At a satsang in New York I raised the question, “What matters most to you?” I spoke about the importance of clarifying what we value and reflecting on the ultimate purpose of our lives. Speaking to a group of yogis, I was not surprised that someone suggested right away that Moksha or spiritual liberation was most important. We all might understand liberation, or self-realization, to be the goal of Yoga, but what does that really mean to us? It remains a vague and distant idea that may have little relevance to our daily lives. How do we actually go about pursuing enlightenment?
We often think of realization as something passive that happens by stilling the mind, as the Yoga sutras imply. But it is better understood as an active response to life, as a way of bringing to life or embodying the qualities we associate with our spiritual nature: compassion, peace, joy, etc. True awakening is not something that happens in isolation. It takes place as a product of both our Yoga practice and our conscious choices in relationship to each other and our environment.
Imagine how it would feel for the spiritual Self to be as tangible and active as the body and mind while pursuing our goals. Every time we are fully present to life and act with mindfulness, we take a step toward this reality. Our true nature is expressed each time we recognize with gratitude all the ways we are blessed, and allow that sense of abundance to overflow as generosity with others.
Pausing and breathing to allow a sense of peace to arise in a quiet moment is a beautiful step toward liberation. Bringing more compassion into an interaction in line at the store or in heavy traffic is a genuine stride in spiritual growth. Taking the time to be fully present and experience the joy of playing with children or listening deeply to a friend who needs to talk are enlightened choices. These are examples of how spiritual realization is pursued in each moment that we act while holding in our hearts a clear vision of what matters most to us.