As always it’s been a privilege to take time away from family and daily working life to practise and study yoga.
There are many people I know for whom this would not be possible. There are many more people I know for whom this would be possible and beneficial but is inconceivable.
We are taught early that ‘contribution’ to society is equal to economic activity (earning and spending money, hence the disenfranchised status of full-time parents/home-makers, the disabled and the unemployed). There is a commonly marketed attitude that to take care of one’s Self, one’s spiritual life, is selfish, inward-looking.
It is inward-looking. This is something that we need to celebrate, and to stop apologising for.
To look inwards takes courage. It demands hard work and dedication. It requires discipline and determination. It is not always pretty and the path is often obscured by illusions and delusions; it’s a journey littered with obstacles and false turns.
If selfless intentions are set clearly and honestly at each stage of the inward journey, then what is discovered during involutionary practice will necessarily and fundamentally effect the evolution of our ‘outer’ life. In fact they become one and the same; they become integrated.
In order for a process of integration to occur there must first be an acknowledgement of the integrated state’s disparate parts. For example the body, the mind and the breath. We can approach each action, for example each asana, from the position of ‘body-major’, ‘breath-major’ or ‘mind-major’. In this way our awareness, our Self, is trained to observe and to exist evenly in every separate aspect of conscious experience.
If a person exists and acts in the world from a place of unshakeable authenticity and spiritual integrity, it can be seen that the benefits of their practice are distributed in the interest of those around them (why and how are important questions for further discussion…). This person will become simultaneously further separated from worldly (materialistic) life and further integrated to a state of awakened consciousness from moment to moment.
It’s time for me personally to re-integrate into life as a householder. From weeks of being often alone or with a friend in yoga, prioritising practice and study, taking time for healthy food and rest to sustain that primary focus, I have recently catapulted into a large family festival; sixteen people in one house, seven of them under twelve; excesses of food and drink; multiple screens, entertainments and conversations; little or no time alone; love, affection, joy and sorrow in high-frequency stereo .
It’s a shift. A beautiful one; one that should and can be made with love and equanimity. From separation to awareness to integration in each situation, in each relationship, in each moment, in each breath. This is awakened living. This is yoga in action. Wish me luck?!