The very heart of the spiritual path is a search for inner peace and when you practice your daily discipline you help translate your individual realization to the larger whole. Society is comprised of its members just as your body is composed of its cells. When you take responsibility for your actions, words and deeds you build a gateway towards the slow, steady realization of true peace one breathe at a time. If a united global consciousness is to succeed each person on Earth must live, act, feel and think with the highest level of awareness possible at each moment. That means you and me too. If you cannot live for one full week without letting your anger get the best of you, then how can you expect whole nations to remain peaceful for any length of time? Simply put, your state of mind matters to everyone.
It seems that there have always been wars between nations, lover’s spats and family feuds as long as humanity has been on Earth. Where humans go, drama is soon to follow. Yet underneath the soap opera emotional rollercoaster is the enduring dream of final and lasting peace. Sometimes it is those who are the most deeply entrenched within the drama of their own lives that most desperately search for salvation. For centuries humanity has turned to organized religion to answer the deeper questions, yearnings and aspirations of life. Now the search for spirituality takes prominence in the public domain and your participation in activities like yoga and meditation heralds a major spiritual revitalization of society.
Living life on the spiritual path allows you to tap into the magical underlayer of existence and it is in this space that the dream of unity and peace exists. The real fabric that hope is made of comes not in careless absent-mindedness but in patient, heartfelt dedication day after day, week after week and year after year. Practicing yoga is not some panacea for all your personal problems and certainly not the ills of the world, however, if you practice yoga you may just find a way to live a more peaceful and meaningful life before your time here is over. What unique and valuable contribution you make to the world is not always measured in terms of grandness, but sometimes in terms of how many smiles you share each day.
In the stormy clouds of life’s inevitable series of setbacks you will find the silver lining of your soul. It isn’t when everything in your life clicks along in an upbeat winning streak that you ask the toughest questions of your life. The search for meaning walks hand in hand with the reality of struggle. When it’s cheap, free and easy, it’s can also be meaningless, light and unbearable. Sometimes people fundamentally reevaluate their life’s purpose, direction and drive after a life-threatening illness. Others do so after a momentous or inspirational meeting with a person, mentor or role model. Many have also voluntarily chosen to face the deluge of bad news that arrives at their doorstep through the power of yoga.
Eckhart Tolle says that every single person interested in spirituality today has suffered and it is the suffering that created their interest in the deeper dimension of life. So it is that yoga as a spiritual path offers a unique kind of salvation, one that promises not to remove you from your suffering but one that teaches you how to love, live with and accept the reality of life as it really is, good and bad days just the same. You see, the bad news comes knocking at your door and threatens to pull you under a permanent shadow of depression, anger or defeat completely uninvited. If you run from it, fight it or try to escape, you’re doomed to fail someday. Every person on Earth has a day that’s better off spent in bed no matter how cheerful, sunny and bright their disposition might be. The glitteratti, celebrity and royalty all have bad hair days. Yogis, priests and saints get angry. And there’s nothing with that. Inner peace is more a discipline of the mind than mere good luck. With the power of yoga you see the truth of life, that is, that there is nowhere to run, no place to hide, and no one to save you. All that’s left to do is begin walking along the slow, steady spiritual path, the path of freedom, truth and lasting peace.
It is when life tests you by offering the challenge of hardship that you know exactly what you’re made of. Strength and steadiness of character are defined not in moments of ease, but in moments of great duress. In the context of yoga, it is not what comes naturally and effortlessly to you that holds the greatest power of transformation. That which is far from your sense of normal has the ability to make you a new person for it is in these moments that you will have a mirror with which to see yourself clearly. Much of my personal journey in yoga has been about developing strength and steadiness both of the body and mind. At moments of great challenge, my first inclination is to quit, give up and grow melancholic and self-pitying. One of yoga’s greatest gifts to me is the awareness that exactly when I want to throw in the towel is exactly when I need to push through, not harshly with unnecessary crass force, but from the core of my being, gently, powerfully and with exactly the right amount of strength and grace.
About Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is a small business owner (www.miamilifecenter.com), yoga teacher and freelance journalist who has produced two yoga DVDs and is currently working on her first book, Inner Peace, Irresistible Beauty to be released late April 2009. For complete details please see www.ashtanga-awareness.com.