The topic of my blog post today is one which has eluded me for some time. Spirituality. We’ve heard many times during the YTTC that each of us have our own unique spiritual journey. There is not one journey that is the same as another, everyone’s experience is only truly felt by that individual, it cannot be replicated, nor truly explained, nor truly understood by another individual. It’s an intimate quest, delving deep into one’s relationship with the cosmic universe. I would say I started my spiritual journey, or however you would call it, at the lowest point of my life. It felt like the lowest point for me because I felt emptiness at a profound level. Not from a loss of a relationship, though that had been the catalyst, but a realization that I knew nothing of the world, I had no control of the world, and I didn’t know who I was. I kept asking myself over and over again, who am I? Why did I feel so empty? I faced my existence, my fleeting existence. I pondered on thoughts which I had previously never thought of. When meeting with friends, they were concerned and thought I was losing my mind. I felt disconnected from the physical world, because I was turning inward to search for answers. I still don’t have answers today – but something within me tells me that the journey of questioning, the journey of realizing, isn’t about reaching an end goal. Perhaps having no answer IS the answer. Perhaps the search and the journey towards the unknown is all there is.
The practice of yoga is similar in this sense. Yoga isn’t about getting to the perfect and best looking postures within a week. Its the consistent journey we take day by day, in discipline, in patience, everyday working towards something bigger than ourselves. As Master Sree mentioned in class, when we really get the philosophy of yoga, poses are really no biggie. Asana is the manifestation of philosophy of life/yoga in the human body through postures.
I am so privileged to experience that emptiness then – some books deem it as a period of spiritual awakening. I wouldn’t call myself awakened, though. Far from it. Looking back, during those moments that when I enhanced a deeper mental awareness, an awakening of the higher consciousness. In those moments, I started experiencing a shift in mental framework of life and the world we live in. Spirituality is mysterious because it’s hidden beyond what we are familiar with in our lives. I am still uncovering it day by day.
Real effort is required in every area of yoga practice – not just asana. Meditation takes real mental effort too. Yoga is only a holistic practice when we understand the basic principles and not close up our minds. Spirituality to me is also part of the practice. We can all climb to the heights of the great spiritual masters that have gone before us by following closely in their footsteps. Every person who practices yoga can achieve the same inner experiences of the sages or prophets. We can experience bliss, unconditional love, wisdom, and unity. We can experience liberation or enlightenment if that is what you want. All that is required is dedication to the ancient wisdom and perseverance in personal practice.
Yoga led me to find my own spirituality. Since practicing yoga and cultivating a spiritual life, I am still uncovering unresolved, unmanageable old hurts that sometimes amplify. Memories of childhood pain, whether in my school, friendships or in relationships as I got older, were excavated through the physical release of my practice, and the most hidden hurt determined how I destructively handled conflict of any kind! One day I remembered sharing about this with my fellow coursemate, Sandra. I shared how after a certain heart opening Asana, I felt as if a deep resentment and unhappiness released from me and I teared so much after my practice. I was surprised she had a similar experience herself too.
The mysterious thing is, I also uncover new growth which I never knew existed. As I uncover and clean up past messes, I found more space to be clear, connected, trusting and aware of everything I’m doing – especially when I’m engaging in behaviors that stop the flow of acceptance and ease in my daily life. This empowers and propels me to be more patient and present. Right now particularly on this spiritual journey, I am learning to love without attachment. We first unconditionally, fiercely, ardently love ourselves – before we can love others without attachment. Like a lotus leaf, it doesn’t absorb, but it can hold so much space.
“He who, having abandoned attachment, acts reposing his works on the Brahman, is not stained by sin even as waters cling not to the lotus leaf.” Bhagvad Gita
Brahman is the all-encompassing, all-accommodating, all-harmonising, higher universal self which finds and fulfills itself in an all-loving and all-compassionate ambience of consciousness.
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
Loving without attachment is possible only when we give people a space to be and recognize them as whole and independent in themselves. That’s what real love amounts to, letting a person be what he/she really is. Without a genuine freedom to be, pretensions creep into relationships. That’s not love. As we make room for such a healthy space and freedom in relationships, we fall in love with the same people so often as we discover wonderful sides to their personality, the beauty and delight of pure being in them. It is then that relationships bloom like lotus flowers unstuck to any dirt of malice, hatred, prejudice and pretensions.
Just thinking out loud in this post. In conclusion… Spirituality… is work in progress.