The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali begins with a call that reverberates through the ages: Atha Yoganusasanam: Now the exposition of Yoga is being made. It is an invitation to seekers of truth everywhere, irrespective of place, time or circumstance. It offers a universal message: a guide to peace, freedom and happiness for one and all. The auspicious moment has arrived. We are beginning a journey of inner discovery, of refining, returning, and realizing who we are in truth.

The very first word, “Now,” conveys the focus and one-pointedness needed for success. Probably, most of us, most of the time, are not in the “here and now”; instead, we dwell in the “there and then.” Our minds fluctuate between the past and future and, intermittently, land on the present moment. In the “now,” there is peace and clarity. The fluctuations give room for suffering. Memory and anticipation cloud our understanding and obscure the truth of what is happening. We create stories for ourselves, rather than perceiving what “is.” Then, those stories define who we are, the world around us, and our experience of life.

Once I was accompanying my guru, Swami Satchidananda, to the airport in San Francisco. We were late in departing and there was a lot of traffic. The driver was doing his best to get us there quickly, weaving in and out of the cars on the congested highway. Suddenly, a car darted in front of us and we barely missed having a collision. The driver seemed dazed by what had happened and the car slowed down to a crawl. Clearly, at that rate, we were going to miss the flight.

At that point, Gurudev turned to him and said, “What happened is over; it’s in the past. Move on; go forward.” It was if the fellow snapped out of a dream. He dropped the memory and the story he was creating about it, and got us to the airport on time.

We are all caught in a dream of our own creation. Now is the time to wake up.

About the Author:

Swami Karunananda is a senior disciple of Sri Swami Satchidananda. In 1975, she was ordained as a monk into the Holy Order of Sannyas. She has had almost 50 years experience teaching all aspects of Yoga and specializes now in workshops, retreats, and teacher training programs that focus on the science of meditation, the philosophy of Yoga, personal transformation, and Yoga breathing techniques for better health and well-being. She developed, and for 30 years has taught, the Integral Yoga Teacher Training programs in Raja Yoga and in Meditation.

Swami Karunananda served as president of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville in Virginia and in California, as well as director of the Integral Yoga Institutes in San Francisco and in Santa Barbara. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees, and as the chairperson of the Spiritual Life Board at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville, Virginia. She is a contributing editor for The Breath of Life: Integral Yoga Pranayama, as well as a senior writer for the Integral Yoga Magazine. In her book, Awakening: Aspiration to Realization Through Integral Yoga, she describes the spiritual path and provides guidance for the journey. This article is an excerpt from her forthcoming book: Raja Yoga Now.