Amy Champ took the Wanderlust Voyager Immersion program at Wanderlust Squaw Valley and wrote about her experiences. To learn more about the Wanderlust Yoga Teacher Training program, click here.
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As we progress through life, the reality of “how things really work” has the potential to throw us off course. Though we must inevitably accept his premise, Buddha’s conclusion that “life is suffering” isn’t exactly the cheeriest approach to the situation.
Luckily, there are other ways of living that supersede simply taking it all in stride. Aside from hedonistically over-indulging in all the luscious sights and sounds of the world, in Yoga we have something called a sattvic approach.
Sattva is a pure kind of relaxed, yet alert, energy. It is one of the three gunas, or qualities of the universe, in classical Indian philosophy. Sattva rests somewhere in the middle, between the other two qualities: rajas (hyper-excited, stressed) and tamas (lazy, lethargic).
Sattva is the feeling we get after savasana, when we use our arms to push ourselves up to a comfortable seated pose. We chant Om and say Namaste to our teacher. It’s an amazing feeling, to be completely relaxed and open, but it is often a fleeting sensation.
In our Wanderlust Teacher Training we learned more about yoga’s philosophy, the yamas (disciplines) and
niyamas (observances), the social ethics of yoga which lead us to learning deeply about our true self. Living yogically is living with purity and attention to ways that we can bring the feeling of sattva into our everyday lives.
But to do all of that, in today’s world, with all of the toxins, pollutants and traffic jams out there, is sometimes difficult. We want to forget about the challenges, and sink deeply into our practice. Like our guru, Yoga can be a protection, like an umbrella for our life.
Instead of worrying about how it all fits together, or if we are making progress, we can choose instead to live with intention. Living with intention, we choose our goal and we are very specific about it. We don’t worry about how much it costs or how far away it is. We accept our intention to live with sattva as our motivation, but then we let go of it. Instantly. We don’t have to pray about it, or ask God, or send an email to our Higher Power. Just walk away.
Instead of struggling, we allow the subconscious mind to actualize the intention. We don’t do any work at all. The way the mind works is more powerful than any machine ever designed by humankind. The consciousness of mind is limitless, and with intention setting, we open ourselves to allowing the power of imagination to guide our subconscious.
When we live with intention, we simply state our intention to the universe and allow the subconscious mind, as well as the collective unconscious of the world around us, to manifest our intention. You do not need hard work or effort to achieve sattva or yogic ethics in your life. Write down your intention (eg: “I intend to live harmoniously with my friends and family”) and let it go. Say your intention as an affirmation if you like.
With intention setting, there is no need to engage in creative visualization or brainstorming. The point here is that there is no trying involved whatsoever. In order to access the true power of the higher mind, control must be relinquished. Our ultimate goal is to Be Yoga and not just Do Yoga, setting an intention is one way of opening ourselves to seeing how that might be possible.
Dr. Amy Champ is a scholar, yogini and writer dedicated to all the simple things in life. Studying yoga and ordinary people, her work is motivated by supporting women’s health and bringing people together in community.