The Yogilates classes are based on two aims. First, we work the body, strengthening it, making it more flexible and, most importantly, healthier, using what I call a ‘contained work-out’: we sweat, challenge ourselves and find our limits all within a beautiful, quiet, protected environment that allows us to remain connected to ourselves. This connection is what allows the second aim to unfold.
The second aim of the classes is to help us find happiness and well-being by understanding our connection to life.
The essence of most of our suffering resides in the wrong believe that life — everything outside of our skin — is separated from me, and so, something to be afraid of, or to be desire. The truth is that ‘I’ and ‘life’ are a whole that seems to be separated, but that is not; not different from the apparent movement of the sun while observing a sunrise or a sunset…it really seems to move, but we know that it is not what it seems.
In order to study and understand this unity, I have, as a way of saying, taken 10 different pictures from different perspectives. Each one of these pictures or ‘chapters’ is connected to the other 9 in infinite ways, and so by understanding anyone of them we also understand the whole.
The Yogilates classes are always connected with one or more of these chapters.
It is in the understanding of this unity—in this connection to life, to the whole—that any real sense of satisfaction, contentment and well-being can ever be achieved.
1) Life is only now
We honestly believe that the past and the future are real, but they do not actually exist, apart from practicalities.
Where is my past? Of course it is very useful to know what happened yesterday, but where is it? It is in my head, right now.
Where is my future? Certainly to plan for tomorrow may be necessary, but where is this plan? It is appearing right now.
Life only happens now.
Living either in the past or in the future is living in a virtual, unreal world. This separation from the now—from reality, from life—is the main source of our suffering.
2) The world is created inside my head
There are two worlds: the physical world and the psychological world. We share the first one with every human being — a tree is a tree for every person in the world. But when we begin to say that the tree is nice or useful or too big or too short or whatever, this belongs to the psychological world, a world that exists only in our heads.
Consider these two cases:
a) She is late – b) She does not care for me
a) I hit my finger with a hummer and it is quite painful – b) I’m so stupid for hitting myself!
In both cases, a) is the fact and b) is the story I create in my head.
The fact is real life. The story is my own creation. Each story creates a world, independent of the fact and this world is born out of our interpretation of what happens. If this interpretation creates a happy or an unhappy world depends entirely on the way I interpret the event, not on the event.
3) Life is what is, independent of my likes and dislikes
We all have likes and dislikes. Most people prefer a sunny, warm, spring day to a cold, cloudy, rainy winter day. This is fine. The problem starts when for example we don’t want to be where we are but instead want to be where we are not. Our likes and dislikes take a life of their own behaving like little kids talking—actually screaming—in our head: ‘I like!/I don’t like!’; ‘I want!/I don’t want!’…and they run our life. We need to recognize that at each moment, besides my likes and dislikes, there is life, that which IS, the ‘issness’ of life, the fact of life: ‘It is cold’, ‘it is hot’, ‘I’m lost’, ‘I’m here’. Because of our tendency to see only from the perspective of our likes and dislikes and to disregard what IS, we experience our personal life as separated from Life. This separation is the root of unhappiness.
4) Understanding Dharma, the right action
For every moment, there exists a right action, one of the meanings of what in Yoga is called Dharma.
To do the right action–to be able to see what is needed in any given moment, to be able to see the needs of the whole–I need to see myself as no more, and no less, than what appears in that moment.
If I see myself as more, I will act selfishly, believing myself to be more important than the rest. This is a very common way to live which accounts, at the individual level, for much of our suffering and, at the level of society, as one of the main reasons for the destruction of the planet. If I see myself as less, it may lead to what is call self-sacrifice, an emotion that is often admired but that in reality is no more than another way to be blind to the whole.
The ability to see the whole, the totality, grows with maturity and wisdom, qualities that are independent of age but directly related to self-knowledge.
5) There is no evil, only ignorance
As Christ said, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do’. Nobody does anything out of evil, but only because they believe that what they do is correct. This belief can be completely and absolutely mistaken, but our life is not made up of truth, but of beliefs. In reality, there is only one principle operating in life, and this is love. Everything we do, rightly or wrongly, comes out of love.
6) I’m responsible for my actions, but not for the results of my actions
Most of our daily stress, fear, doubt, uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety comes from the belief that we are responsible for what happens to us. But we are only responsible for our actions: to do the right thing at the right moment. The result of those actions, the results of what we do, is not really on our shoulders. The results of our actions are given by life, by the sum up of all the components (knowable and unknowable) coming together at any particular moment.
The deep understanding of this truth is what allows a quiet mind. And it is only from a place of quietness and silence, that the depths of life can be access.
7) Everything is a gift
Everything I have has been given to me. Everything. If I’m the owner of a huge company created by my own hands, (or even the holder of a begging bowl), I need to see that whatever I have has been given to me by life. The intelligence that allowed me to build this company, or find the bowl, was given to me by life. The will that allows me to keep going against all opposition was given to me by life. The idea to create this particular company was given to me by life. The opportunity to do the right actions at the right time was given to me by life. The body that allows me to exist on this planet was given to me by life. Once I’m able to see that everything is a gift, instead of being a demanding person, I become a grateful being. Gratefulness is the essence of joy.
8) Real happiness is independent of externals
When we think about being happy, the kind of happiness that comes to our minds is often a fizzy, gleaming emotion. This kind of happiness may be here today but will very probably be gone tomorrow. You drink a couple of beers and feel happy. You get a raise at your job and feel happy. Somebody tells you that they love you and you feel happy. And then the next day the same person changes their mind and you get depressed…
But this is not what I mean by happiness. Happiness is Being. Happiness is a sense of contentment, a sense of satisfaction, the deep understanding (something that happens in our hearts rather than in our heads) that this moment, any moment—positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant—is exactly what needs to be.
9) We are responsible for only 10% of our body
Because we are able to lift our arms, or take a deep breath, or choose between running, walking or lying down, we believe that our body is under our control. This is only partially true. Who is beating our heart, who is circulating our blood, who is breathing when we are distracted, who is growing our hair, our bones, our cells, who is keeping the body alive? We need to learn to stop taking personally the 90% that is not under our control, and really take responsibility for the 10% that is.
10) We respond to the present through the unconscious
Our conscious life is only the tip of a HUGE iceberg. It is our conscious life that experiences the moment, but it is our ‘unconscious’ life the one that responds.
What I call the ‘unconscious’ includes not only our past events (in particular the first 4 years of our life), but also the past events of the whole of humanity. Our unconscious is the unconscious of life!
When something happens to us, how do we respond? Our emotions, through the senses, perceive the moment and ask the intellect for an appropriate response. The intellect searches through its knowledge — the unconscious — finds one that most resembles the one appearing now, and sends the information back to the emotions which in turn emote the organs of action to respond. It is not me, the person, the one that responds, but the unconscious, the whole of life. These responses from the unconscious are not casual, but follow a law: the coming together of all of its infinite causes in this particular moment. These reasons may or may not be understood (most of the psychological, psychosomatic, emotional, mental, even spiritual work that people do is basically to understand the reasons of the unconscious). In either case, the deep understanding that our reactions belongs to life, and that they have a reason for being, helps us forgive our and other people’s responses to situations.
It is in this understanding—in this forgiveness—that we find peace.