The practice of nondual yoga helps us remember as adults what was second nature to us as young babies. Apparently, at around 18 months old, we begin to develop a sense of “self” and “other,” but before that time we aren’t able to perceive separation. Our cribs, our toys, our parents—it doesn’t matter—they’re all part of us.
Spiritual teacher and yogic scholar Richard Miller asserts that, through the practice of nondual yoga, we can remember that there’s in fact no separation between us and the universe.
“Yoga forms the path we traverse to come to that understanding, and the means we use to realize it,” he says. “It helps reawaken those inner structures of the brain that have access to a different way of perceiving, and heals the misperceptions of divisions within ourselves and with the world around us.”
Not all yogic approaches explicitly address non-separation, but Richard says nondual yoga—with its focus on awakening, enlightenment, and self-recognition—does.
Try this simple practice, which makes tangible the notion that there’s no separation between ourselves and what surrounds us, whether animate or not. It can be practiced with eyes open or closed.
Sense the space in front of you.
Next, sense the space behind you.
Then, sense the space to the left of you.
After that, sense the space to the right of you.
Now sense the space beneath you.
Next, sense the space above you.
Then, sense the space inside you.
Finally, sense all of these spaces at the same time.
Notice what happens to your thinking mind when you do this. With this heightened awareness, look at an object in front of you and notice how you perceive it.
I don’t know about you, but my monkey mind slows down when I sense the space around me. My attention becomes more keenly focused on the here and now.
“You can’t project it as separate,” Richard notes. “When you go underneath the thinking mind, you can’t sense separation.”
Richard says that the realization of our nondual nature has profound implications. “When we don’t project separation,” he explains, “we can celebrate differences, but we can’t engender conflict or war because it doesn’t make sense to go to war with ourselves.”
He admits conveying the concept of non-separation is easy, but says it takes time to integrate the knowledge into our experience. “I respect the tenacity of our conditioning that keeps interrupting it,” he notes.
But with practice and patience, nondual yoga can reinforce the recognition of our true nature, our underlying essence. Richard concludes, “It’s a remembrance.”
Join Richard at Kripalu.