I walked home from restorative yoga class this evening feeling … well… restored. A little restored at least. A little more at peace with the world, a little more sure of my steps within it. I was amusing myself singing along to KD’s Rama Bolo as I walked along. Everything felt OK.
So when I encountered a couple standing at the roundabout holding a map, each gesticulating in a different direction, I wanted to help. I had time and space for strangers. We immediately hit a language barrier. I guessed they were German or at least German-speaking. Pity I’m not! I have a very old GCSE that has gathered dust and rarely been used in more than two decades. Plus I have a very embarrassing Bavarian accent. I tried to be helpful but I couldn’t quite remember the right words. So instead of asking “Are you lost?” it came out as a slightly more existential “Have you forgotten where you are?” But it got us on the right track and I literally pointed them in the right direction.
My clumsy expression got me thinking a little and reflecting on the book I’ve just starting reading: Jack Kornfield’s After the Ecstasy the Laundry. I’m only a few pages in but his descriptions of seekers has struck a bit of a chord with me. He describes us (human beings in general, I mean) as often coming to feel spiritually in need, as though we’ve lost our way or lost something, even if we can’t define what, when, or how. He describes a sense of longing, a desire to return to something (our true selves? the divine?).
I’ve not articulated it in such generalising terms, but I wonder if this is like the feeling I have in yoga at the moment. It’s a feeling both of sublime contentment but also deep loss. I have been absorbed pinning that loss down in specific terms within my life experiences, but maybe it’s part of a more general condition. I’ll keep reading and I’ll keep practicing and perhaps it’ll resolve itself with time, patience, and as much love as I can muster. I don’t know — I don’t have a map for this journey.
If you don’t know the book here’s a flavour or two from the first pages:
A thousand gates open to the spirit. Whether in the brilliance of beauty or the darks woods of confusion and sorrow, a force as sure as gravity brings us back to our heart. It happens to every one of us.
Lest it all sound difficult, there is another side to the forces that draw so many of us into the woods. A beauty calls to us, a wholeness that we know exists. The Sufis call this “the voice or the beloved”. We are born into this world with the song in our ears, yet we may first come to know it by its absence.