By Mallory Bales
Yoga sutra 1.1 reads: here and now is the practice of yoga. This sutra has become the theme of my life, especially since arriving in India. To me, this is the true meaning of yoga and the spiritual journey.
This morning I had an insight during meditation to write a blog about self-love and after a extremely frantic morning, I still attempted to write this blog. Only, when I got to the internet café, the power went out. It was at this moment that I heard, "turn this hectic morning into the practice of yoga and find peace within." I realized quickly that this download during meditation was going to have a challenging twist and this was going to be what I actually wrote about.
Here and now means all of your energy is contained in your body and focused on exactly what you’re doing in this moment. It means sitting on a chair and feeling yourself sitting. You may be sitting on a chair, but if you are thinking about how to take care of tomorrow's 'issues’, then you’re not sitting in your chair. You are in a future, anxious world. Being in the here and now is probably one of the most difficult things we can do simply because we are human. We are filled up with fears, anxieties, and worries. As a species we forget how to slow down and feel our own Self in our own bodies. We try to plan the next moment. Not just in a physical sense, but mentally as well. We are always thinking of what to say next or how we’re going to deal with an unpleasant emotion. We are constantly releasing our energy to our thoughts, which are unreal, instead of containing our energy in our bodies.
In the past year I have been through emotional surgery. I have been on a mission to learn how to completely reprogram my mind back to purity. This process of coming home to yourself is a devotion and requires A LOT of energy. We have to find the willingness inside to want to live up to our potential and be free from suffering. When we can make this commitment to ourselves we will find the strength from within to make it happen. The universe will support us every step of the way but we have to be surrender to the fact that we must put all of our will into being in the here and the now. It’s not an easy process but did anyone ever say life was going to be easy?! When we're able to change our perspective to pain as a growth opportunity, then the pain will begin to alchemize into pleasure and higher consciousness. I am feeling so high from today’s lesson in the classroom we call life and without my determined mindset to practice yoga (the here and the now) it would have turned into an unpleasant situation for the rest of the day.
After this morning’s practice I planned out the ‘perfect day’ I was going to have. (There is nothing wrong with planning when you can plan and then let go. It is when we are attached to our plans and don't leave room for spontaneity that we fall out of the practice of yoga.) I planned on getting breakfast, going shopping, finding a special book that called my name, typing up a blog about self-love, and then practicing asana at 4:00.
Here is what actually happened. I spent the past few days discovering the largest bookstore, so I decided after shopping I would change the scenery and try to find a new store to see a different selection of books. This exploration ended up turning into a 40 minute walk and I wasn’t practicing yoga. I had terrible anxiety from all the heat, horns, cows, and intense commotion of the streets of India (those of you that have been to India know what the streets can be like). I found 3 book stores and after seeking for 30 minutes in each one, I didn’t find anything. Frustrated, I found a internet café and sat down but my computer was freezing and the sound of beeping cars started driving me up a wall. My head was spinning with frustration and anxiety. I got up and left, walked for another 30 minutes while trying to find a ride back to my side of town. I got dropped off went to another internet café to type up the blog that I was ‘supposed’ to write. As soon as I got there the power went out and I wanted to scream. My head felt like it was about to explode. Then I realized I forgot all of my shopping bags at the first internet café, an hour walk away.
At this moment I didn’t even feel anger, I felt a wave of peace. I immediately knew the universe was trying to tell me something. I could either go home and say screw my shopping, whine and be a victim, or I could practice yoga. I started the day with my ‘plans’ to attend the 4:00 asana class, and a wave hit me that this was going to be my ultimate practice of yoga today. Being in the here and now by finding peace in the here and now. This is what it means to be in the here in now, that no matter the circumstances, be reflective and find the lesson in them. I decided I was going to walk back to the other side of the world and find peace in every single moment. I told myself, “I refuse to let myself feel anything besides peace, because I am a yoga student and this is what it means to practice yoga.”
On the way there I stopped at the bookstore (that I had already been to a billion times) to see if a book would pop out to me this time and within 10 minutes I was guided to a beyond perfect book. I felt confident that my walk was going to go smoothly now. The entire walk there I smiled and chanted the ghaytri mantra while observing every detail I could soak in. The walk was so glorious. I told myself that even if my bags were not there that I wouldn’t get upset and I would accept life as it is. I would find peace in whatever was to come my way and be proud of myself for the moving meditation I was embarking on. When I got there my bag was still there and I walked back to the other side of town, all smiles, chanting away.
Today ended up being beautiful, rich, and raw. I was able to alchemize total frustration into a glorious meditation. It was a meditation of learning how to find peace in whatever the universe throws my way. A meditation in learning how to adapt to the here and the now, and drop whatever my plan of ‘perfect’ may be. This is what yoga is about. Yoga is beyond asana. Asana is just a portion of our day where we learn how to feel alive inside our bodies and tune into what's real. I would have never felt the enchantment I felt today if I would have said screw my shopping bags, I am going to asana, ‘I need to practice yoga at 4 pm’! No, I sucked it up and said I will find peace no matter what. And I did. I practiced yoga, I practiced how to be in this world without the world taking me away. I learned firsthand that if you are determined enough to place your power in peace, that peace will be. Today, I truly understand yoga.
Yoga is union with life. It is a philosophy of how to live in this hectic world with peace and harmony. Yoga is about cultivating the tools to find that stillness within. It is about putting the devotion into a daily practice to create space in your mind to recognize the real from the unreal. It is about using the tools in ‘annoying’ situations to stay with yourself. With the help of your breath, body awareness, and mantra we are always able to come back and sit with ourselves. The power is within us to make the choice if we want suffering or peace. Right here, right now is the practice of yoga. It is up to us if we want to continue living our lives as the blind victim or if we want to find the courage to take control of our life and feelings! Choose to practice yoga, to be awake in the here and now. Choose peace.
Om Shanti. <3
About Mallory Bales
Mallory is a woman on a mission to become self-realized! She found her spiritual path in 2014 after hitting rock bottom. She quickly began to fill the emptiness she felt with spiritual texts and yoga classes. She went from a party-monster to yogi-monster overnight, a total addict to healing! In 2015 she traveled the world to understand who she was on the deepest level. During her travels she took a chakra teacher training in Bali and an akhanda yoga teacher training in India. Her travels made her realize that she wanted to go back to college and she is now pursuing a degree in social work. Mallory teaches others about the magic of spiritual surrender and is a yoga instructor. Because she surrendered her entire life the moment of her rock bottom, she is now living a life she had NEVER dreamed. Mallory says, “If I am able to be the woman I am today, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING is possible. It is all within reach, all we have to do is BELIEVE!”