Excellence Reporter: Dr. Lasater, what is the meaning of life?
Judith Hanson Lasater: Life is the process whereby the Universe makes itself manifest to us, and for us, in myriad and amazing ways.
The greater meaning of existence is to find our own special relationship with this Universe, to learn to dance with life during each inhalation and exhalation. This is an individual journey.
What seems important to me, is to ask ourselves the personal form of this question of life and meaning.
What is the meaning of life for ME?
How we answer this question will shape our lives in powerful ways because the answer guides our values, our choices, and our response to each moment. And thus our life is shaped and formed.
My “meaning of life” is connected to a practice that I do every day that both delights me and connects me to my deepest Self, as well as connecting me to life like no other practice I do.
I have practiced yoga – asana, pranayama, meditation, and self-study since my early 20”s. I have struggled, been ambitious, been curious, and have had my doubts at times about the efficacy of yoga.
But now when I get on my mat or meditation cushion every morning all this melts away, and I ask of myself this and only this: to practice until I feel the spontaneous upwelling of gratitude.
But here is the salient point: not gratitude for anything. Just enough yoga or meditation so that I experience the pure river of gratitude flowing over me, through me, soaking me to the core.
When this happens, I feel an opening in the region of my heart. Then I immediately find that I forgive myself. I instantly forgive any real or imagined slights or wrongs from others. And for a few minutes at least, I am free and open and present.
This practice fills me with an understanding of life’s meaning, life’s purpose for me: it is simply to live in this space of gratitude. Because when I live in this space I am not afraid, I am not angry, I am not greedy, I cannot harm, and I am connected to Self, to others, and to the entirety of the whole of life.
And I experience a deep delicious joy.
A poem I wrote has a line about this level of joy:
“Joy lives in your own drunken electrons, billions of them, spinning and dancing without end in their own intimate Universe, longing for You.”
Ultimately, the meaning of life is the meaning we give to our life.
May we live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water.
~Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D. in East-West Psychology and Physical Therapist has taught yoga around the world since 1971. She is a founder of the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, CA, as well as of Yoga Journal magazine. Ms. Lasater trains yoga teachers in virtually every state of the union and is often an invited guest at international yoga conventions. She is president emeritus of the California Yoga Teachers’ Association as well as the author of numerous articles on yoga and health for nationally recognized magazines. She served as an advisor on three National Institute of Health studies on the health effects of yoga practice. She was selected by Natural Health magazine, on the occasion of their 40th anniversary, as one of the five people in the USA who has had the most influence on natural health in America during those 40 years. In September, 2014, she was interviewed on the nationally broadcast NPR (National Public Radio) very popular radio show “All Things Considered” about the passing of yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, world famous yoga teacher. In its 40th anniversary edition in 2015, Yoga Journal magazine named Ms. Lasater as the most influential yoga teacher in the USA during those years.
She is the author of nine books: Restore and Rebalance, What We Say Matters, Yogabody: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana, Living your Yoga, A Year of Living Your Yoga, Yoga Abs, Yoga for Pregnancy, 30 Essential Yoga Pose, and Relax and Renew.
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