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and the Art of Slowing it Down
a ‘lil background
November 17, 2012Posted by on
Excerpts from Sue Hamilton’s “Very Short Introduction (on) Indian Philosophy” might help you understand where I was coming from: “From the perspective of the (East) Indian worldview, though, the possibility of changing one’s cognitive perception is something to be regarded as systematically possible by all means of regular disciplinary exercises in a manner not at all that different from systematically acquiring the ability to play a musical instrument. Both require long term perseverance and practice and involve the fine-tuning of various aspects of bodily and mental coordination. There is nothing magical about either – both are regarded as skills.”
I knew this; rather should I say, I trusted this philosophy… in my mind’s eye, I thought I was doing the right thing: not medicating & getting on the mat every day. It was a hard an arduous process but I was committed – I thought I was doing the right thing; I thought I was getting closer to liberation! And what a THRILL that was in and of itself minus the conspiracies! I was practicing a religion, albeit one that I was using creative liberty with, as I had no Brahmin priest within arm’s reach and my yoga teacher was a beginner just like me… My physical & verbal actions were rituals and I worked very hard at being ‘present’ at all times in an attempt to understand the great beauty in the world around ME. (Note to reader: Hope you get my drift! Dupont’s pretty but not that pretty?!)
What I also knew in my heart, after years of training, reading and some every-day worldly experience, in an ephemeral sort of way, was as according to Nyaya Sutra Bhasya: “Here, the self is the seer of all things, enjoyer of all things, omniscient experience of all things. Body is the place of the self’s pleasure and pain. The sense organs are the means by which pleasure and pain are cognized. The internal sense ‘mind’ is that which knows all objects. Action is the cause of all pleasure and pain; so are the defects of desire, envy and attachment. The self had earlier bodies, and will have other bodies after this one, until liberation is achieved. It is this that is the beginningless cycle of birth and death. ‘Consequence’ is the experiencing of pleasure and pain, along with their means, pain being inextricably linked with pleasure. In order to achieve liberation, one has to understand all happiness as the same as pain; this gives rise to detachment and, eventually, liberation.”
… I was living my truth; and seeking my liberation even though at times it was crude & torturous, it was the right path for me!
I felt alive unlike I had felt ever before! I imagine many people in their early thirties have similar experiences. I imagine whenever a person matures to a point that they feel good in their skin, they respond similarly… I moderated life’s ebbs and flows gracefully and was not distressed… most of the time.
My younger sister can attest that on occasion, when fear got the best of me, I would break down and confess my unhealthy mind over a glass of wine. Unfortunately she had no advice and would usually ask when the last time that I had seen my psychologist was. (I had a great Psychologist in DC! But frankly, she was of no great help in curing me… I think found my stories curious. She must find many stories from her patients curious… in hindsight I used her in place of my best friend; I am not very good at keeping secrets, she knew all my secrets!)
But let’s get back to Sue’s book that I just reread: “ ’Yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit verbal root yuj, meaning ‘to yoke’ – in the sense of yoking one thing to another. The point for many lay in the idea of ‘merging’ or ‘uniting’: either self/soul (atman) with universal essence (Brahman), or, in theistic systems, soul with God. It can also lie more in the linked concepts of internal ‘control’, ‘harmony’, ‘order’, or of what one might call ‘integrity of insight’. “
I was there, in the thick of it – there was great order and harmony in my life I was merging with the universe… I was living my Yoga and it felt fantastic! But alas, that was a long time ago…
I had a Indian friend ask me the other weekend how my Yoga was; immediately I thought of my practice & frowned… but the next day when I was reflecting on it, I turned that frown upside down when I considered how much of a lifestyle thing it is for me these days. I might only get on the mat to stretch these days (I no longer use the practice to align myself with the constellations), I eat meat, swear, tell white lies and kill a cockroach or two and have forgotten my “intention” but I am centered. I am centered and I am happy! (My husband has always argued that I am more Hindu than he is, he was raised Brahmin.) So the answer should have been: “My yoga today is a much watered down version of what it once was. I had to let go of my deep desire to be liberated and accept my Karma.” Hopefully I’ll remember that next time I am feeling poorly for not being so flexy.
…I’ll close with what I learned firsthand : “…And the overcoming of ignorance and the gaining of knowledge of the identity of one’s essential self (atman) and the universal essence (Brahman) effects liberation from the ignorance-induced cycle of rebirth.” I think, in DC, I was disrupting the natural order of things and that I just needed to Relax. I was hyper; manic most of the time… I wasn’t medicated… Now, stable because I am married and medicated, I have some advice for the young thirty something’s:
If you relax into it… it finds you! And I can vouch that an every day run of the mill familial life is more rewarding than reaching your dreams… don’t get me wrong, dreams are necessary evils; but it doesn’t matter if you never reach them! They are the tools that get you there. They are the tools that get you here. I’ve learned that what matters most is that you find your Truth and live to “Live it”! So keep in mind; sometimes that Truth isn’t an exact replica of the picture that WE have in our minds.
Sat Nam. (Rough translation: Truth is my identity.)