Our popular contributor Kara-Leah looks at the yogic perspective on life. Is life as it is, or do we colour it with the filter of our minds and beliefs?
by Kara-Leah Grant, Author of Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice.
About four years ago, I started paying serious attention to the way I was looking at the world.
I witnessed my reactions to news and current affairs shows, so I could gauge whether I was coming from an open-hearted centredness perspective, or a right/wrong ego perspective.
More often than not, it was my ego that was engaged. It was like I just couldn’t help it. I was judgmental, analytical, dismissive, and even cynical.
Yet this was entwined with a so-called “spiritual” perspective on what I saw – more like a superior perspective! I was critical of people for their attachment to things, for their total absorption in the drama of their lives, for the way in which they blamed others for their circumstances, for the way they criticized, dismissed, analysed and judged other people.
In other words, I was what I saw.
And we all are.
The outer world, or at least, our perspective of the outer world, is but a reflection of where we are internally.
My ability to witness my reaction to the world showed me I was a long way from where I thought I was most of the time.
And that was ok. Bringing the shining light of awareness to our thoughts is the first step toward changing them. Being aware of thoughts creates a gap inside where one can just allow those thoughts to fade away, instead of reacting to them and acting on them. It creates an opportunity to shift mindset and practice seeing in another way, with compassion and love.
Because what does a yogi see when he or she looks at the world?
One thing and one thing only.
As the great Sufi saint Shams-i-Tabriz said:
Do not think that God is only in your heart. You should be able to recognise him in every garden, in every forest, in every house, and in every person. You should be able to see Him in your destination, in all the stages of your journey, and in your fellow pilgrems.
You should be able to see Him on every path, in every philosophy, and in every group. You should be able to see Him in all acts, in all deeds, in all thoughts and feelings, and in all expressions of them.
You should be able to recognise Him not only in inner lights, but also in the lights that you see in the outer world. All colours and even the darkness are the same Being. If you really love Him, if you want to find His love and be blessed by it, then see Him in every corner of the universe.
What a challenge! It is not so hard to see God (or the Divine, Allah, Goddess, use what word you will) in the forest, or the lake, or small children, or animals. The light shines forth brightly. But to be able to see God in the people we encounter every day, even those who commit crimes, or do us wrong? That is difficult. Yet when one reaches this place, and can see the Divine shining forth from everyone and everything, then one has found and connected with the Divine within. Play best friv games site.
This is true peace, true bliss, or samadhi.
This is coming into Self, and knowing that Self exists in All.
This is Yoga.
Yesterday a friend and fellow spiritual traveler asked me what the point of my practice was.
I hadn’t considered it like that before, and indeed have perceived that to an extent, my practice has tended to be an escape from the challenges of the world, just as an alcoholic turns to the bottle to escape the world. But yesterday I was able to answer, the point of my practice is to be able to see the Divine in all I encounter. To be in a place of love and compassion at all times.
Then, when I look at the world, instead of being analytical, critical, superior, and judgmental… seeing only what is wrong and what can be changed… I will be loving, compassionate and kind… and see only perfection as it is in that moment. What peace!
I’ll let you know when I get there… could take awhile!
Kara-Leah is a writer and yoga teacher who has always been infinitely curious about the make-up of the human psyche and body. Regular yoga helped her heal and recover from chronic back issues, including a spinal fusion at age 16, and two episodes of psychosis at age 29.
Her daily home yoga practice began in earnest when people kept asking her to teach them yoga. She’s since trained as a teacher with Shiva Rea, and immersed herself in practicing, teaching yoga and writing about yoga. Kara-Leah lives just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with her son Samuel.