top of page

Modern Mind, Spirit of Old

Who is a Yogi? What does that even mean? Where have the mystics gone?

In modern times when someone says ‘you’re a Yogi’, it is an inference that you go to Yoga (Asana) class, do Sun Salutations A & B, some postures and perhaps some pranayama.

But it could be so much more. And it needs to be so much more.

The plethora of problems we face as a current civilization is pretty overwhelming and most troublesome is that we seem to be becoming more and more divisive as a species.

However we’re not a lost cause. The remedy is to truly embody and imbue some of the original sentiments of what it was to be ‘Yogi’ in ancient times into our daily-lives.

#1 Looking Out the Window
The Balance of Inner and Outer

"Everyday I look at the world from my window" sang Ray Davies in the melancholically wonderful Waterloo Sunset sometime in the 60's. A sentiment we all know and recognise very deeply. Primordially. We all witness the world all around us from the perspective of a beholder, an observer.

However unlike Ray and all those before him for millennia, we now have a very alluring and absorbing filter which acts to draw each of us in, separately, to witness a different world from one another.

We still watch the world from our window - but now the window is mediated by our phone or device.

What this has achieved is quite simply this: we have forgotten that we are in the world. Living it and breathing it. By partitioning ourselves from it we have divorced ourselves from ourselves. Is it any wonder then why we feel 'lost'?

The Yogis were Shamans and the Shamans were Yogis. Different names, same embodiment. What they lived in was a world without windows. What they lived was a real-time, unobstructed, unlayered but a truly deep representation of reality. In contrast the modern human lives in a world that is never in real-time, is obstructed continually, contains too many layers and is a false representation of reality.

We’ve been told that by 'going out' we will somehow bring more in. 'Buy more...' and feel more fulfilled. 'Like more...' and feel more self-worthy. Yet, I can guarantee that every single person reading this knows deep in the heart that this does not ring true.

As we’ve been lured outwardly our inner landscape has become barren.

As we look at false representations of love on reality TV or photo-shoots for the media, we think it’s ‘somewhere else’ and we forget to come in and see the love that makes us, the love that surrounds us. Not conditional, fabricated love but true love that is quite literally the foundation of all manifest reality around us.

To be in our world is not to look through any abstract window. It’s to sip your coffee and be electrified at every flavour note. To watch the birds, read the invisible wind and note how you can simultaneously feel, see and hear that event as it unfolds right before you.

Notice the passersby and take a moment to reflect that they too, like you probably have a chaotic mind but a heart that just wants to hug their loved ones and sleep safely tonight.

Start to recognize that all the awe you seek won’t be found in listening to various noises and opinions online. It won’t even be found doing asanas and recording them for Instagram after. It’ll be found when you remember your yogic, shamanic soul. The same witness, the same consciousness that’s in you that was in them. Unbounded, free.

Go in… go in and everything outside will open and reveal more to you than any telescope, any psychologist and any screen could ever fathom.

#2 Disturb the Programs
Don't Overlayer Your Layers

In modern postural there is an axiom that is often thrown around stating that it’s 1% theory and 99% practice. This can be read and unpacked in many ways; however it doesn’t mean ‘go to a class everyday and get stronger, more flexible’. No. That is the Western burden.

Instead what this suggests is that in our Yoga we must relentlessly work in order to un-do a lifetime’s worth of conditioning. We must disturb the programmes that govern our thoughts, words and actions via our behaviours, habits and routines.

Yoga invites curiosity and innovation. Anything that falls outside of that could be said to be lethargic and dogmatic.

We practice not to progress, not to be ‘somewhere’ or ‘elsewhere’ from where we currently are. This is the grand error we make and this is the imposition we face from being in the 21st ego-centric century. There’s nowhere to go because nobody can tell you anymore about yourself or explain the vast mystery of your own sentience to you more than you. The curiosity component of Yoga practice invites us into sticky places, the places of our so-called selves that we never really want to pay attention to. If you’ve never felt sticky looking at your own ego construct then perhaps more practice is what you need.

