At its core, yoga is the journey to unite with our True Selves. It is much beyond sweating in spandex. It is beyond having a perfect Virabradasana stance. It beyond having a high-tech yoga mat. It is a process of remembering our True Essence. Even if only for one hour a day. It is a big deal. (Remember this “no big deal” post?)
The authoritative text of yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, describes the goal of yoga as nothing short of total freedom from suffering and total uniting with the Divine. We can’t do this when we are attached to our ego. We have to move from local (personal consciousness) to nonlocal awareness (community consciousness), which helps us see the bigger picture. And it’s really, really, hard work. And it can feel like a really, really, long journey.
I’ve been studying yoga for a decade and teaching it for over seven years. And I’m nowhere close to being unattached to my ego; I’ve experienced total union with the Divine for an approximate total of 5.8 seconds over the past decade. I’m still on the really, really, really long journey.
According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, “One way to connect with your soul is by consciously asking yourself questions that go to the heart of the human experience.”
Three key questions that bring you into the heart of your human experience are:
- Who am I?
- What do I want?
- How can I serve?
These questions are outlined by Dr. Chopra in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, which we are currently studying at Maya Yoga in my 6 am classes and in my Sunday morning Meditation Classes. You’ll want to investigate this summary if you don’t own the book.
The first question, ‘Who Am I?’ is usually answered with our role in relation to other people. We may answer: daughter, wife, boss, father, etc. Or we may identify in terms of positions or possessions: home-owner, assistant (to the) regional manager, middle school art teacher, etc. Or we may identify with our choices: vegetarian, runner, lobbyist, etc.
But can we respond with answers that delve deeper than surface? Our jobs may change, our families may change, our residence will change, our goals and experiences will certainly change over time. What remains? According to Yoga wisdom, It is the Experiencer, or the Inner Witness beyond our ego attachments, which remains. Can we forget who we think we are… in order to come closer to who we really are?
Dr. Chopra illuminates: “The true purpose of yoga is to discover that aspect of your being that can never be lost.”
When you ask the question: “Who am I?” Try to imagine who you are in Silence. You may want to start with this Meditation exercise. Without words. If you were completely alone: without a job, without a deadline, without a phone, without a hobby, without a family: who would you be?
- Sit in Meditation. Set a timer for 5 minutes. (Have a pen and paper handy.)
- Take 10 steady inhales and exhales to calm your mind.
- Breathe without agenda. Silently ask yourself: “who am I?”
- Notice the answers. Do not judge. Just notice.
- When the timer goes off, take 10 steady inhales and exhales.
- Open your eyes and write down your answers.
- Repeat for 7 days in a row. Notice how your answers change.
We will work on Question 2 next week…
“We need to forget who we think we are so we can become who we really are.” -Paulo Coelho