Love is the substance of life. It is what drives our actions and provides meaning to them. But finding love and holding on to it is not easy. Why is this? Why do we find love so difficult when many philosophers, saints, and poets assure us that the universe itself is overflowing with love? The answer lies in one word: “ego”. Humans are ego-bearing creatures. And ego and love are polar opposites.
Love wants to embrace and unite, while ego wants to divide. Love wants to give, while ego wants to take. Love wants to forgive and forget, while ego wants to remember and retaliate. Love wants to dissolve boundaries, while ego wants to fiercely protect them.
A relationship between two egoless individuals is natural and is easily overflowing with love. While the relationship between two egos is fraught with difficulties. In this case love evaporates as each ego in the relationship tries to protect its turf. Every interaction when viewed through the lens of the ego is perceived as an attack on its turf. Every punch then has to be met with a counter-punch. When all our energy goes in doing battle and keeping score, there is no room for love.
Since Yoga is one of the best tools known to humans to counteract the ego it is natural to ask the question: Can Yoga help us find love? The answer is a resounding YES. But here are some things that you may want to consider:
1. Love is hard work
Yoga is no magic bullet. The ego does not magically disappear overnight when we start our journey into yoga. The ego slowly subsides and plays a less prominent role in our lives when we do yoga, but it is still there. This means we have to be constantly aware of our overreaction and loss of perspective in the face of ego-led reaction to events. It is hard work to keep the ego in check and not allow it to cause mischief and drama in our lives. Yoga raises the tide and takes our boat over many rocks, but there are yet other rocks that we have to be wary of. We have to do the hard work to navigate our boat through them and find our way towards the shore of eternal love and peace.
2. Yoga is no excuse to remain in bad relationships
Yoga not only reduces our ego it also provides us with inner strength and clarity. Once ego-driven drama in our life reduces we should be able to conclude if a relationship is beyond repair. The journey of finding love involves navigating out of and staying clear of toxic relationships. Yoga provides us the strength, energy, and clarity to do so. It opens the door for us, yet it is up to us to walk through it.
3. Past baggage is a big hurdle to love
The ego loves to hold on to past hurts. It paints a one-sided story of victim-hood that we love to play over and over again in our head. Everything that happens to us is viewed through the lens of these stories. How can love bloom in such an environment? When the ego reduces in size as we practice yoga, we must seize the moment to also let go of past baggage. This requires conscious effort and discipline. Luckily books and resources are available if we need help.
4. Yoga is more than postures
For many yoga is just practicing postures. Though this is a great starting point into yoga, it is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. Given the great difficulty involved in finding and keeping love, we must use all tools at our disposal. As we deepen our journey into yoga, the hold of ego weakens and love flows into our life in abundance. The words of the great poet-philosopher Tagore then rings true in our lives:
“We live in the world when we love it”