Along your yoga journey, you will find yourself being transformed in many ways. In Western society, we tend to focus on the physical transformations that are made possible with yoga asana (postures), yet inner transformation through meditation is the ultimate goal of a yoga practice. The physical postures were merely designed to prepare the body for meditation, since it’s much easier to relax in a body that is free from tension, disease, and discomfort.
While you may be elated with the way your body is changing, it could be just another attachment that serves to distract you from the way to lasting happiness and fulfillment. If your happiness depends on the high you get from being in great shape, you will be in trouble if you should encounter an injury or illness in the future. While the yoga lifestyle minimizes the risk that this will happen, there are no guarantees.
A better idea is to establish an unshakeable sense of happiness that does not depend on anything, something that comes from within. This type of happiness is known as inner peace.
Of course it is still wise to take excellent care of your physical health, but it is equally important to take care of your spiritual well being by surrendering your attachment to the goals you have set. A balanced yoga practice will take care of the body, mind, and spirit as a whole by integrating mindfulness into asana postures and clearing the way for fruitful meditation.
While it is quite easy to recognize the physical benefits of yoga, the mental and spiritual benefits can seem more subtle. As you advance in your asana practice, you will undoubtedly notice a sense of lightness and freedom emerging from your body as it releases tension and opens to new possibilities. This will invariably overlap into your state of mind, making it fertile ground for the seeds of meditation to take root. But how can you tell if you are reaping the rewards of meditation?
Saskia Davis is the creator of what is now a famous list called, “Signs and Symptoms of Inner Peace.” The list describes the main “symptoms” that you will experience at some point if your meditation and/or mindfulness practice is blossoming. Think of them as trail markers, reassuring you that you’re on the right path. And if your butt looks cuter too, well that’s just a fabulous bonus!
If you are not having these symptoms regularly, don’t lose heart. You may be in the initial phases of a more peaceful existence. Old patterns will become dislodged and seek a way out, causing you to feel disturbed or uneasy as you face them. You might be thinking to yourself, “I thought I had already dealt with this issue” or “Why is this coming up after I’ve been so diligent about purifying my thoughts?” The answer is most likely that it has come up not despite your best efforts but becauseof them! This phenomenon is similar to the headaches, nausea, skin eruptions and fatigue that many people experience when their physical body is being detoxified.
Be gentle with yourself and continue with your yoga practice. Trust the process and allow it to unfold in its own time. Remember the words of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois:
Practice and all is coming.
SYMPTOMS OF INNER PEACE
by Saskia Davis
Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many already have been exposed; and it is possible that people, everywhere, could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what, up to now, has been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.
Signs & Symptoms of Inner Peace
A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
A loss of interest in judging other people
A loss of interest in judging self
A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
A loss of interest in conflict
A loss of ability to worry
Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation
Contented feelings of connectedness
with others & nature
Frequent attacks of smiling
An increasing tendency to let things
happen rather than make them happen
An increased susceptibility to love extended by others and the uncontrollable urge to extend it
If you have some or all of the above symptoms, be advised that your condition of inner peace may be too far advanced to be curable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed only at your own risk. © 1984