoga, yoga will meet you there.
The teachings of yoga inspire a way of living the practice, and it will never ask you to be anywhere than where you already are. Each time you step onto your mat, come to sit in meditation, breath, or prayer, or come into full awareness of the moment in front of you, you arrive as you are - you cannot be anything else but this truth.
And each conscious moment of your practice from the very first one to your last, will support your evolution and growth. From the place you first arrive, you will shift and change, and so too will your practice. It will consistently evolve to support where you are in any given moment. And this is the beauty of the daily living of the practice - essentially, we become more consciously aware.
We know that part of our good health comes from being mindful of how we nourish our body with food and drink. We strive to be careful and balance the types of foods we eat; ensuring we receive the nutrients we need. Food and drink come to us from the outside and become internal as we consume them. We often view our practice this way too.
We seek external knowledge of the practices of asana, meditation, and breath to bring them inward, but with the thought that it is this outer knowledge - something that we don't already have but can acquire, that will change us - allowing us to be come enlightened beings.
But the reality, the ultimate truth; is that we are already enlightened beings. In the deepest corners of the heart, the soul already knows this and contains this information. The practices of yoga do not change us into this being, rather they allow us to gradually remove the pieces that cover this truth. The armor that we all wear that hide our understanding of this truth is gradually chiseled away, piece by piece. Like a sculptor to the statue - the sculptor does not create the statue, but rather takes away the pieces of stone that do not belong. And once all the pieces have been taken away - the perfect image has been restored.
Understand that you can practice 1,000,000 downward facing dogs or 108,000 recitations of mantra, but the practice in and of itself will not bring about enlightenment. Instead, it shines the light onto the path that will illuminate and reveal your true nature - allowing the seer to see his/her own self in the truest purity and form.