Unity: a State of Wholeness
written by Andrea DiBlasi
Unity is the state of being one; oneness; a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one. The word yoga comes from the root ‘yuj’ which means ‘to yoke’ or union. Consider Inner Union as one theme of unity; as represented by the body, mind, and spirit. In its essence, each component is equally vital but unequivocally designed to operate in harmonious union with the other. One may exist but be unable to truly live optimally when fragmented. There is no opportunity to thrive without alignment of the whole.
“Healing and a feeling of personal wholeness only occur when the mind, body, and spirit are in balance.” —Dr. Wayne Jonas
How do we attain this balance? For many of us, this union takes place through our yoga practice. We have integration beautifully demonstrated when we connect the mind, body, and breath through asana. Our breath serves as a bridge that links the mind to the body. Asana is only one form of practice that can assist us in achieving a state of union within. Integration can happen through many other mind-body practices such as tai chi, running, meditation, journaling and the like. Full integration is the bi-product when we bring our intention, commitment to action and conscious love and attention to the whole.
Although we are created to operate from a place of wholeness, disconnect often seems to find its way in. In yogic teaching, this division or separation is known as Ayoga. Ayoga is the space where disease and suffering can begin to infiltrate our lives. Separation begins to manifest itself through various forms. Let’s take our diet for example. Our diet is everything that we consume. This is not only the food we eat. Our diet is what we watch, what we listen to, what we read, the people we surround ourselves with, the thoughts we cultivate and repeat.
Everything we consume has the ability to bring us into yoga or to create separation. The disconnect is signaled to us through symptoms. These symptoms are physical manifestations of separation which indicate to us that something is out of balance. For example, the mind may be overly critical and flooded with thoughts, which creates heaviness or lethargy in the body. Or the spirit may be clouded and therefore we are unable to readily access clarity or our intuition. Too much strain or separation jolts the nervous system and we find ourselves sick or suffering.
Although suffering of any sort is extremely uncomfortable, it can be a powerful catalyst for change. Suffering provides us with real time feedback that warns us of this disconnect. We are informed to place greater attention on our lives, choices and behaviors. We are presented with the rich opportunity to discover and discard what is needed to find our way back to center, the whole. Yes, we get in our own way yet, as intuitive beings, we can heed the warning and appreciate the reminder of the unified power and purpose within. Intuitively, we know how to access this space of harmony and balance because this state of union is our true essence.
I reflect on my experiences with separation and then remembering, again, again, and again. As a yoga practitioner & new yoga teacher, I’ve been given the invaluable opportunity to examine, explore, and experience life and purpose in more meaningful ways. There’s been immense insight brought into the spaces where I create such separation, within and without. Awareness is cultivated through the continuous confrontations with the whirling of the mind. Through contemplation in these uncomfortable spaces, the truth of light shines on where and how I perpetuate this disconnect. Often this lies in the center of the mind. It holds great power and has the ability to unify or separate depending on the thoughts I choose to feed. I am accountable for inner unity.
As I embarked on the teaching journey, I found myself consumed in thought and riddled with perfectionism and over-thinking. Fear-based thoughts created physical anxiety, sickness in my body. The inner disconnect prevented me from uniting with my true self, others, and students. Richard Rohr states, “the ego is that part of the self that wants to be significant, central, and important by itself, apart from anybody else. It wants to be both separate and superior. It is defended and self-protective by its very nature.” I fell into the egoic traps again and again. Each week, students came and there was this inability to be fully present, to share the experience together. The sacredness of the practice was shattered by incessant thoughts of self. Without inner unity, there can be no other unity.
The work starts and continues from within. I must be reminded, again, and again. Internal disconnect continued until quarantine was upon us and teaching went virtual. With this transition, I made the best decision I could have made for myself and students. I made the decision to put teaching on hold, placing complete focus on filling my mind, body, and spirit with teachings, training and yoga practice. Connection with teachers and students in commUnity was the remedy. Reintegration began to take effect and shifts began to happen on a very visceral, emotional and spiritual level. The practices placed me in alignment, first within and then slowly without. There’s still so much work to do. I’m learning that union, yoga, isn’t a static state of being. It’s not achieved and then the work stops. It’s only through consistent practice and self- discipline are we able to access this state of consciousness; of wholeness. Connection within and with others became possible through a shared experience and collective purpose.
