As the rivers flowing east and west
Merge in the sea and become one with it,
Forgetting they were ever separate rivers,
So do all creatures lose their separateness
When they merge at last into pure Being.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the changing phenomena and experiences of life, and to forget that actually, moments of grace are available to us all the time.
There is the constancy, consciousness or grace of life – together with a felt-sense of prana, the life force – that permeates and surrounds us. It’s always here, when we allow it, even in the trickiest of times. Be sure to know that whatever touches us deeply, whether seemingly pleasant or unpleasant, has the potential to point us back in an instant to what sustains us.
I sometimes say that yoga is 24/7. The longer it’s part of my life, the more I appreciate its gifts beyond formal practice on the mat.
Until yoga naturally infuses everyday life, little reminders or pauses are helpful to keep us connected to it; to the ‘grace of wisdom’ and the ‘full heart’ that yoga texts such as the Upanishads share with us.
The Upanishads often call on nature to describe the indescribable that is awareness, consciousness, peace or however you wish to name it: rivers, trees, soil, birds, thunder, sunlight, darkness and air to name a few. With these, or feeling into sensations in the body or the company of the breath, we have at our finger tips simple, profound invitations to be with yoga or to be yoga. To simply be, which is our fundamental nature.
Here are a few suggestions, if you’d like to try one:
- Taking a moment to feel the ground beneath your feet. Maybe press a little into the ground to feel its texture and the energy rebounding through your body. How does this feel as sensation in the body? And afterwards?
- Pausing at any moment in the day to look around you and really see what is there. Perhaps even name three things you can see. ‘Bookshelf, lamp, window’ is just as helpful as ‘fields, sky, tree’. All is within consciousness. Where you do land? In the present moment? How does this ‘coming back’ feel in your body and heart?
- Enjoying an easy routine or ritual in your day. A cup of mint tea after lunch perhaps? Or, if you work from home, taking a walk at lunchtime or first thing in the morning. What would work well for you?
- Becoming more intimate with yourself: simply noticing – without comment – how you’re breathing (and if there’s an immediate desire to control or change it), how the mind chatter is going or how you’re keeping a self-image alive.
Over time, these pauses or moments of ‘waking up to reality’ add up, until they happen spontaneously. Each moment is precious. Its residue even more so; there can be an openness in which we are available to truth, beyond the mind. How does this feel?
Initially, there is a level of effort, but a light and dedicated one. Is there perhaps some way of describing such a ritual or helpful habit (a positive samskara), with a word, image, texture, colour or scent that feels natural and wholesome to you? A pause for peace; to remember; fluffy pink; bright turquoise water; a blank canvas; the scent of jasmine; whatever calls you.
In this way, we are available to respond spontaneously to what life is asking of us in the moment, and to its invitations.
Each conscious moment and its residue potentially enhance the quality of our life and of our presence in the world. Everybody else feels it.
Have fun. And by all means, let me know how you get on or if you would like to share your experience of being human.
May you be well.
The flowing river is lost in the sea;
The illumined sage is lost in the Self.
The flowing river has become the sea;
The illumined sage has become the Self.
Photo: Natalie Grainger