Our World. Our Vitality.

Written by Amanda Whittal.

Amidst the thousands of other people hungry to soak in these early days of spring, I was fortunate to enjoy an afternoon walk in the sun today. My senses tingled with pleasure as I felt the warm breeze on my face, lingered at the intoxicating sight and scent of countless blooming trees, and listened to the joyous chirping of birds awakening to a new season. I relished this feeling of energy and well-being coursing through my body, the peace in my mind and heart.

nature flower

The thought struck me that I hadn't taught a yoga class this particular day, or even enjoyed my own regular practice, and yet I did not feel any void aching to be satiated. Rather, I felt that the benefits I normally receive from my yoga routine had somehow been received anyway.

This awareness led to a myriad of interesting thoughts and ponderings.

I have mentioned before that the definition of yoga is 'union', referring to the pursuit of a connection with oneself on the purest level of existence. To take this notion one stage deeper, consider the fact that the asanas (poses) typically associated with yoga represent only a fraction of what this discipline encompasses. In reality, anything that enhances one's life-force or vitality can be considered yoga. While many of us are able to use the practice as a valuable tool for achieving an internal connection, some individuals view an hour of body postures as a mind-numbingly torturous event. These people, however, may derive the same basic benefits in a variety of other ways, such as a walk in nature, which stimulated in me the same sense of energy.

The direction of this thought path I began to follow pointed towards a simple yet influential truth: as humans we are constantly seeking to feel whole and complete on all levels of our being.

Interestingly, our persistent attempts at attaining this sense of happiness and vitality have profound implications on our world, many of which have yet to be fully recognized.

Perhaps the most compelling example is the current state in which we find our environment. A glance around and an open ear pours in an abundance of unnerving information about global warming, resource scarcity, poor food quality, etc, etc. While many of us are aware of these issues, have we ever considered the driving force behind our lifestyles that is contributing to this detrimental situation?

In a consumer-oriented world, we are constantly bombarded with messages pertaining to the 'American Dream': the great promise of fulfillment that results from the purchase of bigger homes, faster cars, and more extravagant lifestyles. As a society we dutifully swallow the bait of such advertisements, and strive towards this 'ideal' destination, only to find upon arrival that the emptiness we desire to fill remains, crying out as deeply as before. Add to this that our constant consumption of material goods is slowly destroying the very world that sustains us, and we find ourselves in quite a predicament.

I raise this issue, in hopes of revealing a parallel between the deteriorating state of our world, and our current lifestyles. The encouraging aspect of our lifestyles is that they are slowly and gradually being improved by the ancient wisdom on which yoga is built. This wisdom teaches that we are already whole and perfect as we are; we need only to remember this, and recognize ourselves as a natural part of the world, rather than separate from it.

Somewhere in our flurry of activity between work, shopping, payments and traffic, we have lost touch with our appreciation for simply existing. We often move through days burdened with stress, as hours are wished away, stimulants and aspirin are regular staples, and bliss is considered a concept conjured up in some fairytale land.

As I was reminded on my walk today, this feeling of vitality and bliss that we so desperately crave is lacking because we have forgotten to pay attention. We have forgotten to breathe, to see and be a part of the magnificent life dancing before our very eyes.

According to the warnings of many environmentalists, something is going to have to change for our future to be bright.

Maybe, just maybe, as we engage in more practices such as yoga, we will begin to remember the sheer joy that comes from living, and realize that it is our missing element to living more fulfilled lives. In turn, not only will we improve and save ourselves from despair, we take a crucial step towards saving our world.

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