By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
How can Yoga lead to inner peace? Yoga is a deeply enriching practice, which produces positive results that cover the spectrum – from increased flexibility, to reduced pain, and a heightened sense of well being. Yet, some will ask: “What about inner peace?” How can the daily practice of Yoga lead to greater levels of inner peace?
To put it simply – Yoga training brings individuals out of their worries for a while. It changes their focus, and forces them to put their attention on moving through the Yoga poses. This distancing, from the problems and struggles of life, leads to a different perspective, when the Yoga session is over and it is time to return to ‘reality’.
Even the staunchest opponents of spiritual practices, such as Yoga, must recognize the value of distancing the mind during times of heightened stress. One of the most extreme examples of this, at work, was Jakow Trachtenberg, who decided to meditate on mathematics, rather than the unimaginable horrors taking place around him, during his seven year stay in a concentration camp. When he was released in 1944, not only did he still possess a sound mind – he had also developed a complex system of mathematical shortcuts that are still taught and used to this day.
Some will say that he did not engage in meditation, but in fact, he did. Meditation is not intrinsically spiritual in nature; to meditate is to dwell on a subject or thought pattern with the utmost attention.
His is an extreme example, but the message is clear: The key to mental health and inner peace is to maintain an inner space that is separate from the happenings in the world of form – the level of material gain and loss.
From a spiritual perspective, there is a lot more to Yoga than that – when it comes to inner peace, because it begs a question: Why does the creation of an inner space lead to such profound peace?
The inner space, that is created by withdrawing attention from the mind, is intrinsically linked with the source; the energy which sustains all life, including our own. Withdrawing from the world, and the false self, leads to becoming grounded in that inner source of energy. In that peaceful inner space, nothing can be threatened. Nothing needs to be achieved or changed, because all is accepted, and there is no resistance.
Yogic methodology provides an easily approachable method for tapping into this inner source of peace and stability, on a daily basis. Meditation is also another avenue for this realization of constant connectedness with the source; but many times, asana practice proves more accessible for the average individual, due to its more physical nature.
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