Living Life in Your Fullness

By Swami Prajñananda

I took a bite of a crisp, juicy, red apple.  An apple had never tasted so sweet, so satisfying.  I wondered how this apple could taste so different, like I had never truly tasted one before.  The answer was, I had it after my yoga practice.  The apple wasn’t different. I was.

Have you noticed this?  Food tastes different after you take a yoga class or do your own home practice.  If you haven’t, you can do a little experiment: cut an apple in half, or any food for that matter.  Eat half before your yoga and then have the other half after.  Then see, is there a difference?

There will be!  Yoga makes everything better.  It isn’t just food that improves when you do your yoga.  Everything in your life improves.  You know this by the difference in your first Shavasana compared to the Shavasana at the end of your yoga class.  In only an hour and a half, you are changed.  Your body feels better, your mind is quieter, inner joy is welling up inside.  And the change in you doesn’t end when you leave your blankets.  This inner shift stays with you.

All of yoga’s practices are for the purpose of giving you the “More” inside.  It may be a softening or a settling, a feeling of peace, even feeling you are more comfortable in your own skin.  When this inner shift happens, you experience life in a whole new way.

It’s like the Wizard of Oz.  Until she went to Oz, Dorothy’s life was black and white.  Once she arrived in Oz, everything was in technicolor.  You are like Dorothy, except you don’t need to go anywhere to live life in technicolor.  In fact, what you really need is to be more here, to be more present.  When you inhabit your body and look inside to experience the deeper dimension of your being, life is fuller and more satisfying.  A sutra explains this principle:

J~naanam annam. — Shiva Sutras 2.9

Pure knowledge is the only real nourishment,

that which gives full satisfaction.

(translated by Gurudevi Nirmalananda)

There is a difference between knowledge and pure knowledge.  Knowledge can be anything you know.  It can be your knowledge in camping, university, cooking and the list goes on.  There are so many forms of knowledge!  But when it comes to pure knowledge, there is only one type: the knowing of your own Divine Essence.  This knowing is a deep knowing.  While other forms of knowledge are useful and important, pure knowledge nourishes you in a way that no other type of knowledge can touch.

We human beings are constantly looking for that satisfaction.  Yet we look for it on the outside.  Our culture, steeped in consumerism, feeds on the idea that you can buy happiness.  I like the example of Cheetos.  They are so addictive, because they were engineered to be that way.  The way it works is that Cheetos melt in your mouth.  Called “vanishing caloric density,”[1] this tricks your brain into thinking you are not consuming anything.  So you can eat and eat and eat and eat, and you will not feel full.

There is nothing nourishing, nothing fulfilling when you eat them yet you keep eating.  Why?  Yes, they are tasty, but it is more than that.  There is a motivation to keep consuming.  Because you are not yet satisfied, you keep eating them.  You do not feel full.  No matter how many you eat, however, it won’t touch that emptiness you are trying to fill.

Yoga says you are not empty inside; far from it.  Even more than food, the knowledge of who you are fills you.  It fulfills your craving for that “something more.”  Technically, the knowledge isn’t what fills you; it is your own Self that fills you.  Whether you know it or not, your Self is always present.  You were and are always full.  Without the knowing, however, you feel lost, alone and empty.

The purpose of all yoga’s practices is to cultivate your ability to know.  Once you know your own Divine Essence, you can never go back to not knowing.  You may forget from time to time.  That is why you have your yoga, to get you back to your inner knowing.  This inner knowing is the only real nourishment.

The next time you feel that inner craving for something more, pause.  Notice that you are not feeling satisfied.  Instead of heading to your usual “go to” — whether that be chips, TV, Internet surfing, etc. — pick one of yoga’s tools.  For a few minutes you can repeat mantra or meditate.  You can do some Ujjayi breaths or a pose or two.  Or choose another yoga tool that works for you.

After those few minutes, check in with yourself.  Do you feel more satisfied?  More nourished from the inside?  Every time you take a dip in the pure knowledge of your own inner fullness, you experience the nourishment and satisfaction that only your Self can provide.  And, yes, you can still have chips.  But can you be based in your Self while you have them?  Ultimately, the purpose of your yoga is to live your life, to be in the world, and at the same time to be sourced from your inner Source.  This is yoga’s promise.  As Gurudevi says, “Do more yoga.”

[1] Moss, Michael. “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Feb. 2013.