We can learn a lot from our failures and use them as a springboard for learning, self-understanding and growth. If we choose not to learn from challenging life events, we run the risk of developing repetitive negative patterns. Eventually, these negative patterns can become our ingrained story of what we tell ourselves about who we are and what the world is like. The problem with this is that it leads to less clarity and more problems.
This whole chapter reminds me of agni. To the yogi, agni is the fire of awareness that supports growth. In the same way that fire uses fuel and releases heat agni, the yogic fire, burns our karmas and challenging experiences and release growth and happiness. In a training Rod said “Life is fire, whenever it is time for you to grow, there will be something to burn you a little bit.” Contentment and adjustment are the two underlying principles that help us blossom the life we truly want. These principles keep our yogic fire blazing bright, digesting life’s challenges and thereby growing wisdom.
Chapter 25 illustrates the stories of three individuals that engaged The Four Desires process in order to change their life, but ultimately failed to do so. They were called to change by life, but didn’t make the necessary adjustments to move towards a more thriving existence. I am grateful that these examples of shortcomings were acknowledged because this is reality. We can read this book, get excited and even begin formulating our sankalpa and dharma code but if we don’t nourish our dreams and desires, they are eventually forgotten altogether. Change is a challenging undertaking; to follow through requires resolve, diligence, awareness and love.
Contentment & Adjustment
What does it mean to be content? To be at ease, filled with peace, to know that the universe is supporting you. When we start to swim in the waters of svadyaya or self-study, many traditions lead us towards the same instructions: sit, be quiet and listen. We are supposed to feel completely at bliss, right? In theory yes, but this is not easy to feel all the time. Where can we carve out a place in us where we can feel truly at rest and part of something greater?
Think about your breath for a moment and how it happens involuntarily. If we tried to stop breathing just by holding our breath, something pushes us to inspire over and over again. The universe’s support is everywhere, we just have to be open to seeing it. Besides our personal faith, contentment comes whenever our minds get quiet enough that time stands still, and nothing is more important than the present. This is what we are supposed to feel!
I spent three weeks where I literally woke up, did my asana and meditation practice, ate breakfast, painted, ate lunch, painted, ate dinner, and went to sleep. I would lie down in bed at the end of the day and feel completely content, at ease and peaceful. This feeling carries over to today. Whenever I sit and paint or meditate, there is a glimpse of it constantly there. Our meditation practice is just that, a practice to remember the sweetness of being at rest. This is why having a meditation practice is echoed though this whole book.
There are times however that we are not fully content or don’t feel as joyous as we would like to be. What can we do when life happens and it becomes difficult for us to acknowledge the feeling of being supported, inspired and at peace? It is in this very state that lessons are learned. When we are burned by life we need to adjust. When we fail to adjust it is the cause of our sadness, depression and suffering.
Our own bodies teach us this very lesson. Take our abdominal muscles. Their dharma or purpose is to constantly adjust to the movement that your body makes, keeping us in balance. Also, when we get hurt and swelling occurs the body adjusts and immobilizes the injured area, so that the healing process can begin.
Adjustments can be physical or mental. When we gave up something in the seeding the gap exercise it was a deliberate physical adjustment we made to connect with ourselves. This exercise keeps us grounded in our aspirations. The miracle angle is an example of how to adjust at not just the mental level, but also access a more subtle level of yogic science: Prana.
When we adjust and adapt to the lessons life offers us we increase the force of prana (energy and intelligence). With more vitality and energy we easily link to our own inner wisdom able to face our life, eager to experience all that is around us, and grateful for what lies ahead.
Learn more about Rod Stryker and ParaYoga at RodStryker.com
Read The Four Desires book review on Elephant Journal.
The Four Desires: YouTube talks with Rod Stryker
Read other discussions about The Four Desires
Instructions: How the book club works
Rod Stryker travels to the largest spiritual pilgrimage in history in 2013. I’ll be there. Will you?