do you ever think, “What really IS the point of it all?” Like you’re in groundhog day: Eat. Do Stuff. Sleep. Repeat
life really is made up of a series of endless repetition. Within yoga philosophy this is referred to as Samsara, which translates from Sanskrit as ‘Same Agitation’.
going through the motions as if on an endless treadmill can make life itself feel devoid of any meaning or purpose.
even with one’s yoga practice, it can be easy to slip into the cycle of going through the motions. Getting on the mat, some deep breaths, couple of sun salutations, stretching around, bit of core work, calming the thoughts and oh yeah don’t forget those deep breaths followed by ahhhh, having a nice lie down… but it soon becomes easy to lose the love and devotion for yoga, if you add it to your ‘to-do list’ and don’t scratch below the surface.
the meaning of yoga practice is lost when you start treating yoga as part of the treadmill of life as opposed to an antidote for it.
yoga practice is intended to remind us to say, “hang on a minute, right here, right now is actually a rare momentary occurance, which is actually pretty amazing!”
yoga postures and sequences themselves are not that rich in meaning when considered simply aesthetically as form but rather the underlying intention behind practising them gives the meaning that will keep you coming back for more. Ultimately the underlying purpose is to liberate our souls from the bondage of Samsara.
more simply put, the goal of yoga practice is to appreciate life and stay open to learning. Through mindful breath awareness and other various tools and techniques, our attention and appreciation is offered up to each and every moment in a devotional way. Patanjali’s Sutra 2.47 explains that for a yoga posture to be considered as ‘yoga’ the underlying and inherent attention needs to rest within meditation. The state of meditation, or absorption, is that which merges us with our source.
Sutra 2.47 prayatnashaithilyaanantyasamaapattibhyaam
“[Such posture should be attained] by the relaxation of effort and by absorption in the infinite.” Bryant
let’s think about it a minute, the chances of intelligent complex life occurring on earth in the first place was low! It took 2.5 billion years for a single cell amoeba to evolve into a multi-celled organism and then another 1 billion years for that to become fish and reptiles and then a further 100 million years for natural selection to arrive at intelligent life froms such a human beings! It is miraculous that humans are here let alone that you or I are here right now.
life is thus rare and so precious. It is it’s preciousness which gives it it’s very meaning.
so next time in yoga practice, be sure to really savour what happens in each and every breath, find beauty in whatever arrives within the posture, stay intrigued, curious and explorative.This is the way that I have managed to sustain my interest in the practice for 18 years.
yoga Sadhana (dedicated practice) is said to be the boat that sails against the tides of Samskara (agitated cycle). The two oars that row the boat are said to be Humility & Devotion. Humility naturally arises within us through the practices of yoga because the more we connect to life as human beings rather than ‘human doings’, the more we realise the awe of life. Like this, we cannot help but feel humbled. This humility leads to a sense of belonging to the bigger picture, breeds unity, compassion and kindness. Humility helps sustain devotion.
a way of expressing devotion is through humbly offering Mantra to all the teachers (Gurus) in your life. A teacher isn’t necessarily a person, it can be a life experience, situation or a book etc.
the Guru Mantra is a beautiful expression of showing homage to all of life’s teachers:
Om, Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma, Tasmai Sri Guruve Namaha
which translates as “respect to the teacher of beginnings, the teacher of sustainability, the teacher of endings, the teacher that is nearby, the teacher that is all encompassing, for they are all One in the same teacher”
the Guru Mantra highlights how all of life’s lessons can be our teacher, no matter where we are or what we are experiencing.
the School of Jivamukti refer to Guru Ashtakam who talks of a Sanskrit expression “Tatah Kim” which means “What is the use?” . With Sanskrit being a phonic language, it occurred to me that the sound of ‘Tatah Kim’, if repeated again and again with a clap or a tap to the chest can very much feel like the sound of the pounding heartbeat. As the Chadogya Upanisads teach us, when you connect to the energy at the heart, one’s purpose becomes clearer,
“In the city of Brahman is a secret dwelling, the lotus of the heart. Within this dwelling is a space and within that space is the fulfilment of our desires. What is within that space should be longed for and realised”.
So to repeat the question, ‘what is the use?, what is the use?, what is the use? “Tatah Kim, Tatah Kim,Tatah Kim” can really stir enquiry and exploration within us for what is and has ‘meaning?’ for us.
as Osho says, “Meaning of life is not something out there that can be found in the Himalayas or the marketplace, ‘meaning of life’ is to be created by each and every one of us”.
To consider each moment of our life as our teacher and to humbly devote ourselves to learning from our life lessons, is what creates the meaning in our lives.
I’ll leave you with a poem from the 19th century Welsh poet William Henry Davies, who recognised the perennial wisdom of being a human being rather than a human doing. His poem Leisure has stood the test of time:
what is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.
no time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep or cows.
no time to see, when woods we pass,
where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
no time to see, in broad daylight,
streams full of stars, like skies at night.
no time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
and watch her feet, how they can dance.
no time to wait till her mouth can
enrich that smile her eyes began.
a poor life this if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.