What are we seeking from our practice? Is it peace, connection, grounding, a feeling of belonging, a way out of pain and suffering, an orientation toward the sacred, a methodology to pierce through the veils of misperception? There are so many approaches. All are valid, and in my experience, what we seek can change over time.
What keeps us coming back is our direct experience of, or glimpses of that which we are seeking. We take one committed, wholehearted step toward our goal and that which we are seeking comes toward us. My teacher said to me “the Divine connection you seek and meditate upon is always meditating upon you.” To experience that I had to change my orientation to what I was doing. I needed to recognize that the deeper teaching for me was to slightly shift the way I was interacting with my inner being. If the Divine is within me, then how to truly orient toward it? This set me on an accelerated path of discovery because any preconceived notion of what I was looking for dropped and I began to glimpse a world and experiences that were beyond my ordinary scope. I was suddenly in a relationship with the mystical.
What made this possible was years of preparation. Getting to my mat every day, flexing the muscle of sadhana (daily spiritual practice). Surrounding myself with conscious community, learning how to sustain my enthusiasm even when old habits threatened to derail my progress. It was the glimpses beyond the veils that kept me going: the way I would practice and then feel better ALL day, the way I started to listen to and follow my intuition, the way my relationships started to take on a different tone. All of this was becoming possible through my deepening inner journey, and I see this reflected in students all over the world.
Ultimately an integrated yoga practice is about cultivating our relationship with our self: gaining confidence in our physical body, building vitality, getting to know how our mind works, observing our unhelpful habits and changing them, tapping into creative inspired states that inform how we want to live, the community we surround ourselves with and how we wish to serve and earn in the world.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali list five qualities we develop through practice that support us along our journey.
SHRADDHA: Trust and faith in the practice. We start by trusting a teacher who has had the experience and can inspire that in us. This becomes trust gained by our own direct experience.
VIRYA: A passion and energy that builds as a result of our practice. This energy fuels our desire to keep going, to do more, to enjoy the process.
SMRITI: A remembrance builds of who we are on the deepest level, this inspires us to investigate further. We start to align our intention and purpose with this remembrance.
SAMADHI: We begin to cultivate a capacity to truly absorb into our practice and the state of being that emerges from it.
PRAJNA: We start to access a deeper Truth, knowledge beyond words, and intelligence that is not based on thought. This experience fundamentally upgrades who we are and how we approach our lives. Our thoughts, words and action begin to align with this Truth.