Sit down with Luke Ketterhagen and discover how the practice of Yoga allows him to gain deeper understanding of himself, our world, and why giving back is the cornerstone of what it really means to practice the full body of Yogic teachings!
Bringing ourselves to a dedicated and continuous practice of Yoga can often be both challenging and deeply rewarding. For Luke, many of those rewards come in the form of connecting to a deeper kind of honesty and truth. For most of us, being honest and truthful in daily life starts with being honest and truthful with ourselves.
Interestingly, Luke emphasized how cultivating his personal practice gives him a greater sense of trust within himself, as well. Trust is an integral part of all human relationships, but this specific inner trust, based on a foundation of compassion and understanding towards the self, creates a sense of peace that is brought to everything we do and all those with whom we interact. Luke illuminates how learning to trust this inner self allows him to begin to create greater trust with others, cultivating a deeper sense of interpersonal connection based on this strong foundation of inner peace. When we learn to trust ourselves-our intuition, our inner most pure knowledge-we can trust others more easily, bringing positive, unencumbered intentions to all of our relationships.
One result of beginning or continuing this personal practice is having an increased capacity for all of life’s joys and sorrows. Luke illuminated how this inward expansion of capacity helps him to be able to give back to others-his well is full, so, he can provide for those who are in need. There is an inherent joy in giving, in seeing others’ happiness, and providing something personal, of our self, that someone else truly needs. Yoga guides us to understand how great that inner well actually is, that our ability to give is endless. If suddenly we feel we have a certain capacity, we do something, and if in the process it helps others, this can only add to the expansion and joyousness of that inner source of peace and selflessness.
Practicing Yoga is also a great reflector of where we feel out of balance in our lives. If we are trying to increase our capacity in order to feel able to give of ourselves to others, paying close attention to consistency and moderation throughout our practice is necessary to achieve these goals. How we feel in Asana, in Meditation, reflects how we feel in our daily life, and ultimately how we feel inside. Yoga grants us a sense of inner equanimity; a continuous peace that can counteract the effects of what can often be an overwhelming, outside world. Particularly now, people are constantly expressing how they wish to help others, to change our society, and give back to those in need. It is first necessary to make sure that we are cultivating a sense of compassion and are helping ourselves. This is the only way in which we can feel capable of giving to and helping others. The practice of Yoga leads us to this place of expanded capacity to heal.
In relation to humanitarianism, the qualities of peace, compassion, self-love, and universal trust that Yoga creates, allow us to face our world’s problems with a greater understanding of the pain and suffering that we all hold inside, something we may or may not have yet been able to face or recognize. We all hold fears, negative emotions, or traumatic experiences within ourselves; and a large part of being a humanitarian is being able to receive and accept the universal pain and suffering of mankind. By accepting the realities of our world, whether good or bad, we begin to soften to compassion, to empathy, and can see perspective in daily life. By helping others through their pain and suffering, we take part in a healing process, thereby healing our own pain in a deeply human and communal process of what is ultimately-selfless service.
“Selfless service is using all of your abilities to their fullest, in the benefit of others, without expecting anything in return, with a smile.”
The main aspect of Yoga that Luke highlights as crucial to being able to give back to other people is its ability to ultimately connect us to ourselves with greater compassion, understanding, and capacity for all of life’s experiences. This inner relationship has a direct effect on how we see other people in the world, and helps us to connect with those who are seemingly extremely different from us. In our ever-expanding, globally minded world, this idea can provide us with a useful framework within which to begin to explore the universal similarities between us, and people around the world. This is Yoga In Action.
“We have so many more similarities than differences, and you’d never know it by listening to what’s on the news or reading the paper. Everything looks so different. But when you…in your own experience, when you see other cultures, you recognize the yearning for love. We all have a yearning for compassion, we all have a yearning for friendship, we all want to eat well, we all want to sleep well, and those similarities far outweigh the differences.”