“According to the Yogic system, the entire body changes in a period of twelve years; in other words, you do not have even one cell that was there twelve years ago.”1 (Satchidananda)
That statement kind of blew my mind and I started thinking about the stages of my life in twelve year increments. Was I the same person in each stage?
It does seem like I went through major changes at 12, 24, and 36. I could see each age as the beginning of a new era in my life. At 12 I quit ballet and piano, joined a children’s theatre group, and changed schools to change who I was, who my friends were, and start fresh in a new environment. At 24 I got my first permanent job in NYC, was in my first long term relationship, and felt, to my dismay, that I had really entered the adult world. At 36 I had my son – enough said.
But I still feel essentially like the same person. My core personality hasn’t changed although other aspects have come and gone depending on my life situation, location, job, relationship, or chronic illness and how I worked through them. Yoga helped re-form parts of myself. Travel helped open my eyes to seeing the world and people in new ways.
But that’s all my self – not my Self.
Swami Satchidananda was talking about understanding the difference between what is permanent (Self) and what is impermanent (self). Who we really are – our soul – is permanent. Our impermanent self is generally how we define ourselves – by our body, job, clothes, names, home, desires, the list goes on endlessly. If we can understand and truly know the difference through vigilant discernment then we will no longer feel unhappiness. Change won’t affect us. There will be no disappointments, no fears, no heartache.
We will be free.
This freedom is the result of yoga practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice. Buckle up, it might take lifetimes…
1 Satchidanada, Swami, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali/translation and commentary by Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Publications, Yogaville, 1990, p 118 (Book 2 Sutra 26)