As the change of seasons continues I find myself contemplating the wonders of nature. So much can be learned by spending time in nature and really seeing what is happening. The birds are being industrious and raising their young, seeds are forging their way through the dark soil to emerge into the light, each plant relishes the cleansing rains, the warmth of the sun, whilst all of the insects are busy going about their business. What has this got to do with Yoga you ask???
Well I am guessing that the birds here are not worrying about what will happen to themselves or their young in a few days, months, years. The insects are simply following some inbuilt understanding of what it is they are meant to be doing in their life. The plants are trusting that the light and the rain will be there to cleanse and nurture them. Unlike us these living things are not obsessed with “getting it right”, making sure that they prevent any foreseeable or unforeseeable disasters, or living a life that someone or something else dictates.
In yogic terms they are following their Dharma..they have an intrinsic understanding and trust in their own nature, something that so many of us sadly lack . Swami Niranjan said that “Dharma does not mean religion but commitment to the process of attaining total fulfillment………it cannot be understood by the intellect, the limited mind. Dharma is an experience which unfolds spontaneously from within as one begins to understand one’s place in relation to the rest of creation and beyond.”
Of course this would lead you to wonder ” can we ever be totally fulfilled? What is this total fulfillment that he is talking about?” I think the answer to this is yes. Total fulfillment is achieved when you become truly aware of yourself..who you really are and your deep connection to all things..your heart is filled with compassion and love….you no longer feel the need to judge, criticise, fear. As my very intuitive daughter once told me ..”things just flow mum when you are on the right path”. Does this mean you no longer have dramas? Of course not! Life by its very nature is colored by birth and death..of people, of dreams, of relationships. Some of those little birds will not survive very long. Some of the insects will lose their way and some of the plants will thrive whilst others die off..all of this is perfectly right. It is our perception or judgement about it that can create the dramas.
How does yoga help us on this path? To begin with the practice of asana allows us the opportunity for self-study—to observe the effects of the asana on the body..not with the aim of perfecting the pose but of understanding and transforming yourself. Yoga asana begins the inner journey.
By meditating we can observe the mind and this also helps with an understanding of ourselves. We use pranayama or breathing practices to help balance the body and mind. When we experience the ups and downs of life we can use these tools to ground ourselves to remind oneself that this too will pass just as the spring which has sprung will pass.
Self discovery…exploring our strengths and weaknesses gives the opportunity for self acceptance and once we begin to accept ourselves without guilt, and frustration we can begin to discover the natural role we have to play in life. Life becomes more about Dharma than drama!
For more reading on Dharma:
Yoga Darshan Vision of the Upanishads by Sw Niranjananda Saraswati, Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India 2002