Light on Life by B.K.S Iyangar

This was an interesting book.  I was hesitant to start it because I thought it might be a lot of spiritual mumbo jumbo that I’m not really ready for.  To my surprise, I didn’t view it that way.  I was able to read it and take what I wanted and leave what I didn’t fully understand.  It’s definitely a book to hold on to and read and re-read, and each time, being at a different stage in life, you take something different away from it. One of those books someone finds on your shelf years from now with the cover torn off and the pages folded, written on and stained with coffee. 

The text that stuck out to me, personally were the lines about life in general. Here are a few passages that I really soaked up, took in and agreed with:

In the very beginning of the book, Iyangar starts with saying “Demonstration of one’s spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one’s fellow human beings”.  I found this to be the theme of the entire book, it’s the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated.  It’s also the golden rule for other people, if someone treats you nicely but doesn’t treat the waiter nicely their not a nice person.  It’s simple and yet so many of us easily let it slip by the wayside. 

The next thing that really struck me that I actually let ruminate for a little while after I read it was, “But Mahatma Gandhi warned that in a world ruled by an eye for an eye, soon the whole world will be blind”. GAHHH – why didn’t I think of that! Again, so simple – don’t be malicious, don’t be vengeful, being out for blood won’t get you anywhere. As my mom always says, “you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar”. Why is it that when you reach your 20’s your mom all of a sudden has the wisdom of the world?  Little did I know that at the age of 5 my mom was preaching Gandhi to me. 

“Balance does not mean merely balancing the body. Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life.  In whatever position one is in, or in whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance.  Balance is the state of the present – the here and now. If you balance in the present you are living in eternity.  When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present.  Do not live in the future; only the present is real.  Do not live in the future; only the present is real. The mind takes you constantly to the future, as it plans, worries and wonders.  Memory takes you to the past, as it ruminates and regrets.  Only the self takes you to the present, for the Devine can be experienced only now.” This passage meant a lot to me because for the longest time I came to yoga when I fell off balance in life.  I used it to catch me, on multiple occasions, right before I hit the ground and crumbled.  I’m not really a person that lives in the past but I am a person that lives in the future.  My boyfriend has said to me at times, “What do you love more, planning, wondering or organizing”.   Two out of three, he characterizes me with two out of three attributes of someone that lives in the future.  I know I’m this way and it is a very hard habit to break but when the whole world would start to spin and I’d step on my map everything stopped for a moment.  It felt to me like life stood still and I could take a break from feeling lost.  Sometimes I was able to keep that feeling with me after practices and other times I’d lose it as soon as I was done.  It wasn’t until I started practicing on a regular basis that life has settled and become stable and it’s made me feel like I can handle more easily the stress of life.  Because on another note, as Iyangar says “There is nothing in this world free from stress until death. Rather than asking, “how can I be free of stress”, we must ask, “what is the degree of stress?”

When you’re given a stress test it doesn’t just ask about the bad things in life it reflects upon changes in life, instability, imbalance, uncertainty.  Stress and is mostly what’s going on in life but more so how you react to it and handle it.

  • Become masters of our circumstances, not slaves to them
  • Live in the solution, not in the problem
  • When we say we feel angry, it is a mental perception of our state….
  • Most life is not personal

These are all significant passages that would help anyone live life less stressfully – one, if not all of these may become my Mantra.

“Death is certain. Let it come when it comes. Just keep working. The soul has no age. It doesn’t die. Only the body decays. And yet, we must never forget the body since it is the garden we must cherish and cultivate”

“Yoga calls the body the vehicle of the soul, but as the saying goes, no one ever washes a rented car”