Yoga imperative

sarve-bhavantu-sukhinahWe just started to learn the imperative in Sanskrit. Since our verbal paradigm is bhavati (to become) I felt on familiar ground with the forms bhavatu (‘may he become’)and bhavantu (‘may they become’) presented in the textbook.

My teacher quoted to me from the Upanishads: Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah…

And I thought of the mantra we use often in class: lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

And in yoga class following the Sanskrit lesson (yes, Tuesdays are looong days for me) we chanted this and my teacher made a bit more of a deal of it than usual, making me reflect more carefully on what this mantra means to me and what I might choose to do about it. Today or any other day. Is this essentially the point of yoga practice?

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”

A rather graphic test of my commitment to support others presented itself on the way home. I was walking rather wearily, full of my own head-thoughts and utterly selfish concerns. Class had in fact been terrible for me, one of those hugely confronting times when body freezes and brain goes into some emotional free-fall and I would rather be anywhere than on the mat. I thought seriously about leaving class but that seemed unacceptably rude. Instead I stayed and quietly cried my way through class feeling more lost and isolated than should be possible in a familiar space full of people I know.

In the middle of my selfish reverie on my way home I suddenly realised that there was a body stretched out on the pavement a little way ahead of me. A few crouching figures around it. A man was lying on his side. Face bloody, and blood all across the pavement, he was conscious but clearly in pain and fearful. I hurried up and offered my meagre first aid skills. Fortunately one of those attending was a junior doctor, so there was no need of me.

And I’ll admit I felt massively relieved. Could I have given fully what was needed in this situation?

And the next day I still felt bruised — but aware that this is a luxurious emotional metaphor rather than a physical trauma. A stark contrast between my own melodrama and the poor casualty. But actually that day the one thing that lit me up inside was knowing that I had friends coming over for some yoga practice after work. As much as I felt depleted, I still wanted to offer some time and energy to them.

In the event my teaching was a little rougher in places than I’d have liked. I really was tired. But I know what to do about the rough patches, slowly slowly I’ll learn more. And my ‘students’ [you have to imagine my self-conscious smirk as I use that word!] seemed content. One of them commented on my energy and how that carried them through practice. Wow! They went away looking happier and more relaxed. They said they liked my ‘sukha’ theme, even if I was too shy to chant for them!

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu




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