14 Apr A Students Perspective on Spirituality & Developing Practical Tools for Teaching Yoga
I always felt uncomfortable when the topic of “spirituality” was brought up. There were so many around me claiming to be spiritual and though I felt attracted to the idea, I had no idea what it meant. I read a few books from the New Age section of the book store, totally agreed that we are ruled by the thoughts of the mind, and even started meditating a few times a week. Surely this was enough to call myself spiritual. But even so, I was uncomfortable claiming that identity, and began to realize I was swimming aimlessly in a vast pool of knowledge.
I was guided by an understanding that there is a much deeper purpose to living than following the mundane day to day routines, and after years of grappling with this concept, desperately wanting to uncover the “meaning of life,” I found myself here at the Wise Living Yoga Academy staring face to face with real, live teachers!
After completing my 200 hour teacher training with Jeenal, I felt I had gained so much clarity on Yoga and spirituality, and yet as each day passes I see that I can only go further, coming even closer to a sense of clarity. Only now, after six weeks of intense, in-depth study, am I beginning to understand the true meaning of a spiritual path- and it’s hard work! It takes constant focus and discipline to universal and personal ethics, the Yamas and Niyamas.
Here in the advanced 300 hour training, I have the privilege to study with Jeenal’s teacher, Swamiji, the head of the Vedanta lineage in India. For three to four hours a day (depending on how excited he gets about the topic of discussion), he sits and teaches us. Every day, the words transmitted through his lectures bring a little more clarity. And each time I take the chance to reflect and absorb the knowledge, it sinks in just a little deeper.
On the surface, it’s easy to eat up every word from his mouth, “Yes, I am whole; I am complete! My true nature is not bound by time, space, or any other attributes!” But Swamiji is dedicated to ensuring that we are not simply believing, but listening with a sense of understanding.
“Be so alert that at no point you allow self-deception,” Swamiji’s voice booms. We snap back to the room from our split second day dreams.
He dissects each and every word spoken, forcing us to question everything we hear, to think critically about every possible way to refute the given statement. This is how we come to true knowledge. Knowledge is more than just information, it’s an understanding that has the capacity to illuminate. Only after analyzing the knowledge and employing a rigorous, logical line of questioning do we become true students of Vedanta, he explains.
As I sit here, my ears caressed with bird songs coming from the lush, green garden, it sinks in that my spiritual journey is nothing more than my path towards knowledge. Yet even with a teacher explaining this profound knowledge to me every day, it’s not that simple. Though the knowledge is there, there are obstacles which prevent the knowledge from operating, from making sense. These obstacles come in the form of attachments and aversions- qualities like jealousy, pride, anger, superiority, feeling compelled to prove myself “right.” These “demons” that we all have, cloud our minds from comprehending the knowledge. Meditation, Asanas, Pranayama, contemplating on the Self- these themselves are not the knowledge, but they can be helpful tools in freeing the mind from the obstacles that block the knowledge. Only once our mind is free from obstacles, can the knowledge actually become meaningful.
With this practical understanding of spirituality, I am able to recommit myself to cultivating ethical and virtuous qualities with the understanding that not only will it make me a better person but more importantly, it will open the door to knowledge, the only true freedom from suffering.
Written by Sophia Heller 500hr Yoga Teacher Graduate of Wise Living Yoga Academy
Our next advanced course where Swamiji will be our respected teacher for advanced Yoga philosophy wiill be October 20th – Dec 20th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information