For many of us, there comes a time in our lives when we seek for something greater than ourselves. Call it God, call it a connection to the Divine, call it a longing to know our souls, call it what you will. It’s different for all of us and it’s constantly changing. But what doesn’t change is that we seek. We want to know Truth. We want to know unconditional love. We want to know some of the seemingly esoteric secrets that the ancient yogis, seers, mystics and sages have known for thousands of years.
(For those who also wonder Is There More to This Life?)
If you practice yoga, you might have initially come to the mat for all the amazing health benefits. But then you heard the teacher guide you through savasana, listening to his/her words, and some of them resonated with you on a very deep level. Your teacher weaves spiritual truths and teachings throughout your yoga class and it all begins to make sense. Suddenly, simply practicing the physical asanas isn’t enough.
You want to know where yoga came from, you want to know why you’re so drawn to it, you want to know Spirit, you want to know your higher Self. Perhaps you begin meditating. You might even go on a retreat or a pilgrimage to India or some other highly charged spiritual place in the world. You’re looking for answers, sometimes outside of yourself, as you explore distant lands and far off cultures.
As you commit to a regular meditation practice, perhaps with a trained teacher or by following guided meditations online, you start to find answers within yourself. There’s a wellspring of wisdom inside your heart if you could only cultivate the still, small voice of your soul. Every once in a while you have an epiphany – an "Aha!" moment. Spiritual insights arise from the core of your being, which only makes you thirsty for more.
You want to find your purpose in life. You want to find your dharma. Is there something you were born to do to make the world a better place? Is there some higher purpose for your birth? Perhaps you even start to believe in reincarnation. Sometimes you even feel as if you are totally aligned with the universe and synchronicity occurs. One thing’s for sure: Your thirst for a higher truth seems insatiable.
The tradition of yoga naturally draws seekers. That’s the way of it. And there comes a time for many of us when we want to figure out how we can feel blissful at all times – even in those times of chaos and suffering. We know that there’s an underlying blissful state that is at our core because we’ve experienced it at the end of a fantastic yoga class, when we’re lying in corpse pose. We’ve also seen a teacher or two in our lives who seems to be vibrating at a higher level than we are. How can we attain this state of existence? And the questions continue to arise...
(More on those teachers vibrating at higher levels in Good Vibrations: How to Achieve Higher Consciousness With Positive Vibes (Plus a Guided Meditation).)
At some point, we realize we know for certain that we are on the spiritual path. We didn’t use to know what that meant, but now we do. The quest for living from a place of heart-centered awareness and from a place of higher consciousness is suddenly central to our lives. We don’t just go to yoga class any more and feel satisfied. We need to do some of the more subtle practices that the yoga tradition lays out as essential for seeking and attaining what they call enlightenment.
We start a devoted practice of self-study. In Sanskrit, this is referred to as svadhyaya. It’s in the practice of self-study that we begin to become the witness of our habits, behaviors, thoughts, emotions and actions. With time, we get insights into our unconscious patterns. We can do a self-evaluation and clean out the old stuff, letting go of what doesn’t serve our highest selves. We can really begin to get our actions in the world attuned to our deepest innermost desires. As we get quiet, contemplative and better know who we are, we become more empowered, more peaceful and more confident. Self-trust comes naturally. We begin to feel at peace in our day-to-day existence.
(Read more about The Freedom in Letting Go.)
The more we cultivate this inner knowing, the more we get in touch with our highest selves – where our highest wisdom lies. Our "wisdom self" begins to take over, and we gracefully begin living and seeking the lifestyle that nourishes this higher Self. We meditate, seek out spiritually-minded friends, look for teachers to follow, we become less materialistic, have less cravings and attachment to worldly desires.
If you resonate with all this, you are without a doubt, a seeker. Find like-minded friends and work in the world to support your path because it’s not necessarily the most popular path – not yet anyway. Continue to nourish your inner self, your self-study, your yoga. Be patient. The answers will come.