Yogi Assignment: Love
The glowing heart of the sun rises and sets each day and belongs to no one. The Earth is cut up into segments of private property and national boundaries but no one owns the deed to the whole planet, except maybe all of us collectively unless we just have it on loan from future generations. Nations carve out no-fly zones but the air we breathe is free. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from attaining your dreams after years of hard work and dedication does not come merely from the good fortune of inheriting a million dollars. If we lost the internet tomorrow and the world financial system collapsed humanity’s most essential nature would survive in our ability to love one another.
One of the most liberating things about the practice of yoga is how it brings you in touch with the truly meaningful part of life. We practice yoga because of the feeling of elation and freedom that comes when you feel totally and completely at peace with yourself. The physical postures lead you to the discovery of a truly eternal happiness within. It is this sacred space of the inner world that yoga seeks to build a bridge to with every practice. No amount of money can buy you passage down the road of spirituality. Instead the only currency worth anything is the power of your own awareness. Not even all the world’s money can make you rich in spiritual sense. The kind of abundance that comes from knowing yourself at the deepest level is a truth that outlasts the test of time and inevitable vicissitudes of life.
Sometimes stress can cause you to lose an honest connection to the deepest part of yourself and drown out the inner world. Yet when you begin yoga you open a door to the quiet space of listening where healing takes place. At its most basic potential yoga seeks to reunite your body, mind and soul in one state of consciousness. Yoga helps you regain the lost world of yourself as you really are, peaceful, happy, free and beautiful. Everyone wants to be happy and everyone wants to love. No matter where you come from, what language you speak or how different you may seem, you, like every human being, want to know real peace and lasting freedom. Yoga allows you to reconnect with the grand unity that all life on Earth really is a shared dream of peace, love and happiness. Yoga is a process of union that occurs on the person level as you learn to connect your body, mind and soul and then on a global level when you learn to connect with other cultures, people and beings.
We have all faced moments when it seems that our modern life is fraying at the edges. This is not the time to run for cover and abandon all hopes of recovery. Instead it is the time to apply the lesson of the spiritual discipline of yoga that teach you to find your happiness and joy within regardless of external circumstance. Yoga opens your heart and asks you to believe in yourself beyond all measure of doubt. In this awakening of compassion yoga asks you to find a way to live a more peaceful life and be a force of healing in the world. When you find relief in the awareness of yourself as an eternal being capable of limitless love then the need to control circumstances eases into an ability to love life and have fun. The liberation of soul promised by the ardent practice of yoga is not something that can be bought, faked or cheated. Instead it is a diligence gained by any willing aspirant whose heart and mind can grow large enough to love the entire world, human and non human, painful and pleasurable alike.
The best moments in yoga cannot be owned or bought by anyone, not even the most wealthy, powerful and well-connected corporations. Yoga’s greatest gift is the vulnerability that fills your tender heart after a deep practice session and the spiritual strength that gives you the benefit of unflappable faith and devotion. No matter where you come from, it is up to you as the studio to be open to receive the teaching and be willing to put in the work that will assure your ultimate success. Yoga begs you to ask yourself who you are without the normal repertoire of thoughts and measurements used to define yourself. Yoga asks you to find the courage to be totally honest and present with yourself. If you begin the search through the complexity of your existence and ask yourself who you really are without your thoughts, your emotions, and everything that constitutes your known reality, you will find that at the center of your being is the search for love. The yearning for love often takes us far away from the spiritual path. We search for love in other people. We accumulate money, possessions, and accomplishments to make ourselves feel worthy of love. The last place we often look for the love that completes us is within ourselves. Yet, that is exactly where it is! When you find your own limitless capacity for love you will have touched the shining center of both yoga and yourself.
You cannot buy a perfect sunrise or a perfect day at the beach, but you can be lucky enough to experience it. All the money in the world will not buy you peace and happiness, but yoga will lead every sincere practitioner to the eternal place of the spirit within from which all peace and happiness flows. Even with a billion dollars you simply cannot manufacture the best moments in life, but with yoga you can learn how to live your best possible and be grateful for every breath you are blessed with.
Your Yogi Assignment this week is Love. Often used as a catch-phrase for everything, I want you to get specific with how love is defined by its power and expression in your life.
1. Love yourself—
True grounded self-love is hard to embody. So many people either veer on the side of denial where they block out all faults or escapism where they create an untrue fantasy of themselves as the epic hero. Many others still internalize self-hate and harsh judgement quietly and cultivate attitudes of hardened hearts. Self-love starts with a kind of long exhale that leans in to all the light and all the shadow in a nonjudgmental space of inner awareness. It’s about celebrating your success and being gentle and truthful about your failures.
2. Love the simple things—
Take time each day to celebrate the small things. Stop and smell a flower, let the breeze gently pass over your skin, relish the flavors of a tasty dish, and appreciate the world around you in all its temporal splendor. These moments, like a sunset or a afternoon light filtering through the trees, are universal and readily available to all. But if you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world or lost in your own thoughts these moments might just pass you by. Loving the simple things allows you tap into true wealth. There is no price to pay for sunlight, no price other than your own choice to tune in to it and be present to it.
3. Love others—
To love someone else means to accept them exactly as they are, regardless of whether or not you find their actions beneficial to you. You do not need live in close quarters with everyone on Earth, but we do all need to share the planet together. We so often go into relationships with grandiose notions of how we might be able to change the other person and make them better. That couldn’t be further from love. Instead of love we give conditional approval that equates love with a pass or fail based on our own personal moral standards. We say, I love you only when you’re acting a certain way. It can be scary to love someone who has hurt, wronged or even attacked you and yet this is exactly what we have to do. By learning to send love to everyone, not just our friends and family, but also to our “enemies” our capacity for love grows so big that it transcends the conditional realm of the material and enters the truly eternal realm of the Divine.