It’s about 5am right now in my corner of the world. I’m awake. I’m hungry and thirsty so I’m taking care of that. My mind is restless, so this blog is my way of trying to take care of that.
I can’t sleep. I’m full of awe and excitement and I’m happily sh*t scared of these feelings I have for life. This sudden sense of the magnitude and vastness of existence. And the small greatness I have within this.
Tomorrow (provided I can get a sufficient amount of sleep first) I will go to class and it will be the first class all over again, following an experience last week that shook me up quite considerably and brought me to the miserable question of whether to continue practicing. But I think I’m ready to start again.
It could be the yogic equivalent of a teenage tantrum when you don’t get your own way. Instead I choose to think of it as abhinivesha, usually translated as ‘fear of death’. Except that it wasn’t a fear of dying as such. It was a sudden glimpse into the nature of things, a limitless radiance of stillness and peace. I slipped suddenly out of everything I know and cling to as intrinsic to my life and into this experience of ‘the true self’ as my teacher later described it to me. And I hated it! Where was my ego, my sense of self, my physicality, bodily sensations… If this is the state of Yoga, of course it involves some deaths, some letting go of what I think I know, who I think I am, the nature of the world I seem to inhabit, my control of everything. Big stuff. This is a revolution in my experience of the nature of existence no less.
My mind rebelled, kicked in strongly and surely and I ended up as a howling, shivering wreck so out of control that my teacher literally had to peel me off the floor and lead me by the hand to a safer space. Blessings on him for his love and quiet respect. Even though I’m sure I was putting off the other punters and not being a good advert for his teaching!
The amazing Richard Freeman says yoga is embarrassing and that we must constantly begin again with a fresh spirit, with new understanding of what the practice truly is, aware that our previous conceptions were flawed and limited.
Well, I’m not embarrassed as such, though I do regret having such a public demonstration of my confusion (I am British after all and public displays are therefore always embarrassing). But I am left feeling very humbled by the whole experience, vastly daunted, but also with some nervous excitement.
In this one small moment all those strange concepts like Brahman, Ishvara, Satcitānanda, AUM all had some meaning. But it was just one small moment and I’m left full of questions that I know have no answers. I must just let them rest within me; this too is part of the practice. Yoga is a union of all opposites that might perhaps have some ultimate resolution, but for daily functioning it is for me more a precarious balance than a union. So I will practice loving the paradoxes.
Of course one small moment doesn’t make me enlightened. If it did I wouldn’t be kept awake now by the citta vṛtti-s and I wouldn’t be wondering what outfit to wear to class
tomorrow in a few hours.