Up in the early morning

Up in the early morning on Saturday, I chanced to spy the alignment of the heavenly bodies. Sun, moon and star traced a straight line in the dawn sky, casting their reflections on the calm surface of the sea.  As the heavens sang their coloured glory and the birds their joyful chorus, I was given a reminder of my own insignificance.  It felt great.

When I see the planets align, feel the Earth turn upon its axis, watch the days break and then later fade away, I realise that I matter little, if at all.  I am a speck upon a speck, hurtling through space and time infinite.  

In childhood, we believe the world revolves around us. Much of our long-lasting angst arises in childhood when we somehow think that we are responsible for everything that happens around us.  Parents divorce, must be because I didn’t put my socks on that morning.  Vacuum cleaner broken, must be because I left that dirty little candy paper on the floor.   Etc etc ad nauseum.

Growth, maturity, is reached, I believe, when we lose our sense of self-importance.  When we realise that we won’t save the world, that our scope is limited, we see that our only duty is to be as good as we possibly can be within the tiny scope of our lives.  This is actually much easier, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not that difficult to decide to walk in the door of your house with a smile on your face despite your soul-destroying day at work, now is it?

We are all specks upon a speck, hurtling through space.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Life is a huge mystery and probably none of it matters.

Yoga taught me all this.  Yoga taught me to be still, quiet, and find that quiet place within myself.  I often close my classes with a discourse that goes along the lines of “that stillness that you feel inside, right now, was always there.  It’s just that you didn’t know how to reach it.  Yoga gives us the tools to reach that still point, that quiet place, and to do so repeatedly and reliably.  That is what yoga is, a series of ancient and well-tested tools that help us find our true selves, our quiet, calm, detached peaceful centre.”

We are specks upon and speck, hurtling through space.  We probably matter not at all.  And that’s ok.

Happy Monday, dear souls.  Be joyful.



The yoga of patience, part II

Patience is a quality associated with the root chakra, the Muladhara chakra.  The root chakra is associated with the element Earth.  Earth changes slowly and deliberately.  I’ve never seen a rock looking at a clock!

As I began to write yesterday, patience has an element of faith in the unknown.  When we are impatient, we allow the intellect and the ego to (attempt to) determine our course . We don’t tend to wait and see…we manipulate and cajole in order to secure our chosen outcome.

When one has faith, it’s easier to have patience.  In Yoga Sutra 1.19-1.20, Patanjali describes the two types of aspirants, characterizing the majority as requiring faith, as well as other characteristics.  When there is a deep faith in the course one is following, patience naturally follows.  Why rush? one thinks, my time will come.

Indeed it will.  Have faith, be patient, still your mind and follow your course.  Be true to your heart and your intuition. If in doubt, be kind and don’t fear, wait and see what happens. It will probably be better than you imagined.  Faith.  Patience.

The yoga of patience

Patience is accepting the unknown, indefinitely.  When we cultivate patience, we accept things as they are, for as long as they are meant to be that way.  This does not mean that we sit passively on the sidelines waiting for the sky to fall.  It means that we work steadily and conscientiously on our work, leaving everything that is not ours in peace.

What is our work?  Evidently it will differ from person to person, and we all probably have more than one important task to which we must apply ourselves.  But, if I may generalize, the work of yoga is the work of consciousness, the transformation of matter into mind into light.  Were are completing the process of photosynthesis, which is the conversion of light into carbohydrate.

Our work, therefore, is to become progressively happier, ever lighter.  When we allow ourselves to become light, we effect change on those around us.  These changes are usually just the ones that the impatient person sets out to change rapidly and forcefully.  Say we have a conflict at work:  the yogi meditates on the nature of the problem, turns it around and perceives it clearly from the other person’s point of view, allows the dust to settle, then uses the gentlest words available to quietly resolve or at least begin to resolve the problem.  The impatient person perceives the conflict.  If they are lucky enough not to burst right then and there, they go home and fume about it, thinking of all the cutting ripostes they were too slow to come up with at the time.  The next day, things get off to a good start, but at the slightest provocation everything flares up again and words are said in haste, often resulting in more misunderstanding.  Of course, this outcome is not only the result of impatience, but impatience is part of it.  Yoga cultivates patience, towards ourselves and others.  When you find yourself becoming impatient, breathe slowly and exhale fully.  Then look afresh and see if anything has changed.