It used to be common in villages that there would be a large tree where people would gather - usually in the evenings - to relax, catch up with one another, and generally enjoy the company of the community where they live. There would be a platform built around the base of the tree for the people, and it was called a “People Tree.” Now a days though, people watch soap operas on the TV, and tend to only talk about those fictitious stories rather than connecting with their own families, neighbors and friends. But it happened once that a young man was wondering about this tree. “What use is this tree?” he asked. “It doesn’t give fruits or fire wood or anything. It is completely useless. Why do we have it? We should get rid of it!” An older man of the village said, “Boy, it is because of this tree that we have such good clean air, and a nice place to gather. This tree cleans the air. It is very important.”
My teacher Sharath told this story on a hot, sweaty Sunday in one of his conferences in Mysore, India. India is a very chaotic place to be, very dirty, noisy, full of smells…it is a jungle for the senses. On this particular morning Sharath wanted us students to pay attention to the importance of creating a clean environment around us. He stressed that doing our practice in a healthy, clean environment is essential for spiritual growth. No matter where in the world you find yourself, no matter what personal practice you have, it is important that the space where you do your Sadhana is clean, and treated as a 'sacred' space. A clean, pure environment supports our physical and mental health. Our inner world is affected by our outer world, just like our outer world is a manifestation of our inner state of being. Outer and inner are interrelated, and connected.
We are all born with a 'dharma' , a purpose or a duty, that we must accomplish and it's our journey in life to find it and clear the way so we may accomplish it. When we loose sight of what it is we are trying to reach, we look for support. The practice of yoga, is a science, it's a technology, a tool that we have been given to create clarity, to clear the space in the mind. Just like the tree purifies the air, and Krishna reminds Arjuna, so does Yoga support us. Yoga is a practice of self transformation and it requires clarity, patience and devotion, day in and day out…this commitment will lead us to the ultimate goal of heightened awareness. When we unfold our mats and practice Yoga we are working to create clarity of vision.
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