We are born into this world as our own authentic selves. Such a self may do a lot of puking, sleeping, and pooping, but there is no questioning the genuineness.
As infants, babies, and young children, we are unapologetically who we are. We are our original identities, even though we are still in a state of development and growth. Yet, as we are socialized by the world around us, that self begins to fade, and what replaces it is a construct of the influences we are exposed to.
Everyone is a product of their conditioning. The expectations of our parents influence our behavior. The boundaries set up by teachers dictate our understanding of societal structure. The way our friends respond to our temperament will highlight specific parts of our personalities. The people around us impact the way we act, because we are conscious of how we are perceived, and, on some level, we are in a constant state of seeking approval and love. Just by existing in the midst of culture, we are ultimately defined by it.
Yet each of us is a unique being, with a completely unprecedented take on the world. The question is, how do we uncover that part of ourselves in our everyday adult lives? Each and every person has a portion of their soul that is totally unfiltered by the confines of their earthly experience. That is eternal, and perfect. The journey of our lives is to gain access to that part of our beings, and somehow to connect to its essence. It is through this remembrance that there is true freedom.
Yoga And Your Spiritual Journey
The practice of yoga, as we all know, is not just physical exercises through asanas, mental conditioning through meditation, or hyperventilating with pranayama. It is a journey into the self.
When I first started practicing, I was more aware of whether or not my Downward Dog was better than yours, than I was of anything spiritual. I cared much more about my Side Crow than about the metaphysical lessons it could teach me. Even though intellectually I knew there was a deeper meaning, I just wasn’t truly connected to it in a way that had any real impact. I was too busy talking to myself through my thoughts, and looking around to see who was doing what, to realize I had to listen and truly see.
The more I kept coming to my mat, the quieter everything became. I began to hear the sound of stillness. It was fleeting at first, barely a flicker – a dashing moment where I would experience the oneness of all things. But even just a blink of an instant reminded me that there is so much more to this ancient wisdom of yoga. I realized that it was through my commitment to it, that I would have the chance to look into the eyes of my true self.
I can’t tell you that this has fully happened for me yet. But I can say that I know that if I stay on this road, it will. We all wear masks - some that we have made ourselves, and others that have been given to us. We try them on, and see if they fit, and many of them do. But there is someone behind the mask, someone so pure and effortless.
That is who I want to know within myself, and I know yoga is the mirror that will reveal it to me.