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Do we still believe that the sun travels across the sky while we stand stationary on a flat piece of earth? No, these once held beliefs were dispelled long ago. But how many other things do we accept as true simply because our limited senses tell us so, or that is what everyone else believes? For example, we see ourselves as separate from one another, and we assume our security and happiness come from acquiring or arranging things well enough.

Yoga teaches us how to experience for ourselves that this normal perspective is an illusion. Sri Swami Satchidananda used to ask us, “Who made your very first food? Your mother?” Then he would remind us that even she watched, probably in wonderment, as her breasts created that nourishment. For that matter, who arranged that the plants around us absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen? And who arranged for the body to breathe without even a thought from us?

Clearly, the universe and all its forms are created and guided by an unseen hand, a Supreme Intelligence. Each particle is a miraculous world of infinite detail and interconnected so fully that even prayers offered from a great distance can generate measurable benefits. How is it that we manage to watch our bodies self-regulate minute by minute, the planets orbit, and the march of the penguins and fail to be in awe? Can we just as easily observe, if we pay close attention, how we are being steadily guided to realize our innate condition of peace and compassion for each other?

For those of us who do not suffer from a lack of basic needs, gratitude is the most natural response to even a small effort to acknowledge all that we are given. If we pause to really see the magnitude of these gifts, we will not fail to humbly offer thanks, to let the fullness in our hearts spill out in service to those in need. May we in some small way earn this blessed life by making peace in our hearts and bringing peace to those around us.

About the Author:

Swami Ramananda is the Executive Director of Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco, a certified Yoga therapist, and a founding board member of the Yoga Alliance. He leads beginner, intermediate and advanced-level Yoga teacher training programs in San Francisco and teaches throughout the world. Having dedicated his life to teaching Yoga for nearly 50 years, Swami Ramananda is highly-respected senior teacher in the Integral Yoga tradition in Yoga communities worldwide. Swami Ramananda co-developed the Stress Management Teacher Training program with Swami Vidyananda, has trained many teachers to bring Yoga into corporate, hospital and medical settings, and has taught mind/body wellness programs throughout the US and abroad. He is also a co-founder of The Spiritual Action Initiative (SAI) which brings together individuals committed to working for social justice for all beings and for the care and healing of our natural world.