“Then the seer abides in its essence.” Yoga Sutra 1:3
Rousseau opens his Second Discourse with an image of Glaucus’s statue, which time and the elements have covered over, disfigured, dirtied, and worn down. For Rousseau, the human soul is like Glaucus’ statue. Our souls have been so battered and cloaked through human errors and social passions that they are nearly unrecognizable. We have much work to do – much understanding to gain – if we hope to restore some of our own natural light.
Lasater’s first chapter begins a project much like Rousseau’s: it concerns the recuperation of human wholeness through the realization that we are, at heart, whole and beautiful, but we have become worn down by our failures, our successes, our thoughts, and the thoughts that others’ give to us. “The art of revealing beauty lies in removing what conceals it,” she urges, “So, too, Patanjali tells us that wholeness exists within us. Our work is to chisel away at everything that is not essence, not Self” (Living Your Yoga, 5).
Truthfully I love this notion of removing what is unnecessary to ourselves. It seems a bit like weeding through closets and drawers to finally let go of things that we’ve held onto but no longer require. But the reward is greater than mere cleaning – it promises to revive some sense of contentment in who we are. To reconcile with what steps we’ve undertaken (good and bad). To believe in and “rest in your own true nature” (ibid). And how hard is it, sometimes, to just be able to rest in our own nature?
The practice that Lasater urges for this week is actually one of resting; she terms it “Abiding Practice.” We take a comfortable yoga pose and we relax our body, mind, breath. There is no “objective except to fully experience your own life, free of the distraction caused by thoughts, plans, and even by moving around…Instead of trying to fill yourself up, this is your chance to feel empty, feel still, and feel present” (8).
Mantra: All the answers are within me.