“Unity is when we come together with other individuals or groups to form something greater than any of us. For many people, the heart of spirituality is a sense of being part of something larger than ourselves, a unity or oneness with our fellow humans and with the vast and intricate reality in which we have our existence. Unity is often built around a common purpose – a harmony of interests or values that create a shared identity. When people are united by shared values and goals, they can move together, synchronizing their efforts to attain things that none could attain alone. Unity is inclusive. It frees us from the divisiveness of prejudice. We see our commonality without devaluing our differences. A sense of unity can transcend our fear of each other. In unity, the joy of one is the joy of all, and the hurt of one is the hurt of all; the honour of one is the honour of all.” —Wisdom Commons
We may consider Spiritual Union as another theme of yoga, of unity. There is no I and them; there is only One, thus leading to union with the Divine. The unique journey is our path to remembering this sacred thread which binds us all; the deep inner knowing that we are a collective, unified whole; we one with each other, mother nature and the Divine. “If you are me and I am you, what is the separation between us? We are the light of God, we are God’s mirror. So why do we struggle with ourselves and each other? Why does one light escape from another? Come, release yourself from this ego, live in harmony with everyone. If you are by yourself, you are only one drop. Whereas when you bond and unite with everyone, you are an ocean. There are many languages and one meaning. Water in different cups becomes one when the cups are broken and the water runs as one.” —Rumi
Through life experiences, I’ve learned that every path of healing has been a result of unification, in one form or another. Other beings and myself, coming together through a shared experience and a common goal. Whether a therapy group, 12 step meeting, yoga class, church or temple. This healing process, in action, was solely cultivated through commUnity. Unity harnesses a collective strength through the process of uncovering, discovering and internalizing that we are not alone; Our collective experience allows us to go beyond the illusion of self and tap into the Divine realm of interconnection, of wholeness, of yoga. The whole is forever greater than the sum of its parts. Only through unity can the pervasive and destructive natures of separation become visible. Once identified, we are given a gift. We are provided with the opportunity to chisel away at the sources that polarize and divide. Just as a sculptor, we carve away at the marble of separation and set our souls free.
It is important to acknowledge that the process of finding oneness doesn’t overlook or diminish our unique experiences. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Showing up as our authentic selves and honoring our unique experiences actually strengthens the whole. Sebene Selassie states in her book You Belong as a suggestion: “Although we are not one, we are not separate. Although we are not separate, we are not the same.”
The month of June honors our theme of unity, as it is during this time of the summer solstice. The creative intelligence of our Divine Mother demonstrates unity as the sun shines equally on everyone. How might we embody union as beautifully as the sun and apply this theme to our everyday lives? We can accept the invitation to note the subtle similarities, find the “we” as we cross paths with so many beings every day. We can ask ourselves, how are we the same, rather than look for how we are different? As we practice conscious awareness and go about our day-to-day lives, we can remember our wholeness. We can remember the harmony, perfection and connection within everything around us. If we can bring this awareness into our lives even if only for a few moments each day, we may be wildly enamored by seeing just how truly connected we are.
“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” —Hafiz
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization—Mahatma Gandhi
Only humility will lead us to unity, and unity will lead to peace—Mother Teresa
Unity is diversity embraced, protected, and maintained by an infinitely generous love. It takes grace and love and the Spirit to achieve unity. —-Richard Rohr
Yoga Sutra 1.1 Atha yoga anusasanam: “Now, the state of union/wholeness unfolds.” Existence is happening in every moment. Yoga means union, oneness, a complete wholeness and right now, in this moment, it is unfolding—-LivePrem Yoga Sutra Studies
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran
Promote inclusivity and unity by offering modifications and use of props
Balancing postures to honor both sides joining to one
Standing poses to represent the strength within our center
Invitation to embrace a pose or two that you may not usually teach to represent diversity
Use of breathing practice & meditation with asana to integrate all parts of self (body, mind, spirit)
Lokah Samastha: Lokah Samastha sukhino bhavanthu
May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light.
May all beings everywhere be happy and free. In some way, may I contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.
Yoga Teacher Student Prayer: Saha Na Vavatu, Saha Nau Bhunaktu, Saha, Viryam Karavavahai, Tejasvi Navadhi Tamastu, Ma Vidvishavahai,
May we be protected together.
May we be nourished together.
May we create strength among one another.
May our study be filled with brilliance and light.
May there be no hostility between us.
Gayatri Mantra: Om bhur bhuvah svaha, Tat savitur varenyam, Bargo devasya dhimahi, Dhiyo yona prachodayat
I reflect on the unity of Divine Spirit, which pervades everything in the earth, the atmosphere and heavens.
May this Supreme Consciousness protect me and illuminate my intellect that I may realize my inherent oneness with That.
I meditate on the great luminous light that enlightens all three worlds.
May it enlighten all.
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam: Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate Puurnnashya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam Eva-Avashissyate
Aum! That is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe),
It remains as the infinite alone.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!
What remains is whole