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'Purnata' (Fullness)

By Lois Nesbitt, September 2009

As summer winds down, I catch myself clinging to the last and best of this delightful season, lingering a little longer on the beach, squeezing in more time with more friends, staying up later and getting up earlier to eek out whatever I can of the remaining days.

As good as this sounds, my experience is sometimes spoiled by my greediness to do and feel as much as I can in limited time. I’m clinging to pleasures, actively hunting them down, rather than allowing life to unfold.  Making choices about what to do when, I’m plagued by the thought of missing out on the really good stuff that might be happening somewhere else.

I know by now that when I operate from this fear, it’s because I don’t feel complete in myself. I feel like something’s missing, and I go after it in the forms of Nature, other people, work, and “recreation.” Love is probably the greatest lure: even Plato thought we were each half of a sphere, wandering through life looking for the perfect other half to complete us—and hence leading many of us on a wild goose chase that I personally have not yet abandoned!

So, I try to fill myself up.  Thing is, that “God sized hole” inside can’t be filled by anything outside. And if you look to the yoga scriptures for answers, they’ll tell you there is no hole in the first place! You are already whole, perfect, complete, purna. There’s nothing to complete. You’re done!

So why don’t we feel this, or at least not all of the time? That remains a mystery, and, as Wittgenstein said, that which we cannot understand, we had best pass over in silence.  Yoga has never been so concerned with the why. Deeply practical, yoga tells us how to cope with what is. When we don’t feel whole, we can return to the mat, begin breathing and moving, and start the internal shift. Try simple actions like taking a really full, deep breath, expanding the rib cage in all directions like a balloon filling with air, what we call in Anusara “Inner Body Bright.”  Hug skin to muscle, muscle to bone, feeling the contours of your form connect to your core.  Drawing limbs into sockets, connect the parts of your body in a meaningful whole.  Return again and again to your breath. Steep yourself in the fullness of the present moment. Look down at your feet and remember where you are at this moment. Take in all of the sounds, sights, smells and tastes around you, really take them into your heart. Come home.

There’s nothing wrong with savoring all that life has to offer. But the kind of contagious, anxiety-ridden pleasure scramble that has the best of us Hamptons summer people driving too fast, tying up cell phone signals with neurotic chatter, getting impatient with waiters, cashiers, other customers, family members and anyone else who’s in our way signals a fruitless, doomed attempt to capture more of everything, when that everything is already inside us. Glance up at the full moon this month, and remind yourself, you too are a perfect whole.

KamaDeva Yoga, 15 Lumber Lane, 2nd Fl, East Hampton, NY 11937 Tel: 917.301.6919 Monthly Inspiration Archives