I feel these qualities are one, and the same.
How do we live in peace, through the dualistic nature of life in this time & space bound world?
This question has always been of interest to me. I genuinely feel to bring peace onto the Earth, it is in making our own lives peaceful. In amongst this inquiry, the study of Yoga opened up for me and I will be forever grateful to the teachings of Yoga that have guided my development of genuine inner peace and in living a happy and healthy life, even amongst life's constant of change.
The word Yoga is derived from the verbal root yug, which means "to bring together" or "to harness." Yoga, in essence, describes both a practise and a way of being, in which we realize the inherent unity behind the multiplicity of life's expression. In Yoga there is a tacit understanding that while we have a body, a personality, and a name, this little self that we have come to believe is the entirety of our being is only a small part of something larger.
The practise of Yoga opens us up to the largest possible life. What is this larger life? It is characterised by fearlessness, awe, enchantment. It is the feeling most of us had as young children, perhaps when we rolled down a grassy slope, leaped off a bridge, or nestled in the arms of a loving grandparent. It is the suspension of time that occurs when we are so immersed in an activity that we become it; we no longer paint, we are painting, dancing, reading, listening or walking. It is a experience of belonging, of homecoming, and of reconciliation.
The sages called this larger life brahman, from the root brih, which means "to expand." What we expand into is common ground of existence, which makes up the essence of everything --- the force behind the wind, the movement of tides, the sap moving through a tree, and the life force moving through all creatures. We expand to become what we already are. The yogis of old discovered that this macrocosmic larger Self, spelled with a capital to distinguish it from the confines of the individual personality, can be found by looking within the microcosmic little self.
Thus I call the practise of Yoga a life practise. By life practise I mean an ongoing inquiry into how to be completely engaged and intimate with the wild force that runs through everything and is running through us, if we would but pause long enough to notice. A life practise, then, is any activity or attitude that helps us have a direct experience of this shimmering life force that stands behind and suffuses all things. While Yoga offers us a vast repertoire of formal practises that accommodate the different predilections of individuals, almost any activity can be used as a life practise if it reconnects us with the source of our aliveness. There is no comprehending the wily ways of the daimon, who lures us to paint, to sing, to dance, compose music, build sanctuaries, plant gardens, raise children, write poetry, climb mountains, and do all of the other things humans do to discover themselves in life. All such activities, if practised mindfully and with passionate devotion, can be called a form of Yoga.
At the same time, a life practise must help us to find a practical relationship with the dynamic and unpredictable aspects of our life. We establish a serene, calm abiding centre, not to fortify ourselves against the chaos of life, but to help us become resilient, tolerant, and accepting of the inevitable, perplexing, and often agonising losses we all go through. A calm abiding centre and fully engaged life, therefore, go hand in hand.
The greater purpose of a formal Yoga practise, however, is to apply the acute attentiveness we learn on the mat to all aspects of our everyday life, so that this unitive awareness filters through our relationships, our work, and our play. The purpose of our formal practise time is also to establish and sustain the awareness of inner tranquillity that is always available to us. In the hubbub of everyday life it is easy to forget that each of us has this innate capacity to be calm and peaceful. In our formal practise time we try to create the ideal hothouse conditions for cultivating a strong connection with our centre. As soon as you sit or make your breath smooth and even or remain quiet within a Yoga posture, you are already realising the goal of Yoga: inner stillness. This inner stillness is as imminent as your focus.
With the deepest of gratitude for the fortunate opportunity in receiving the teachings of Yoga, and to the hundreds of teachers and thousands of practitioners, that have kept this tradition alive.
When I meet people who do not appreciate or realise how fortunate they are to receive teachings, I feel very sad, in how they are unable to recognise the priceless value of the teachings. If we can't appreciate the beauty of something as wonderful as Yoga, how can we appreciate the warm bed, the hot running water, or the people who care for us.?
So before you begin your practise, take a moment to reflect on your exceptional circumstances. Without gratitude, no matter what you practise, you will always be a little sour inside. With it, the very same practise takes on a sweetness and that sweetness lingers throughout your day. There is something very tender about this gratitude: through it we recognise that life itself, without adornment or elaboration, is a gift. Simplifying things in this way, we can foster gratitude regardless of our circumstances. In the spirit of gratefulness, let your practise begin.