For several months I have been thinking about writing a follow-up to the student discovery blog I wrote in March 2014 about my Dharma lessons with Tracy. What I’m writing now is quite different than what it would have been if it had been written even two or three weeks ago.
Loosely defined, Dharma is your life’s path, how you live your life responsibly, knowing and respecting your authentic self. Each person’s dharmic path is different. Dharma lessons bring awareness to reducing suffering and remind us to live in the present.
My Dharma lessons have covered the Yamas (moral restraints, such as non-violence and nonstealing) and the Niyamas (self discipline, such as cleanliness and self-study). The principles of the Yamas and Niyamas have been applied to experiences as wide ranging as fear, aging, injury, obstacles and challenges faced and overcome, spirituality, the wonder of nature and our role in it, death, life, and everything in-between.
Tracy leads the lessons with wisdom, compassion, and patience, which doesn’t mean that she doesn’t also challenge and make me look deeply at things I might rather ignore. And we don’t always agree. But the lessons, always instructive, sometimes difficult and painful, sometimes incredibly illuminating and freeing, have made a real difference in my life.
What I have come to realize these last few weeks is that the Dharma lessons have changed me in ways I hadn’t fully appreciated. I knew that I was more open to people and experiences, and sometimes, at least, less fearful. I knew that I could at least sometimes pause before I responded so that I didn’t say or do something that would hurt someone else, or me. I more often than before have a better sense of my authentic self, and can more often make decisions based on my truths rather than on what I think others might expect.
What I wasn’t as aware of was how the Dharma lessons have influenced my actions and reactions to the events of the world. The last few weeks and months have been particularly difficult locally, nationally, and internationally. News about violence and hatred spews out from radios, TVs, newspapers, computers. It is overwhelming, and I feel intense sorrow and despair.
Now, however, I am also more aware of my ability and responsibility to shift my energy. The world is suffering and there are grave ills to be addressed. From my Yoga practice in general, and the Dharma lessons in particular, I can focus on sending love into a hate-filled world. I can better look for ways each day to add light rather than darkness, hope rather than fear, peace and healing rather than hatred. It is not all that can be done, but it is surely a better place to work from than where I would have been without Yoga and the Dharma lessons.
‘Look for the good’ Tracy often says. ‘Be present, trust your intuition, pause before you act.’ I often resist. But step by step, I grow.
As always, I’m eager to share if anyone would like to know more about my Dharma lesson experience.