Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, March 18, 2022:
Yoga is Wherever You Are, Whoever You Are With
Today, I am in New Mexico. This is where my brother and his family, as well as my parents, live. I have not visited them for several years because I felt that I was not ready. To make a long story short, my mind tried to believe that I would not “feel good around them” because being around my family throws off the way I live and feel at ease. But in truth, when I consider what is behind “not feeling good around them,” I realize that it has nothing to do with being disruptive to my lifestyle or detrimental to my well-being, but with thinking of myself as superior to them, protecting myself, judging, blaming or simply disagreeing with their ideas or ways, and therefore, not feeling inspired to be around them. That is how I ended up preferring to stay away from them—that and attaching myself to the idea that made me feel that this was the best decision for me.
In the recent talks at the end of the online Asana and Meditation classes in New York, we have been focusing on Yoga in daily life, as well as asana as a preparation for Yoga in daily life, hearing examples of empirical practices from others. It reminded me of Shri Mahayogi’s words about daily life being the field for practicing and living in Yoga. But even though I have read or listened to this topic for a long time, I am noticing that there is still a tendency in me to become rigid and try to define “Yoga” as something separate from daily life, or as needing its own allotted space and time in my life.
When I decided to come to visit my family, I was uncomfortable because so much in my daily routine, diet, environment and habits had to change. In New York, I have a relatively steady routine around what I consider conducive to the practice of Yoga: I wake up to a short meditation, shower, practice nauli, water plants, eat breakfast, think about a practice for the day, come home, eat early dinner, read scriptures, relax a little, go shopping, talk to a friend, clean and organize, practice or attend asana class or attend a sangha Zoom meeting, prepare lunch for work or dinner…then, the next day, I do more or less the same.
At first glance, there did not seem to be anything wrong with my routine, it has looked pretty good actually. But, when I thought about leaving New York to come to New Mexico, I worried about losing my schedule and not being able to sustain my practice. Even though we have been talking so much about Yoga as an integrated part of daily life, I found myself wondering when I would practice Yoga in my families’ homes in New Mexico!! When I realized that I was thinking this way, I began to suspect that there must be something that I had to correct about my understanding of Yoga and way of living Yoga in daily life.
When I arrived in New Mexico, Echo From the Cave: 161, the blog post from a recent talk (Feb. 25th) at the end of the class, came to mind. In this talk, I had shared a reflection from my work as a primary school teacher and the teaching of Shri Mahayogi: “Make your body, words and intentions in daily life match.” I explained how I had begun to see that even though what my students need the most is “to feel that I genuinely care about them,” what I care for the most was “to be perceived as the one who knows.” I had then reached the conclusion that “wanting to show that ‘I know’ was a stronger intention than wanting to show ‘I care.’” Having had the opportunity to reflect on the lack of coherence between my intentions, words and actions, I decided that I should use this time with my family in New Mexico to try to align these three things in daily life, because doing that may help me integrate Yoga into anything I do, wherever I am and whoever I am with.
As I expected, in the last few days, it has been nearly impossible to adhere to a routine in which I am able to confine “practice” to a set schedule. By not being able to control my own schedule, I saw more clearly how I tend to separate Yoga from daily life, and similarly, how I separate others “outside of Yoga” from me. Knowing that I do not have many days to work on this while I am here, I proposed to myself to stay close to the people around me and simply and actively attend to the need of each moment, one by one. This did not seem so difficult, but at first, I found myself thinking too much about how to show that “I care” more than “I know,” and not flowing with the situations. I also noticed that hiding in my mind there was the wish to come up again with a perfect routine and to sabotage my attempts to simply do what is needed when it is needed. Still, I have kept working on responding in the moment to the person in front of me and on forgetting about what my mind prefers as the perfect scenario, company, and condition for Yoga.
At some point in the last few days, I began to feel the need to be inspired or guided by a stronger understanding, and not just continue to act robotically and incessantly to meet the needs of others. And I began to feel that living in Yoga requires that I forget about myself, and that I am also guided and filled by the Truth inside my body and mind. This conclusion led me to ask myself about the intention behind my idea of “I care.” Why should I act in a caring manner towards others? What is the reason or the motivation for that? Is it simply to be a good person in the eyes of others? Although I was not really guided by a concrete aim when I asked myself these questions, I believe that I was beginning to suspect that I could deceive myself to think that “I care” and in reality be back to wanting to feel “I know.”
At some point, while I was trying to check my own motivations for acting in daily life, the lyrics of the song we sang in New York for Shri Mahayogi, during the Guru Jayanti last year, filled my mind and my heart and gave me a direction, a way to understand and a deeper reason to act for others. These beautiful words reminded me of what Shri Mahayogi has constantly been teaching us.
I invite you to read the fifth verse (and the entire song) again and again as a reminder of what Shri Mahayogi is here to teach us. When these lyrics came back to me, they helped me clarify the Truth and inspired me to aim toward a deeper way of living from this Truth all the time with anybody, no matter where, how or who they are, what they think, say, how they live, if I agree with them or not, if I like them or not—just act from this Truth all the time. I am so thankful for these words in the lyrics!
Seeing only the singular Existence behind all
You show all forms and names as manifestation of One
You say act through pure love and harmony
For all is God, we are all That, Joy permeates
Every single life, so sacred, no one can deny it, just like the sun rises after the night
Every single life, so divine, no one can deny it, just like the sun rises after the night
It is true, it is true, seeing the One shine through all forms
It is true, it is true, your Love imbues all with holiness
It is true, it is true, the invitation to return to pure Joy
It is true, it is true, ever-leading us to salvation
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