whole·ness /ˈhōlnəs/ noun
1. the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity.
2. the state of being unbroken or undamaged.
What is it to be whole? To feel whole. To be in harmony. To sync our awareness to where our bodies actually are in space and time. To feel a sense of enoughness with what we already have, with what our bodies are currently offering, with our circumstances and lives exactly as they are. To feel our full body rather than breaking apart its separate pieces. To call up all of the scattered pieces of ourselves into one. To accept even the darkest bits that we’ve thrown far from ourselves.
Eleanor Roosevelt said the past is history the future is a mystery and the present moment is a gift. Clear as this poignant statement is, it can be quite difficult to practice. We can find ourselves ruminating over yesterday’s spoken or unspoken words, choices and circumstances. Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. And, trying to figure, maneuver, manipulate and plan our entire future. And, the pace of our daily living that keeps us moving backwards and forwards in time. Less often it seems, we arrive into the moment of now and feel this instant of this breath, this moment of this heart rhythm. Look someone directly in the eyes. Taste the sweetness of the honey in our tea or the richness of the butter on our toast. Smell the scent of the blooming flowers. Watch the changing colors of the sunset as dusk sets into night. Yet, this is the only place we can actually live our lives. The only place our past and our future merge into this one moment, into unity, into equanimity, into wholeness.
Feeling this sense of union can be found through the practice of enoughness. Its easy to feel a sense of lack. That we don’t have enough. We have this list-sometimes its easier to look at the things we don’t have – money, stuff, clothes-the list is endless and is pressed in upon us in many directions. We tend to focus, even hyper-focus, on these things outside of ourselves that we don't already have. And, the power of lack is that it will never be filled with stuff. No matter how much someone dominates a conversation, how many times they make people wait and steal their time, how many resources we use up, if we keep getting more and more. Lack is not filled by more. Yoga means to yoke, to bring together. This practice is to take the larger view and look at all that we do already have. So, to me, part of this practice of wholeness is to practice enoughness. To focus on all that we already have. We turn our attention to what is here. It’s this breath. The practice that everything we are looking for, every bit of peace, love, vitality and unity is right here in this breath already. We can’t live in the past. We can’t live in the future. We develop a practice of gratitude. We pay attention to each breath as we go through our lives. And, our sense of vitality and equanimity expands into the full, whole being that we already are.
It’s also very popular today to drill down and break things apart. To get into the minutia as much as possible. Science offers to us that the more we can break things apart, the more we can understand them. This knowledge of the pieces and parts saves lives, improves technology and opportunities, and is good in certain situations. Yet, if we stay focused on the small pieces, and less attune to the whole, then we lose our perspective, our way of seeing clearly. All that seems to matter is the small thread unfolding before us. Of course, it’s useful to understand the minutia, yet how can we open back up our aperture and take in the full tapestry? How can we feel our full body rather than breaking apart its separate pieces? The context of where the detail is occurring can be lost. This is of course how we make a ‘mountain out of a molehill.’ How we can over- or under-react to certain circumstances. How we can lose touch with parts of ourselves be it physical, mental or emotional. How we can focus on our only our knee or our tricep in a yoga practice and never feel into the fullness of our being.
The same is also true of the various pieces of our being. Those aspects of ourselves that we are born with. Our familial, economic class, physical, mental, emotional circumstances. Those we accumulate from our daily living. All the images, thoughts, experiences we take in along the way. Those we like. Those we don’t. Those that are already digested. Those we haven’t even begun to digest. Things we understand. And, things we don’t. This practice of wholeness is asking us to call up all of our scattered pieces of ourselves into one. The practice of acceptance. To accept even the darkest bits that we’ve thrown the furthest from ourselves.
This is the practice of wholeness. This is the practice of yoga.