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September 05, 2006

Love and Yoga

Love and Yoga

About 2,500 years ago, a great man and yogi by the name of Patanjali wrote a set of verses with instructions about Yoga, which we now know as the Yoga Sutras. This book has been studied by thousands of yoga practitioners and has shed tremendous light and wisdom onto this great practice.

The most widely known of these verses is, "Yogash-Chitta-Vritti-Nirodhaha". In this verse, Patanjali gives us a basic definition of Yoga. Basically, the definition states that Yoga is the process of restricting and ending (Nirodhaha) the fluctuations or disturbances (Vritti) of the mind or consciousness (Chitta).

When the mind or consciousness is "quieted" in this way, Patanjali then states that the Self will begin to reveal itself in it's true form. The true form of one's essential Self is pure transcendent awareness, unclouded by fear or doubt. It is like when the clouds clear from the sky to reveal a brilliant, radiant sun.

In many ways, this "essence" can be described as none other than pure love. It is that part of us that is untainted by conditioned, habitual responses, judgment and, as I have stated before, is free from fear. There is no sense of separation. In fact, one of the definitions of Yoga is unity. One has the full experience of being a part of all things, connected to all people everywhere.

However, because most of us lack true self-awareness, we have lost our capacity to feel and to experience this part of ourselves. We have forgotten who we truly are at the core of our being. Thus, we mistakenly search for both happiness and love from people and things outside of ourselves. This fruitless search, as many of us can attest to, leads only to suffering and dissatisfaction and not to lasting happiness and joy. At most, when we seek true happiness and love outside of ourselves, we find only temporary moments of pleasure, but nothing that really lasts.

The great beauty of Yoga and its practices is that it gives us the tools and resources to begin to look deep within ourselves. As layers and layers of our conditioned emotional and mental patterns are lifted, we can begin to see the true nature of who we really are. We begin to see a light, a joy and a wisdom inside ourselves that is truly astounding in its radiance and power. We finally begin to see that the joy and love that we are seeking outside of ourselves is already within us.

We begin to understand that we have been seeking love, not because we need love, but because we are love. We have been only seeking to connect and to know our own true Selves.

This realization is extremely powerful and liberating. We begin to see that, not only are we not creatures of needs in a world of scarce resources, but that we are the source itself, the well spring for a treasure that is far beyond our wildest imaginings. There is no longer a deep-seated sense of survival and struggle.

We begin to see that we can begin to be generous and giving in all that we say and do and be. Ultimately, we see that we can begin to let go of all the fear in our hearts that we have been living with for so long.

When we begin to let go of fear, then possibilities and miracles begin to appear in ways and in places that we never imagined they could. The amazing thing is that we are not the only ones who are affected by this kind of change. Everyone that we come in contact with (and beyond) is touched in special and miraculous ways. We literally begin to be a "light" unto this world. It appears as if the very ground for our reality begins to change.

This kind of transformation is at the heart and soul of what Yoga is truly all about. It is the reason why Yoga exists at all in the way that it does in the world today. Throughout its history there have been countless men and women who have devoted their entire lives to this purpose. Their lives became a living expression of the power of love.

It is very important to remember what the true purpose of Yoga is all about. Even if we only have a small glimpse of this deeper side of Yoga and keep it in our hearts, it can be enough to keep our practice true and steady.

If we think that Yoga is only a form of physical exercise, we will not have the necessary energy and devotion to it to make the ultimate goal a reality. The conditioning and ignorance that is very much a part of each of us it very deep rooted and powerful. To realize the deepest potential of what Yoga is intended to be, one must apply oneself in the highest fashion, with full devotion of body, mind, heart and soul. If one can sustain this kind of dedication over a long period of time, there is no doubt in my mind that miracles are possible. You will know the true meaning of love.



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