I want to continue sharing my experiences with teaching at the Integral Yoga Institute in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. After the Raja Yoga training ended, I had a few days to rest before holding a Satsang—an informal gathering where I spoke and answered questions. The Institute asked only for a contribution of food to attend, that was then donated to a local program that feeds the homeless. What a beautiful example of Karma Yoga!
The Satsang was attended by about 60 people and I spoke about Yoga being a way of life, not just a philosophy or health regimen. The practice of Yoga is not intended to create or achieve something. Instead, it is a way of revealing the deeper aspect of our nature that usually remains hidden behind the never ending movements of thought, the way the sun can be hidden behind a blanket of clouds.
Our normal way of pursuing goals with a forceful and driven mentality is not useful when practicing Yoga. We must learn to adjust our practice to the capacity of our bodies and minds, to balance our efforts with ease, to develop our will power in small increments. By learning to accept where we are now, we are able to decide what the next step toward healthy growth will be. For example, someone learning to fast as a spiritual practice may start by skipping the evening meal instead of 3 days on tea.
I continued over the weekend with the theme of adopting Yoga as a lifestyle in a program called Work, Love, Lunch and Laundry: Integrating Yoga into Daily Life. I spoke about the unique challenges of following the spiritual path while being immersed in this culture that embraces external experiences as the source of happiness.
Alternating between practice and discussion, we reviewed together ten practical suggestions for how to incorporate spiritual values into our lives. I offer two of them here that are great to work with– the first one acts as a foundation for the others—and will describe more of them in another post.
1) Create a personal mission statement that expresses your vision or understanding of your true purpose in life. Write it down and use it as a guide to make big decisions or set long term personal goals. If spiritual growth is really important to you, you can take steps to build it into your life.
2) Learn to free yourself from inner conflict. Judging or denying the unwanted aspects of your being creates suffering and consumes energy. Accept where you are and bring healing attention to painful experiences. Just as we all want to find the root cause of physical pain, you can reflect deeply on the roots of your mental, emotional or spiritual suffering and see if it is caused by unfulfilled desires or expectations that resulted in disappointment.