The longer I practice yoga arts of meditation and moving, the more aware I become of the subtle sensations, thoughts, and emotions that are hidden beneath the daily tasks and to-dos. Lately I have been experiencing the feeling of hope. Which is a lesson in and of itself to me, because now it has me contemplating this important grace of human nature and transformation in allowing ourselves to heal.
I used to believe that “hope was as hollow as fear”, as the Tao mentions. And I still believe this to be true when hope is a particular expectation attached to a desire it is similar to us attaching expectation to worry, as we do when we fear.
But as I sit in my morning meditations with this newfound feeling of hope is is like the new day dawning and the smell after a spring rain. There is a presence of peace and trust as the hope-fullness isn’t attached to any expectation or desire. I feel more connected to the planet and all beings. Optimism fills me as something good is going to happen, maybe for me, maybe for my loved ones, or maybe for the human race.
I contemplate how hope works in a yoga therapy or ayurveda session with my students.
I often start our sessions with what I call an awareness practice of making peace where we are. My students are beautiful vessels when they first taste the power of the awareness as we roll out the welcome mat to the present moment. They are open because they hope they will become better, but if we stop here, this is where we get stuck in our work together and when hope can become a trap or a wish that is outside of ourselves and our potential.
Hope must be coupled with belief. If we make too good of friends with our suffering and pain we will not tap into our potential to heal. When hope exists alone without belief, it becomes hopelessness, and hopelessness is a bottomless pit to suffering.
As a yoga therapist, part of my skill set is to connect my care-seekers to belief. Belief in themselves and something greater. Belief gives us the motivation to put forth our effort. Our effort grows from our belief and where we direct our effort we grow the seeds of strength and healing in hope, together.
This is why the therapeutic relationship must have the three pillars of hope, effort, and belief.
However, if our healing is limited to our belief and we live in a world that is limited by our senses, how much are we limiting our own healing?
One evening before meeting with a care-seeker I had a dream of flying through the cosmos at light speed. It was exhilarating unlike anything I have felt in the waking state, but I was also afraid because I thought I could crash or couldn’t see to navigate, when I heard a voice that claimed, “There are more than the 6 senses.” I surrendered and continued on the blast of flight through the universe. The next day when I went to my care-seeker I found out that she was struggling with her sight, and so we had to move beyond the sense of sight.
A definition of yoga in the sense of pratyahara, this moving beyond the senses, is where healing can happen, When we move beyond the senses we can connect to the potential of the life force that governs them. In yoga we call the spirit that governs the senses Prana. It could also be thought of as Energy, Chi, or Holy Spirit.
The more sensitive we become to that which exists beyond the senses the more our belief and healing increase.
*Take a few minutes this morning to simply sit. Sit and observe all the senses at work. Watch them go, and continue to move beyond the cacophony of present moment individual experience to what is orchestrating them. Something miraculous is about to happen. You will be given another breath. Another chance at hope.
When we are dependent on our 5 senses and expectations to get us through the day, we become pessimists, limiting our potential. When we stand in our hope without attachment to a desire, we become optimists for the greater healing of ourselves and others.