On Being Yogic
by Kerry Weavind
This article comes to me through various discussions in the past weeks on the topic. I find, particularly among yoga practitioners who are familiar with the philosophy of yoga, that a set of rules are adopted and life stops being free. A new set of controls are created that become so similar to organized religion which most committed yogi’s are set to avoid. Yoga becomes an external lifestyle based on these rules and regulations and no longer a practice of Union.
In the 8 limbs of yoga, the first two limbs, Yamas and Niyamas outline outward and inward practices respectively in order to attain Bliss, which is my understanding of Union. These practices are guidelines to living and I think they are profound, I just think most of us stop at ahimsa (non-violence) – outwardly, because it is tangible and easier to master and also easier to show the fruits of our labour through.
This doing of Yogic lifestyle instead of being Yogic and therefore affecting our lifestyle has become clear to me recently, through intellectual observation, and I am still learning to not fill my intellect with ideas and notions as I think this is where half the problem arises. Nonetheless, Lent came around this year, and sometimes I participate in Lent as a personal offering and sacrifice, 40 days of giving up something…I usually succeed because of the spiritual impetus behind my intention. I also usually give up something tangible – sweets, meat, and alcohol. This year I decided to give up something different – I gave up negative thoughts. I am not sure I succeeded. I observed some negative thinking, and sometimes, I pretty much know that I forgot it was Lent altogether. Doing outwardly being so much easier than not doing inwardly.
I could recycle, I could use electricity saving light bulbs, I could save the earth – these could all be testament to my choice to live a physical yogic lifestyle, but these are things I am NOT doing. Though they do count, I just don’t know how much. I think the focus of being “good” is about the external measure of my labour, so I have to ask the question, would it not be much better to achieve 40 days of no negative thinking than 40 days of using the water saving toilet flush mechanism? For me, on my path, I strive to achieve the former, but in this trying, I again create discord. I am not naturally there yet…
Union, I believe is when there is no discord within our being (not trying to be what we are not naturally i.e. without intellectual decision making). I liken this experience to a radio that is out of tune, the fuzz of disconfigured sound is usually the backdrop of our lives as we try our best to be yogic and to live a purposeful life, against our own Nature. The white noise is the duality of trying to be something we are not, of trying to do instead of BE.
I create my own buzz of background noise because through yoga philosophy I struggle with understanding how to be content for example, how to be always balanced in mind and body when life is happening to me. I realized that for a long time I avoided with all my being, anything that LOOKED out of balance. So the fire of my anger was drowned, the water of my vulnerability was evaporated – all so I could appear outwardly in balance. I wonder, like I often say in tree pose, Vrksasana, life is not about being in balance, but about learning to return to balance without reaction or resistance being the internal – mental (or deeper sensational) response to falling out of balance. It seems that in trying so hard to be in balance, I pull myself more and more out of balance with the Divine – I create a lot more mental activity that is not positive – directed to me or out into the Universe. It seems that in trying to be in balance I strain against the rhythm of life and am no longer free.
Krishnamurti in his book, Freedom from the Known, expresses that true Freedom is the free-flow of everything through your mind and body – unreacted to, unchecked, unedited. When we start to censor ourselves toward an ideal, we create the noise of duality and this suppression veils our True Selves. When we live in truth to what is, even if it looks “bad” then we start to embrace living in Union with the Divine, we start to return the pendulum from its extreme swings to a neutral place (without any particular DOING!) Because, despite how it looks, in THAT very moment, we are in Union with the Truth, by accepting what is (contentment?) and there is no signal out to the Universe that is cluttered or unclear. The Truth is a perfect broadcast of each moment as it is!
Our thoughts are energy, energy that cannot be created or destroyed and yet we focus more on our outward actions, almost victim or resigned to the internal world. Mindfulness speaks of being witness, observer to all that is. I believe in my attempts to be yogic, although I can also witness that, I am no longer mindful. I am doing my life and not being my Self.
We practice awareness, but it is easier to be aware of how much fuel we are using and therefore must plant trees than how many negative vibes we have sent into the Universe that also affect our Earth, our lives and others’.
I think that everything we can do is good. I just have to wonder if the focus is not misplaced. I wonder if I left myself to my own devices, who I would BE? I wonder if I stopped filling my intellect with ideas and notions of philosophy, how my life would look? In striving to be so good and yogic, I have become the very antithesis of YOGA.
And my yoga practice can be more observation and less of everything else.
(Published Mango 2007)