Understand that the Whole is the Goal

- -
Understand that the Whole is the Goal

When I lived in Chicago, I would often stop by the world-renowned Art Institute just to stare for awhile at Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows. What was it about those windows that so captured me? How could I dissect the experience to describe its power: was it the colours of the glass, the shapes, the size, the figures, the sun over the city?

Of course, attempting to take apart the magic of art is futile. Breaking it down only makes it lose its power.

It turns out our lives are much the same. We are made of so many different parts, yet we are somehow more than the sum of them.

Many of us come to yoga hoping to “fix” one part of ourselves. We want to improve our physical health, or train our minds, or fix our relationships with others. But the truth is that who we are—our spirit and essence—is all one magical phenomenon. And if we want to grow, we have to approach our life as the whole that it is.

How do you do that? You start by being completely honest with yourself, by examining all the pieces of your life—even the uncomfortable ones—and recognising what needs attention.

And then, one day at a time, with patience and infinite forgiveness, you apply what you’ve begun to learn through yoga—seeking the truth, stepping out of your comfort zone, shifting your vision, relaxing with what is—to every aspect of your life.

Just like art, much of our magic comes from harmony. By beginning each yoga practice chanting “om”, we are able to experience a moment of harmony with our body and our mind, harmony with each other, and harmony with something larger than ourselves.

The goal is to expand that sense of harmony, every day, in our relationship with ourselves, with those around us, and with the broader world. The goal, as Baron Baptiste says, “is to make peace with all the tendrils and conflicts of your life, both inside, and out, weaving the strands together into your own spiritual coat of many colors.”

As Shakespeare understood, “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.”

It’s never too late to begin. You are always ready and always worthy, just as you are. As the poet Danna Faulds wrote:

Now is the only time you have to be whole.
Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything buy pain.
Please, oh, please, don’t continue to believe in your disbelief.
This is the day of your awakening.

Ellie Norton is a 2018 Lumi 200-hour Teacher Training graduate and a passionate yogi and writer.  You can read more of her reflections on her blog, What I Learned This Week.