For 2022's first theme of the month, I was invited to talk to you about 'Unity'. This has been a very important topic within our organisation over the past year. But before I go into this, I would like to start with a personal story about what Unity means to me.
In April 2010, I was 30 years old. In a way I had a great life: a busy corporate job with more money than I could spend and an agenda that was always filled with dinners, parties, and other social activities. But despite all the ‘success’, I was experiencing a nagging, unhappy feeling inside. A feeling that surfaced every time I allowed myself to get quiet. At a certain point, this feeling got so strong that I decided to take action. A friend had recommended I try a 10-day Vipassana retreat. So that’s what I did.
And without really knowing what I had gotten myself into, I started my retreat. I spent ten hours a day for ten days in a row on a meditation cushion… On the first day, I found the whole experience quite interesting. I was full of expectations of all the insights I would gain. The second day, however, it started to get less exciting. I just had to sit there on a meditation cushion doing breathing exercises for ten hours a day. There weren’t any interesting insights at all, I was just very bored. On the third day, my boredom turned into a severe restlessness. I couldn’t sit still and my brain, which was used to being busy all the time, didn't know how to deal with the situation. My thoughts were racing in all directions. I felt claustrophobic and trapped in my body. I wanted action, I wanted to do things, I wanted to get away! Then I suddenly started to cry. All of the feelings that my busy brain had tried so hard to avoid surfaced at once. The crying lasted for three hours - and then it stopped.
When I sat down on my pillow the next day, something had changed. Finally, my brain had come to rest, and I was ready to meditate. As the retreat progressed I slowly learned to be with my ‘self’ in a different way. I could experience my worries, my fears, and my sadness, without being them. The more I could ‘be with what is’, the more quiet I became. And in that silence, I experienced something amazing. I found a source of happiness, joy, and wisdom inside myself. I was completely without opinions or judgement. I was just there, connected to myself and everything around me. This - for me - was the experience of Unity. The nagging, unhappy feeling never returned.
I believe that the connection to your inner source of Unity is the biggest gift you can give to yourself and others. But we all know that sometimes you lose this connection. When circumstances get difficult, the Mind has all sorts of tricks to take control. We start planning, judging, and solving. And when the voice of the Mind gets louder, our connection to Unity becomes more quiet.
Unity at Delight
All of us at Delight Yoga also experienced this multiple times during the past Corona-filled year. One of the clearest examples was when the QR codes became mandatory in our studios. I saw how our community was instantly divided into two ‘camps’. Most of our teachers and office staff were suddenly on different sides of the discussion. What was the most Yogic thing to do? Should we obey the QR code or should we refuse it?
After a profound gathering with teachers, studio coordinators, and office staff, we decided that keeping our studios open was our main priority. That meant we had to obey the government’s rules and start scanning QR codes. We also decided that yoga is bigger than the physical walls of our studios, which is why we created alternative spaces where we could keep connecting to all students, like our Meditation Walks and online Conscious Conversations. But were these practical solutions really the most yogic thing to do? Or was this a solution of the Mind?
It wasn’t until after the meeting that I realised that the real solution wasn’t in deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the QR code. It was in something else that had happened. We started that meeting as a really divided group with very different opinions, and we ended it on a note of understanding and connection. What happened? The answer is actually quite simple - we listened to each other without judgement. And even though the opinions were still different, we were able to reconnect on a deeper level and to ‘be with what is’. I realised that this was the most yogic thing to do in this situation - to stay connected in Unity.
This is just one example of how the past year has been transformational for us as an organisation. We are no longer just teaching yoga, we are learning to be it. So we can answer to all that is happening around us from the wisdom of Unity. And I’m sure this will reflect in our classes, workshops, and courses in the upcoming year.
I would like to invite you to join us in this space. Now more than ever, it is important to stay connected to ourselves, to each other, and to our environment. So we can take human consciousness to the next level and bring Unity back into our daily lives.