I use the discipline of yoga to encourage the experience of stillness. The feeling of stillness is peace, and the feeling of peace is joy. That’s simple and profound and exciting.
This is my emphasis because this is the most direct way of experiencing the truth about yourself. Experiencing yourself in stillness is like a wave relaxing into itself and thereby experiencing its inherent ocean nature. Instead of being swallowed up by the ocean and losing its identity, losing its wave-ness, like what you might imagine would happen, the wave continues to exist but its sense of identity expands. It now exists with the new realization that it is not what it thought it was. It is not a tiny specific wave only. It is the entire ocean in specific expression. It is expansive and specific at the same time. And that can be a big surprise.
The wave will experience its ocean nature when it relaxes into itself sufficiently to experience the depths of what it actually is. In a similar fashion, the way for you or me to find out what God is, what Consciousness is, or what the universe is and how it works, is by consciously relaxing into ourselves—thereby experiencing what’s really so. If you want to know for sure what God or Consciousness is, then you must experience yourself consciously. You must consciously experience what it means to be conscious. Knowing is not intellectual or conceptual. It is the result of direct experience.
Now, keep in mind the idea that stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. Stillness does not mean no energy. It means no conflict. And because there is no conflict, it is a higher energy state than that with which we are normally accustomed. When you experience yourself in this unconflicted way, you will experience the truth about what you are.
Get the idea: when there is no conflict in your psyche, if even for only a moment, there will be a sense of greater energy and greater peace. Both. At the same time. And it will be experienced by you as your greater energy, your greater peace. The wave will recognize the power of the ocean as being the source of what it is, and you will intuitively understand that the Will of God, or the intent of the universe, and the desires and longings of your heart are one and the same.
You will also learn that you are your own closest contact point with the source of your being and the mysteries of the universe, just as a wave is its own closest contact point with the ocean, and that you are therefore your own best laboratory for delving into and discovering the true nature of Being. The truth of you, and the truth of the universe, and the truth of your Maker are identical. To learn about one is to learn about the other. And you are your own closest contact point.
Let me get into it like this. The physical yoga promotes balance, strength and flexibility. These qualities are invaluable. The more balanced you are, the more centered you will be. The stronger you are, the lighter you will feel. And the more flexible you are, the harder it is for pain and tension to lodge in your body. In becoming balanced, strong and flexible, you actually erase all the tensions and internal conflicts that would otherwise accumulate and eventually erupt as discomfort or pain in your body and life. Pain and tension are forms of blocked energy. Yoga opens these energy blockages and frees your energy circulation. This makes you feel good and your life runs smoother.
The physical yoga, however, is essentially an awareness process wherein you attend to subtle shifts in sensation and feeling. In so doing you exercise your sensitivity and cultivate the ability to “listen” inwardly. This becomes more and more important as you understand that in listening to your own body and mind you are actually listening to the universe. Listening inwardly allows you to access information you previously had no access to, information that will help you live in a more harmonious and fulfilling way.
There is a lot that could be said about this, but basically all of these things work toward the positive experience of your own naturally joyous being by promoting a sense of inner stillness and peace.
About Erich Schiffmann
Erich Schiffmann is one of the most respected mentors and yoga teachers in America. Having studied first-hand with Jiddu Krishnamurti, BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar, Dona Holleman, Vanda Scaravelli and others, he has gleaned the best of all of their teachings during his almost fifty years of practice and distilled them within his own experience of yoga. From that he arrived upon a path that has proven to have great resonance with those seeking experience a deeper sense of stillness, peace and being.
Feathered Pipe has been privileged beyond words to share space and with him summer after summer at the Ranch. His teachings and his spirit inspire and enrich all, and continually validate that there are deep treasures to discovered in the search, and that to seek with curiosity, joy and sincerity is to find.
Learn more about Erich: erichschiffmann.com