Independence Day Reflections from a Yogi
In 1776, America declared our right to freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yoga is all about liberty and freedom, but last bit about happiness is a bit odd. Feeling joyful, peaceful and whole are natural possessions we’re born with. They’re not something we’re supposed to pursue, but rather something that forms our baseline psychological state. They’re the foundation of our true human nature. If we can’t feel them consistently, chances are they’ve been stolen from us.
Our typical robbers are stealthy, slipping through our doors disguised as a bunch of well-intended shoulds, ought to’s and other fabricated voices trying to persuade us to seek happiness in external things. The real crime is when we internalize those voices, a sort of Stolkholm Syndrome where we begin to actually believe that happiness and wholeness are things to be seized from life, rather than things we naturally breathe into life.
Yoga teaches us that pursuing external happiness creates an endless longing for something we already possess, something that can’t be replaced by any external acquisition. In your natural state, you’re endlessly strong, passionate, purposeful and on and on — but only in your own ways, within your own dharma, regardless of whether anyone else can understand you or not.
Yoga helps us to stop being victimized by all the robbers beating down our door. We stop letting those thieves convince us that our life needs to be lived in better ways, by a thinner person, by someone who’s applauded for what they’re doing, etc. If we allow ourselves to just be, and really express who we really are, our wholeness and joy naturally return, calmly returning us to the sacred and special relationship we have to life. That relationship is damaged when we turn life into a war, forever trying to wrestle happiness from the world around us.
Peace, joy and a feeling of wholeness are already in our possession — there’s nothing “out there” to pursue. It’s a crime against our true nature when we’re robbed of that wisdom. So today we declare our true independence. Life, liberty and the expression of our innate joy. Those are our unalienable human rights, always to be defended wherever the wholeness of human “being” is found.