Part 2: Cultivating Trust.
Reading back through my journal from a recent trip to India, it is incredible to see how the entries transition from the external to the internal as the trip progressed. It was not so obvious as one day, pining for a Prada purse, only to sell all my belongings upon returning home.
Yet, there was a clear shift of focus from trying to achieve things outside of myself in order to find happiness toward seeking contentment inwardly by cultivating a sense of trust, both in myself and in a greater plan.
I left for India with universal inquiries: what can I do in my career to be more successful? How can I make my body fitter for my practice? Am I living in the right place? Do I want to have a relationship? The deeper I traveled into India, the deeper I delved into myself.
I realized the misdirection of my quest. I was looking to acquire things outside of myself to find true happiness. And I was looking to do more, as if what I was currently doing was not enough. By the last leg of the trip, I was able to strip my existential crises even further, as I realized that at the core of all of this was one missing ingredient. I lacked trust. Trust in myself and trust in a greater plan.
Indians like to say that it always works out in the end and if it is not working out, then it’s not yet the end.
To the untrained eye, the country may appear fast moving and chaotic, particularly in the streets of Old Delhi. But the further you go into your travels, the more you can remove the Western lens with which you view the world, the better able you can see the undercurrent of letting go that pervades the Indian way of life.
You are able to differentiate that a mad rush to get on the train is because people need to survive versus being greedy or pushy; and that, once on the train, the energy shifts back to a state of calm. Things move at a much slower and more relaxed pace. There is a cool confidence that things will get done and work out and when you are traveling in India, they always amazingly do.
Isvara pranidhani—surrendering to the divine—is the last niyama, or ethical observance of Patanjali’s progressive eight-limb path to yoga. In this way, yoga is woven into the very being of the Indian people rather than shapes one makes with the body a few times a week.
Surrendering to a higher power is not the same as settling. This does not mean we sit on the couch and G*d (or whichever higher power you ascribe to) takes care of the rest. Isvara pranidhani must also go hand-in-hand with tapas, self-discipline and svadhyaya, self-study.
It is extraordinarily comforting, this idea that something greater than myself is aiding me along my path. I am still an agent of change in my life. G*d gave me free will to make decisions and to forge my future, but as I fumble through this world, I am reassured by the omnipresent safety net beneath me.
Despite having failed and suffered many times over in my life, I have always been taken care of in the end. The darker experiences only brought me closer to the right path. When we don’t believe in ourselves or in a greater plan, we become hindrances to our own development. Just as we can cultivate positivity, we can also attract negativity and self-destruct.
By believing and most importantly trusting that things will work out, they often do.
Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in this lifetime, but the plan is set into motion.
It is incredible to me that without my actively trying, India brought me that much deeper into my yoga practice. Since I have been home, my students ask me what cool poses I learned over there and I simply reply, “trust”.
Editor: Andrea Balt
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