The Context of Yoga
Does Everything Contain Spiritual Energy?
Yoga has a context, whether it is what it means for me or what it means in the wider world. I mediate that context because yoga is, for me, embedded in the way I relate to the world. My connection to yoga is deeply subjective, I can have no objective way of seeing it that makes any sense.
I follow the thread of what yoga means to me through recent articles I have written on the subject and move on into the wider world of our planet. My conclusions slightly surprised me because I did not expect to end up feeling the extent of energy that there is throughout the physical world.
My Approach To Yoga
Over the past few weeks I have been looking at yoga as I see it and yoga in a wider context.
In My Yoga Origin Story [How Yoga And Meditation Became A Vital Part Of Life] I talk about how yoga developed in my life and how I came to embrace it. I conclude that it has become an essential part of my life.
When I practice yoga or meditation it is always in the present. It is always delving into what I feel and what my body is experiencing now. This experience is constantly changing and I have to adjust to that as I practice. Life around me is always changing and my body is constantly renewing itself at the same time as it is degrading through age. But it is where I am now.
Then in What Yoga Philosophy Means To Me [Is It Intuitive Or Academic?] I talk about what is behind yoga, the history and philosophy and the texts that underpin yoga. I conclude by going deeper into what yoga means to me.
In my personal practice I love to explore my relationship with my body through asana and pranayama practice because my body is my earthly representation. My exploration takes me deep into my psychological, emotional and spiritual core, a core that informs my physical existence. On another level my asana and pranayama practice creates a body that is able to drop easily into meditation to thus enable this exploration.
In What Does Yoga Mean In My Life? [How Does Yoga Fit Into My Cultural Background?] I move beyond the yoga I experience into my cultural background and how the cultural background of yoga relates to that.
So finally I see what is behind yoga, stripped of its religious and cultural connotations, a Universal Consciousness. Man has constantly sought to find a context for this and so built up religious and philosophical concepts to explain it. The Truth is simple and we can discard these concepts in favour of simple experience. I can practice yoga and meditation because behind it is the One Truth that we can all embrace, no matter what our cultural background is.
Having come to understand the One Truth behind yoga, in Why Practice Yoga? [Why I Practice Yoga!] I put yoga to the test.
I still find I want to develop my physical practice and get better at it, get deeper into it. But now I do not feel that says I am no good, or at least not good enough. As an extension of the Universal Consciousness I exist in my physical body, at least for the time being. I feel I have a duty to preserve and look after that body as well as the mind that is part of it. On one level I practice to extend and care for this body, so that I am able to do what I am here to do, and enjoy it on the way.
Finally in looking at the personal practice of yoga, Personal Practice in Yoga [The What, How and Why of Consistent Practice] I conclude that consistency is the key to experiencing the depth of yoga.
A personal practice cannot be an add-on to your life, it has to be an essential part of how you live. It also needs to be consistent. [...] Consistency over time is critical in deepening your practice. Your body and mind need to become accustomed to the process so that you cease to question whether you do it or not. That is the essential key, doing it whether you feel like it or not.
Over the course of these weeks I have comprehensively placed yoga in a clear context for me. I have defined my relationship to it and its importance in my life. This is an enormous help to me in developing my daily, personal practice and taking that practice into my heart and soul. I feel what yoga is in my life and why I practice it.
How Does Yoga Relate To The Wider World
But how does this yoga that I have defined for myself relate to the wider world, how does it integrate into the context in which I live? It is fine to clarify what yoga is for me, in myself, but how do I see it in a wider context?
The first level is seeing yoga as part of my connection to a Universal Consciousness. This connects me to others practicing yoga—something I feel in my meditation practice, especially—but does it connect me to everyone else. The key to this is understanding that while we all come from, and have a connection to, Universal Consciousness, not everyone is aware of, or develops that connection. For the benefits and connections to work in people's lives they need to look at and recognise their connection. It is there for everyone so in that context I am connected to everyone.
Many people, however, actively sever, or deny, that connection and so my ability to influence others through my energetic connection to them has limited success, and in many cases, no success at all. In this sense my major influence in the world is living my energetic, spiritual connection such that others see the difference and want to understand what that difference is. I have no way of knowing whether this succeeds or not but just need to trust that it does. In the words of Marianne Williamson,
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Animate And Inanimate
When I look at the world beyond human beings, to the planet, to the living things on it, as well as to the structure of apparent inanimate objects, my certainty is less clear. I find myself hovering in a sense of possibility—maybe is the word that comes to mind.
I certainly recognise the energetic connection we have with animals. Although I don't own a dog, I can see an energetic connection I have with them. They respond to me in a different way to many other people. That is maybe due to how I behave towards them, but even that acknowledges a clear energetic connection.