We practice in order to delve deeply into ourselves like a fine tooth comb. Crossing the inner environment and reducing the hubris, the debris. Scattering the ashes of all the information that we’ve been overloaded with, burdened with. Told what to believe and to not believe. Told what to say and what not to say. Told to behave but never told to simply just be.

In this sense to be a Yogi means to empty yourself. To be an empty vessel. An empty vessel that allows new ideas to flow through. An empty vessel that doesn’t carry any remnants of the past. An empty vessel that is moulded contently in its form, not attempting to be anything other than what is.

Weightless. Light. Contained. Open. Present. Embodied.

These are the qualities that we invite into our practice so that we can at first, mimic them but then there-after carry-out them out to such an extent that these qualities imbue every aspect of our life, moment by moment, breath by breath.

This is why the Hatha Yoga Pradipika calls Yoga ‘the lamp’ or ‘the light’. We shine a light on the cloudiness of our judgement, our own pre-conditions and biases, and this light is the light of awareness.

Awareness is the key. If we can’t see clearly then we can't ever be free from that which is weighing us down.

#3 Principles
Where Did All the Love Go?

The fallibilities of religion are much too great and much too complex to detail here. Its decline is apparent as it has almost no application within any aspect our society now. But as one thing dissipates something else has to emerge. Or as one thing falls, something else must arise.

What has arisen in the wake of the fall of religion? Higher sensibilities toward materialism and rational thought.

So then, are we in a world where rational thought and an over-emphasis on accruing material worth directly translate into the creation of thriving communities and radiant souls?

Are we in a world where the 'hard-facts' spill over into a unifying desire for meaningful human connection to our fellow earthly inhabitants, truly our brothers and sisters?


Religion too, also did not achieve any of this either.

An egoic sense of importance arises when a human mind thinks that it can know the unknowable or see the unseeable. Once we have crossed the bridge from inquisitiveness to certainty there is no turning back.

See, both science and religion are guilty of not displaying humility.

For the Yogis, for the Mystics humility gently broke down the barriers of segregation. Humility provided a willingness, not 'to succeed' nor 'to know', but to remain earnest in our quest for truth.

And what is truth then? What is this life all about? Well it's to recognise that we cannot see the whole picture. Just as the mind cannot know the mind. Just as the jar exists in space but believes that the space within it is all there is.

This automatically displays the human spirit in all its glory. Spirit which knows of no barriers, no scaffolds that precariously hold up ideas or ideologies of truth as if they someday cannot be broken down. Spirit that remains vast and open, unchanging as it views the ever-changing phenomena around it. Spirit that feels everything as a continuation of it, visible and recognisable for the sake of exploring all the possible manifestations of creation with its endless possibilities and occurrences.

In the end it comes back to I don't know why and I'm never going to know why.

This letting go alleviates grasping which then alleviates suffering.

Humility is to love what silence is to music: we need one in order for the other to arise.

It is so much More. We are so much More.

To be a Yogi in 2022 we can practice asana for sure. There is nothing about that that I'm bashing. Yoga asana gives us great discipline to begin to swim steadily against a rapid stream. It gives us methods to keep our head above water. But it is so much more and we are so much more.

We must engage with reality as it is - not through any filters - cognitive, technological or otherwise.

We must open up, release and make room to allow our innate nature to resurface into the top layer of our everyday conscious experience.

We must remain humble and grateful knowing that there isn't anywhere else we need to be or to go to.

We must remember that we are the world - yes, we are in the world but we are the world too. Every mineral, material and constitute part of existence is inherently mapped out and detailed within every cell of our bodies.

There is no 'this' and 'that'. Removing this form of ignorance can deliver us to liberation.

We must remain curious then in this subjective experience so that complacency doesn't set in and we fall back in-to our self-limiting thoughts and behaviours.

Curiosity keeps us connected.

Ultimately we must harbour contentment to be within the sea of not knowing.

Because that's where all things are.

And the force that bonds all things,

that holds all things,

that unites all things is


164 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All