One of my concerns, as a yoga teacher, is how do I convey the teachings of yoga in a way so they go beyond the yoga mat. Anybody can train themselves to do asanas more or less perfectly, and those are also limited to the mat, sort of. A safe haven, but the practice isn’t really about keeping it safe, and doing your handstands. The challenges I meet in my daily life, aren’t very often helped by an asana sequence, although a handstand and falling out of it laughing lightens up most hearts.
Where is the pilgrim soul while folding the laundry, or taking the kids to school, or while in argument with ones spouse? Where is the spiritual searcher then? Is she still there while doing the dishes?
As I write this, I do realize that she is. Spirit is there, or rather everywhere, and the searcher, the pilgrim soul is also present, at all times. Of course, it’s the conscious awareness that is or is not present. And doing the laundry, taking the dog out for a walk, playing with the cat or helping the kids with there homework, or just getting them to school is part of the dharma. The maintenance of order, and the responsibility to uphold it, requires also doing your chores, with awareness. Conscious awareness, mindfulness, keeps us close to and in touch with our deeper selves and our deepest desires. The ultimate desire, being to serve the Spirit.
In class I often find myself saying, with a bit of humor, that our practice is not an entertainment, although a good laugh and a sense of humor are crucial to walking the path, and that we actually don’t do it for ourselves only. The practice of yoga, is to see more clearly, (which is to say, with the Loving Eye of Awareness) ourSelves and our place in this world, connected to the whole. Our spiritual search and practice is for the benefit of the world. Just look at your life, the more you become aware, the more changes seem to happen in the direction of wholeness. Individuality is sort of an illusion. It just cannot be. We are not of ourselves, nor for ourselves. Whatever we do, even nothing, will affect our surroundings. This is probably obvious to most.
So as I struggle, with routines and day to day life, (recently dreaming myself away on travles to other countries and doing important spiritual studies, eating ice-cream and having a fantastic time), I catch myself disparaging the task at hand, feeling that I should be doing something else. Realizing this (which means returning the the NOW), there are two ways to go: do what your doing with your whole being, or change what your doing. Feelings are the communication means for Spirit. She is telling us what we need to focus on.
And there you have it. This is where the practice begins. Anytime, exactly where one stands. As soon as we see what we are doing, we open ourselves to deeper truth. This is, I think, bringing our formal practice into the world, into our daily lives, into our relationships. We are never without the opportunity to be pilgrim souls.
Wether on our trips to foreign lands, or in our own kitchens.