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.
We’ve all heard of enlightenment or God realization and we may have some vague idea of what that means – some state of perfection that arises from deep meditation. I think it can be more relevant to us as an active response to life, as a way embodying the qualities we associate with our spiritual nature: compassion, peace, joy, etc. The process of awakening is not something that happens in isolation for us, meditating in a cave. It takes place as a product of both our Yoga practice and our conscious choices in relationship to each other and our environment.
Visualize a ship setting off on a long voyage and how it must point itself in the right
direction to reach the intended destination. Then imagine that the course it sets is
slightly off target. By the time it travels a great distance, it will be far from its goal.
The same thing can happen to us if we are not clear about the direction we really want
to go. There are so many influences that can throw us off course, so many diversions
that vie for our attention– like glass jewelry, shiny but of little value.
The beginning of a new year can be an ideal time to reflect and clarify for ourselves
what is most important to us, to ask ourselves, “To what overall purpose do I want to
devote my life?” There is a great benefit in reflecting on this, jotting down ideas, and
ultimately stating clearly for ourselves what we want to achieve.
This statement then becomes a potent tool for evaluating both the major decisions and
many smaller choices we must make on a daily basis. I like to ask myself the question,
“Is the way I am using my time and energy in harmony with what I really value in this
life?” The clearer I become about what is most important to me, the easier it is to say
no to the many activities that may be interesting but not meaningful.
If we want our lives to be centered on spiritual values, we must consciously make time
for the teachings and practices that attune our hearts and minds to Spirit. Since we are
so strongly influenced by the culture around us—which has also shaped our
subconscious minds—most of us need to reconnect over and over to the spiritual
truths we have come to believe in.
Thus, I believe it is essential to build into our lives some regular method of calling forth
the Divine Presence within, whether it is by meditating or serving, chanting or praying,
studying or loving others. Otherwise, our ships can easily be blown off course by the
strong winds around us. Each of us can create a personal vision for this life, and take
the steering wheel in hand, so let us make good use of this opportunity. Doing so
makes our lives much more meaningful and enjoyable.