It comes from the Inside Out
If I am going to identify myself with something, it is with the path of Raja Yoga. That is to say, that I am a lifestyle yogi, practicing all forms of yoga every day. This is to include Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Japa/Mantra Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. Putting all of these unique aspects of the lifestyle together makes it “Royal Yoga” or Raja Yoga — the 8 limb path. All efforts are done on a moment-by-moment basis, as a prescription to be placed upon each situation as it comes, or, if stillness and grace is to come from these efforts as the state of yoga, then stillness and the simple existence in peace is to be experienced.
I’ve been known, in my efforts to motivate true seekers, to say that transcendence requires effort, and if enlightenment were easy, we’d all be there and suffering would not occur. That’s just not the case. Everything is all rainbows and butterflies and the Heavens are raining down vegan marshmallows...until it’s not. And then what? There is a huge misunderstanding in yoga that it’s about thinking positive or feeling wonderful. And indeed, there is a Yoga Sutra that suggests that when we are inundated with thoughts of pain and suffering, that it is a good idea to consider the positive aspects of life, and indeed we manifest our thoughts into our everyday life. But ultimately, yoga is about stilling all movement in the mind — so that even rainbows, butterflies and marshmallow rain are considered distractions that can ultimately distract us from the true state of yoga in ultimate blissful still existence, where no movement occurs - positive or negative.
We like to think that we understand bliss and joy to be what we want it to be — where we are satisfied by everything around us — but real depth and change does not come from what is or isn’t around us. It is how we relate to that which is around us. And in our relating, we learn to respond rather than react, and ultimately then we can be still, calm and serene in the midst of a world that is constantly in flux and insanity. The ancient scriptures from which all the sages and masters have taught throughout history all note a diligence and a discipline in devotional focus in some way to ensure that peace is attainable as a choice, and not as something to hope for. And when I talk about peace, I’m not talking about world peace — I’m talking about peace within ourselves that we cultivate over time, with discipline, focus and devotion beyond measure.
Every situation, every breath, every moment of every day, I do my best to apply yogic principles to what I’m doing — that is, I observe and feel all that is around and in me without becoming hooked by it emotionally or physically. That is when I’m cut off in traffic, when something negative has been said to me, when my son wraps his arms around me and tells me that he loves me, when things go my way, when things don’t go my way. It’s all the same.
There is a passage in the Bhagavad Gita that I have tattooed to my arm. It is the Yogastha Kuru Karmani, which is well known by many Indians. It’s kinda like the John 3:16 for Hindus. It is about abiding by and adhering to the disciplines of yoga, by staying true to the path, and being alike in success and in defeat. It’s more than just dancing around being happy. It is living the life and finding depth beyond the pull of the rollercoaster of emotion into a place of true joy. It’s the path of yoga.
It’s not just a bunch of weird ways to move the body, it’s not volunteering your time to make the world out there somehow better, and it’s not a hobby. It’s a way of living and cultivating wisdom leading to ultimate stillness and intense joy that is not created by the world outside of ourselves. It comes from the inside out. Live joy from the inside out. Start now…the paths are many, Truth is universal…pick one and give it everything you’ve got.