Recently, I started an intensive yoga teacher training. Regarding my decision to change careers, I decided that yoga would be the beginning of this journey. I chose Kripalu because the focus is reconnecting with your body and spirit. It is a spiritual journey of sorts towards cultivating a healthier body, mind, and way of being. Rekindling one’s relationship with prana or the breath sets the stage, and from there a transformation is initiated as the body and mind begin to heal from anxieties, fears, and a separation from ourselves. Slowly, through the asanas, these emotions are replaced with confidence, a sense of strength, and reconnection. The heart opens and expands. The point of Kripalu is meditation in movement, awakening one’s life force, and cultivating peace within oneself. Over time, one’s practice on the mat can become one’s practice in daily life. As a person transforms themselves, the environment around them responds to this change and transforms as well. In Nichiren Buddhism, this is often called a human revolution. Many of the yoga sutras teach that when you are happy, it affects everyone in your environment. If you are angry or are having angry thoughts, that anger is generated out into your environment as well. In Nichiren Buddhism, a great deal of discussion surrounds the “mystic function of the mind.” Our attitude changes everything. This statement is used quite often. Kids hear it all the time in school, but it can be difficult to believe or put into practice especially when you are suffering or are facing serious obstacles in life. But the power of thought to alter reality must never be underestimated. If you believe you can, then you will. Regarding this topic, Nichiren said “This mind that is beyond comprehension constitutes the core teaching of the sutras and treatises. And one who is awake to and understands this mind is called a Thus Come One.” The Thus Come One refers to each individual’s inherent Buddha nature or one who has awakened to the powerful and mystical workings of the mind. There is a saying that at this moment in time “You are now all that you desire to be.” Our minds determine our future both individually and collectively as a society. Daisaku Ikeda devotes a chapter to this idea in My Dear Friends In America. In it he refers to Mahatma Gandhi who believed and once said that people became whoever they expected themselves to be. Daisaku writes: “The potential of the human brain remains an unknown. We do not know what powers it holds. But one thing is certain: The power of belief, the power of thought, will move reality in the direction of what we believe and how we conceive it. If you really believe you can do something, you can. That is a fact.” To give a simple example of how this can play out I will share with you a small thing that I experienced at the end of my first week of yoga teacher training. In the evening of that last day, I stopped by my friend’s house to say hello. I had not seen her in months and was excited to catch up. When I arrived the first thing she offered me was something to drink. I immediately responded that I would love a cup of tea. She then asked me, “Is mint okay?”. My first thought was that I really wanted ginger. I felt this strongly, but I didn’t want to be a picky guest, and I figured that if she had other selections she would have offered them. I said that mint would be lovely, and she pulled the box of mint tea out of the cabinet. The water soon came to a boil, and I heard the clanging of cups and the tearing of a small paper package. Within minutes, the cup of tea was set into my hands, warming my fingers, and I quickly took that first delicious sip. To my pleasant surprise, the taste of ginger delighted my taste buds. A little confused at first, I asked her what kind of tea she gave me. She replied mint of course. I responded that it couldn’t be. There was no mint in my cup of tea. Without a doubt, I was drinking ginger tea. She replied, “You know, now that I think about it, I think I had some random leftover tea selections from other boxes that I put in that box of mint to consolidate. I completely forgot about that. I must have accidentally opened one of those.” Some folks may say that this experience was plain old luck or just a mere coincidence. But for me, this was a wonderful confirmation of the power we hold and the mystical workings of the mind. Our thoughts, beliefs, and desires become our reality and lived experience.
At the end of the first day of my yoga training, I wrote in my journal: “I know peace is possible. I know deep relaxation is possible. I know these things because I just experienced them both.”
If what you seek is peace from the negativity in life, try out a Kripalu yoga class or tap into the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in your life. I highly recommend a good dose of both. Take some time to reconnect with the mind. Be a witness to it. Check the patterns and quality of the thoughts that come and go. Change the script, and create the life you want to live. The power is within you and anything is possible.