Friday, August 21, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Is Human Connection More Powerful than Prayer?

"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart." ~ Buddha

How often do we raise our eyes to the sky and ask for help? I find myself doing that from time to time. Today I got word from a partner of mine on one of my projects that we are facing some critical obstacles. I asked if there was anything I could do to help. "Pray," she said. "Lots."

Now, I know she's doing much more than praying. She's actually working her tail off, jumping through dozens of hoops to keep us moving forward. I find that with any trying circumstance, the default solution is to pray. But what are we really doing when we pray? What am I doing as I go to my yoga mat in times of distress? What am I asking for and who am I asking it of?

Maybe prayer is better directed not up towards the sky, out of our reach. Perhaps it's much more powerful if we turn in and not out. When I go to my yoga mat and create an intention for my practice, I'm asking for help and guidance and assurance. I'm tapping into my creative well. I'm actually searching for my soul and its wisdom. It's an overwhelming idea if I think about it too long. Can we actually tap into the energy and light around us, all around us, by looking in?

My experience has demonstrated than the answer to this question is a resounding 'yes'. Yoga and Buddhism have some basic tenants that I try to keep at the forefront of my mind, especially during difficult times: 1) the world will provide us the exact learning that we need at the exact moment that we need it and 2) to tap into the energy around us we must recognize that while we live in this world, we are not of it. Our souls are old. They have been through many trials. They are the ties that bind us to one another. They have knowledge far beyond what we carry within our minds and our own limited experiences. Meditation, yoga, or any other contemplative practice bring that soul knowledge to our consciousness.

While in Virginia, I used to teach yoga classes at my business school. They were my small way of making the stress that all of us felt in our studies a bit more manageable. (This Winter I'll begin my 500 hours certification process. It will be a long road, though one I have wanted to be on for some time now.) I would close each class with a simple statement to my students that a teacher of mine used to use: "the light that is in me, honors that the light that is in you." I've found that connecting with people, one heart to one heart right here on the ground, has brought me more lasting joy and peace than raising my eyes and prayers to the sky. I have more faith in us and what we can do together, here and now, than I do in anything else.
The image above can be found here.

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