Who are you really? Are you this body? This pain? This anger? This joy? This personality? These thoughts? These preferences? Certain yoga teachings tell us that all aspects of who we are is Divine. It says that who we are at the core is simply presence, a Divine, all-knowing presence. And yet, even if we've been taught this and believe this, we constantly forget! So we come to the mat, or to the meditation cushion, to remember who we truly are. We remember to identify not solely with who know ourselves to be on the surface, but who we are at our essence. And ultimately, we come to experience this essence as who we are and we recognize it in each other as well.
This week, I've found myself in a few conversations about the benefits of yoga. I was on a panel for an HSU class about yoga, I was talking with my business coach about yoga's benefits, and I was teaching the Introduction to Yoga course. In all of these situations, I was reminded of how wonderfully simple and yet powerful yoga can be. People often come to their first class in order to stretch, to feel better in their bodies, to relieve some kind of physical pain or stress. And yet, very quickly, they recognize there is something bigger going on. Even at the end of the first intro to yoga class, the students felt more relaxed, more aware of their bodies, more comfortable sitting, and more at peace. That's pretty impressive for only about 45 minutes of yoga! And this gaining awareness is such a key benefit of yoga. As we start to feel our body sensations, notice our breathing, tune into the train of thoughts in our minds, we begin to understand that that is all happening on the surface. We can sense that behind all of that is a witness, the one who is watching. And when we recognize that this witness is always here, watching the show of our lives without getting affected by any of it, we can begin to identify with it as our true Self. Returning our attention to this unarguable truth can become our daily and moment-by-moment practice, our refuge especially when times get tough.
So it really does take showing up again and again for practice, because we constantly forget, until we're enlightened. But this remembering, this consciously choosing again and again to redirect our attention to the truth of awareness, presence, essence, is how yoga will transform our lives on the deepest level. I'm reminded of a rock in a river, getting polished day in and day out for hundreds or thousands of years, until it's super shiny and all the rough edges have worn away. This is how I think of our practice. It wears away the superficial confusion of who we are and brings us back to our shiny, radiant essence.
So keep practicing, whether it's just a few sun salutations, or a 30-minute meditation, keep practicing and smoothing up your rough surfaces to reveal your beautiful heart.