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Simple Practice for Harmonious Living

Living a lie takes its toll. Small habits of duplicity build over time, and we women—because of our orientation toward pleasing others—are particularly susceptible. You accept an invitation to a dinner party, when you really want to stay home and read a book. You volunteer to organise the school fundraiser, because the teacher asks you and you love your child. But now you have no time to exercise, and when irritation and resentment surface, you feed them with another cup of coffee, glare at your computer screen, and forget about the sweet violets growing along mountain paths you never have time to follow. 

It probably started a long time ago. Girls want to please. You were a dutiful daughter, a diligent student, a gracious and accommodating girlfriend. Hardwired to respond to the needs of others, your own needs got marginalised. It is likely they never even became clear to you in the first place. Your choices—in matters big as well as small—centred around service to social mechanisms often antithetical to your highest truth. Though boys can get caught up in these patterns too, girls are particularly vulnerable. We become so accustomed to playing roles that we deceive ourselves into believing that’s what we are. We violate our soul by continually ignoring its cry for nourishment. 

Is it any wonder that depression is so common in women? Depression is a symptom that the soul is out of joint. Our truth wants expression, and its neglect manifests as disease. Sleep problems, eating disorders, constant fatigue, negative thought patterns—all these disturbances indicate a profound disconnect between soul and the world it feels compelled to inhabit.

Yet cosmic harmony—which ancient Indian rishis called Rita—binds everything.  Rita governs seasons and tides. Sun and Moon rise and set according to Rita. Everything that moves or breathes or vibrates has purpose under Rita. That purpose is its dharma, the expression of its truth. In the natural world it’s easy to see. A plum tree produces plums, not oranges, because that’s its dharma. 

Human life presents challenge, because each soul travels a unique path towards enlightenment, the ultimate dharma for all. But it’s individual dharma that shapes your soul’s particular journey. Jyotish sheds light upon the truth your soul craves to express. It illuminates the mystery of Rita. Jyotish draws on inspired intuition too. You also can hone that skill, giving voice to your soul. 

When an urge to act—around anything—arises, press “Pause” and listen. Remain still. Wait until your heart shouts, Yes! If instead you hear ambivalence or resistance, the urge originates from surface impulse or outside pressure, not heart, so let it pass. Don’t act on it. Train your actions to flow only from heart. Harmonious living means living always from the heart. You’ll know you’re evolving spiritually when your body and mind synchronise into a perfectly-tuned instrument, the momentum of cosmic harmony suffusing them with profound contentment and singing joyfully melodies Rita has composed just for you.

Om Shanti

4 thoughts on “Simple Practice for Harmonious Living”

  1. Marianne I love reading your blogs. Please don’t stop writing them! The internet can be an awful place but you’re one of the beacons of light out there on it. This most recent one on Harmonious Living really resonates with me because this is something I instinctively try to do but sometimes if nothing is making my heart sing out ‘yes’ I start doubting myself & wonder if fear is keeping me stuck. In the last 6 months to help me deal with this I’ve started meditating on a daily basis. It’s a practice I’ve been trying to start for years with no success but this time it is making my heart sing ‘yes’ & even though my path still feels very unclear, I’m a little bit more ok with that. So your Sri Ravi Shankar quote really speaks to me too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It feels like a blessing in my life to have been taught by you. Om shanti. Aideen xx

    1. You bring up a great point here, Aideen, a whole other dimension of resistance. In the article, I wrote about the duplicity games we can play with ourselves, saying “yes” to something when we’d really like to say “no”, and vice versa, basically not tuning into our truth. But sometimes the real “Yes” that our heart wants to sing out is hidden behind a barrier of fear, as you indicate. Eradicating fear can be a real challenge. First step is analysing if there is any rational basis for it. (Fearless toddlers want to run into the street. Not a good idea.) But lots of the time our fears are about something else . . . self-doubt, failure, making a fool of oneself. (Why does public speaking strike terror for so many?) As you recall, the 5th klesha of the Yoga Sutras is abhinivesha, translated usually as “fear of death” or “clinging to life”. Though that is an accurate enough translation, it has another nuance in the context of the kleshas. The kleshas describe the process by which ordinary mind or ego-identity is formed, out of avidya, or spiritual blindness. Kleshas are the root of the “vrittis”, those incessant “thought waves of the mind” (fear being a theme of many vrittis). Abhinivesha is thus fear of losing ego identity, fear of anything that threatens our carefully constructed “me” identity. All fears, including fear of death, can be a form of this.

      So what to do? Wonderful that you have started regular mediation. Dipping into that pool of stillness daily brings much equanimity to the flow of life. Even when things are not clear, as you say, it is all OK still. That is a healthy sign, because the more things feel OK, the more they become clear! Another way to work with fear is head on. Cultivate courage. Sometimes it is helpful to break it down into small bites. (Muster the courage to speak before 50 people, next time 100, then 500). Do the scary thing, even though you might be trembling. Afterwards it feels great, and builds courage for the next challenge. Physical challenges can help this too. Body and mind are connected. So strong yoga asana, or sports, or mountain climbing, whatever you feel called to, can help. Mastering physical challenge builds courage that can transfer into other areas of life. I used to talk about that when teaching handstands, especially to women, who are generally weaker in the upper body when they first start yoga (like I was too), and afraid to stand on their hands. A girl who was struggling to kick up asked me,“Do you mean I could pop into the loo at work for a few handstands, and then I’d be able to speak up in the meeting?“ I told her it could certainly help. That girl was soon holding beautiful handstands!

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Aideen, as well as your kind words about my blog and teaching. I won’t stop writing articles, but that spam attack was a real trial! It helps me so much to keep going with this work when I know that someone out there is benefiting. You are dear to me. All former and present students are dear to me. The time we shared together in yoga is so precious. It is with me always, and with you too. Om shanti.

  2. Thank you for sharing your knowledge & experience Marianne. Your blogs are always insightful thought provoking and from the heart. Love to read them…

    1. Thank you so much, Linda! Your words put wind in my sails! I am so glad you enjoy the blogs. They pour forth from me, and it is so gratifying to me to hear that you love reading them. Om shanti

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