01 Nov Put a Little Love in Your Heart (?)
Accidental Monday morning soundtrack
This morning I woke up, as I usually do on Mondays, wondering what I was going to write for my newsletter today. I wound up with a song in my head. You know the one that goes “put a little love in your heart”? Something like:
Think of your fellow man
Give him a helping hand
Put a little love in your he-ar-art
I now can’t get this song out of my head.
Love, hearts, and yoga?
Since I was still trying to focus on the newsletter, now with a soundtrack, a thought built out in my mind. Isn’t love already in our hearts? Do we have to put it there? What does that mean? And does this have anything to do with yoga?
As you know if you’re a regular reader, the specific Yoga I’m studying right now is that which is expounded upon in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This text doesn’t talk much about love (if at all). Or hearts. But something did come to my mind. The Sutras talk about how to do yoga, and they tell us that yoga is done with practice and non-attachment, abhyasa and vairagya (Sutra I.12).
Cleaning the mirror
What is the practice of yoga? Generally speaking, it’s the tools we use to remove the obstacles to liberation (from suffering).
A common metaphor you’ll run into studying yoga is that of cleaning a dirty mirror. When covered in mud and gunk, the mirror can reflect no light, nothing. In order to see your reflection clearly, you have to clean the layers of dirt off the mirror. This mirror is hundreds, thousands of years old. First you might need a chisel and a gentle touch, knocking off caked on muck. Then rags and water and more rags and more water as you wipe down through the layers obscuring your reflection.
The more dirt you remove from the mirror the more light you see reflected. You begin to see the mirror image of you without so many smudges. Is that dirt on my cheek or is it on the looking glass itself? Wipe wipe wipe…it’s on the looking glass, my cheek is clean.
Removing the obstacles is like cleaning the mirror so you can see yourself reflected clearly. The practice of yoga includes the tools we use to clean the mirror. Liberation is the step beyond seeing your reflection clearly.
Letting it go
Where does vairagya, non-attachment, come in?
To take liberty with the metaphor, let’s think back to the dirt you’re not sure was on your cheek or on the looking glass. In a state of attachment, you might be really concerned about this. Is it on my cheek?
Worry spiral commence: If it’s on my cheek I need to get it off. I really don’t want all these other people to see me with dirt on my cheek, it’s embarrassing and they’ll judge me. They’ll think I’m dirty. I probably always have dirt on my cheek and they probably don’t like me because of how dirty I am. Actually, I’m a bad person because I show up with dirt on my cheek. Et cetera.
In a state of non-attachment, you still notice the dirt. You still wonder whether it’s on your cheek or on the mirror. You let it go. If the thought continues to harass you, you let it go again. And again. And again.
Coupled with abhyasa, practice, you just continue to clean the mirror, not attached to any particular outcome. You continue to wipe, layer after layer. Practice and non-attachment. Yoga is done with practice and non-attachment.
What to do about it?
So about this freaking song in my head. Put a little love in your heart. Maybe, as I strongly suspect, the love is already there. Maybe my job is to clear the layers that obscure the love, so that it can shine forth and reflect back to me the reality of it all. And the world will be a better place…
And the world
Will be a better place
Put a little love in your he-ar-art.
Put a little love in your he-ar-art.
“Put a Little Love in Your Heart” song originally performed by Jackie DeShannon
and composed by herself, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday