Oh, I’ve been thinking about you!
And wanting to share, share, share.
But life has been so good and full of incredible learning/growth experiences that I’ve simply
had to wanted to soak it all in. But today, a few minutes to share some weekend inspiration with the hope that you haven’t given up on me during my absence.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to Wanderlust Vermont, the subject of an upcoming post…I promise. My teacher Jennilee Toner taught two incredible classes, and I got to meet Rolf Gates and attend two of his classes. MC Yogi, Ziggy Marley, amazing teachers, people, food, music, positive vibrations. And a gong bath! Heaven.
Today’s post is about karma. From page 55-56 of Rolf Gates‘ Meditations from the Mat, where he reflects on the yamas (moral restraints) as described in Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutra, and brahmacarya in particular. This is one of the yamas that I never liked to spend much time thinking about, mostly because the idea of moderation (looking at Brahmacarya from a modern-day yogi not Hindu monastic perspective, i.e. celibacy) always gave me an uncomfortable feeling of being told what to do; it felt like it was taking away my freedom. Rolf’s explanation—and the chapters before—helped me understand it’s really all about living your life without fear or negative self-talk; the ultimate freedom.
“Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom…Our thoughts, our words, and deeds are threads of the net we throw around ourselves.” —Swami Vivekananda
As we go deeper into the practice of brahmacarya, we connect to one of the underpinnings of yoga—the law of karma. Every science student knows the Newtonian concept that every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. Karma works the same way: what goes around comes around; whatever we put out into the world comes back onto us. Imagine that each of us lives at the center of a spider’s web of his or her own making. The threads of the web are our thoughts, words, and deeds; all together, these strands form our karma. Yoga is the conscious manipulation of karma. It is the study of how to avoid injurious karma and how to accrue positive karma. The ultimate aim of yoga is to transcend this web of karma, so that we can reunite with our divinity.
Brahmacarya gives us an excellent opportunity to see the law of karma in action. There is the middle road, and while on it we experience “knowledge, vigor, valor, and energy.” If we indulge in immoderation, though, even for a moment, we immediately embark on another set of experiences—namely, guilt, remorse, obsessive worry, inertia. It is really that simple. We all know the price of eating too much, spending too much, drinking too much—a few minutes of pleasure followed by hours of guilt and remorse. When we choose to stay on the middle road, though, we experience a sense of well-being. On the middle road I am free; in immoderation I am compromised, sidetracked, shackled to negative self-talk. As we experience these lessons, we begin to learn the extent to which the choices that we make affect our inner world. We begin to see that the only peace to be found comes through moderation. We eventually understand the hand we play in creating the world we live in. We begin to see that karma is not an oppressive hand of fate; rather, it is the ‘eternal assertion’ that we are free.