Blood Memories book

"Thank you so much for the beautiful reading. I have listened to the recording a number of times, and each time I do, I hear something different, or something else drops a level in my understanding. I was so inspired by your knowledge and clarity that I have signed up to study with you on your philosophy course.” - Fiona C

Get my newsletter... Click here!

Your Destiny is Not in Your Hands

Most people come to yoga because they want something. There is nothing wrong with that . . . in the beginning. In fact, desire for a pre-conceived goal motivates most everything we do. But after awhile, this goal-oriented approach is the very thing that impedes real progress in yoga.

Some people want to reduce stress; others seek calm and confidence. Some want better sleep, more energy, fortification against the difficulties life presents. 9226504420_9207498131_hOthers desire health and fitness or a shapely body with sleek muscles and that famous “yoga bum”. Fifteen years ago, before there was even one yoga studio in Dublin, a group of women employed me to teach them yoga privately . . . with the goal “bums and tums for Christmas” clearly in mind.

If this sounds like you . . . the good news is that if you stick to regular practice, most likely these desired outcomes should come to pass. They are the side benefits of committed practice. But they are not the goal of yoga, for yoga is ultimately not about “improving” life in this material world.

It is about transcending this world. It is about realising that everything in this material world is transitory, ephemeral and impermanent, and dependent upon everything else, including (and most particularly!) our ego identity that claims to have brought about these desirable results from its singular actions. Ordinary mind clings to lifeboats, and yoga practice can become just such a container; it is a subtle one too. If practice cultivates a sense of personal accomplishment, then it feeds rather than dissolves ego identity. It actually obstructs true spiritual growth.

Practice (and many other things as well!) can reinforce our false sense of “doer-ship”, that mistaken belief that the “me” originates action, which is the essence of ego identity. The assumption is “I am making the practice. I am bringing about these results.”
cosmic-web-creative commonsHowever, the ego is a fluid entity, merely a point of reference within the vast multi-dimensional web of karma that we call the flow of life. The “me” is an instrument, played upon by Pure Consciousness, which knows no boundaries of time and space. Everything that happens is an impersonal happening, brought about by the intricate unfolding of cosmic law. Though the ego belongs to the process, it originates nothing.

Ramakrishna said, “ Be utterly convinced that you are merely an instrument which is operated upon by God, and then you may do whatever you want”.

So if you feel compelled by inner necessity to do a yoga practice, then do it. It is your destiny. But do it with an attitude of surrender to Cosmic Will in harmony with the flow of life. Formal practice can indeed dissolve the boundaries of ego, but do not be deluded that it is the only way. Or most importantly, that “you” are bringing it about.

Do not be deluded either that yoga practice can immunise you against suffering. The dualities of life will continue to play out; everything in due course turns into its opposite. Pleasure and pain, success and defeat, joy and sorrow . . . these peaks and valleys will always characterise the flow of life, no matter how much yoga you do.

In fact, it is often the afflictions of life that serve to bring us into deeper understanding. Suffering reveals the limitations of the material world, and that realisation can point the way to the vast ocean of Pure Spirit that subsumes us all. As one of my Jyotish teachers said, “More affliction, more divine grace!” Ironically, it is just the things we don’t want that can further our spiritual growth.

I have just been through a long experience of affliction. I wrote about it here, in an ongoing attempt to give shape to what happened and to share2013-06-04 22.57 with others some of the things I’ve learned. It is amazing the power of “word of mouth”. In the last few months, total strangers (some of them yoga teachers) have approached me with the story of their own hip problems, seeking advice from me as someone who has already walked that road. I feel a special bond with these people, most of whom I’ve never seen, only talked to on the phone or communicated with by email.

The affliction that came to my body took me out of ordinary life for over a year. It was a difficult time in many ways, and I would not wish it upon anyone. But it taught me so much. From it, much grace has flowed, and not just in terms of the healing I have experienced since my surgery. The episode itself had a retreat like quality, and the love I felt from so many dear ones sustained me. Truly, our destiny is not in our hands, and it is wise not to be too quick in judging what is good fortune and what is bad. For grace lies hidden in the most surprising places.

Om Shanti

2 thoughts on “Your Destiny is Not in Your Hands”

  1. Hi Marianne, thanks so much for sharing your journey here. I am one of those who you have inspired with your experience and find myself embarking on the same journey very soon to Paris and Monsieur Laude. Having the same diagnosis as you, AVN along with gross arthritis, also needing bilateral replacement, it was hugely reassuring to hear of your journey. My surgery is set for Feb 9th and I’m starting to prepare now. I too look forward to walks on the beach with my dogs, and general relief from pain and restrictions. So grateful you led the way for me and I intend to share my journey also in the hope that it may help somebody else. We must meet up on my return and introduce our fancy French hips to each other!!! Namaste! Caroline x

    1. Thank you, Caroline! It makes me so happy to think of someone else finding the relief I found after such a long and difficult road. Sending my love and best wishes now, as I know that in just a few days you will be over to Paris, ready to get your life back! Once you are home and settled, it would be lovely indeed to meet up. xx

Comments are closed.