Can yoga fix everything?


Michael

One of my appreciated meditation/yoga teachers died a few days ago, way too young. He had been struggling with mania and depression his entire life, and died from trying to self-medicate with drugs.

His name was Michael Stone, a much loved husband, father, friend and teacher. Being loved, successful and an experienced practitioner of yoga and meditation wasn’t enough to keep him balanced and safe from the kind of incident that he died from. In Michael’s own words:

“You’d think that given all this inner work, an incredible network of support, strong friendships, a loving partner and kids, and lastly, a life dedicated to embodying the dharma (literally every single day includes practice and study), that I’d be immune to extreme mental states.
[…]
It can be hard to admit even to ourselves that there are times when the stability of awareness that we discover in [meditation] just isn’t there. When this started happening I’d say my practice needs to get deeper. But the truth is, there was a chemical change in my brain.” *

Me

I’ve been reflecting on the same, on my own life journey. How yoga has changed me for the better and still I’m emotionally unstable and caught in negative patterns. I can see that my practice has untangled many issues for me and led me to more clarity and understanding of my mental states.

And still, there’s a lot more inner work to do. Some I believe can be overcome by continued (yoga) practice and deeper practice, in this lifetime. Some may take many more lifetimes to work through (if that’s how life works). Some may be attached to my current human brain and body and for some reason not possible to change with yoga practice or the amount and quality of practice that I do. I don’t know for sure.

In principle, and in the long run (the lifetime of the entire Universe?), I believe yoga can fix everything. In physical reality, in this lifetime, I believe yoga cannot fix everything. Nevertheless, yoga techniques are the most powerful and transformative tools I know of.

Comparisons

It seems some people who’ve never practiced yoga or meditation, are well balanced, compassionate and happy (as seen from the outside at least, which isn’t the whole truth). And here’s me, having practiced and developed quite a lot from where I started, and still I’m not (always) balanced, compassionate and happy.

To know if yoga works or not, comparing myself with another, isn’t relevant as we all have different starting points, different lives, and different possibilities. The comparison may be interesting as a reflection, but more relevant is observing me; before and after my own yoga practice (and other self-development work).

Comparisons may be interesting. They are all a product of the discriminating part of the mind, the “subtle layer” of the mind (Manomaya kosha according to yogic teachings). This part of the mind is where many of us often get stuck.

Beyond the Mind

To move beyond the mind, into the healing realms of what we can call Divine Consciousness, we need to let go of our attachment to the mind, to comparisons and discriminations. We can practice that in yoga/meditation. We may need to practice with commitment for a very long time; however every time we practice we take a step on the way.

This leads me back to my (current) conclusion:

In principle, and in the long run (the lifetime of the entire Universe?), I believe yoga can fix everything. In physical reality, in this lifetime, I believe yoga cannot fix everything. Nevertheless, yoga techniques are the most powerful and transformative tools I know of.

 

I’d love to hear your reflections on this subject, feel free to share in the comments below.

 

 

* The link to the official statement of Michael Stone’s passing.

 

 

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