Walking in a yoga room and walking out on stage are not too far apart in similarities. While others may see you perform on stage, you get to see yourself perform in the front mirror. There is a script to follow that the “director” recites over and over and you play out your role as best as you can, “stretch up out of the waist, grip nice and tight, bend your body to the left.” The mirror keeps you honest, helping you act out your lines better and better. The show is over in 90 minutes. No applause, but the activity going on in the cells of your body tell you that it was a job well done!
Over time our lines become more automatic. After all, we’ve recited these “shapes” now over 1000 times! The words soak in like an old familiar song and we move with certain signals and power it up with the breath. If you spend your entire life time doing yoga this way – bravo! You’ve generated some great inner and outer health and well-being. But, I bet there is more for you – like there is for me. The yoga room is the only stage in the world where we can practice the evolution of our own soul if we choose. Our inner and outer well-being is satisfactory, yes, but our calling is more – awaken to the bigger stage of your life –the one that brings true happiness to your being and ultimately harmony with all in the world.
The repetition in the heat is one of the most brilliant combinations allowing us to filter “what doesn’t belong.” Do something over and over again and you’ve trained yourself to the point of acting on instinct. Add in the intensity of the heat and everything is that much more noticeable in what you do and how you are doing it – emotions included. In a class, our individual performance blends in with everyone else’s and suddenly your part is a big part of the surroundings in which you operate. Cool stuff.
Out of context are things like using a hand towel, wiping sweat over and over again in between each posture, circling your mat, leaving the room or talking in the class. These seem mundane and silly but they are huge and place a ripple effect to an otherwise clear calm lake within the class and within yourself. And those bigger ripples are those that happen in our own minds: “why isn’t the teacher turning on the fan”; “how come I can’t move my mat horizontal”; “why do I need to wait before having some water”; “why is the teacher talking so loud, isn’t this yoga?” are just a few comments spoiling our flow of the beautiful script we know so well. But, don’t be so quick to dispel this turbulence as it is informational behavior.
What normally happens next is that we address this surface behavior and carry on. All fine. But, what if we went deeper into ourselves and pierced this layer to yet one deeper – what would we hear? “I’m so hot right now that I just might faint.” “Doesn’t the teacher see that we are all dying here.” “This can’t be normal; the teacher must be new.” Or, “I have to turn my mat, I will slip and I won’t be able to do the pose,” “I have a bad knee and this is scary for me,” “I’m feeling really parched and I can’t do any more until I get some water.” And there are endless more tapes we run – I know as I run them too. All valid. All justified. All ego. And the heat is super at making these internal conversations turn into adult versions of a temper tantrum – emotions heighten and we just want to run and scream!
The ego doesn’t feel safe or satisfied. I say, don’t flee the challenge and go even deeper. Who are we when this behavior goes off? What is hiding behind it? Why are we so invested in this stimulus? Soul wisdom comes from the struggle to see what is really in there seeking consciousness, bringing to light what is hiding in the dark. As we age and mature, we move from acquisition to relinquishment. Our souls are never weary and relentless in the pursuit of a larger journey. In our youth our ego holds ever more tightly, falsely directing that it is the next job or next relationship that will satisfy some desire that needs addressing. That cycle continues until we recognize that there is a pattern at work. Acquiring in whatever form isn’t working; so, setting free whatever needs to be satisfied just might be the answer.
Our world is filled with temptations, waiting to seduce us at every turn. Easy ones to pick on are limitless reality shows; sexy technology; latest in social media; all things to keep us distracted 24/7. Gosh, even in my practice, I am so seduced by my wonderful hydro flask that has changed how I look at water. I used to never drink water in class and now because I love how my hydro flask keeps my water cold, I can’t wait for my party times (of which I now have many, and have thus moved into more self-ego satisfying.)
There isn’t much out there to support the deeper insights our psyche is after. Except, well, yoga. It is my belief that YOGA will help you gain true insights. Let go of stuff and any wanting of it and visit whatever pain lies lurking. Because you do the yoga, I’m certain the reflection looking back at you will catch you when you fall, engulfing you with your true and mighty essence of all the beauty and love YOU possess.
These essays that I write are intended to invoke greater meaning. I don’t really want to write about surface topics unless they lead somewhere more soul significant. This essay is intended to help you differentiate who you are and who YOU are. The person that walks in the room shows up and the person in the mirror is staring back at you. The space between is the gap – your journey! Your perpetual experiences unnoticed will lead to repetitive experiences that will keep your ego in check and your soul hungry. Your awesome ability to wake up and see these things in you that reinforce a cracked identity take courage and yet when addressed, experienced, and smoothed out to greater understanding will lead you to the life that, at the end, will have you saying is indeed the one you showed up for.
The work that we do here at BYSJ is a summons of the soul. As I reflect on this challenging time at BYSJ to confront our financial troubles, I come away feeling vulnerable and sensitive. This “painful” sense has allowed me to own more of the attributes that comprise BYSJ. Our fundamental principle has always been illumination of what is beneath! So, our act of reaching out and exposing “pain” is no different. I feel reunited to our soul’s mission here and I am pledging that we stay on THAT course of what has made BYSJ so successful and the epicenter for other studios to follow. We are not off course – in fact, we are right on it. Our yoga isn’t a separateness but a journey to Oneness; our egos don’t define us but challenge us to look deeper and soulfully live; our vulnerability is the gateway to getting there; and our declaration to uphold the faith we have in this practice has always been more than lip service.
Thank you for yet another act of living a larger journey contributing to the larger soul of this place that also has a summons to be greater for a long long time.
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