Yoga is of course about seeing very clearly, what is actually happening. Not what we wish, or don't want, or "tell me what you want, what you really, really want" thank you Spice Girls but what is here, now, right in front of us. But Yoga is also skilfulness in action, thank you to the Bhagavad Gita for bringing us this wonderfully deep and complex battle that show's us what skilfulness in life looks like.
One of the juicy parts of this epic, is that it directs us in many different ways, to fully be who we are. Yes, isn't that cool! An ancient and epic tale of war, which slowly offers us much advice on life.
Anyway, its a big topic this Bhagavad Gita, but there's one part in particular which I'd love to write about. And its this, personal alignment, or integrity. THIS! Yes.
Personal integrity has a feeling-tone. We know when we feel good about our words and actions, maybe a smile, perhaps a skip in your step, most likely a great nights sleep. But on the flip side we certainly feel it when we are not, think anxiety, worry, fearful thoughts, lack of sleep. There's a knowing there, and its like a feedback system (Vijnanamaya Kosha territory!).
You just ##know##!!!
And this is where the skilfulness comes into the picture, *skill*fullness. Think about that, feeling in such alignment that you can be full of skill in responding to and envisioning your life, creating good Karma and maybe disrupting old patterns that no longer are useful.
How do we get there? Well, there's no "there". It feels impractical and honestly stressful, to make it a final destination, or a place to get to. But what we can do, its we can notice and really embrace that feeling when we are in alignment, and also, when we are not. Self-study, or Svadhyaya is our trusty companion here. If we aren't learning from our days, we are not taking advantage of the platter of information that each day gives us.
Take your time, each day take notes.
Journal, get nerdy with your days.
Ahhh the old remedy for sore throats; the juice of 1/2 a lemon, some honey and hot water.
I sort of laugh as I write this because yesterday I saw on the side of a bus, a notice to us the general public encouraging us to not use antibiotics all the time as its stopping their potency. Back in my mum's day, she used old favourites. She didn't rush me up to the GP, she didn't get any medicines out, she just used really good stuff to help me get better. I felt like the only kid that had to drink smoothies with an .... GASP ... RAW EGG in them! Fast forward, now I'm choosing to drink smoothies with a raw egg. What a laugh!
Anyway, its kind of like my lemon and honey. Its a play of opposites, Patanjali the Rishi that penned the Yoga sutras talks about the play of opposites, and how we can get lost there. If you take a look around you will see this, for example:
Sweet and sour, my lemon and honey
Antibiotics man made vs natural solutions
Skinny Jeans vs bootleg (a bit of a laugh here!)
Paleo vs Vegan
Minimalism vs Over-crowding//hoarding
Diary vs Non-diary
Man made vs Synthetic
All or nothing
And of course there are many many more threaded and present in each day. But we needn't be constantly led and governed by this display of opposites. We can be anchored to something SO MUCH MORE.
But rewinding a little, when I first read Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.48:
"to be no longer being disturbed by the play of opposites"
it felt a long way away from me, it felt dry, there wasn't anything I could wrap my head around or get my teeth into.
However, now as I learn to contemplate these sutras and wisdom texts, they sort of unfold in front of me. And so this play of opposites in our life can be very disturbing for our minds, one minute its this way, next its this, following this Yoga NOT that, do this diet NOT that one, wear this NOT that, hang with this person NOT that one, and so on........ And if ones not anchored to something real, something unchanging, well it can run us ragged. I can speak of this with first hand experience, insert a big sigh here!
Likes to dislikes, passions to aversions, busyness to stillness. I don't feel like these are wrong, as we will all have moments of these in our modern day to day life, but what I feel that the tools of Yoga gives me are a steadiness, a rudder to help me steer my small ship.
I like how Bhavani Silvia Maki writes in her magical book "The Yogi's Roadmap":
"To live in Yoga, is to experience a state of balance born of movement and response, in which we embrace the world as a dizzying array of options and possibilities, without going to extremes".
Yes, without going to extremes. Perhaps called The Middle Way.
To stay the middle way, I mix together readings and contemplations from the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, some Danielle Laport and a few Leunig poems, All these help me to keep my ship sailing with the winds of the Divine in the right direction, or the Middle Way. I feel less led by the whims of the everyday, the play of opposites and feel more drawn and inclined to lead with my heart.
Well, most days.... smile!
Take care and notice, what is steering your ship?
What are you drawn to that helps anchor you?
What practices do you have that help you stay steady?
Do you find most days your travelling The Middle Way?
I'd love to know.