People’s goals for choosing yoga as a movement practice vary greatly. No reason is wrong. No chosen style of yoga is wrong. But the most benefits will be achieved when we see what it can actually do for us when used the way it was intentionally created. A holistic, disciplined, spiritual practice that saturates all aspects of our life.
Yoga teaches us that we are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE.
That we are one with the divine.
That we no less than or greater than others.
That our thoughts and actions are powerful but that we are not them.
It is an empowering physical practice rich with philosophical musings.
Anyone can practice yoga. We are all seeking the same goal – everlasting love, unity and peace. We will all get to that goal eventually. How much we suffer along the way is a choice we will make.
Modern means of dealing with life’s painful issues can sometimes DISEMPOWER people. We tell them because this has happened to you, because this is your condition – you are no longer capable of choosing for yourself. So here’s your diagnosis, your label, your pill. Here’s something to numb. You are no longer in the drivers seat.
We give people labels. This is your condition. This is who you are now. You are a victim. It’s not your fault – but you will forever be here. We are aiming for compassion but we are unknowingly taking their power away.
Now Medicine – has an important and lifesaving place for people. No one is discounting the very necessary intervention of medicine at times to support imbalances in the body. There are times when we need to numb, endure, cope in whatever way possible. We need to re-balance if chemicals are off. We need the support of medicine or therapists. We need community. We need supportive programs, teachers, coaches, doctors. There is no doubt that these interventions can be LIFESAVING.
But at some point – to heal ourselves fully, those around us and this world – there needs to be internal healing. There needs to be a re-wiring of our thought patterns. There needs to be action.
What differs between yoga and modern medicine:
Modern medicine treats the symptom not the cause and labels a patient as their disorder or condition. You are depressed. You are anxious. You are a victim.
There is a difference between being victimized (this has happened to you) and being a victim (this is you). This is not just semantics. “I have been wounded”, is very different than “I am the wound.”
When we believe that we are the wound, this becomes our label, our identity and the lens in which we now view the world. When we can shift our belief from I am the wound to I have been wounded we can begin the process of healing and moving forward.
Yoga aims to uncover the root of who we are. Through meditation we see that the body is a tool and we are not the body. We see that we are not the mind. We are not the anxious thoughts, the depressive symptoms, the physical discomfort in the body. We are the divine voice behind it all. Things may have happened to this body. To this mind. But we are not that. We are the light behind it all. Our true state is love and nothing about are real selves is ever broken. Its just been clouded by an event or a series of events.
The voice behind it all has no label. We aim to not over-identify with the body or the mind. That causes suffering. Its our dissociation with the mind and body that brings harmony. We are not our thoughts. We are not our condition. We are not this body.
The yogi’s take it a step further…..ACTION
In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna said:
Perform your obligatory duty,
because action is indeed better than inaction.
Even the maintenance of your body
would not be possible by inaction.
Labels can cause inaction. We feel helpless in the face of them. They were meant to provide us with a diagnosis so that we will then take action and pursue the right tools. But unfortunately the label can be so disheartening that we sit with it in inaction.
The truth is we as human beings always have CHOICE. The choice to change is a powerful one and the only one responsible for our lives is us. The truth is that no one can save you from suffering. The only one who can save you……is you.
You can be in control of your thoughts
You can be in control of your actions
Your connection to spirit
Your conscious control of your thoughts and actions, in alignment with spirit – will lead you to grace
This is work. It’s not the easy route. Its brave work. Courageous work. And it’s the path to your own salvation. The yogi’s have laid out a plan for us to free ourselves from pain and suffering.
We practice this in yoga asana when we work to remain calm during challenging poses.
We practice this is in meditation when we can notice our maladaptive repetitive thought patterns and see their source.
When we work hard out of reverence for life – and not show or ego
When we take our yoga practice off the mat serving others and the world.
When we adhere to the guidelines in the yamas and the niyamas learning to treat ourselves and those around us with loving compassion.
When we commit to the discipline of daily practice to heal ourselves.
When we heal ourselves we heal the world.
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate…our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” – Marianne Williamson
For anyone who suffers from past trauma, anxiety, depression or any other affliction….know that medicine can help, therapists and doctors can help but there is also a very powerful set of tools that you can utilize each and every day yourself. You can break the repetitive thought patterns that cause you to suffer. You are not your thoughts. You are not your labels. You are stronger than you know. The people around you that are suffering – are stronger than they know. We can begin to empower each other.
Healing is always possible. Love for yourself is always possible. You are more powerful than you know.
With Grace and Grit,