But what I didn’t expect— and what is perhaps even more beautiful— is that yoga taught me that at the end of day, it isn’t about me. The practice isn’t just about me. The life I live isn’t just all about me. Why I’m here isn’t just all about me. As our practice evolves over time, we begin to see yoga as a conscious spiritual practice or “sadhana”. Instead of being focused on the self, it starts to be about getting over the self. Now, this I find is where it gets tricky. Yoga can be so healing that we get stuck in that phase and it can almost feel very addictive. When we are stuck here, then the deeper teachings of yoga are either consciously ignored or we make ourselves incapable of truly understanding them. It is like spraining your ankle, and instead of giving yourself the 2 weeks you need to let it heal, you like the healing part so much you spend the next 30 years on a crutch.
Case in point, the concept of ahimsa or non-harming in the yogic teachings is often misinterpreted. Non-harming refers to causing no harm to other beings, in our thoughts, words, and actions. It means we start to examine our biases, or prejudices, our discriminations. Do we think of someone else as lower than us because they are, say, from a different socio-economic class, didn’t go to the same elite schools that we did, the color of their skin is different, the way they speak, their accents are different, they have a different religion, different sexual orientation, different species etc? Everything stems from the way we see others. If we see others as “lower”, our words will reflect this, our actions will reflect this. But “ahimsa” to those who are stuck in the self-focused phase is interpreted still as what they find comfortable and familiar. So “ahimsa” then is used to justify violent behavior or lack of discipline or even laziness, ironically.
We are not meant to be nursing our wounds forever. When we are whole, we must let go of our crutch and we must use this wholeness to look out into the world, and not be trapped within ourselves. Sadhana, conscious spiritual practice, is the beginning of getting over ourselves so we may find our true connection with all of existence.