You don’t Need anything for awakening: Cultivating awareness is enough
We live in a world where we can be constantly bombarded with sales for more stuff to make us better, fitter, happier, more productive (… like a pig in a cage on antibiotics… ok, ok I had to throw in a Radiohead reference there!).
As a Yoga business owner, I find myself in the middle of this ‘wellness industry’ sometimes feeling like I am part of those capitalist cogs turning.
And, it can be easy to fall into that way of thinking. We are programmed to believe that we need to do, achieve or have something to be whole.
It doesn’t even need to be material. In this Yoga and Wellness space there can also be that subtle striving for a particular experience or mind state. Striving for peace, liberation or connection.
Perhaps there is a belief that ‘When I achieve that state I will be whole’.
Does that sound familiar?
This is not necessarily a Western construct. The ancient practices of Yoga that focus on a journey to transcendence fit into our capitalist system of growth and progress quite nicely. There is an end goal to aim for (although one is about enlightenment (‘lightening’ ourselves of possessions and the body) and the other is about accumulating them). Although even the term ‘Enlightenment’ is one that was popular in 18th Century Europe and not necessarily an accurate translation of the original Sanskrit (language itself has such a powerful role in how we understand the world).
Yet, there are other philosophies of Yoga that shake this up. Tantrik Yoga philosophy (which for the record predates any kind of “Tantra” [big quotation marks required here] ideas relating to sex) explains the world as non-dual, meaning that we are all intimately connected and made up of the same stuff, even though we appear to be separate and have individual consciousness.
In Tantrik philosophy, there is not necessarily an end goal to be achieved, except to be more “awakened” and this is an ongoing process without necessarily a finality to it . This is the way that I prefer to understand this journey of Yoga.
And there is a huge amount of relief that can come with this understanding.
If the goal is to become more awakened, and we can continue to become more awakened in each moment as we practice, and becoming more awakened is not dependent on our situation or how much or little possession we have, this is incredibly liberating and empowering in itself.
Now, this is not to bypass the very real need for income, food, shelter, safety and security that can be missing in many people’s lives, and it is not to say that we shouldn’t also be striving for equality and justice in the world. In fact, this journey to awakening is not just an individual one. The Bodhisattva vow in Buddhism is a devotion to work towards your own awakening and the awakening of all others.
So at its heart, this is about cultivating awareness which we can do through many forms and tools.
Of course Yoga has many practices we can learn using our body, our breath and our mind. Buddhist Meditation has some amazing maps and techniques to help understand awareness better and harness it towards more awakening. Learning mindful speaking and listening in Circle is powerful to cultivate these awake states in community. Learning to harness our creativity. Learning to listen to the wisdom of nature. Beautiful tools present in all of the ancient cultures around the globe.
Sometimes, when life’s waves are particularly destructive, the practice is about learning to regulate our nervous system, restoring our body and finding a sense of focus for our mind, and simply creating better conditions for that sense of awakeness in this moment. Yet, still there is nothing else required except for the commitment and trust that it is possible.
And the most powerful part of this understanding is the realisation that we are spirit, body, mind, nature, connected deeply to every other life form on Earth, even if we appear to be separate awarenesses.
So there is nothing we actually have to do to become integrated and whole. We are already. We simply train ourselves to be aware of that.
How does it feel to read that?
Committing to a more awakened way of being starts in each moment.
Perhaps it could simply be:
- Take 5 minutes to place bare feet on the earth and offer gratitude for what you have
- Take 3 long breaths in through your nose, filling belly and chest and sighing out through your mouth
- Move your body through 3 sun salutes (Surya Namskar) and really feeling the strength and suppleness that you are cultivating
- Sitting and feeling your breath at your nostrils for 10 minutes. Each time you notice that your mind has wandered, gently draw it back to the sensation of breathing with kindness and compassion
- Take the time to truly listen to a loved one without interrupting or planning what you are going to say next, notice how their words affect you in your body, heart and and mind
- Create something (a meal, music, write, draw) and allow yourself to fully experience the process
How might you commit to be more awake today?