6 Lessons the Bhagavad Gita Teaches Us for Life’s Challenging Times

When you sit by the ocean and the rhythmic sound of waves washes through you, something magical happens. It’s as if the knots in your nervous system start to unravel.

A visceral sense of space blocked by constrictions of breath and mind begin to open leaving room for calm, clarity, and an ability to see things in new ways.

The same can happen for some of us daredevils when we race full speed down a black diamond slope as if one with the mountain, or for others just lying on the couch listening to music.

Tapping in to the wave patterns that shape life produces a state of full absorption that connects you to your natural intelligence and the truth of who you really are.

Tapping in to the wave patterns that shape life produces a state of full absorption that connects you to your natural intelligence and the truth of who you really are. From this place, it becomes easier to assess life’s curve balls and to know what to do.

Although sometimes there is smooth sailing, you may have noticed that life is filled with challenges, conflicts, and crises that can leave you feeling agitated, confused, and alone. Knowing what to do in complex times can be difficult and this is the focus of the classical yogic text, the Bhagavad Gita.

The Story of the Bhagavad Gita

In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, a princely warrior, arrives on a battlefield with his best friend and charioteer, Krishna. Arjuna’s uncle has unjustly usurped power from Arjuna’s family, taking over the kingdom.

Arjuna, who’s been training for battle his whole life, arrives on the scene, psyched up and ready for action. He blows his conch shell to signify his arrival, and then something terrible happens – he has second thoughts!

He is overwhelmed by doubt and confusion because something deep in his gut sees past his “duty” as a warrior to head blindly into battle no matter what.

So he asks Krishna to pull the chariot up to the middle of the field, between the two armies, to assess the situation more clearly. On both sides he sees one extended family: friends, relatives, teachers, and upstanding, powerful people.

He knows that no good will come from the battle. His side could be slaughtered. But even if they win, many on both sides will be killed, and in either case, many of those he’d wish to share the fruits of victory with will be dead.

He collapses in dismay, saying he doesn’t know what to do and declares he cannot do anything.


How Lessons From the Bhagavad Gita Apply to Our Everyday Lives

The battlefield in the Bhagavad Gita is named the “field of dharma and karma” and represents the places in life where duty and action meet.

This very place is where we too may find ourselves – faced with complexity, chaos, or a life crisis and not knowing what to do.

But if you’re able to stay focused and awake to both the beauty and turmoil of the moments, seeing them transforming in wave patterns, then you can meet things head on.

If you’re able to stay focused and awake to both the beauty and turmoil of the moments, then you can meet things head on.

You’ll be able to rise to the occasion when things are tough and melt into moments of harmony to find nourishment when things are smooth.

This ability to drop in fully to the present moment is one of the primary benefits of contemplative practices like yoga and meditation and is an underlying teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.

Craving more wisdom and lessons from the Bhagavad Gita? Here are 3 *Seriously Relevant* Life Lessons We Can Learn From the Bhagavad Gita

Here Are 6 Life Lessons From the Bhagavad Gita That We Can All Learn From:

These are some of the most potent lessons from the Bhagavad Gita that apply to our everyday lives.

1. Ride the Waves

Everything in life comes in waves. When you breathe or walk, experience pain or sound, have thoughts and emotions, they all ebb and flow.

It’s easy to imagine you’re stuck somewhere in the process of the wave – filled with grief or rage that will never let up. But if you pause mid-stream and look again, you’ll see everything is part of a wave pattern.

Don’t grip on tightly to one part of these waves. Instead, dive in to become one with life. This is what is meant by non-attachment.

How to Find Inner Peace With Aparigraha (Non-Attachment), the Fifth Yama

2. Keep Two Feet on the Ground

Sink into earth through body, mind, and spirit. Notice support beneath you and feel your feet connecting to the ground as you walk.

Pay attention to moments of calm breathing and steadiness of mind when they arise. Enjoy a sunset or the sound of leaves in the trees as ways of nourishing your connection to others from deep inside.

This is what is meant by being steady and stable.

3. Be Yourself

Stay in alignment with what you experience on a gut-deep, core level to be the truth of who you are. You might not be able to put it into words, but you’ll know it when you feel it.

It goes way beyond your appearance, personality, job, relationships, and responsibilities. It’s your essence – what makes you who you are in relationship to others. This is what is meant by finding your dharma.

What Is Your Dharma? Here’s How to Find Your True Life Purpose

4. Take Action

When you know who you are, feel grounded and connected to others, when you are steady and stable and aim to see your situation in the context of ever-changing patterns of life around you, you’ll know what to do no matter the circumstances.

Stay open to feedback. Reassess and change course when necessary. This is what is meant by the creative power of karma.

What Is Karma? The Mother of Yoga Explains In This Rare Interview


5. Look Again

Since things are always in flux, changing on waves of breath, information, relationship, and time, it’s impossible to know for certain about many things until you look back.

To stay vibrant, awake, and effective, always look closely at things in full context. This is what it means to look again and again.

6. It’s All About Love

Notice how good it feels when you’re kind, forgiving, generous, or thoughtful. Observe the contrast when you’re grumpy, disrespectful, speaking ill of others, and so on.

We’re all connected so when others suffer, you do too – even if you don’t notice. This is what it means to be interconnected and hold all beings in your heart.

Inspiring Life Lessons From the Bhagavad Gita Are Plentiful

After Arjuna’s collapse, Krishna patiently walks him (and us as readers) through lesson after lesson about how steadiness and stability, the ability to see others, and to trust and to love deeply all lead to insight into the nature of life so you can discern what to do in good and challenging times alike.

Take a moment to reflect on what these lessons from the Bhagavad Gita mean to you specifically. Are there other takeaways that you found while reading this article? Please share your thoughts in the comments below – we love hearing from you!

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wonderful comments!

Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor

Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor teach yoga throughout the world. They founded the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado in 1988 and are the authors of "When Love Comes to Light" and "The Art of Vinyasa."

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