Understanding transforms your life and can change the world

The Samahita Blog

Understanding transforms your life and can change the world

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By Dr. Paul Dallaghan

You may walk into Samahita’s dining area, get a plate and start filling it up with salad on the buffet, yet feel pulled to lift your head. You spot a painting on the back wall in front of you. For now you admire its abstractness and leave it at that. After all, when the belly rumbles go put more than salad on that plate. Part of your new experience while at Samahita in this new era is a hybrid-buffet of delights to fill your plate with and fresh items to order directly from the kitchen. Yummilicious.

Food aside, hunger and tastebuds satisfied, your eye goes back to the painting. So you get up and walk over there and realize it needs a bit of study. It triggers a thought about yoga and what its place in one’s life might mean. Beyond that, it causes you to just think about how am I managing my “inner” world, the one where I go on private, solo roller coaster rides of hidden mental valleys and peaks, with rare plateaus?

And though one of the key indicators to a balanced life in this Translational Model of Yoga (for that is what this painting depicts at a base level) is “practice regularly,” a phrase oft-heard, less followed, your eye gets caught on another key, one that says “Develop Understanding.”

The meditative process requires engagement and reflection, fine tuning insight which results in heightened discernment. This one essential key to aiding balance in life now occupies your thoughts. What is understanding? How to develop it? Understand what?

So you decide to walk up the path and pass the main shala, Samahita’s centerpiece, and are struck by the quote message beautifully written, with added drawing, in chalk on the board outside the shala. The message you read says:

“Compassion is always born of Understanding. And Understanding is the result of Looking Deeply.” – associated with Zen but attributed to the beautiful Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hahn.

That one message leaves you standing there, motionless, for hours (ok maybe only seconds but hours would really do it).

Now it becomes clearer. As part of the going-internal process, which is the entire yoga process, which is the complete meditative process, which is a rich life, a balanced life, an inner peace being cultivated, eventually in a centered state, to Develop Understanding is essential. And why? Because, as TNH just told you, compassion is its direct output. And such understanding can only come from engaging and tuning within.

Compassion, easily overused and thrown into cliche statements, is really one of the highest human capacities. To be able to replace aggression with compassion not only transforms your life but changes the world. Understanding that is developed by looking in gives one insight into how people feel, suffer (ah this sounds like empathy) ……

…..but cultivates an added level of super power: enables you to step away from anger, hate, resentment, even emotional upset, because you understand how people behave, feel, (mis)think, and more. You cannot fill your life up with these unrewarding, but overly consumed, conditioned human responses anymore.

You now not only empathize but you have the power to step away from your own shortcomings, which result in anger and resentment, with fear lurking in the background, and instead have compassion – which involves not just feeling others but a capacity to help.

Because you don’t just understand, rather you have developed understanding. Which is insight. Which is true discernment, to see things how they really are.

Remember, this is your personal process. It does not condone others’ hurtful actions or undo any of that from the past. Rather it represents your clearer state of mind where compassion is never replaced by aggression, a characteristic of such inferior vibration that your emotional self may want to justify because “they did that to them or me …”

However, as understanding is developed, clarity prevails, compassion is a far greater response for your own psyche and the good of all beings on this planet. It arises from a strong character and leads to far greater change and improvements than aggression, anger, or resentment ever have or ever will. As noted, a positive action is included in compassion.
Change for the better is the outcome.

So in developing understanding we in a sense have to get over ourselves, our own limitations that trip us up and keep us thinking or behaving small.

Hmmmm. Was it seconds or hours? You decide to walk on up to reception and book a massage and a near infrared sauna session (which aids in understanding) and let all that rest for today.

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Paul Dallaghan’s expertise with breathwork, body and meditative practices comes from three sources: over 25 years of daily dedicated practice and teaching these techniques; immersion in the original culture through one-on-one direct training in practice and study of ancient texts; doctoral scientific research at a leading US university (Emory) on yoga and breath in terms of stress, health and aging. Paul occupies a unique space to impart genuine teaching and science on these practices, acknowledged by his teacher and lineage (Kuvalayananda) in India as a Teacher-of-teachers and a Master of Breath, identified to carry the tradition (Pranayama). This places him as the only master-level yoga and breath practitioner currently immersed in scientific academic research on breathwork, stress and health. His sincere and ongoing role is to teach, write and research to help put out experienced and authentic information on these areas in a world full of confusion and conflicting messages both off and online.

For more on his background see his bio.

Rachel Brice
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