In last month's newsletter I said the promise of Yoga practice is revealed in the measure of your life. What I didn’t mention was that in order to realize that promise of joy and fulfillment, you must walk a risky path that will unravel you. The deeper you go into your practice, the less satisfied you are with the mundane and insane aspects of your life. One definition of insanity is the repetition of something without change, without evolution; an insidious pattern you've figured out how to be OK with.
Yoga persistently begs you to let go of your stuff, to clear out your dullness, to reveal your lightness; to wake up! Over a decade ago my first mentor told me (as I desperately clung to a life unraveling) “Once you get on the path, you don’t get off”.
I didn't get off the path.
In my experience, here's what the path looks like from a well-tread perspective:
THE PHYSICAL LANDSCAPE
At first, you practice yoga to eliminate the patterns that have been holding you back; physically. This plays out in the landscape of your body. Over time tension, constriction, and patterns of physical holding soften. You become more flexible, you feel lighter, more powerful. The practice becomes easier and you seek out more difficult postures, more flexibility, more strength.
MENTAL / EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE
Inevitably as deep-seated patterns of physical holding are released, so is something else. Like lava it rises hot and forceful, breaking through the surface of your being and spewing out as tears pouring on your mat in pigeon pose. That memory, that experience, that feeling or story from deep inside has been freed and in this one little moment your life has begun to change. You have awoken to some truth that you have been pushing down, deep and unacknowledged.
You feel that the tide has turned; a whirling, churning, and yes, burning, has occurred, leaving you more sensitive and aware of your behavior patterns and internal narrative that just aren't ok anymore. At this pivotal moment you can either choose to 1) stuff it, or 2) reveal and deal. When you choose the course of uncovering these ways of being and facing them head on, then how you relate to people, yourself and how you see the world becomes different, leaving you at risk of not being “yourself” anymore. Yoga says: allow it to unravel and swirl and release into the space of this new flexible, powerful, integrated body. The yogis believe that the "space" of a purified body is the field of intelligence; it is energy itself! Let’s just call it awake-ness.
RIDING THE WAVES
As you start to feel off-kilter, different, tossed in waves of turbulence; you are literally being re-wired. There is an irrefutable power in this force. The more you struggle against it, the more your life presents challenges to pull you back into the game of evolution, again and again, each time, potentially more painful than the last! Again a choice: you can recoil, diminish, and hide; believing yourself a victim of the circumstances of the world or you can believe that this awakeness is exactly what you need at the RISK of everything changing. AWAKE and AWARE and SEEING exactly what IS. Not your old limiting beliefs, patterns and stories.
CHOOSING TO BE AWAKE
Choosing day after day to flow with this self-transformation is an inevitable result of practicing yoga. The more you seek the dismantling of your life constructs, your firm beliefs and locked perceptions, the more you surrender their grip into that awake awareness, that profound intelligence, that is the promise of yoga; to wake up, to free yourself of these mental, emotional and physical ties that have bound you. Yoga yields freedom. Freedom from what you ask? Well, at the risk of everything changing, wake up and find out!