Share the Love

Walking down the street in my favourite suburb, I watched a young father pushing a pram. Soon he lifted his baby out of it, as she wasn’t settling, and comforted her. She got lots of cuddles and kisses, and it was apparent how much he loved and adored her. The young father took her to a tree and pointed out to her, the beautiful pattern and colour the bark had, encouraging her to touch it. It was moving to witness someone with such an open heart. There was something very special and particularly caring about him, it was a joy to watch.

They say that being a parent is the biggest spiritual lesson in ‘letting go’, one can receive. One’s ‘self’ has to surrender to the fact that someone else – your baby – is more important than you, and will always have priority in your decision making. This is one step towards connecting with your true ‘Self’.

Peter Sanson – a NZ Ashtanga teacher, who spent many years in Mysore with Sri K Pattabhi Jois – often refers to a quote by Guruji “…in your heart area there is a little box, and in it is the atman …” The atman is the ‘Self’ or the Seer.

It is when we overly focus on status, prestige, possessions etc. that we get caught up in considering it important to maintain a certain persona we believe our society, our family, peers etc would be more accepting, and admiring of. We want to feel important, and too easily become ‘proud’ of who we are – or who we believe we ‘are’ – assuming that our ‘self’ is the ‘Self’. In the Yoga Sutras this is referred to as ‘Asmita’, or the wrong understanding of the ‘self’.

It is at this point that we start to lose touch with the ‘Self’. Possessing lots of beautiful and/or expensive things, and having climbed the career ladder – while being valuable, doesn’t ensure that we have cultivated qualities of love, compassion, fairness, honesty, benevolence, gentleness, and emotional strength; this is to name just a few.

The ‘self’ is important when we need to stand strong in our place in society; when we try to fulfill as much as possible the roles we have taken on e.g. in our profession, being a husband, wife, sister, brother, parent etc. As long as we stay aware that they are merely our roles in life, and that our true ‘Self’ – the atman or drashtuh – is so much more than that. When we tap into the deeper levels of the mind – pratyaya – and connect with our inherent wisdom, we are coming a step closer to our ‘little box’.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.3 states: ‘Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam” i.e. “In the state of Yoga our true nature – ‘Self’ – shines forth”. Immediately afterward in Sutra I.4, Patanjali cautions us that this is a state our mind does not freely allow us to dwell in: I.4 “Vritti sarupyam itaratra” – which can be loosely translated as ‘unfortunately our mind tends to identify with its content’. We have to be consistently vigilant, recognizing what is of true value, and withstanding the mind’s tendency to identify with material goods, ambition, status etc.

As always, practicing Yoga regularly makes this endeavour not only much easier, but also much more enjoyable.

It is very rewarding to feel fulfilled in our job, enjoying the chic car we are driving, loving being a good parent, and feeling good in our beautiful clothes. But know at the same time that what will truly enrich us is that special connection we have with our ‘atman’, the Seer within us. Over time we will shed all those layers of ‘incorrect understanding’ – avidya, and allow ourselves to express the pure beauty of the endless love within us.

We will not only feel content with a strong sense of purpose, it will also affect those around us, and the more we will be loved by others.

OM Shanti,