Practice in Daily Life after doing and observing.
Extract from Satsang with Mahamandaleshwar Swami Jasraj Puri
5 Day Yoga Retreat at Lady Elliot Island Great Barrier Reef QLD 27.8.13
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amirtam Gamaya
Sarvesam Swastir Bhavatu
Sarvesam Shanti Bhavatu
Sarvesam Mangalam Bhavatu
Sarvesam Purnam Bhavatu
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
OM Santih Santih Santih
Two days have gone and we have done some practice. No doubt people have questions. One question that enters many people’s minds when they practice on a retreat or come to classes is that this is really beautiful, the practice is really beautiful, BUT what do you do with it when you are living your normal life? How do you put it into practice every day?
I’ve been living the last 18 years in India, so from one side you may think that I cannot offer much perspective on that, but believe me life there is just as busy, just as full of dramas, full of day to day issues as it is here. I remember one time thinking I had become a monk, a sannyasi. Everyone has some sort of a picture ideal of what that is usually that it’s someone who sits under a tree meditating and spends their time away from the world. I found out it was something else altogether.
Together with one’s day to day business one has to keep practicing. Yoga practice is not about the volume of practice that we do, it is about the consistency with which we do it. It is making a decision that I am going to make Yoga part of my life. Then giving part of your day, if its 10 minutes or 15 minutes or 1 hour, whatever it can be – giving that to your practice. That’s what really can transform your life. Transform the way that you live.
It does not mean that you have to cut doing this or stop doing that or think it’s impossible in my life situation to practice daily yoga. It is possible. There is a way to fit it in. Maybe it won’t be in a grand form like here on retreat when you have so many hours you can practice. Very few can go to class every day and spend 2-3 hours for practice. If some small time is there, some time you can sit with your self and go inwards and be aware of your self, be aware of your condition on this day; you can really start to learn about who you are. Look at it like learning a language. When you learn any language you can study it, you can read it in books, you can do whatever you like with it, but the way to learn it is to speak. To speak that language even if it is full of mistakes and clumsiness. The way to learn yoga is just to do it. In any way be with your self, to go to class, privately practice, be in a small group, however, but to do it and do it with awareness.
Don't be scared to do it wrong. In Jadan, in my Guruji’s Ashram it is a huge Ashram with a lot of people from different countries coming and you see a lot of them coming without any skills in English, which is the common language. English and Hindi. You see the ones who learn the fastest are the ones who just practice to speak and make mistakes. In the beginning their English can be basically nothing. They try and try and after 3 months, without studying from any book, they are already having conversations, discussing their day and issues to do with yoga or their personal problems. Its amazing how fast it can go. They don’t even notice. It’s the same with yoga.
Practice. Do some practice every day. Something to bring your awareness to how you are doing things. To bring your awareness to how you are interacting with people. All these things start to develop that language within your self. Let’s say it’s the language of your own heart. How to speak it? How to speak with your self? How to make your self happy? What can fix you when you are not well? A constant experiment is going on. If you are practicing in the morning the first thing you can do is look at yourself. What were you doing yesterday? What were you eating yesterday? What were you doing that was different to normal? And how does that relate to how you are feeling right now? And again the next day. Did I do something different? How does that relate to how I am feeling this morning physically, mentally and emotionally? Slowly over time as you keep asking those questions one starts to understand and speak the most beautiful of languages.
In India it is very easy because one can isolate what happened differently the previous day because the days are quite consistent. Yesterday I ate that and now I feel terrible – ok I wont eat that. Or yesterday I ate that and now I feel so good in my digestion – ok that’s something that’s good for me. One also observes through the seasons and the different weather conditions and learns how to treat the body according to those conditions. Which asanas are good for you in different seasons? Which asanas help you when you have certain problems? It sounds like a lot. But when you start to speak the language and check every day, you come to an understanding of this physical body we have, how it functions and how it reacts to everything that happens. One learns how to maintain a state of wellbeing, balance and satisfaction.
AND how to bring yourself back into the state that you want to be in when you’ve come out of that state. Every body’s body is different and it’s a different experience for everyone, but a wonderful skill to have. It does not require medicine, does not require drugs, you can get these things from yourself when you understand how your being functions. Not for all diseases but for the general things that come again and again to us. It is an informed experiment on yourself. You try a practice, it works or it doesn’t work. Then you know. Then you keep that for next time and maybe you expand or extend it or improve it and go on and on and on. I don’t know how to speak more highly about the fact that if you can manage to fit some time in to your day for that practice, just what it can do to your life, how it can change. If you look at it like an economic investment you get so much out of actually putting in so little. It’s incredible.
I was reading Steve Jobs biography and there was a part in there about apple and it applies to the point when people say there is no time to do these things. Steve Jobs and his main designer were talking about the philosophy of Apple and why its different to the competition and why they have such beautiful products. Perhaps now other companies have changed to this way, but he said our philosophy is completely different to others. We make the design we want to have and then tell the hardware people to make the hardware fit inside the design. Whereas in other companies they first make the hardware of the product and then give it to the design team to make a box to fit the hardware in. So in one you have the shape and you fit the hardware inside and the other you have the hardware and fit the box around it. It ends up they both make something but this result comes from a completely different perspective.
One can think of living life in that way. To first take the decision that “I want to practice yoga”. Ok, one has all the components of life that one has to deal with, to work and deal with this and that. But the first thing is to find that place in the day for yoga practice. It’s a very different perspective to doing everything else you have to do first and then collecting the scraps of time you have left you put the time for yoga. Find a really good moment in the day, it can be short but a quality time. Ask yourself:
“what is a good time for me? a time where I am aware, I’m awake, I feel great. That time I’ll give to yoga.”
Your other activities will fall in around that practice if you start from that perspective. This doesn’t only apply for yoga but for other things that are important in your life, like your children. Our family and Yoga practice deserve prime time. It’s simply a different perspective, a different way of looking and it can change things very much. Because it’s worth giving these things quality.
In reality it also means you are giving all the other activities in your day quality too because you are coming from a different base, a foundation that is peaceful and balanced. If you can bring yoga awareness into your interactions with others it is like a gift for those around. A gift to yourself, a gift to your family and a gift to whoever comes into contact with it. It may take time but it is a beautiful path.
OM Santih Santih Santih