I’m running out of words. I can no longer find the adequate means to convey the depth and breath of the teachings, both from life and from class. We have levels of understanding so subtle that we aren’t even aware of them until they manifest in our brain, until they become known to us in our heart and our very fiber, like the cotton shirt that’s soaked in the steamy bath of dye, the layers permeated with color so bright you don’t believe you’ve ever seen that color before. While at the same time, our awareness is like the wax on the batik that repels the bath and rejects its own becoming, only letting a little of the magnificent color seep through. I want to take it all in, I want to understand. I fear losing my grip on whatever I’m discovering as I look homeward.
My landlord has shared several books with me from her guru, the late Indira Diva, you’ll recall the beautiful book of prayers from the day of the tooth debacle, and now Fragrant Memories, which I opened for the first time this morning. I picked it up and I didn’t want to put it down. It doesn’t happen often that a book draws me in so completely, a story perfectly woven like fabric made of equal parts wool and silk, mundane life and divine wisdom. She tells the story of her awakening to Truth, from a life of substantial means to a life of understanding and service, from humble ignorance to humble servitude. It’s a lovely story and I’ve just begun. I bristle now to think that I might have stayed put in my comfortable bed and crawled into her wisdom, ignoring the call of Prashant’s 7am class to my peril.
That my learning in class continues to improve astounds me, a testament to the quality of the teachers. I’m not a yoga rock star, none of this comes easily to me, nor do I even understand but a tiny portion of what is given to me each day, yet here I am like a thirsty plant soaking it up. Some of you will remember my vain attempts to time myself in Sirsasana trying to prepare for my trip like a qualifying Olympian, when now I see futility of that approach. Today we worked with Uddiyana breathing, Uddiyana is one of the bandhas where the diaphragm is lifted up and the abdominal organs are pulled back toward the spine, a powerful action believed to lift prana (life force) up through the main energy channel of the spine. Working with the breath in this way we explored long and hard, discovering for ourselves the razor’s edge between finite and infinite, exploration and exhaustion. Where does one end and one begin? How do we dance along that edge without losing our balance? At home my study has focused on “the method” of teaching, but there is a deeper understand that continues to allude me, like searching for the meaning of life in a cereal box, I continue to grope for the prize, when the prize is the search. It is the searching that keeps revealing things to me in class. Just when I think I can’t possibly learn more about myself, I do.
We cycled through a variety of back-bending poses and inversions today doing them over and over, and when we were exhausted, Prashant would call us forward to listen. The words of wisdom would flow like a river as our hearts settled down, and sweat dripped, then back we would go for another round using the newly revealed knowledge to explore the inner realm. At the end there were a few twists and forward bends and we were done. Literally. I’ve climbed on top of the world and I leave class wanting to keep this knowledge with me and grow it throughout the years, share it with my students and friends, but doubting my ability to take it home. I don’t think it will fit in my suitcase.
Inconsistency always trips me up, in my personal life I view it as a shortcoming, when I don’t practice every day, or eat right, or when I delve into negativity, it feels like failure, but I’m beginning to see that it is only through acceptance of yourself that true love and compassion can grow. It doesn’t mean I’m a slacker, it just means I’m human. At the beginning of Gandhiji’s book there is a Note to the reader I find beautifully humble and full of self acceptance and love.
To the diligent reader of my writings I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search after truth I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old that I am in age I have no feeling that I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of my flesh. What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment…When you find an inconsistency, if you still have faith in my sanity, you would do well to chose the latter of the two on the same subject.