As I wake up this morning, there are all these emotions and thoughts and ideas… where do I start to be able to even convey these feelings. In only a few days, we are, once again, on our way to the mystical spiritual lands of India. It just hit me last night, after our satsang (group mediation)that we are visiting the inauguration of Prem Mandir(The Temple of Love) in Vrindavan, India.
I remember at the age of 6 or so, I ran downstairs, with the curiosity and determination a child can have, I walked into my loving father’s study, where he was buried in books and the reading of philosophy and positive thinking. With the deepest of desperations, I asked, “Dad, what is Love?”. I do not remember his answer; I do remember and do know, however, my search since. There has been plenty of moments of pain and deceit, many moments of crying myself to sleep. There have been deep moments of suffering. I have looked in many places for love and happiness, even in the most unlikely places. I did find moments, sparks, glimpses of what that means; none lasting or really satisfactory – I always knew there had to be more. The disappointments led to deeper discouragement and frustration, maybe anger. I gave up many times.
I was hearing of a student’s reflection on how difficult the practice of hatha yoga has become. At the beginning yoga was (arguably) an easy, fun, enjoyable “light” work out. But to many of us the more we become present and stay in asana, the deeper we connect. Is that something I am prepared to do? Yoga is indeed simple, though not an easy task. The more we pay attention, we find loads of thoughts and emotions. For many of us it is easier to stop, avoid, and/or look away. It is a very common reaction. I do it all the time, I do know! Through my many years of practice, I realize now it has nothing to do with that movement, that physical pain and discomfort, or frustration. It has little to do with my hips or my shoulder, or my knee. The physical body, as we have heard many times, is more than a structure of movement. The hands are to hold things, but also to let them go. The chest is to protect, but also to open up the heart and emotions. The legs and hips are the means of motion, movement in our lives, or to simply stand in place, grounded.
So, our physical yoga practice is exactly that, a practice of rediscovery, re-membering of who we are. The process of discovery is never easy. The path is full of ups and downs. We have given up uncountable times, as the yoga philosophy teaches, for uncountable (truly uncountable!) lifetimes. How are we to change in one class, or one posture, or in one month, or one year, or a lifetime? We do change, but maybe in ways we do not realize or expect now. Every breath done in consciousness changes something inside of us, every time. The questions is, are we able to sustain it? Are we able to persevere and find encouragement? Are we able to maintain focus? The is not a right or wrong answer, simple our sadhana (practice) is what matters. Some days are better than others. Some (many) days not so good. That is the nature of our imperfection, though we may choose to place blame outwardly.
So, what is the loving thing to do? What is Love? Where am I today in my trying to understand the incomprehensible? I do not understand intellectually anything more than when I was 6 in my dad’s study. Although, I know my heart has experience the incomprehensible through practice and perseverance. My heart has been graced with experiences of Love, as I know we all have. To keep those loving feelings present it takes perseverance, patience, discipline, remembrance, and know there is not an only way or only one time. It took me 40 years of experiences to view Love as a daily action, rather than the misconceived romantic ideal.
Yoga means connection, is the path of the search for the purpose of our physical experience, our body as a temple of our spirit, the temple, or instrument to find Love, Divine Love.