We are born as perfect beings who are nothing but awareness of the world around us. As newborns we come out, look around, see our own hand and think, “What the hell is that thing, and how does it relate to me?” As infants, we make no distinction between the world and ourselves. According to our infant mind, it’s all just me. It’s not until we are 6-9 months old that we start to individuate from the rest of the world. As we grow up, we naturally become more entrenched with the experience of being separate. We may spend our entire lives practicing how to get back to that place we knew when we were born. And after a lifetime of practice, if we do arrive back to that same awareness, we do so as the result of a lifetime of wisdom and experience, not from innocence or naiveté. It’s like a winding staircase; we end up facing the same direction but one degree higher, rising in our development toward our highest potential.
Yoga is one method that teaches us how to get back to our True Nature. Yoga is a process of re-membering, of yoking body, mind, spirit, and ourselves together as whole beings, united as one collective self. Through the process, we rediscover our True Nature, the way we knew the world as infants. I love the idea that what we are looking for is already within us. All we need to do is to remove the barnacles of false identity, the layers that prevent us from seeing our own True Nature. Imagine that we are like mummies, wrapped in dusty layers which prevent us from seeing our true form. These layers may represent being out of tune with our bodies, ignorance or misunderstanding (called avidya in Sanskrit), and a misdirected sense that we are separate from everything else. Perhaps we the form of our wrappings gives us the outline, a general sense of our true form, but let’s not mistake the wrappings for the being of light the lies beneath them. By practices like yoga and meditation, we start to remove the layers. Once in a while we might see all the way down, past the layers that obfuscate our true form. And even if we never get the wrappings all the way off, I don’t know that I will, we eventually get enough of an idea of what’s underneath them to understand our True Nature. When we gain that sort of insight about ourselves, we’ll begin to look around to others, as well as the whole world, and see that same light everywhere. With practice, we won’t even see the wrappings anymore. We’ll only see the magic being of light beneath.
This may seem like a lofty practice, right? It is. It may only take you your entire life to make a just little headway toward this understanding of your True Nature. But I would also wager that you have already had many experiences where you have glimpsed your radiant True Nature, that being of light that is you and the world around you. Maybe it was during a yoga class, perhaps while on the perfect trail run, or while making love. Or maybe it was when a child was born and you experienced that perfection of this little being as a naked witness to the world. Perhaps it reminded you of the same thing within yourself.
This week, I invite you to do those things that remove the layers that keep you from experiencing your own true nature. Come to yoga, spend an extra 10 minutes meditating, or maybe turn off the TV and just be with the person you love. Perhaps open your heart, means, and energy to those who need them and find how they too are also part of you. Discover that what you’re looking for already exists within you.
I’ll see you in yoga this week.
What We Need I Here
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.