During my last weekend in San Martin de los Andes, I spoke several times with the teachers in training. We focused primarily on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the very detailed way these teachings make clear the roots of all of our suffering.
The Sutras explain how our limited minds and senses do not see and experience the fullness of our being. Instead, we are influenced by the prevailing messages of our culture to think of ourselves as the body and mind.
This leads to a life of never-ending efforts to create and sustain a successful self image – an identity that can help us obtain the things we feel we need to be happy, such as a good job, a lovely partner, a beautiful home, etc. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting these things that we all enjoy, but it is a mistake to think that our happiness comes from those things. If that is true, then each time those things change or disappear, our happiness goes with them.
The sutras describe how trying to arrange for conditions outside of ourselves in order to be happy leads to a life of relentless frustration, anxiety and striving for something we can never obtain. Yoga practice, as well as any authentic spiritual practice, can help us experience an innate sense of contentment that is independent of circumstances and allows us to enjoy the process of pursuing our goals without depending on the outcome for our peace of mind.
Understanding this can inspire us to practice diligently, with patience and enthusiasm, until we begin to experience for ourselves the truth in these teachings. Once we taste this inner peace and the natural feeling of joy that comes from giving and serving, rather than acquiring and achieving, our spiritual growth becomes a steady and enjoyable journey towards an ever greater awareness of our true nature.