Feeling love for all things and carrying a sense of devotion around with you can bring you peace. Bringing the concept of “bhakti” (devotion) into your yoga practice and into your life will cultivate more love and peace in you. It may take a quantum leap of attitude and faith though. Is it for you?
The stream of yoga called “bhakti yoga” is devotional in nature, and involves practicing yoga in the name of love or worship. There can be the physical practice, the meditation, the breathing techniques, study of the ancient scriptures and teachings, and maybe mantras, chants, or repetition of the sound “OM”. And off the mat, you try making your actions and overall purpose line up with the thing you are honouring. That thing can be any specific entity (a saint, Buddha, universal love, the universal intelligence, Jesus, your divine consciousness, etc.). Your yoga practice begins to take on new purpose, and becomes more vigorous, consistent, intense, and driven by love, devotion, and surrender. Then your life gradually starts to fill with love and purpose.
We often hear about inmates and others who are down on their luck describing their rock bottom, and how faith “was all they had”, and that’s how they kept going. That’s devotion and love. They prayed or meditated, perhaps repeating the Hail Mary as a mantra.
It was not always easy for me to accept faith or devotion, because it meant trying, being positive, and accepting love. In my youth and early adulthood, these ideas were impossible, unfathomable, and unthinkable; being “smart”, logical, cynical, and scientific meant (for me) rejecting faith as a waste of time.
As a human being, I have experienced my share of suffering, and at times, it seemed easiest just to dwell in that pain, to wallow, give up, and to judge myself. My yoga practice (unbeknownst to me!) began filling me up with love, because I got closer to my underlying self and a little further away from the mad world.
Hinduism and Buddhism have carried forward many concepts from yoga, including bhakti. In all three philosophies, devotion carries the added dimension of action. Doing. Moving, rejoicing, giving, and incorporating healthy habits into each day, to reach that peace – that union, nirvana, samadhi, God, your inner light, the universe, energy, or everlasting peace/life – whatever you prefer to call it. I wish you love and peace in your life, and I hope that you never fall on hard times. But if you do, remember bhakti. Remember that you can love your way out.
There’s a perfect-fitting Sanskrit word to close my blog today, and it means “the inner light in me honours the inner light in you”: Namaste.