A yoga class is a time set aside, away from the humdrum and excitement of our daily lives. The “far away” I refer to is not so much geographical distance, or a period of time, rather a state of mind.
In a yoga class we may identify inner peace, gain access to it, and learn how to bring this forward into our dealings in the world. I say “learn” because I mean skills and techniques that are acquired. These are considerable aqusitions that takes time to learn and develop. I started my own path with yoga precisely because I was confused, unsure of myself and adrift in a maelstrom of undirected focus – not a state that can just be dissolved without learning, or a random quote or pill.
Last year, after a quarter of a century of daily yoga practice I travelled to India to learn deeper secrets of meditation from a master. For three weeks he coached me. The effect was profound, not only because it was the right thing at the right time, but because I took the trouble to take the time out to seek the learning and immerse myself in it. That is the main thing.
This is one of the reasons why I am promoting the spring yoga retreat Restore Your Inner Peace at the end of September. A retreat is a valuable time, that, like good wine, good food, and good company, takes time to mature. Time to stretch, breathe, and relax at leisure, without the demands that usually precedes and follows classes. For our retreat I envision a time of easy going fun and transformation, as the venue lends itself to enjoyment of meals and mealtimes, creature comforts and good yoga.
True inner peace
Recently, in my Saturday morning class, I was suddenly seized by an urge to share a simple but significant experience I had, just before class. I was sitting on the beach, my head was full of thoughts, as it often is, so I wanted to clear it an enjoy a quick dip in the ocean. I took along an orange and small flask of tea to bask with in the sunshine after the cold water. I closed my eyes, not thinking of, or trying to be awesome or zen or anything like that, only wanting to appreciate the warmth, and taste of the treats.
I got way more than I bargained for – for a moment I experienced a richness that cannot be contained in words, and as such, cannot be acquired by any other means than the experience itself. This is, possibly, true inner peace.
Most of us occasionally have, or have had such experiences. The remind us that inner peace is real, and is always there, under the surface, inside us. Yet is more often than not buried under a pile of distractions, misdirections, business. What is biblically refereed to as “the peace that pass experiences of all understanding” is often, erroneously and at great peril, thought of as mystical illusion, rather than practical reality.
So here are the steps to attain inner peace
● Identify inner peace – understand what it is, and how it feels
● Gain access to it – learn meditation and yoga breathing
● Learn how to bring inner peace forward into our dealings in the world – an important life skill!
Yet inner peace naturally arise, on occasion, as I described. To make best of this profound wonder, one has to practice to recognise the powerful but subtle nature of inner peace, be open to such moments, and develop the awareness and skill to evoke or call up the experience of inner peace at will. This is what requires practice and skill. Possibly not something that is learned in one day, or on one retreat, but every yoga class, or yoga retreat is a great place to start.
Also read my short blog on effortless meditation Go within.
Johann Kotze Music & Yoga,
Muizenberg, Cape Town
27 July 2015