I spent a evening this past weekend in the presence of one of the world’s leading yoga masters, and it was a pretty interesting experience. Gurudev Yogi Amrit Desai is recognized as one of the pioneers of the authentic teachings of yoga in the West.
The evening was organized by Yoga by the Sea, a yoga studio that I’ve been going to for the last little while. My instructor has been studying Yogi Desai’s teachings for 16 years, and each of her classes begins with a very focussed meditative element. I was curious to trace this back to its source.
After a brief introduction we were taken through our first meditative experience of the evening. A series of group mantra chanting, sung in a deep voice by Yogi Desai focussed the group, and we were then led into a meditative state, inducing a deep relaxation.
I can’t really say how long this lasted, but when we came out, it was interesting hearing many in the group speak of their experiences. We would do this two more times over the course of the evening, and while the meditative experiences were interesting, I found Yogi Desai’s teachings that night to be even more valuable. With apologies to him, here is what I came away with:
The everyday stresses that we face are focussed upon the behaviour of those around us. While it is difficult, if not impossible to change the behaviour of others, it is really our perception of those behaviours that causes our stress. If you expect a person to behave in a certain pattern, that is what we are conditioned to see… ergo, the solution to our stress is to change our perception, or rather to eliminate all perception.
Yogi Desai puts it another way “Eventually, you completely shift out of identification with the body, mind and ego… allowing you to effortlessly disengage from restrictive physical, mental and emotional patterning. Here, you are free to create a life that is an expression of higher consciousness, rather than acquired conditioning.”
All this sounds so easy… in theory, and it’s the practice that will prove to be more challenging. But awareness is the first step toward change, and I’m going to try very hard to keep these lessons front and centre.
Finally if you want a taste of that meditative experience, get yourself into a comfortable position and follow this link. You’ll find a 20-minute Yogi Nidra sampler, led by Yogi Desai at the bottom of the page.