When we resist what is, we fight against the whole universe. For what is, right now, in this moment, is the result of the entire universe orchestrating all events and outcomes that lead to this moment. This moment is as it is because the entire universe has conspired to make it as it is. Do you really want to resist the entire universe? Which of us can win that fight?
The alternative to resistance is alignment. When we are in alignment, we experience the unfettered flow of divine grace in our lives. With grace comes joy, freedom and happiness. We live as we are meant to live - in peace and love.
We can use our understanding the five gifts to experience alignment in our lives. Based on the ancient wisdom of the maya koshas (living layers), the five gifts describe our design, the way the universe intends us to be. Our task is to understand the five gifts, and align with the design. When we do, grace, peace and joy come naturally into our lives.
Alignment and the Gift of the Physical Body
Much of what we do in our yoga asana practice is about aligning the structures of physical body. There is an elegant, beautiful design to the bones, musculature, fascia, as well as the cellular and molecular structures of the body. When the body is out of alignment, it tells us - we experience physical pain. Pleasure is the physical expression of joy, which we experience when we align within the gift of the physical body.
Alignment and the Gift of Life
A quick look at the physical body reveals one key truth: we are designed for movement. The gift of life is the source of movement. Prana, the life energy, flows around, within and through our bodies, animating the physical form. Life expresses itself within us as motion and emotion. It is the vital energy that stimulates all living processes.
We align with the gift of life through movement. Our yoga asana practice is key to healthy energy movement. (There are other practices, too: taiji chuan, qi gong, aikido, and other movement disciplines also are powerful practices.) When we align with the gift of life, we experience flow - unfettered, graceful movement. We move with the vital energy of the breath (in Sanskrit, the breath is also called prana), the blood flows freely in our arteries, and the living processes of the cells move with ease. Mis-alignment with life creates negative emotion, blocked energy flow, and strain.
Alignment and the Gift of Thought
Most of us spend most of our time thinking. So, the most common mis-alignment occurs with the gift of thought. Thought is designed as a tool for awareness. Alignment with this gift means using the tool well. Mis-alignment is mis-use.
When we align with the gift of thought, the mind is open and clear. Thought enters the open mind-space easily, and we are able to choose which thoughts to dwell on, and which to let go. We experience peace of mind, contentment. Thought mis-alignment occurs when thoughts do battle with each other in the mind-space, or when we cling to non-useful ideas. Stress is caused by mis-alignment within the gift of thought.
Alignment and the Gift of Pure Awareness
The Gift of Pure Awareness is awareness beyond thought, beyond the limits of language, beyond what words can fully describe. When we align with pure awareness, we know that this moment is complete and perfect as it is. We experience a wholeness, aware simultaneously of all the gifts we've received. Mis-alignment is experienced as resistance to what is - resistance to this moment.
The gift of pure awareness is also the gateway to experiencing the divine source. When we realize that each of us, and all that is, comes from the same divine source, we can fully accept what is. Resistance falls away, and we experience contentment and joy.
Alignment and the Gift of Divine Consciousness
Consciousness is the source of all that is. When we align with the divine source, all separations fall away, and we experience oneness with everything and with God. Love and grace flow from the gift of divine consciousness to each of us, and through us into the world. In the ancient tradition of India, this is called ananda, the experience of pure bliss.
Here's a prayer or mantra I use each day, to align with the design.
Divine spirit of life
make of me an open channel of love and grace
and use me this day to create a sacred experience
for all I encounter.
Let divine grace flow through me
into the world.