In the beginning, i fell into yoga for the purpose of exercise. I had no intentions beyond that purpose. During the first year or so, i would practice several times a week, ending the practice with relaxation pose and never going beyond to meditation. I really had no clue what meditation was at the time. Yoga brought a lot of questions to mind along the way. I used to ask myself why i constantly talked to myself, I questioned why i could not control my thoughts or emotions, and I felt so much empathy for others i would worry a lot. I wanted to fix myself and save the world.
After practicing yoga for about four years, i finally decided to see a Yoga Therapist. My therapist would guide me through breathing, meditation, and postures. During the process, i would bring up questions and concerns that came to mind. She would adjust my postures from time to time. In doing this, by the end of every practice, i could answer all of the questions i had in the beginning. All of the answers were inside of me. I just had to quiet my mind and body long enough to hear them.
During my time in therapy, i also started reading a lot of books. "Untethered Soul" by Michael A. Singer was the book that really awakened me to my life's purpose. By reading the book, i found i was identified with my mind and compulsive thinking. I had only a little glimpse of my "true self". My mind created a screen of concepts, labels, images, words, and especially judgements. I couldn't be in the present because i was too caught up in my past childhood experiences. I was still a victim of a lot of circumstances.
I realized i had to do something to separate me from my "false-self". I had to really practice yoga fully. From the breathing and asanas (postures) to spending much time in meditation, i began to discipline my mind not to think continuously. I was able to become the "watcher of my thoughts" by detachment. No longer identified, i finally awakened to a freedom that now i will never let go of. The voices are still in my head, but i know they are not my true self. I can watch my thoughts without judgement and let them go. It is not as easy as it sounds. It is a practice. That is why yoga is a lifestyle.
Practicing yoga and meditation regularly, you learn to silence the mind. You gain so much in return such as focus, balance, strength, stamina. Your mind, body, and spirit become aligned with the universe.
Eckhart Tolle explains it well. "When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream - a gap of "no-mind". At first, the gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness with Being, which is usually obscured by the mind. With practice, the sense of stillness and peace will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being."
If you want to really get to know your "true-self", take time to yourself to quiet your mind. Not only will you know yourself on a deeper level, you will learn the nature of compassion. "Having gone beyond the mind-made opposites, you become like a deep lake. The outer situation of your life and whatever happens there is the surface of the lake. Sometimes calm, sometimes windy and rough, according to the cycles of seasons. Deep down, however, the lake is always undisturbed. You are the whole lake, not just the surface, and you are in touch with your own depth, which remains absolutely still. You don't resist change by mentally clinging to any situation. Your inner peace does not depend on it. You abide in Being - unchanging, timeless, deathless - and you are no longer dependent for fulfillment or happiness on the outer world of constantly fluctuating forms. You can enjoy them, play with them, create new forms, appreciate the beauty of it all. But there will be no need to attach yourself to any of it." Eckhart Tolle,"Power of Now".