Most of us, tired of a drab existence, strive to change our place and surroundings to experience novelty and diversity. But at some point, we realize that we have already explored a lot of things in the outside world and we surrender to a feeling of monotony. Wherever we go, sameness follows us everywhere. Even traveling to other countries, we eventually lose interest in them. The world seems to become small, predictable and boring. The scenery changes, but we see the same familiar picture of the mundane behind it. How to learn to continuously experience the fullness and diversity of life? What do we need for this? Yoga will help find the answers.
“As, dear, the birds come home to the tree to rest, so, verily, all this comes to rest in the Higher Self. The Higher Self is the basis and the reality of this Universe.” Prasna Upanishad
Pravritti and Nivritti
What many people call development, involvement in the outside world, is known in yoga as the path of Pravritti, the path of expression and fervent activity. If we are totally immersed in this worldly life, this development is coupled with increasing ignorance. To achieve self-awareness, our attention must be turned inward to the source of life. This process is called Nivritti, when the Higher Self becomes aware of itself as the source of its manifestations. Provided that we know the subtleties of the Pravritti path, we can get involved in the external world and at the same time increase self-awareness. With this approach, we naturally lose interest in the outer world and pleasures through external objects and phenomena, and our attention turns back to the Higher Self. Otherwise, desires and aspirations for external objects will never reach the limit and will only get stronger along with ignorance.
If we constantly move only along the path of Pravritti, we get more and more immersed in ignorance. Each time we will ask for more and more diversity, new sensations, new surroundings. As long as this motion continues, the feeling of fullness of life, joy and happiness will persist. The trick is that with all the diversity of the material world, one day this path will exhaust itself. Then the movement stops and without understanding these processes we begin to experience dullness and emptiness of life.
We should remember that external objects and phenomena are the only keys that open the treasury of infinite joy of being, concealed inside us.
After having experienced and tried all the possible “external keys”, we will come to a dead end. “External keys”, relatively speaking, have a limited span — upon their expiry we need to look for the new ones. If we do not adopt the path of Nivritti, then we get confused and lose connection with the source of life.
“What is here is elsewhere: what is not here is nowhere.” Vishwa Sara Tantra
Balance between internal and external
To gain control over the Nivritti process, we must either have strong willpower or combine the opposites using yoga methods — detachment through attachment. It comes down to developing the ability to associate and dissociate with any processes. To detach from the external world, it is not always necessary to withdraw into oneself and completely ignore the outside. Each one of us has a duty to fulfill in order to correctly disengage ourselves from this world. Firstly, it concerns actions aimed at maintaining life of the physical body — to quench thirst, satisfy hunger, sleep, purify and look after our health, etc. Secondly, there are several social obligations that we acquire while living in a society, which are also important to observe — self-study, caring for parents and children, etc. If we carry our duties consciously, that is, voluntarily, appropriately and effectively, then it becomes easier to view such activities through the prism of self-awareness. In this case, even if we feel pleasure from interacting with the outside world, it does not make us dependent.
A balance should be maintained between carrying out worldly activities and self-improvement. This allows us to simultaneously realize both the external world by manifesting in it, and the connection with the source of life, which gives us a feeling of fullness. The more we become aware of ourselves, the more interesting and more vivid we will perceive the external world. At the intersection of these two paths, the “game of life” will exhibit itself, which will depend on the balance between the external and the internal.
Many people consider the goal of their life to constantly expand outwards and explore this world to its maximum. The truth is the secret of life and existence lies inside us. All the meanings and the fullness of life are there. It is not necessary to give up on travel and joy derived from objects and events of this world. But we can change our awareness of these phenomena and our due attitude. By themselves, they do not fulfill us, but serve as a mirror to work on internal processes.
The lack of fullness of life is an indicator that we should redirect our attention inward. It is important to feel the moment when to switch from external to internal expression and do this before we start feeling empty inside. In this case, we can experience the fullness of life even in extended periods of monotonous conditions in limited space.
Tools to redirect attention from the external world inwards
To deep-dive in our inner world, we need to divert our attention from outer objects utilizing various methods: asanas of Hatha yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, etc., even fasting in some cases can be very effective. However, the most important thing is the acceptance of the fullness of being in the monotony, the willingness to work with what is here and now, without looking for something else. Life near nature catalyzes these processes. Therefore, if it is possible to be closer to nature we should do so. Regular (if possible daily) hasteless activity, helps the mind to acquire one-pointedness and preserve the vital force, which creates a feeling of fullness of life. Just like salt when it is added a pinch but reveals the full flavor of the dish. From the outside, all this may seem boring, but in fact, the arising feeling of fullness of life from the inside is much more intense than dispersing ourselves on many paths that seem outwardly attractive.
To enjoy life, we must first understand that it is concealed inside us. The desire for diversity is appropriate when it does not complicate life. External objects and phenomena are the only keys to unlocking our internal potential. If we want, we can organize our lifestyle in a way to contain only the most essential and create diversity by maintaining a balance between focusing on the outside world and on the inner source of life, on our true essence — the Higher Self.
Getting involved into the world,
remain unaffected by it…
Authors: Andrey Medin
Author of the picture: Yulia Blazhevich
Editors: Maria Gayatri, Alla Ravi, Eva May, Olga Belous, Evgenia Agni
Chief editor: Mirra
Project curator: Kerigona
Translators: Nat Satcitananda, Alexander Vijaya, Teya Sweet