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Yogic Lifestyle: Engaging Properly with the World

by Michael Ketterhagen

Living skillfully in today’s world is often a demanding challenge. The advertising community incessantly reaches out to us, asking us to buy this or that product. The political divisions create anxiety, especially if the vote doesn’t go our way. Or even when it might go the way we had hoped, there is the concern about what it might mean to our daily life or how others might feel about it.


Then, there are the economic pressures that force us to decide how we will allocate our money…should we cut back on food? Should we use the credit card more? Should I drive less? How do we budget our funds in this inflationary environment?


Then, too, there are the global concerns, like the war in Ukraine, the floods in coastal Asian countries, climate change and the refugees and immigrants from Central and South America. All of these events of today’s world can raise fear and unhappiness in our lives.


What does yoga say is the “yukta” for engaging with the world, in light of all these events? What attitude, understandings and choices that “help us reconnect to our inner self”?


The saying in the spiritual world of the mystical traditions is “in the world but not of it.” It is a gradual process to let go of things that trigger our worry and fear. This practice (abhyasa) of non-attachment (vairagya) must be a slow, step-by-step movement. We need to start out slowly, releasing ourselves from the little things first, before we are able to be fully involved with all this potentially disturbing life around us.


A first step might be to turn off the television or the electronic device 30 minutes before we go to bed at night, or saying hello to one new person in the neighborhood, or praying for one person whom we dislike. Or maybe it could be realizing one gift that we have and then thanking God/the Source of Life for that gift. Once we know we are good in one part of our life, it will begin to spread confidence to the rest increasing our ability to deal with all the “fear-producing” events of the world.


But, of course, the most important thing to do would be to thank the Source of Life for our life, for our breath, for our ability to think or even to talk kindly to another. After all, everything that happens to us, all the good that is given to us, is God’s will. It is in accordance with Divine Providence that life is happening to us in the way it happens.


Wonderfully enough, all life, even those terribly disturbing events, are a product of Divine Providence. We are always in God’s loving, compassionate embrace.


I pray to the divinity in you!

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