QUESTIONS ARE COMPLICATED - ANSWERS ARE SIMPLE
JULY 30TH, 2008: It never ceases to amaze me how good we all are (and I mean gold medal good) at making the questions of life super complicated. The good news is that regardless of how complex we make the questions, the answers are simple. So I pulled together a simple list of 5 of these answers based on my lifetime of yogic readings and experience to share with you.
The teachings of yoga include a view called parinamavada, the idea that constant change is an inherent part of life. Therefore, to proceed skillfully with any action, we must first assess where we are starting from today; we can’t assume we are quite the same person we were yesterday. Emerson says it like this, “There are no fixtures in nature. The universe is fluid.”
In life, change is constant. Things are always beginning, dissolving, dying. And we are usually most aware of life’s ever-changing nature in the gut-wrenching moments…loss, death, heartbreak. In a nutshell we can respond to change in 2 ways.
- One response is to race against time in an effort to accomplish as much as possible. When you realize “life is short” and no marriage, no person, nothing lasts forever, you want to squeeze it all in. This response is fun and exhilarating but ultimately can wear you out. “Time--when pursued like a bandit--will behave like one. Always remaining one county or one room ahead of you…slipping out the back door just as you’re banging thru the lobby with your newest search warrant.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)
- The yogis prescribe another approach to best ride life’s ever-charging flow. By learning to relax, surrender, and let go, you realize that stillness is a magnet for contentment. As the German author Frank Kafka said, “..be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
2. IT’S OK TO ADMIT WE DON'T KNOW
In reality, we DON’T KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT. Just like there are poses in this practice we don’t understand, can’t yet do, may never be able to do or if we can perform have no idea why or how…
· When we practice Yoga we are really acknowledging that we are on the ROAD OF LIFE. The path unfolds in this moment and in every moment while we are alive. And we don’t know what comes next.
· This means in part, even at most crucial times, acknowledging that we really have NO IDEA WHERE WE ARE GOING OR EVEN WHERE THE PATH LIES.
· We are not meant to understand why all things happen, we may never understand. All we can do is keep flowing forward…
3. BE PRESENT
"We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow."
What’s so important about being in the moment? Yoga teaches us that the present moment is the source of healing, love, inspiration, passion, creativity. In fact, the purest form of strength is that which is found in the present moment. The yogis call this power of presence shakti. But to reap these benefits, one can’t just have fleeting moments of presence. We have to stay long enough in the present moment that we can really soak in its cleansing, healing, loving energy.
4. LIVE FULLY NOW
“You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted.” ~Ruth E. Renkl
Steve Ross, LA Yogi and Author puts it like this: "You are always already happy. The reason you don't experience it is that it's covered up by layers of suppressed emotions and negative thoughts. Shift your attention and your inherent happiness flashes forth."
5. GET ALONG – SEEK HARMONY
A human being consists of 75 trillion cells each with a very specific task necessary to sustain one's life. Scientists and doctors are likening the 75 trillion cells to musicians in a giant symphony. The conscious human being could never possibly conduct this symphony, but the conscious human being is absolutely responsible for providing a harmonious environment in which the symphony can play without interruption. The paradigm for health is already shifting. We can see it moving its priority from "fit body" to "open heart." The truly great workout of the future will not be "How far can I run" but "How best can I serve?"
My favorite advice is from Sri Swami Satchidananda
"Whatever you do, let it be a perfect act. What is a perfect act? It harms nobody, it brings at least some benefit to somebody. If you have control, you can use anything and everything to achieve some good purpose. Keep that in mind as your goal. Whatever you think, whatever you say or do, ask yourself: 'Will it harm anybody?' The answer should be, 'Absolutely no.' The next point is, 'Will it at least benefit somebody.' The answer should be 'Yes.' If it is not benefiting anybody, it is a waste. So, no harm to anybody, at least some benefit to somebody."