I thought we might take a look together at some ideas about applied yoga as I continue to sit with my question of engaged awakening. I wanted to first just write a few words on engaged and applied yoga hoping to come to a deeper understanding in the direction of our practice. When I say engaged yoga I am speaking of yoga that enters the world, yoga that goes into life. Our practice center is not cut off from life but could be viewed as a nursery garden where we can put our seedlings. When those seedlings have grown strong enough, we have to bring them out and plant them in society. Yoga is here because of life. If there were no life, no world, there wouldn’t be yoga. We have yoga because the world needs yoga. Therefore our practice center can be seen as a nursery garden in which there are the right causes and conditions for us to raise to maturity the small seedlings. Once they have been made strong enough, they are brought out and planted into the world, in society. So our training and our practice center are preparation to go into the world. This idea of engaged yoga leads to the next step, applied yoga. The word applied is used here in a secular context like it is used in applied science or applied mathematics for example when we talk about mindfulness we have to show people how they can apply the energy of mindfulness to their daily lives. Our practice must be solid, so that whenever we have difficulties, we know what to do to get back our equanimity, our balance, our freedom, and our solidity. One of the methods is coming back to the island of self, and take refuge in self. To breath in consciously is to know that air is entering our body, and to breath out consciously is to know that our body is exchanging air. We are in contact with the air and with our body and, because our mind is attentive to all this, we are in contact with our mind; just as it is. We only need one conscious breath to be back in contact with our inner self and with the wonders that surround us. Breathing consciously with attention can be very nourishing and healing.
Raven is a resident of Carlsbad with his wife and two sons and is the founder and director of the Deep Ecology Institute and the Gaia Mystery School. He enjoys practicing the art of mindful living and sharing mindfulness practices with individuals, groups and businesses.
"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children."
~ Sitting Bull, Lakota Sioux, 1877