a space for peace
developing the courage to meet challenges & see our own truths
carlos bento henriques
The mystery of life tends to draw people to yoga. There’s something beyond what we know and what we can see. How do we find that out? How do we experience peace and oneness with the Divine when we are rooted in a daily life that takes its toll physically, mentally and spiritually?
Through our five senses we experience the world around us. Each sense has a power that is undeveloped, and this power can be cultivated and refined by practising awareness. For example, with our sense of sight, the eye registers the visual impressions and the mind interprets those perceptions. There are filters, such as emotions, that prevent us from seeing clearly. There is a need to develop an awareness of what happens when we see. How much do we really see and know?
The headstand is an excellent Hatha Yoga pose to explore what we think we know. It puts you in a position that allows you to see your world and your perceptions differently. As you build strength and confidence in the pose, you can become relaxed and attentive to the effects on your body, mind and emotions. Look around the space you are in and be aware of how it looks to you from this upside-down perspective.
You can apply this to another level of your sight by looking with your mind’s eye at your life and some of your cherished beliefs. Then take the opposite view and see how you feel. This develops the courage to challenge yourself and to really find out your own truths.
This is your adventure, your investigation and your chance for self-discovery. What you learn about yourself becomes an enormous source of energy and inspiration. When you have glimpses of your inner Light, you create the desire to find out more, to understand more.
Spiritual life is all about inner work and becoming conscious. To be conscious is to know your nature, to understand your motives and impulses. This knowledge gives you confidence to discriminate and make decisions. The more you know yourself, the freer you will be. The discipline of yoga – the postures, breathing exercises, relaxation and reflection – transforms us into a receptive tool, allowing our intuition to unfold the mystical aspects of life.
By turning perceptions upside down, the very fine subtle intuitive thoughts are no longer overpowered by strong passions or urges or doubts. Our intuition can guide us to the next step in our spiritual development. Then the passion that drives us is the truth. We want to know the truth and to experience the peace that comes in those moments when we’ve connected with something that’s true for us.
In the headstand, we can see that a good foundation is built: our heads are planted firmly on the ground, while our feet stretch to the heavens. In yoga, your head isn’t in the clouds; the inner work becomes very practical to your everyday life, in the way you learn about yourself, the way you learn to access the knowledge you have within yourself. Knowledge is different than the intellect that thinks it knows. You have a fountain of knowledge within and you have to go and find it.
The Light invoked by your inner work becomes so strong that it flows to the outer world. Light and stillness and peace and harmony begin to balance the struggle of life.
In contact with life’s energy there is a vision that is beyond the intellect and ego. We get caught in limiting ourselves with habitual thinking, but we are limitless when our heart desires to be one with the Light.
We often go looking for the great spiritual experience – something fantastic that will set us free – but there is nothing more fantastic in the whole world than peace and truth.
practice: reaching up and out
1 Go into the headstand. All movements have significance in this posture. Bending over to place the head on the floor is symbolic of humility. The feet and legs are lifted off the ground, surrendering the security of the earth. Maintain full attention in the completed pose. Connect with the Light or a spiritual thought. Discover the support and basic nourishment that come from a higher source. Ask yourself: What happens if my world is turned upside down? Write your observations and insights.
2 Sit in a comfortable position, in a quiet place, and become still. Fill yourself with brilliant white light. In your mind’s eye, see your navel. Form a clear picture of a silver disk (the moon) on top of your navel. When the picture is clear, feel the coolness of the disk and watch it move in concentric circles, mingling pleasantly with your body heat. Expand the concentric circles as you add PEACE to your focus. Fill your body, mind and space around you with peace, and then let it reach out to others and the world.
October 22 (eve.) — 27, 2007 - Meditation and Mantra:
Experience five days of yoga with ascent columnist Swami Radhananda
Swami Radhananda is president and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada.