In yoga there seems to be an implicit search for that illusive sense of being whole (Ahhh, whole, at last…Home, at last.). A place of stillness, a sip of the holy nectar… But just like the gnome in the above picture, who has lost his nose, the tip of his hat (and who knows what else…), we always seem to be missing something—at least from a particular mood or perspective.
At times, I have been confused, or even misled by this pull towards wholeness because, when I rely on the mind to see the whole thing, the process must break down. The mind can only quantify things that are quantifiable. And the wonder of our universe simply cannot be understood in these terms. Experience must also be felt deeply to tap into a sense of being connected. This is where yoga helps by tuning a person into the rich content of their own body!
We can also be confused by all the smaller “wholes” in one’s experience. “I ate a whole apple,” one could say, or, “I blew a whole day.” This is the intellectual level of wholeness, and we can never experience the spiritual sense of wholeness in merely intellectual terms. Again, it must also be felt.
Another snafu shows up in the second definition of whole: in an unbroken or undamaged state. On the physical level (the place where we interact with one another on a daily basis) this is simply not possible. The body has illness. Our environment is decaying due to our active consumption of it, and relentless pollution. Feelings get hurt in the world of space and time.
At its best the quest for wholeness asks us to look outside of our narrow definitions of ourselves into the great beyond. At its worst wholeness represents a fantasy of perfection, almost a sort of denial. And I think some yoga teachers get caught up in this: thinking that we have to be perfect to sell yoga, and to get and to keep people interested in yoga. And the truth is that nobody can sell yoga. We can sell instruction, but the insight comes from inside each person.
The essence of yoga in within you, just as it is inside every conscious being.