By Myra Lewin
We often think that embracing truth comes with a big spark. While it sometimes comes in a moment that is accompanied by a flash of bright lights and a banging of loud drums, more often it is a gradual broadening of our perspective. One day, we look back and see that the truth we now know is much different than what we could ever have imagined.
I have been working with a young woman who has experienced this type of smooth transition toward honesty. She had been experiencing low-level health issues for some time. Mostly frequent colds and an ongoing sense of exhaustion, but mainly it was just a feeling of not wanting to participate in her life. She grew more and more uncomfortable having one-on-one conversations and compulsively used social media to hide from them.
When things get tough in life or asana, go within.
Yoga is about self-realization, it is a remembrance of who we really are. That higher state of being that we seek is already within us -- all we need to do to is surrender our attachments.
Balasana, or child’s pose, is an act of surrender that can bring this awakening. As you fold your belly over your thighs, you meet your original essence. With your gaze inside, you go back to the innocence and newness of childhood, to a time when your higher self was all there was.
Recently I have been looking back to February 2016, when I found myself on my mat in the bright, spacious yoga room at Hale Pule’s Yoga teacher training. In that expansive month-long opportunity, I learned to look ahead.
Landing with a thump in my plank pose, I hear Myra say, “Look ahead.” “Look ahead when you jump back.” Later when I jumped forward to meet myself at the top of the mat, I noticed how I clung to the image of my feet, following them compulsively to meet my hands, as if they might not be there if I didn't strain my neck to ensure they were moving.
Our Yoga teacher trainings have a mix of students at many levels of practice. Some people have been practicing for decades. Others, just a few months. You might think that the students who have put in more time would be the ones who go the farthest in asana, but that is not necessarily true. Sometimes, those who have been practicing the longest have been pushing themselves beyond their body’s limits. Or they have been practicing out of habit, leading to stagnation. These students need to walk back to their true starting points to build a solid foundation. Sometimes that point is farther back than expected.
One thing about the ego is that it likes to feel right, even if it is not. It can be indignant and urgent, clouding the way toward an outcome grounded in sattva for all involved. Yoga is the gift that allows us to break through the ego’s façade and live our truth.
A good indication that you’re being directed by your ego is when you feel stubborn or that you have to justify, explain or defend. Direction from purusha, or the God of your heart, is gentle, less insistent and more loving. It is quieter than the loud voice of the ego, so often requires a shift in perspective to hear. Sometimes the simple act of changing our physical perspective can bring about this shift in the mind. This is the wisdom of inversions.
It is a lifelong endeavor to stay current with our feelings and be present in each day. Ayurveda, Yoga and the 12 Steps all suggest we must continue to go inside and look at our motives and actions to be sure they are centered around God. By looking inside, we can point ourselves in the direction we truly want to go.
How we choose to live each day matters. Our thoughts, words and actions are all part of the natural law of cause and effect, called karma. At any point we are either creating positive karmas or negative karmas for ourselves. We are either moving toward God and recovery or away from God, into sickness and suffering.