How to live in the world

Do you sometimes feel that your inner and outer worlds collide and spontaneously reject each other like water and oil? You walk out of a mediation session or a yoga class to be greeted by too much information, noise, speed. And it seems all too overwhelming. But wait a minute! Shouldn’t yoga and meditation prepare you for the world rather than set you against it?

If you want an answer to this question, you have to be willing to confront your discomforts and habits, to fight like a warrior and let go like a pigeon. Yoga and meditation will teach you to reach your inner self, and you will have to teach yourself to remain connected to your inner self within the outer world. That’s yoga practice off the mat for you, on a silver platter.

According to Swami Rama, the “secret to living in the external world” is adjustment and contentment. Two principles to light the way, and pepper it with fun and discovery. OK, it’s not like a walk in the amusement park, but it can be a captivating adventure nonetheless. If you’re like me, you will go through lots of detours and relapses before you really meet yourself on the other side.

Rod Stryker defines contentment as “the result of abiding in the truth of who you are. It is the gift that unfolds as you glimpse that part of you that is free from suffering and disease at every level, the part of you that is limitless.” How can you access contentment? Rod Stryker tells us that the ancient traditions prescribed “meditation, self-reflection, and contemplation.” Like for many other things in yoga and meditation, it seems that the very cause of your question will, to some extent, guide you to your answer.

Adjustment is the other side of the coin, and it’s just as important. In order to live happily in the external world, you have to make adjustments, whether they are internal (attitude, expectations, beliefs, etc.) or external (“material changes in the way you act or in your circumstances.”) You cannot expect to become happier, healthier, more content, or whatever else, if you are not committed to making adjustments in your life. Most of these changes happen naturally as your practice unfolds, but some adjustments require that you set an intention and invest time and effort.

Go ahead and be your own inspiration! Finding balance is at the core of yoga practice, both on and off the mat, and cultivating contentment and adjustment will support you all the way. You will love the world so much more, and the world will love you back.

* All quotes are pulled from The Four Desires by Rod Stryker.