I love yoga

I love yoga!  I really do.  How wonderful to be able to move body, mind, and energy in this  sometimes synchronous, sometimes challenging, but always fascinating dance of Life.  And how wonderful that ancient yogis thousands of years ago shared wisdom that is still relevant in our crazy and mesmerizing modern world!  Getting on my mat is like coming home to myself – a visit with a good friend who has never left me even when I was neglectful. Yoga has helped me to befriend myself.
I mentioned in class this morning that it is truly amazing that any of us are here.  If you think about all the planets in the Universe and all the different factors that have had to happen for you to be sitting in front of your computer at this moment reading these words, it is mind-blowing.  Just the wonder of the body itself, heart beating, lungs breathing, liver cleansing, stomach churning, blood flowing, eyes seeing, nerves firing, brain processing – water, fire, air and earth united in this amazingly complex symphony that is a human body.  Wow.  

These past few weeks I’ve been gifted with an awareness of how much my view of the world has changed since committing to yoga teacher training in 2003. When I started that training I didn’t think of myself as a strong person or of my body as a strong body.  There were poses that felt torturous and I was pretty commited to my story.  Never athletic as a child, I danced semi-professionally for a few years after college but it was always with a sense that I wasn’t quite up to the standards of all the other bodies in the studio or on the stage – not strong enough, balanced enough, grounded enough. committed enough, trained enough…  That was the gist of my story – “not good enough.” 
The consistent application of the principles and practices of yoga, as well as other wonderful practices & teachers that have crossed my path has helped me to see that story for what it is.  Just a story.  A body that once was seen as weak now feels strong and grounded.  A mind that was stuck in the groove of a limiting story is open to new possibilities.  Beyond even that though, is the sense that none of that even matters, because what is here now is enough.  If I never do a handstand without the support of the wall, this body, this breath, this life, will be no less amazing – and it won’t be any better if I do (though that would be really fun!).  
For me, the story of “not enough” is still sometimes present, but I can sooner see it as a story – the mind’s way of (as my Akashic Records said) “concerning itself with matters beyond its jurisdiction.”  Instead of the story being in control, I can let the story be, or let it go.   It is also interesting to notice the other stories rising to the surface of awareness.
The journey becomes even more amazing when you realize there’s nowhere to go.  This body, this breath, this moment is what we have to work with. If we keep waiting for some time in the future when it will be better, when we will become more wonderful due to all our efforts, or due to chance, we will miss the magic that is happening now.  I’m not sure we can become more present, but I think we can be more aware – more mindful.
Just now.  Just this.  Fascinating.

A ghost in the house – shaking up the “I”

I’m working on trying to be brief and use less words – let’s see how I do…

Last October I asked my Akashic Records how I could live from a place of deeper clarity.  The answer was surprising:  “Be willing to be wrong – about everything.”  What?!  I had to ask for clarification.  The reply: “Being willing to be wrong doesn’t mean you are wrong.  It means you give up the need to be right, which is holding you back.  It means shaky ground… Release the need to be right.”  All my life I’d seen knowledge as a reinforcer of my worth.  Being wrong was to be avoided at all cost.  But what the heck, I was intrigued.  Besides, I could always go back to being right if it didn’t work out.  What I got was a big surprise.  As I let go of the need to be right, something shifted inside.  It was like when you’ve eaten too much and then you loosen the button on your pants – relief!  I understood it later as being freed from the constant effort to protect and reinforce my “I.”

Sutra II of the Yoga Sutras describe the five klesas as the sources of our discontent, the obstacles to freedom.  The klesas are: avidya, or not knowing our true nature as beingness or oneness; asmita – identification as “I,” “me” or “my”; raga – desire for pleausre; dvesa – aversion or avoidance of pain; and abhinevesa – fear of death.  When I first read this sutra and the notion of the identified “I” as being problematic, I thought that was ridiculous (those crazy cave-dwelling yogis – what would they know about real life?!).  After all, who would I be without a sense of my own individuality? If I let go of that I’d be left with nothing – I wouldn’t exist!  At the very least it seemed to me a prescription for mental instability.  I didn’t realize that even that resistance was the manifestation of this “I.”

Dzigar Kongtrul in his book It’s Up to You suggests:  “This mind that we identify as the self, which we could call ego-mind, controls everything we do.  Yet it can’t actually be found – which is somewhat spooky, as if a ghost were managing our home.”  Michael Stone in The Inner Tradition of Yoga describes asmita as a storyteller, and the stories as a rubber band ball, wrapped around and around with more and expanding preconceptions about ourselves.  Even when these stories cause us suffering and separation, we still hold on because we identify them as who we are.  A Course In Miracles Lesson 69 begins:  “My grievances hide the light of the world in me.  My grievances show me what is not there, and hide from me what I would see.  Recognizing this, what do I want my grievances for?  They keep me in darkness and hide the light…” 

So last month when I decided it was okay to be me, I found she was very elusive – like mercury, hard to pin down.  At the same time I found the klesas.  Ah the humor of it all.   It’s been fascinating – sometimes funny, and sometimes really unpleasant – to recognize the storyteller arising, especially when I’m wanting to be right, or in control.  I often recognize my “I” when it is acting up as a shadow that when noticed and acknowledged, shifts slightly to the left to reveal a sliver of light behind.  A long exhale follows, a tightness releases in my chest, and in that moment, I can allow.