“All my life I never really knew me till today, Now I know I’m just another step along the way.” From “You Can Never Go Home” by Justin Hayward of the Moodie Blues (an ancient Rock band for those not of my generation:)
I am always hesitant to use popular music quotes in my writing because of the fear that it will trivialize things a bit. The above title (in part from “Midnight Rider” by Greg Allman) and subsequent quotation expresses a simple and essential a truth to anyone who accepts the notion of life as journey toward greater wholeness and completion. It resonates to me as the essential truth for anyone who practices Yoga and Meditation in a serious manner. For those willing to embrace the challenges of the practicing the ways of Yoga, Meditation and the healing arts as a journey more than a destination it seems to me this is a great time to be walking that path. Resources, teachers and modalities are in abundance and accessible in ways not known even ten years ago.
Although each personality will be drawn to a particular type of Yoga or healing practice initially, I believe it is true that there are many paths but one truth. Essentially Sages, Yogis and other healers agree that we are innately whole and well and our healing involves rediscovering, resolving and re-integrating aspects of our wounded selves to which we have lost access or awareness. Our practice is our reminder and path to realize this truth again and again until it becomes us.
At the root of Yoga and Meditation practice is the re-discovery that “Tat Tvam Asi”. Essentially this Sanskrit phrase means “thou art that”. One way to understand this deep truth is that the world we see in the things, people and places that have meaning for us is a reflection (actually more like an active projection) of our inner selves. Experiences we accrue are registered within indelibly and some of these experiences are impressed upon us more than others. From these stronger impressions we may begin to create our own personal behaviors, emotions and beliefs that are projected onto things in the moment. This meaning isn’t intrinsically there but is reflected in the undercurrent of those long filed away experiences. Yogis believe when these impressions are most unhelpful or injurious our behavior, thoughts feelings and energy patterns are impacted in ways that overtime erupt in symptoms of this physical or mental disease. This dis-ease may or may not be what we normally know as clinical or medical illness. They may simply be some disruption in our potential for the happiness that is possible when we are more clearly connected our source of inner peace.
In the journey back to ourselves consistent, (even relatively minimal) practices of self-care and wellness are our way to discover and possibly address the aspects of ourselves that have led us away from this inner peace and happiness. Yogis teach us that though we cannot erase our past we can meaningfully neutralize the wounds that have obscured our connection to this source of peace and wisdom we all possess. Yogis believe that Yoga as “therapy” involves releasing these blocks, charges and held impressions. All this is designed to help us work through the layers of our “selves” restoring access to joy and peace.
So for so many of us our times on the Yoga mat, meditation cushion or simply paying compassionate attention to our experiences throughout the day are just some of the ways to remain aware of that which we intuit deeply in certain moments but seem to continually forget. This is experience of knowing that in the end we are moving toward something that is already there, our own deepest happiness and wellbeing.
Yogis believe our practice of Yoga is the therapy itself. The benefits of the work we do on our Yoga mat or on the meditation cushion, all those familiar day to day benefits of Yoga and meditation, are the tips of the iceberg of what Yoga may bring to our lives. For so many walking this road over time, skillful and compassionate practice translates into the growing connection to this inner well of peace. Over the course of our journey all this may be reflected and expressed more and more into moments of daily joys and happiness. These moments become less dependent on the passing circumstances of our lives but instead more firmly connected to the peace always present within our deepest Self.