It is NOT selfish to devote some time to developing personal qualities such as inner peace, contentment, and unconditional love for your SELF. Even if you have five kids who have special needs, or aging parents in nursing homes, or a dying dog, YOU NEED TO SPEND TIME developing your spiritual life. And if you haven’t figured out yet that yoga is a spiritual path — whatever religion you ascribe to — well, then it’s time to realize the bigger picture! Wake up and feel the grace, baby
If you want exercise, do aerobics, go for a swim, ride your bike, pound the treadmill, or dig in your garden. True, you CAN do a mess of sun salutations, work up a sweat in power vinyasa, but remember that these are supposed to the means to an end: to greater mindfulness of this moment, and to a connection with the universal.
Most long-time practitioners have stories of when others noticed the change in them. This morning, one of my students remarked that folks had commented upon how she had changed during the past few years. The change correlated exactly with the time she began yoga study, which these particular acquaintances did not know. She’d grown softer, not so much on the offensive all the time, more loving.
We seem to need permission though to nurture ourselves. This is one of the primary reasons students come to class: to be reminded to love and honor themselves.
Some of us have grown up with the notion that it is selfish, even immoral to give ourselves what we need and want. We should only think of others’ needs. Only when we have done all we can to help others achieve what they need.Then, and only then do we fulfill our needs . If there is time or energy AFTERWARDS, then we might think of ourselves.
One of the key tests of whether or not a spiritual practice or a teacher is worth pursuing is if you can see RESULTS. (More on the qualities of a worthwhile teacher in a later post). You might want to ask students in a prospective class, what changes they have noticed in their own lives or in the lives of classmates.
We create intentions to live more peacefully, truthfully, less greedily, BUT we don’t just think about changing; if the intentions were meaningful, we DO take at least baby steps on the path to perfection: liberation from suffering. If we are not feeling the bliss flowing more often, if we are not able to breathe and slow down or stop emotional twirls, if we are not able to stop frenetically DOING and relax into BEING, more often than when we began practice, it might be time to search a new teacher, class, or practice. We need to be in a state of growth and that growth should translate into a more loving, compassionate, and happier life.
How did you learn that your practices had changed you? Are you still evolving?