This month we are working with the intention of creating harmony... But, what does harmony mean for you?
Often when we ask this question the responses we get present harmony as an attainment, and not a state. It is presented as the end point of a very very long checklist of needs and wants in order to feel secure.
However, even if it were possible to remove all of those obstacles and tick everything off on that list of requirements there is a much more direct route to harmony! Indeed every breath is filled with the promise of it...
Alongside identifying many of the obstacles to harmony in practice Patanjali presents four 'distractions' that always accompany and feed the obstacle. If you are experiencing one or more of these then it is a sure sign that an element of your life is out of alignment and needs some attention. In no particular order, they are suffering and/or pain (Dukha), depression and melancholy (Daurmanasya), restlessness, physical or mental (Angam-ejatva), and disturbed breathing.
These arise as we deal (or fail to deal adequately) with the obstacles that surround our existence. Yet they also give us the route to their resolution! When they arise on the mat, we are able to test out, and train our responsivity to these obstacles such that when we meet them in daily life we can respond from a place of strength.
The beauty of yoga as a practice of union is that it allows us to practice this same quality of vairagya (read our article on vairagya here) constantly. We practice in the same way when our life is filled with joy, as we do when our life is filled with turmoil. This does not mean that we float through life in a mellow disconnected state but rather the opposite, that we are able to actively co-exist with the most wonderful and the most horrendous of sensations and experiences without allowing them to define our engagement.
Each time we sit down on the mat, or each time we take a deep and conscious breath we create the opportunity for harmony to arise.
Try this visualisation to help bring harmony into your life;
Set aside some time, five minutes is enough, and get yourself comfortable either seated or lying down.
Close your eyes, and visualise that you are looking out over a vast expanse, and far out in the distance you can a whirlwind. As you move closer and closer, visualise the many elements of your life whipping their way around in the whirlwind.
Notice the familiar emotions that are attached to all of these things, perhaps the anxiety at your deadlines, the frustration at a colleague, and also, notice the joy associated with a particular memory and all of the other emotions that make up your experience right now.
As you get closer still begin to step right into the very edge of the whirlwind. Feel the almost irresistible urge to get caught up in it, (perhaps recognise times that you do!) but know that there is still one more step to take.
Step right into the centre of the whirlwind...right into the core of everything that makes up your experience.
Notice an instant tranquility...a total stillness, a complete calm. Even though those elements are still whipping around you notice that they are not a part of your core... not a part of you, but something else. Profound maybe, tempting even, but also, ultimately impermanent.
From this new viewpoint, from your true viewpoint, notice that you have the power to step into, and out of the whirlwind. Feel that the sensations of each breath that reaches right down into the bowl of your pelvis is that same invitation. Each breath an invitation to step right into the core of yourself, and observe and act from the harmonious eye of your own storm.