True, it is nice to be able to get away to contemplate, meditate, and get perspective on what it is to have this human life.
I do recommend getting to yoga retreats or something similar from time to time where you can. Your practice, while never predictable, moves in leaps and bounds. You discover or get clarity about aspects of yourself that were perhaps previously hiding.
But for most of us, for most of the time, our daily life is our path.
Not only is it not usually possible to drop out of our responsibilities for long periods of time, it is also not necessary. We can develop awareness and do the work of transformation, realizing the Self and finding freedom right where we are.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not meaning to come across as glib, or to suggest there is nothing to do. There is still work to do on this path to freedom and discovering Self. Among many of the practices Patanjali mentions in the Yoga sutras are tapas (burning desire, discipline, intensity) and also swadhyaya (self study).
Our daily life is the perfect practice ground. We can observe our reactions and behaviours and thought patterns. We can observe the ego ‘me’ in situ in daily life. We may find quiet in a yoga class or meditation practice. We develop awareness of how our body and mind operate and feel.
The real work is keeping this quiet awareness as we move on with our day. That is where the work is.
Many years ago I read the story of Tenzin Palmo in ‘Cave in the snow’. She is a Buddhist nun who spent twelve years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas, three of those years in strict meditation. One of her quotes from after that time is:
‘The more you realize, the more you realize how much there is to realize and, at the same time, how much you realize that there is nothing to realize.’
What we can learn from our practice is that we have everything we need already.
The thing is, we can be all in with our life, feel our reactions, and get perspective on what it is to have human existence.
The way I see it, if you can’t integrate the peace and connectedness that you find in meditation into your daily life, than what is the point? Your practice doesn’t replace your ordinary life, it is something that you can use to enhance your experience of everyday life.
For a while there is your practice time – asana, meditation and so on – and your ‘other’ time. Then little by little I have found that the whole of your life can become your practice. Can you feel the same sense of bliss when having a conversation as you can find on the mat or cushion? Now that is the work!
With a slight shift in perspective we might find that we feel connected, free and whole, right where we are.
Much more meaning than is teased out here can be taken from these cards, this is just a start. I’d love your feedback and look out for my blog about the next card soon.
You can purchase your own set of these contemplation cards from the store HERE and postage is free in Australia.
The gorgeous original picture on the front of each card is by Gayle Stone Art.