How Yogis Can Keep Calm in the Midst of Life’s Storms
If we are spiritual beings on a human journey, how do we handle the many difficult situations that come with being human? How do we deal with anger, resentment, jealousy and greed (to name just a few)? To ask these questions, and honestly desire an answer to them, is the foundation of mindful yoga. To remain slave to bitter thoughts (and their resulting actions) is to deny ourselves the higher, ongoing practice of yoga. Here are three steps to hopefully hasten your path to Sthira Buddhi—a steady state of inner peace and joy.
Step One: Monitor the Ego
Recognize that life is full of problems. Contrary to the glamorous advertising and media images that flood our lives, everyone has problems. Only the ego would say, “I” shouldn’t have problems, “I” should be different, or “I” want to live like “those” people and be free of all my problems. So how does a practicing yogi use this knowledge? Once we accept that life is an ongoing process of solving one problem after another, we can repurpose problems from things that harm and separate, to things that heal and join. This is the higher practice of yoga. Without grievances and upsets, how else would we know what to work on? While there is no need to wish bad things on ourselves, with practice we can learn to become grateful for the things that upset us because they light the way to our joined, ever peaceful center—the attainment of which is the goal of yoga.
Step Two: Practice Peace
No one can be upset at a fact. This line comes from A Course in Miracles. It is only our interpretation of a fact that turns it into a negative or separating event. Again, the world is full of problems and while they can have disastrous outcomes in form, they can have no effect on your mind unless you allow them to. Nothing can take your peace away without your permission. As promised by numerous sages, our yoga is to discover inner unshakable peace and joy or our true Self. It takes practice. You will not reach this goal without also embracing the means to the goal. It is the process of learning the power of real choice, an inner conviction that says, “I can experience peace instead of _______________.” The ego will fill in the blank with any word or feeling that keeps the gift of peace hidden from your awareness: Sadness, anxiety, frustration, pain, etc. It matters not to the ego as long as your individual and separate sense of self remains intact. Remember, yoga is a practice that joins.
Step Three: Rise Above Perceptions
While obstacles appear as projections in form, they are only of the mind. Yoga Sutra 1.29: From this practice (of higher yoga) all the obstacles (in mind) disappear and simultaneously dawns knowledge of the inner Self (where nothing can take your peace away). Does this mean that once one attains this degree of enlightenment that everything goes their way? No, it means that regardless of what “happens,” they have risen above the perception of obstacles and disturbances of the world and attained a steady state of inner peace. Does this mean they don’t slip and get angry? No, but deep inside they know that their anger is never justified. Moments of anger and frustration are rare because they have done their work. They attend to worldly life as any person would, yet they are constantly vigilant for the ego mind’s desire to interpret through the lens of fear and separation. This is the mindful inner choice that makes all the difference in the world. It is available in every moment to you and to me. Why choose fear and separation when we can choose peace and join in the state of perfect Oneness we all share?
Yoga: The adventure of a lifetime
It would be great if there were an easy answer to how to keep calm in the midst of life’s storms, but if it was easy, we wouldn’t be here. We came into this life to heal. To deny anger or any thought that promotes separation only fuels the ego’s flame. The key to success is to catch the mind wandering away from its peaceful center and trust that you do have a choice—to use the moment to join or separate. Ultimately, this process will bring deep purpose to all that you do. This inner journey is the true adventure of a lifetime. Try it and see, and when you slip and become upset, consider it yet another opportunity to choose again.
Yours in peace and light,