Spring! To the ones listening, it brings hope, quiet reassurance, and promises new beginnings. In the careful watching of this change, one begins to understand what makes its arrival so sweet. The best part of spring, for me, is the feeling of universal contentedness and peace that accompanies it. Everything from the oak, to the tiniest insect, seems to have a newfound purpose. She seems to be whispering, “Nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass.” When you find stillness even for a few moments, you witness a strikingly beautiful and obscure serene control that stems from a place of quiet intelligence and wisdom.
As humans, control is something we thrive on; it isn’t however, always guaranteed. One goes through great lengths to retain control in all spheres of our lives. A sense of security accompanies it, and so we make it a priority. What we fail to realise is that change is inevitable, and life is unpredictable. All of us are bound to experience moments of desperate despair from time to time. When I take the time to pause and reflect in moments of despair, these words help me gain perspective.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
We take solace in imagined false assurances and only when things come crashing down, does realisation sink in. The false beliefs we amass are often the sum of the experiences we’ve had in the past. We are cemented patterns of thoughts, words and deeds. Habits are formed when we feel certain behavioural patterns work in our favour. We learn to focus on the smaller things that we can change, and it gives us a sense of feeling in charge. Serenity comes with awareness and acceptance of both, the behavioural patterns we are set in and a willingness to build new ones.
Somewhere along the way, we all grow through personal struggles. There are myriad ways in which these struggles manifest. You can never know what they will be or when they will appear, but they are guaranteed. They may come in the form of work, our relationships, health or in some other way. I was reading an article recently that had put “people” alongside weather, disease, ageing & death as entirely unpredictable. I was amused at first, but its a truth all of us know intuitively. Any relationship that involves another human; your child, partner, spouse, friend or colleague goes beyond your sphere of control. You can only participate and co-exist alongside by bringing your best self to the production. Understand, that each individual is playing the lead role in their own personal show.
Turning the focus inwards; examining events; questioning if you made peaceful choices is what works best. Identifying your personal triggers and acknowledging them, serve as reminders. They will also help you determine what nudges you over a slippery slope. Naming emotions that accompany individual experiences, especially painful ones, are truly rewarding. They are akin to having a looking glass being held up to you. The awareness and acceptance that accompanies this process will connect you with your inner self.
In Yoga philosophy, they speak of pravritti and nivritti, as states of being. Pravritti is a Sanskrit term derived from the root word, pra, meaning “different,” and vrtti representing citta vritti, or the mind’s thoughts. Living in pravritti, demands continually seeking perfection in the details of actions. It entails a continues effort to improve what one is doing and the situation you are in. The practice entails observation of the outside and the inside. This practice can lead to immense grief if left unchecked; the mind is after all a monkey. To strike that balance we need to nurture nivrtti. In nivrtti, there is acceptance and it means “bliss”. Acceptance and realisation that all is already perfect. Nivriti is a state of being. The idea is, that once we begin to walk on the path of nivritti, we establish in ourselves acceptance, peace and contentment. Once this happens, we have greater awareness and enthusiasm for life in general. This internal journey supports us and is the path to liberating ourselves.
Yoga goes beyond asana, it is philosophy and practice. It aims at helping individuals attain this state of getting to know one’s inner self. Herein lies “the union,” “the yoke” that the word itself translates to. It is a route that helps you gain a natural sense of contentment and control. When interpreted in the absence of prejudices or doctrines, it is a tool that is accessible to all and leads to peace. It embraces everything and everyone.
When we walk into our environments as guides it is this path of realisation that we are stepping onto. This is how Montessori explains it “The training of the teacher is something far more than learning ideas. It includes the training of character. It is the preparation of the spirit.”