One thing that nearly everybody says they want more of these days but very few get very much of is peace.
What is peace?
Peace is the absence of conflict, the absence of drama.
Peace is actually a state of spiritual enlightenment if we can sustain it for any period of time.
You can read all the spiritual books in the world and many of them talk about how you can work very hard, meditating, fasting, praying and devoting yourself to some form of spiritual practice in order to attain a state of enlightenment.
It is said that very few people reach a state of enlightenment.
Those who do are said to be gurus whose lives have the potential to transform thousands if not millions.
So reading all the spiritual literature, and knowing that most of us have to earn a living, raise a family, keep a household going and attend to our careers, the whole idea of enlightenment frankly sounds unattainable.
It seems more practical to just learn how to be a nicer person while keeping the every day matters afloat.
One of the ways that yoga works is giving all of us who practice it a sense of peace.
Now how does that work?
When you first come to yoga class and you are unable to touch your toes, stand on your head or do a full wheel, a common feeling is actually frustration, not actually peace!
It is easy when we are first starting to go on with the habit of comparing ourselves.
We can compare what we are able to do with out what our teachers are able to do, with the pictures of the perfectly performed yoga poses in the manuals and book or what other people (showoffs!) can do in our yoga classes.
It can all get quite aggravating if you let your mind go in that direction.
And yet, at a certain point, if we have the courage to keep showing up, our practice becomes incrementally easier.
We feel just a bit closer to the ground when we bend over.
Our shoulders and back open up and we hurt a little less.
As we breathe deeply, our minds actually calm down and we pay just a little less attention to what other people in the class are doing.
As we calm down, we begin to become O.K. with what we can do ourselves and the progress we are making.
We realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day and we embrace the practice for what is happening now, in this moment.
Finally, after the end of practicing our poses, we lie down in savasana.
Even if in the beginning lying still feels almost unbearable, the very idea of stillness begins to take over our bodies, which are already tired not just from our practice but all the rushing and pushing of our every day lives.
As we keep showing up to yoga class, the peace that happens at the end becomes more delicious.
We look forward to the end just like you might look forward to having chocolate cake for dessert.
It feels like savasana or corpse pose that comes at the end is the reward we get for driving to the class, laying our mats out and doing our best in the poses.
As we practice, and as we allow ourselves fall into that well-deserved final relaxation, a funny thing happens.
We begin to enjoy the state of peace.
It becomes more and more natural to be at peace, and as we get off our mats and go back and re-enter every day life, peace becomes to seem more and more what we are naturally about.