The following was published on www.oregonsportsnews.com on 9 August 2013. 

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Why are you here?

For whatever Karmic reason, this question that has come up innumerable times throughout the past year of my life. Sometimes the answer is simple and mundane; sometimes it’s cloudy and convoluted. Other times, the answer is simply handed to me, as if Big Brother has been watching me or reading my thoughts.

This happened one day in Yoga Camp during a minor existential crisis, in which I jottedWhy am I here? into my notebook. The answer came to me from a friendly voice across the room.

“You’re here to wake up. Realize your fullest potential.”

Big Brother in this case was in fact not a creeper or terrifying government watchdog, but a teacher I look up to with great respect and admiration. He announced the answer I was searching for as if directly on cue. It was my last day of yoga philosophy class in Thailand.

I began intensive yoga practice last year with just that intention in mind – long before learning about sva dharma, burning Karma through meditation, or the “auspiciousness” of full moons. Although I started practicing yoga when I was twelve years old, it wasn’t until last fall that I realized I needed to commit to a change in my life. I decided that change would be through yoga – a practice I’d long felt connected, but never fully committed to.

Sva dharma, a Sanskrit word for our natural state, is why we’re here. In other words, it’s You Doing You. Why else should we be here than to live life as our truest selves? To be “all that we can be” and reach our highest potential, as my teacher would say?

Sometimes that means taking a step back and simply witnessing all that is in order to “wake up.” For some of us this means silent meditation or practicing in a yoga class while for others it may be running, biking, swimming, CrossFit, or simply “alone time” to decompress.

While it may be difficult to take the time, patience, and silence away from daily life, it’s a vitally important aspect of why we’re here. Are you here to work overtime and stress eat while worrying about bills? Are you here to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians reruns? Or are you here to commit to a greater potential? To “wake up” to all that you’re capable of?

“There is nothing you can do to gain happiness,” my teacher said. “Happiness is in your natural state of being. Be in the here and now. That is yoga.”

As I continue my yoga practice on and off the mat, I encourage you to do the same. Work hard; sweat; find some kind of practice. Take a moment of silence and unearth what speaks to you. Don’t just ask why you’re here. Discover your yoga, your sva dharma. Go do you.

Sat Chit Ananda and Namaste, friends.

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