Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Ruth Edwards (Yoga NRG Teacher)

PMTT - Ruth Edwards

A friend gave me a copy of this book over ten years ago and I tried to read it on several
occasions but was not in the right head space. It was different this time and instead of
reading the new copy that was sent to us, I read my original copy, with my friend’s
inscription, the yellowed pages and with the dust cover design that inspired the film clip for the song “Fields of Gold” by Sting.

Dan, the protagonist, annoyed me at first. Privileged, white, well educated, middle-class male unhappy with his lot. Diddums. Socrates also tended to give sermons but at least he had a sense of humour. I couldn’t see why Socrates would spend time on Dan. Also I found the imagery over-worked: ’old’ Socrates happily working in a ‘service’ station content with his lot and ‘young’ Dan from a University, unhappy and seeking external stimulus to find purpose in his life through knowledge and sporting achievement.

It wasn’t until I was introduced to the Koshas in our first yoga teacher training session that I realized that the story provides a travel guide through the five Koshas. The journey Dan undertakes also shows the inter-connectedness of the Koshas, making the whole Kosha concept more accessible to me.

Dan has a complete physical and mental breakdown and in coming back to peak performance, he comes back as a whole person. Through healing his physical body he learns the connection of energy with the world, he is able to harness his thoughts and Socrates’ wisdom to find the truth about his being.

Socrates’ emphasis on being in the moment at all times, whether eating, training or serving people has great applicability to my practice of yoga. I am far from being a proficient or skillful yogi but I am sincere in my efforts to improve and to share the benefits with others.

Applying some of Socrates’ wisdom to my own life is a gradual process. I am convinced that it won’t happen overnight but it will happen! I am learning to be more present in my practice and to incorporate aspects of my practice in other aspects of my life. While reading the book I underlined my favourite sayings and have listed them at the end of this article. They help me break down Socrates’ teachings into ‘bite size’ pieces, making the ‘way’ more accessible.

One of the ‘bites’ I am trying to apply is of mindfulness and ‘living meditation’. As I live alone (no offence to the dogs) my first action on waking up each morning is to turn on the radio.

My first response on walking in the door after work at night is to turn on the television. This was to fulfil a need to have a voice in the house. I am now quite content in the silence. I prepare dinner and eat my meal in silence, trying to apply Socrates’ instructions to enjoy the whole process – the preparation, the ‘plating up’ and the consumption. I am not a willing cook. I used to get no joy out of cooking for one. It is still a work in progress as I learn to realise that I am worth spending time to cook and prepare a meal.

I struggle with mindfulness at the best of times, even during practice. To work on this I have my mat rolled out at home in the lounge room and when I can I get on the mat and do one or two asanas, working on my cues or my posture. It may only be for 10 minutes or so but I am finding that it is having an impact when I do ‘proper’ practice in a class.

Expanding out on that, I often sigh and say to myself how much I love my little house and that I am content, careful not to sound too conceited. I have everything I need and more than most but I draw plans for my perfect tiny house. I will be happier when I have less ‘stuff’, I think. I’ll be happier if I am living closer to family. I’ll be happier when I lose weight, get fit, marry George Clooney and get my Masters. Socrates’ words that “The time is now and the place to be is here” is becoming a bit of a mantra for me.

There is a long way to go. Occasionally I think that I have come to the yoga teacher training too soon in my practice. What encourages me is Socrates saying that ‘Even someone who is overweight, weak, or inflexible can become a fine gymnast, but the preparation is longer and more difficult.’. It is a bit like my father saying that everyone lives walking distance to the beach – just depends how long you want to walk to get there!

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