To be, is not to always be the same, and to always be, does not exclude experiencing undulations of change in the state of a constant being. Equanimity is to be peaceful, though the outward experience may be anything but that.
Suki covered this topic nicely today in her noon yoga class, opening with the thought that the English language perhaps had not enough room to cover the truest concept of being and beingness.
This rang so true to the state of being that I have been living this past week. Though I find myself experiencing grief does not mean that the ultimate state of my being is not joyful and well. Ultimately I know that if I am breathing I have much to be grateful for, in essence leaving me in a more joy filled state than sorrowful. In the grand scheme of things this is perhaps one of the most valuable bits of knowledge we can embrace on the journey of life, the practice of equanimity in an ever changing world, which can be cultivated in a garden of gratitude.
Yesterday I had the great good fortune to practice next to Suki in Liz’s class. Over the years Suki and I have done so much yoga together that when we practice next to one another we often sync up, moving and breathing in rhythm. Perhaps our hearts are beating in rhythm as well? To be in rhythm with the ever changing pulsating expanding and contracting world brings ease and as sense of equanimity to the experience of living, which inevitably will change. An opposing experience of equanimity would be suffering. Suffering is not the loss of what was, rather it is holding with attachment to what was and resisting moving into what now is. This concept is easier to understand mentally than it is to cultivate in action, for our physical and emotional bodies feel. We feel love, delight, joy, ease, comfort, and we feel pain, discomfort, sorrow, friction, frustration, and tension. As we dive into the experience of our bodies in a physical practice like yoga it is not uncommon to experience discomfort in muscles as they contract and expand. This discomfort is the physical manifestation of the transformation of the body from one state to another, from the old way of being to the new. When we are manifesting a change that we wish for, that we desire, like being in better shape, being more flexible, becoming more strong, learning to stand on our hands, the journey, even when dotted with discomfort is often enjoyed for the greater experience. On the path toward a healthier you suffering, the attachment to what was, the unhealthy you, generally does not arise unless along the way to the new version of yourself you injure your body and find new obstacles in the way of reaching your ultimate goal. But what is the ultimate goal? This is the most valuable and important question to return to in the face of any suffering. What do I want to get out of this? What is most important?
For myself, the intention behind my Spring Yoga Challenge was to return to my yoga practice after months of recovering from injury and pain in my body, and to share that journey via these blog posts. I hoped that revealing myself as a student on the path of yoga, by sharing my journey of physicality, and spirituality on the mat, I may inspire others to dive deeper into knowing themselves as well. Little did I know just how vulnerable I would become, and just how deeply into the essence of the heart of my yoga practice this journey would take me, and so quickly! In this short fleeting life, my ultimate intention is to be happy. For myself happiness is being committed to ones ability to live in an unconditional heart, to constantly and with discipline be aware of the spaciousness of ones spirit and the limits ones mind may be putting on their ability to love without condition. Happiness to me is simply to see the love, and be the love, always without fear. Yesterday a friend shared a quote with me of Chogyam Trumpa he said “It takes a lot of courage to keep your tender raw heart open.” After writing these posts this last week I have to agree with the monk. This sharing has taken much courage, but what kind of teacher would I be if I could not practice what I taught? As I said, I too am a student, and this Spring Yoga Challenge has quickly transformed from a journey of physical healing into a lesson of courage and fearlessness, while sharing my open tender heart.
For many yoga is all about the physical experience, it is an essential part of my experience as well. My body, the incredible vessel that it is, has provided me with endless opportunity to get to know it better, through health, injury, and healing. There was a time in my childhood right up to the car accident that left me nearly paralyzed that my body was perhaps a perfect body, never in pain, always did what I asked it to, extraordinarily strong, flexible, and able to adapt and learn. I was never a super fast runner, however I could run and run and always appreciated my stamina and endurance. Being hurled through a windshield at sixty miles per hour definitely changed that. It is truly a miracle that I can walk, let alone touch my toes and do handstands. Ballet was a key component in my healing and from dance I found my way to yoga. The most spectacular thing about yoga is the power with which it can heal the body, mind and spirit. Yoga asana when done with mindfulness and awareness and concentration on breath can break through the blocked energy in the body allowing energy to flow and health to return to what was once in a state of dis-ease. This breakthrough of energy in Sanskrit is called a Kriya. My first yoga teacher was Suki, and I consider her classes the most valuable of all classes I have ever taken on my walk toward physical healing. Suki is skillful in her understanding of the alignment of the body as well as her instruction for the student to get the most out of their physical experience. Long holds with true alignment are common in her class and it is this type of practice that a Kriya release is common. Today we worked on strengthening and lengthening the side body which I consider the home to the less integrated aspects of our being, the “I can’t see it, so it must not be real” aspects of ourselves. This is a powerfully energetic location in the physical body to release and this afternoons class did just that. If you have ever felt your body shaking in a yoga class or any physical experience this is the energy of your body, the chi, prana, shakti, moving through you, the shaking is on of many variations of a physical feeling of a Kriya. All through class this afternoon my left shoulder and arm were shaking, which I took as a good sign, healing is happening in my body.
One week and six classes into the challenge and layers of fear and resistance peal away. On the radio Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah plays now and I cannot deny the beauty of the serendipity of this wild and crazy ride of a life. Equanimity is singing hallelujah in the well of grief, singing Hallelujah in the shaking on the yoga mat, singing Hallelujah in your beloveds arms, singing Hallelujah when the sunset paints the mountains red, singing Hallelujah when the wind is blowing your house away from Kansas, singing Hallelujah for the opportunity to share your hearts hurts and joys, singing Hallelujah for yoga and a journey toward wholeness, singing Hallelujah in the face of suffering, singing Hallelujah as a state of being, no matter the state of your being.
Singing Hallelujah as I sing Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,
Om Peace, Peace, Peace,
With love, all ways, for giving,