One of my favorite teachers is the peaceful, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh, a man who has devoted his life to promoting truth and peace. He’s a wildly influential man, generous with timeless wisdom. His insights are profound, yet seemingly simple, and delivered with a reliable accessibility to both spiritual seekers and those simply looking to enrich their lives.
At the core of his teachings, he explores the relationship between sacred and profane experience. In his book,The Miracle of Mindfulness, he shares, “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
He reminds us that there is an underlying element of benevolence, what some might call sacredness, woven seamlessly into the rich tapestry of our everyday lived experience. The secret to happiness, according to Hạnh, is shifting our individual perception so we’re able to connect with this beauty, which is naturally infused in our day-to-day, mundane activities. It is there for our taking, a meeting with nature’s gifts, offered freely, when the mind is able to find stillness. If we dive deep, rather than skimming the surface of understanding, we will eventually see that the sacred and mundane are not complimentary pairs, but rather, they one and the same.
In Tantra yoga, this revelation is called Madhu-vidya, or honey knowledge. It’s an awareness that everything—person, place, thing, and circumstance—is an expression of the “divine” or the “great mystery”, and is therefore, miraculous. By embracing the ebb-and-flow of life and the full spectrum of our humanness, we open a portal into divine connection and receive the gift of life’s “sweetness”. It’s a vital step on the path to reclaiming our sense of individual wholeness and the natural rhythm that underlies the entirety of existence. It is a way of tapping into life’s bounty and profundity, while maneuvering through the joys and pains of an ordinary life.
It is a state of mind, rather than a change in circumstance. It is our ability to move with life as it moves--to dance elegantly, in perfect time . It’s an aligning with nature’s perfection and the revealing of our own true essence, as part of the larger picture. It only exists in the present moment and is the very heart of yoga.
I call this living flow.
There are many paths towards cultivating this awareness. Hatha Yoga and meditation are the contemplative practices that have guided me towards an embodied relationship with this flow, and happened effortlessly as I forged a solid relationship with my own mind-body's inner wisdom. With practice, I believe, these techniques have the capacity to serve as a reliable source of inner guidance for anyone on the path to optimal well-being. Eventually these create fluidity, strength, balance, and space in the mind-body; they open clients to the truest sense of interconnectedness with an all-encompassing web of life.
By guiding my students towards a life of flow--self-observation, presence, intention and mindfulness--I hold the door open for them to discover what I believe matters most in life: A sense of their own genuine human fulfillment. My aspiration is to encourage a natural shift in the quality of their everyday experience, like my yoga practice has so graciously done for me. I want to see them tap into that great, interior reservoir of stillness, and watch the way it fundamentally changes the lens through which they view life. For their mental chaos to become clarity. For reactions to turn into thoughtful responses. For an essential underlying harmony to bubble to the surface of usual perception. And, yes, for the mundane to start showing splashes of something colorful and sacred. Because really, is there anything else?