Here’s how I view the yoga process: Imagine a bright, clear light buried beneath a pile of rubble. This light is the pure beacon of divinity that resides in each of us. It is kindness, clarity, compassion, wisdom, and bliss. It is where the myth of separation falls away, and we feel our connection to the love that forms the matrix of the universe. It is always shining brightly beneath the confusion, neuroses, thought patterns, and emotional habits that keep us shrouded in darkness. It wants to be free! We use the yoga practices to identify and examine the debris of our misconceptions. It is only through investigation that we can locate, refine, and remove that which buries our light. With each piece of rubble we remove, the light within escapes through the cracks created and shines out into the world.

Sometimes we remove pebbles – Maybe you catch yourself judging your process on the mat and choose to question the unkind thought. Sometimes we remove boulders – Perhaps during meditation you uncover that the root of a long held belief that you are unlovable originates from a family dynamic that requires dismantling. The yoga path is an endless process of discovering and discarding thoughts, beliefs, and tendencies that keep us separated from our inherent goodness and worth. It is long, hard work. Expect blood, sweat and tears, but the pay off is phenomenal. As we cart away the junk that fails to resonate with our highest good, we begin to vibrate with clarity and calm. And the light we unearth illuminates everyone around us. 

Recognize that the love labor of liberating your brilliance is a priceless gift to humanity. The personal flame we ignite sparks the light of awareness in others. As the spotlight of our knowing shines on those around us, it helps them locate the flicker within themselves…one candle lighting another. We are all energetically linked. Just think of how grounded and loved we feel around people who have found love and grounding within themselves…how drawn we are to true teachers and gurus who radiate peace and acceptance. My friend, Mike, once told me a beautiful story of flying home from Thailand. The moment he walked into the crowded and chaotic Bangkok airport he felt enveloped in love and peace. The feeling stayed with him as he stood in a long, loud line to check his bags. As he was making his way to his gate, he came to a railing where he could look down over the swarming crowd. Among the masses he spotted a small sea of orange. It turns out that the Dalai Lama, along with his attendants, was travelling that day also. The light emanating from His Holiness and his entourage was so warm and bright it flooded the entire bustling airport, drenching my friend in happiness and calm. 

We expose our inner light, little by little, by adhering to our practice and questioning everything. The asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing practices), and meditation help us focus inward enough to become familiar with our distortions. The poses show us where resistance and trauma is imbedded in our bodies, and meditation exercises reveal habitual thought patterns that need closer examination. Breath restraint can expose everything. The beautiful thing about practice is that it only requires us to ask the questions, not formulate the answers. We use these ancient yoga disciplines to turn down our intellect enough to hear the whispers of our deepest wisdom. This is where the answers are born. We set aside the need to figure it all out, and trust the practice to ignite the inner knowing that surpasses understanding. We do our work and keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak. We discipline ourselves to keep returning to the anchor of our practice, surrender to the process, and keep the faith that our inner light is always shining, guiding us home, even when we cannot see it through the fog of our confusion. Sometimes we get glimpses of our inner brilliance, and other times it is shrouded in darkness, but remember it is always there, just waiting to be excavated. Remain committed, curious, and tirelessly optimistic!!

Always keep the goal in mind. The first chapter of the Yoga Sutra offers six possible points of focus for meditation. (One of them says you can meditate on anything, lest you think six is too limiting!) My favorite instructs us to focus on the supreme, ever-blissful light within. (PYS 1.36) This is a profound and soothing exercise. We know that whatever we give our loving attention to tends to flourish. So perhaps you might spend a few moments each day envisioning the bright flame within…see it flicker, feel its warmth, bask in its glow, and watch it grow. Just as a well-tended seed buried beneath the frozen ground contains the promise of a beautiful flower…even if we can’t see it until spring, so does the eternal light of our unblemished spirit blaze brightly inside of our tender hearts. Always. Let it shine!!