I have written about the signs I see in birds and their behaviour, for example in The Birds Around Us [The Deep Significance For My Future] where I commented on the influence I feel from eagles,
It is absolutely clear from the influence of the eagles that it is time for me to soar into my spiritual future. I am already seeing things which I had up to now ignored. I can tap into large-scale shifts in spiritual energy that are out there right now. I can fly high and focus on the individual items I need to catch onto.
Interestingly in that same article I commented on the Wolf Moon,
Full moons are associated with an increase in energy and tension, which can sometimes result in emotional build-ups. However, they’re also helpful moments for letting go of old feelings, seeing situations more clearly, or bringing projects to a climax or conclusion.
It is clear that I see energetic, or spiritual, influences everywhere. I accept them where they work for me, but I still resist seeing these influences in inanimate objects. Does everything have an energetic connection to Universal Consciousness such that we are all bound up in a network that infuses all animate and inanimate objects? This, of course, would mean that even so-called inanimate objects have their own sense in which they are animate.
On one level I don't feel that is true but on another level I know it is. Much of my professional life has been spent in designing the interior lighting of cathedrals and churches. I was successful in this area because I felt a deep connection to the buildings I lit. I understood and related to these stone structures for being significantly more that a pile of stones. I justified this in the past by seeing this as the spiritual influence of the people who work in or attend them. But if I look at it now I wonder what attracted them to the building in the first place.
In a Presentation I gave on Inspiration and Light to an international conference on lighting, I pointed out that,
As lighting designers we do more than illuminate people’s lives, we draw attention to the beauty there. We help people to look forward and see what is to come. We create environments that take people out of the negativity of their lives and give them hope. I fully believe that, as lighting designers, we provide a service which inspires people at large as well as ourselves.
In touching on the 9/11 Tribute in Light in New York, I said,
For me, it’s a fitting memorial to the fragility of life. It recognizes the power of life. It’s enjoying nature. For me, it speaks directly to our souls, and I think very few people could see this and not be touched by it or brought to think of what it represents. The extraordinary power of something you can’t touch and can’t hold is immense.
Even something as intangible as light can have an energy. The seminal architect Le Corbusier commented,
Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.
In exploring the scientific context of light in relation to the uncertainty of quantum theory, I pointed out that,
No matter how hard we try we cannot avoid the feeling that light and spirituality remain forever mingled, one informing the other. No matter how hard we try to see light as merely functional, the truth gets lost in our attempts to understand it.
Leonardo da Vinci recognised the importance of light.
Of the original phenomena, light is the most enthralling.
Moving on from light into a more inanimate world I am conscious that I have always been suspicious of Shamans who are reputed to be,
...an intermediary between this world and the spirit world. They act on behalf of the community conducting ceremonial rituals, healing the people, and helping to guide others on the shamanic path. A shaman’s life belongs to the village and it is their responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the family, the community and all of creation. In this way the shaman helps to maintain balance and harmony on both a personal and planetary level.
But I suppose I am as suspicious of them as I am of Priests, Gurus and Brahmins, it's really organised religion of any kind that I find I turn away from. They interpose themselves between god or consciousness and people. They avow that they have the means of salvation if you would only follow them. In my mind they distort our connection to Universal Consciousness, often for their own advantage.
This is no less true in the world of yoga where there have been many examples of Gurus abusing their followers either physically or emotionally. Yoga is as riven by this as the Catholic Church. My response is not to turn against yoga but to clarify what my relationship to yoga—it's one of following my own path and my own spirituality. So there is no reason not to pursue this approach with regard to my energetic connection to everything around me. It is the connection I feel that matters, in the end it is all I can be sure of.
My Personal Connection
In my meditation space I have pieces of crystal from an old Roman mine that is less than a kilometre away from my house. They symbolise the land around me and they connect me to the history of the area. I cannot prove whether they actually have energy but for me they are as alive as a thousand year old cathedral.
In writing about the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, Dr Peter Baltutis of St Mary's University, Calgary, said,
Each time I entered this church, the energy of the building was tangible. Whether I was attending a live concert with thousands of people or finding a quiet corner for my own personal prayer, I felt that I was experiencing the soul of France. Notre-Dame de Paris is not only an historic relic of a time passed, but it continues to creatively engage the spiritual seeker. It still attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims each year. For saint and sinner alike, walking into the great cathedral of Notre-Dame is truly awesome in the fullest sense of the word—it brings us into an encounter with an historical and a spiritual force that is greater than any of us. Let us hope that Notre-Dame can be rebuilt and continue its mission to inspire awe in those who visit its hallowed grounds.
The extent to which this spiritual force can be felt throughout the inanimate world is questionable. It is clearly felt in different ways by different people, for me I am willing to accept its ubiquity.