Does yoga make us a "new" person or change us completely as beings? Can we expect to want to quit our jobs and studies, interest and hobbies, leave partners and find new friends, because we begin to be this blissful ever happy human being? I reflected on what happens when we begin to practice yoga and meditation on a daily basis.
You are You
My first thought was that, yes, daily yoga and meditation practices do come with changes, but rather than these changes being about us as who we are, I think these changes are with regards to how we live, perceive, behave, speak and think. Yoga changes our preferences and how we express ourselves. But us, we the people; we stay us.
That way of thinking about the changes brought into our lives from yoga and meditation, really helps us to move away from the idea of a perfect "I", that, at least for my own self, isn't achievable, and not actually the goal either. Instead there, in my experience, is a disidentification with the ego as the ultimate "Self" but at the same time, an embodiment of the ego and the experiences that come through being human begins alive with an ego. With this perspective, we set ourselves free to accept both the awesome, strong an empowering qualities that we all hold, but at the same allow space for the part of us that, most often, we like to think we are not. I can only speak for my self when I say that, however calm, lovingly and joyful I try to be and remain, there are moments in my life where I feel angry, jealous and hateful. Appecting both my "bright" side and my "shadow" side, I make myself free. Free not to let one of them control my way of being and behaving, but rather listen and take an approach to my behaviour that is carefully considered. In that way, there are no wrong feelings, that we need to suppress and hideaway, there are only feelings, and we, empower ourselves to respond, not to be their puppet. And yes, I also sometimes can't live up to that, it isn't about not falling off the path or always doing the right thing, or always waking up in the morning doing a practice, it is learning from those moments and experiences and moods, that doesn't make us feel as empowered as others, and then learn to bring ourselves back to the practice, the lifestyle and the kindest way of communicate with others and ourselves.
So really what I am trying to say is, we show up to yoga and meditation practice as the person we have always been, but perhaps not been able to see. We step forward to embrace ourselves as a whole being, to be free. This gives us an immense ability to understand others as well.
We can, therefore, practice yoga and meditation and still be the same, have the same hobbies, like the same food and be with the same people. But how we show up at our job, the way we cook and eat, and our behaviour towards our loved ones and all other people will change.
What I am trying to tell you is that there's no reason to leave the "old you" behind, because the "old you" is super cool and there will not be anyone like you, or me, so we need you to be you and find a way of life where you can best express, be and share that you! It is an ongoing practice. The goal isn't perfection, the goal is the practice, again and again, and again.
WE Are Perfect As WE Are
This I say, not to lift us up above high, or to make us feel that we are this epic human being. I mean to tell us this to find acceptance for who we are, to through yoga, get the strength to hold ourselves, to be able to face ourselves as who we truly are, and make the best of it, make the best of our qualities, strengths and weaknesses.
Leaving the "old us" behind is almost as if something is wrong with us, but after all, the "old us" got us here, to the path of yoga and meditation. Don't leave something behind and hidden, embrace it all. Yoga is to understand our essential undivided nature. Yoga and meditation are practices to ground us into the body and into this very life! And this is good news for us, because, it means there's no need to wait around until Monday or the 1st in the month for the *new us" to arrive. We are already here and the practice begins right now :)
The Devil VS God
During yoga practice, we might experience memories of the past arise. Sometimes we can even be fully reliving these moments as they were real. But as long as we hold on to the adjectives good and bad, pure and impure - and want to go for one rather than the other, then we are no more free than we were before, we keep spinning the web and end up getting tangled in there. Yoga means union, union of opposites that come together to create whole, like the yin and yang.
This means, there's no need to become a rescued Jesus version of you. You are living in this world but not of the world. You are not attached to the labels that apply to you, the roles you play, but you still perform your duties in life, with grace and joy. It is as once a disidentification and embodiment!
With Yoga, You Get To Live Like Never Before
We get to feel sensations arising as we never felt them before. We become quite the opposite of numb. I feel as if I am this massive ocean full of waves of emotions, feelings and sensations arising to pass away, constantly. Yoga has given me the tools to objectively observe and fully participate.
Life Is Still Full Of Sorrow - But I Choose Joy
To be very honest and straight forward: Yoga didn't change my life, there's not less shit around me and not an increased amount of happiness - BUT RATHER THERE IS a feeling of light that encourages me to keep living, keep breathing and keep growing my compassion, in other words, I have hope for the future and trust in the present. With yoga and meditation, I get a chance to feel glimpses of what is. We all have this opportunity. Through yoga or other practices that touch the deepest longings in our heart. A longing we all carry around: To be fulfilled, feel whole, love and complete.
Get Those Lenses Cleaned
You were already whole and beautiful. Yoga is one way of cleansing your vision, removing the deeply rooted habits (samaskaras), like a pair of coloured glasses that stops you from seeing reality. Same, when you go to a yoga class, the knowledge is already within you, and you, you really teach yourself.
Is Something Taken Away From You?
Keep practising joy in whatever form it comes to you. Sometimes it might feel that you are losing something, but the universe is kind and it would never put you through something you couldn't handle. Like a parent needing to be strict towards the child, but their action roots in deep love for the child, that will later be available for the child to see.
And then leave even the practise, cast them aside like there's no need for a touch after the sun has risen*