Even post-election we are still undergoing turbulent times in a divided nation. When Swami Satchidananda (Sri Gurudev) arrived in New York City in 1966 our country was also going through seismic cultural shifts. I know that, for me, the teachings and practices of Integral Yoga arrived at just the right time to guide me in a positive direction and a life purpose.
One of my main sadhanas (spiritual practices) at this time is to be more aware of what energy, what intention, what motive I am bringing into each interaction. Why am I speaking with this person? What outcome am I looking for? Have I thought about it? As I watch more closely, I’m discovering that there are different forces at work within me that are going on in pretty much all my conversations.
Even in our own sangha (spiritual community) there are people with very diverse points of view—as is often the case in any family. How am I reacting to points of view different from my own? How well can I listen and take in what the person is saying? What can I learn about myself from this interaction and my own behavior? Am I creating further division or am I fostering more unity? If I want to bring about positive change during these turbulent and polarized times then first I’m going to have to deal with the turbulence and polarity within me.
It is important to remember that we are all products of our experiences. Though it seems obvious to me that my point of view is accurate and true, it’s vital for me to keep in mind that in all likelihood I’m often overlaying the facts with assumptions, judgments, and opinions that have been fed into me from who knows where and when.
To see our conditioning is not easy. To shift it is even harder. One of the reasons that Sri Gurudev founded the Integral Yoga Institutes & Centers was this recognition that spiritual growth is difficult without a supportive community. As we watch our own thoughts and try to live with integrity, sangha means that we are also looking for ways to support and lift up one another. Also, our being a part of any Integral Yoga center gives us the field where we are able to move from a small self-interest to a larger, shared interest. We come together so that we can connect to something bigger than ourselves. We have an opportunity to play a role in the evolutionary shift in the consciousness of the planet.
COVID-19 safety precautions have changed how we connect with each other and share the teachings. There are still plenty of ways you can be of service to and deepen the benefits you can receive from coming together as a sangha. Think: What can I offer? What skills or experience can I bring to the table? If you can’t think of what would be useful, reach out to any center. We will find just the right Karma Yoga for you, according to the time you have available. Through this mutual caring for this beloved organization, we will bring out our own potential and keep Integral Yoga centers shining bright for our cities long after this pandemic ends.
About the Author:
Swami Asokananda, a monk since 1973, is one of Integral Yoga’s foremost teachers, known for his warmth, insight and good humor. His teaching comes out of his own practice and experience, having absorbed the wisdom of his Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, since the age of nineteen. While he enjoys sharing the practical wisdom of the yogic philosophy (especially the great Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita), he also loves his practice of Hatha Yoga and is one of the primary instructors for Intermediate and Advanced Hatha Yoga Teacher Training. In the past, he has served as the president of Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville and he currently serves as president of the New York Integral Yoga Institute.