Spiritual practice

Do you have a spiritual practice? What even does that mean?

I have to admit, this is a term I always tried to avoid. When I was young, we associated spirituality either with religious people or those we thought are kind of “kuku”. Many years later I found myself on this path… It’s such a complex topic! It can have different meanings, relations and practices for everyone and for sure it’s not a box to put someone in.

I found these statements about what spiritual practice is and I can really relate:

Spiritual practice is any conscious personal action or experience, motivated by the intention of understanding and integrating the whole of you physically and spiritually, body, mind, heart, and soul.

Spiritual practice is also the individual effort to internalize and experience that which seems beyond and separate as not only connected but also as an integral authentic expression of self.

We are all spiritual beings, the question is, are we aware of it? And do we use it? Well, you can just live your life, trying to make the most out of what is given and that’s it, what else can you do?

One other option is to understand who we are and what our purpose, our dharma is. Learning about the energies within and around and work with them.

I felt called to the latter. Eventually I was forced into it, when I had a bad accident, long time ago. I was pretty clear, there’s something in my mind that has to change. I didn’t know what and how, but looking back, this was the moment it all started.

My path so far wasn’t using the highway, but rather going in curves through the mountains. I learned many different things, and the beauty was, that always one led to the other. Often I wasn’t even clear why I learned something, but I never had any doubts that whatever showed up was right. Or important for me.

Right now I’m head over toes about Tantra, Saiva Tantra. I’m reading books, attended an academic studies course and I’m in the midst of a 3 months immersion. I feel like everything I ever learned all of a sudden integrates, immersed in me. I’m kind of un-peeling myself. Same time getting new tools, new doors to open, new practices – new experiences. I feel more connected to myself, my energy levels on a never known high, which is so beautiful to notice. Yes, I’m still on my way, awareness, awareness, awareness…. but the frequency changed.

It’s when duality starts to become oneness, the energies collaborate. The moment when we can be loose and natural, expressing awareness, authentically in its absoluteness, then we start flowing with the river, merging into the ocean. 

Union

You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.

(Sharon Gannon)

I love this.

In the yoga sutras, the most acknowledged text about yoga, Patanjali states about 2000 years ago the yoga path, the so called ’eight limbs’:

  • Yama (self discipline)
  • Niyama (self observation)
  • Asana (posture)
  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (withdraw of the senses)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (contemplation)

All of them together is what yoga is made of. What we usually call yoga nowadays is asana, the physical part, but it’s just one of 8. Sometimes we add a bit of pranayama and dhyana, meditation, but most of the times it’s split into different classes.

In times of high stress levels, lots of burn outs, the interest of different practices arise. Mindfulness is a term we here more and more and health is getting more attention. Not just the body, but also the mind. Yoga is a spiritual practice, even if you practice asanas only. The goal isn’t fitness oriented (a nice side effect, I know!), but a moving meditation. Yoga means union. Union between our ego (ahamkara), who is the owner of thoughts, the inner voice talking non-stop, and our true self (atman).

The yoga sutras state: „The essence and purpose of yoga is to calm the turbulence of the mind, so that we can see our true nature.“

Next time you’re practicing asanas, think of it. Bing you full attention to your breath, make it strong and go internal. Do the postures, but don’t care about them too much. Start the journey to your true self!