Sunday, 10 March 2013

Finding One’s Centre by Swami Gyan Dharma

Finding One’s Centre by Swami Gyan Dharma
Taken from the MYA Newsletter 2013

In the last few years, as I have been moving around different parts of the world introducing people to yoga and meditation, I began to notice the lack of a real centre in most people’s lives. Yes, of course, we have our family, our work and our possessions which give us some kind of a framework for the lives we live, but as to a real centre from which to experience our lives, no, we don’t really have that. Most of our security is based on external things, and external things by their very nature are transient and not very reliable. 

Up to a point, family life fulfils us and can make us feel secure. Yet it can also throw us into turmoil. Money and possessions come and go, creating their own insecurities and fears. Work has a beginning and an end, and cannot shield us from our mental and emotional anxieties. In order to feel secure we build walls, even fortifications, around ourselves to keep a scary and unpredictable world at arm’s length. Paradoxically, however, instead of making us feel secure, this compounds our fears and anxieties; we withdraw further into our self-created defensive shells, feeling even more exposed and vulnerable. Such a false sense of security, without any real foundation, will inevitably crumble at some point. I think that we all need to realize that this vision of who we are is far too small and limiting. We do not need to define ourselves so narrowly. Life is not our enemy but part and parcel of who we are.

We have inherited, created and compounded a lot of unhelpful habits in ourselves and, if we aspire to live happier and more fulfilling lives, we need to begin to correct these patterns that we have embraced. We need to begin re-educating ourselves and an effective place to do that is an ashram. Not that we need to go and live there for the rest of our lives, but we need to begin making some inroads towards our re-education. This can consist of small visits, or short to medium length stays. Every little effort we make has some imperceptible, positive effect on our inner being, and regular practice helps our self-confidence and inner resources and strength to grow.

An ashram is a good place to start connecting with the unshakeable anchor that already exists deep inside you. The whole way of life of the ashram will begin by helping to anchor you to your centre, and then little by little the inner jewel will begin to shine forth from deep inside you. Ashram life helps you to open up to life and all within it: to become inclusive rather than exclusive, and to trust in love instead of being bound by fear. We begin to learn to meet life as it comes, with less expectation and more openness of heart and mind. We begin to judge life less and stay more present. Ashram living helps us step out of our defensive shells, open up, expand our sense of self and thus illumine new perspectives on who we essentially are. Life itself becomes our teacher and we begin to see that life is not ‘out to get us’ but is continually presenting us with new opportunities to grow, develop and learn. A greater inner sense of ease arises out of such a respectful, loving and aware relationship with life. 

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Swami Gyan Dharma will be a resident teacher in the ashram during May and June. He will teach two programmes – a 10-day Chanting and Meditation Retreat from May 23-June 2 (see page 39), and Living in Awareness from June 20-23 (see page 40). In addition he will give regular meditations and satsangs (question and answer), sharing his profound and practical understanding, based on his 40 years of personal practice and teaching experience. 

Photos by Dave Feb 2013