Thoughts on Living Spiritually

Oct 26, 2022


In a moment of near-perfect irony, no sooner did I get settled on the couch to begin writing this post than I was interrupted by my teenage daughter, who was getting ready for school and asked me for help making breakfast.

It’s an example of the classic paradox for us householder yogis and a question I’m often asked: How do you balance your commitment to going deeper in yoga with honoring your roles and responsibilities in the world? Is it possible to do both? 

This is an especially challenging dilemma to resolve if we consider Classical Yoga - the yoga of Patanjali and the eight-limbed path - to be our only option. In fact, Classical Yoga was originally designed as a renunciatory path. It was oriented toward people who - because of their station in life - could forego their worldly responsibilities and dedicate themselves to their practices full time. 

For ascetic yogis like these, focusing on cultivating one-pointed focus, disengaging from the distractions of the outer world, and detaching oneself from the movements of the mind, was an appropriate path toward liberation because it was possible. 

The practices that Patanjali lays out in his Yoga Sutras remain invaluable, brilliant, and tremendously helpful for quieting the mind and turning our awareness toward the place of equanimity and freedom within. Yet, the question remains: what about the other 23-or-so hours of the day when we’re not on our mats or cushions? How do we stay happily and purposefully engaged in our daily lives while still refining and progressing in our yoga? 

Fortunately, there are other possibilities. 

One of the most powerful that I’ve found lies in the path of Bhakti Yoga - the yoga of the Heart. 

Bhakti yoga is considered one of the more accessible modes of practice for all of us with worldly lives. Rather than extricating ourselves from the external world, Bhakti yoga offers us ways to engage with it, and to fulfill our roles and responsibilities, as part of our yoga. 

Bhakti Yoga recognizes love as the essence of our being and the nature of our truest Selves. It lays out a framework of practices and perspectives aimed at elevating and refining our experience of love as a path toward yogic union. In this way, it allows us to create sanctity and find deeper meaning within the flow of our daily lives. 

Through the lens of Bhakti sensibilities, the task of making breakfast for my daughter becomes a way for me to remember and experience my love for her rather than an obstacle to my contemplative practice. When I recognize that love as arising from my truest Self, it connects me back to that essence and brings it alive for me in that moment. With this awareness, fulfilling my responsibilities as a mother becomes a meaningful expression of this love. In some small way, the mundane becomes sacred, ordinary living becomes spiritual. 

How wonderfully empowering it can be to realize that the relationship between yoga and the rest of our lives doesn’t have to be an either-or choice, it can be a both-and scenario. We don’t have to wait until our children leave the house, or we can break away from work to attend a retreat, to deepen our yoga. When viewed through the lens of love it becomes possible, even natural, to weave our spirituality ever more fully into the fabric of our daily lives.


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