I Want To Break Free
No, it is not a Bohemian Rhapsody movie review, but if you haven’t seen it… please do, it’s awesome.
I’m not into Vedanta, but my husband usually shares some “goodies” from the podcast he usually listens to every morning. When I was putting together this post here’s what he shared: “Spirituality is in seeing beyond the roles we play”. I find it goes very well with the theme.
Everywhere we turn, there is always something expected of us. As I go to work every morning, I’m expected to be a Social Worker, when I teach Yoga, I am expected to be an Isha Hatha Yoga Teacher, at home I am supposed to a wife, in a family setting a daughter, a sister… you know where this goes…
In modern days, due to the complexity of our social construct, we probably more roles to play than in any other time in our history. And there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, I think it’s a sign that we are doing pretty well, if we can adapt to all these different situations by playing different roles. But more often than desirable, these multitude of roles become yet another trap for our entanglement and feeling of restraint.
When we play these roles without the proper awareness or presence, we end up solidifying our own ideas and patterns too quickly, crystallizing our identifications and, in the process, creating yet more expectations. Most of the time we do this unconsciously and end up creating something that we don’t necessarily understand and unknowingly we invite self-judgment, more pressure and more confusion instead of clarity.
How often do we feel ‘’stuck’’ or feel we are so caught up in this life process that we feel like our ambitions or dreams are too far away? As if life itself had made choices for us and now we feel we cannot break free? This feeling can be very burdensome and instead of enjoying these roles that we once dreamed of, they become a source of stress and misery. Why are these not, instead, playing out as opportunities to feel fulfilled and complete as human beings?
If only there was a way to set us “free” or at least to point us in the right direction?!
It so happened that, around 400 CE a Sage by the name of Patanjali synthesized and organized an ancient knowledge, which we know today as the Yoga Sutras. In this compilation, among other things, Patanjali describes the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Much more than moral and ethical guidelines, it presents an outline to the path of to self-realization.
Self realization is a big word, beyond my scope of understanding. But if I have to envision something, I would think of it that which sets us free from the grips of our identifications and connects us to whatever is we truly are. That which mystics and sages from different traditions refer to.
You’ve been practicing Yoga, but still your problems are going strong?
How many times have we heard either ourselves, or others say: after all this Yoga, still I feel…
I think consciously or unconsciously, we all want to break free. Free from the limitations of what our life situations, the roles we play, the identifications we create. The study and the practice of the Eight Limbs of Yoga may be that guide we’ve all been looking for.
I’ve heard about the Yoga Sutras, but honestly never paid much attention to it but, I once I did, I find it’s such a profound knowledge, that seems so simple, yet tricky to actually put in practice.
I’d like to share more how this has begun to slowly impact my experience of life and the efforts I have started to implement to make this into a living reality. This will be a long journey, but an essential one I believe.
Most of us are introduced to this knowledge through the practice of yoga, or more precisely asanas. This discipline alone brings about such profound changes, yet they are still the tip of the iceberg. And without the practice of the rest of the Eight Limbs, the journey of self transformation will be an incomplete one. We may be practicing asanas religiously every day, but what good is that when we are lacking integrity in our daily life, or indulge in excess of wealth, food, ego boosting behavior and casual relationships?
Not only do all Eight Limbs need to be attended to, but if we do not follow and integrate each one as it is meant to, there will be no foundation to any of the ‘’yogic’’ practice we are doing.
In my next posts, I will be talking more about some of the Eight Limbs. Stay tuned for my following blog: The Yamas, generally known as the norms of social behavior.