Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fishing for Yoga

Similar to when a fish is pulled out of a great body of water and reveals its nourishment for the betterment of another body, some writing seems to hook into me, and pull things out that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, nourishing me in ways I barely understand.

Paragraph 1 from the introduction of Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar:

“The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. It also means union or communion. It is true union of our will with the will of God. ‘It thus means,’ says Mahadev Desai in his introduction to the Gita According to Gandhi, ‘the yoking of all the powers of body, mind and soul to God; it means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that Yoga presupposes; it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.’”

I look to traditional yoga texts to deepen my study and inspire my growth. I seek to refine my understanding and continue along the path. And returning to the essential points can be helpful.

Yoga is aligning one’s will with something that cannot be entirely understood from a worldly point of view. It would be crucial that the will be a clear and empowered aspect of one’s self in order to align with a larger sense like that. A person’s will can’t defined by past pain or woundedness and be effective. It is still hard to imagine attaching will to something that cannot be entirely understood from an individual’s viewpoint. And it is very easy to see how the will is attached to worldly desires and aversions. The human body is designed to experience worldly things. It feels the pull of pleasure and the repulsion of pain. And at the same time it is also natural to look for deeper meaning in life.

Once a person gets a whiff of the sense that there really is something that is beyond one’s personal pains and pleasures, things can go in different directions. There is a choice. A person can start to deny one’s personal life and try to ignore the influence of past events. In this case you might see what looks good and just act like you think you should. It might be the best a person can do at a certain point, but there is falseness in imitation, and rigidity in this approach. I know because I tried it, and when I was in this space I had the best intentions. I was going to be the best person I could be in spite of the events that brought me to the place where I could make this choice. But, for me there is such sadness in this way. I am a person with a birthright to my story. There are specific events that brought me here. If I’m not embracing this aspect of myself, who is this “me” living this life? Something is missing. And what business does she have doing this? I say this because in some way I become an imposter acting in my own life when I’m not authentically embracing my experience.

A better and more authentic approach in my view is to get to know one’s self in light of the new awareness that there is something more to life than the daily grind. The denial path is totally understandable if, like me, someone has painful experiences in the past. You don’t really want to go there. You want to start fresh. And it looks like an option to live in a different space, but eventually every yogi must process their worldly experience. It might be the only way to clarify and empower one’s will. Once you know who you are, including weaknesses and strengths, I think it is possible to discipline one’s self and align one’s actions with a larger and more connected view. This is a constant and ongoing process. I am still working on knowing the self that I denied, and yet I am also working with the yoga and doing my best to align with my best understanding and sense of myself as I go.

Link to a post inspired by the second paragraph of Light on Yoga


YogaforCynics said...

"The denial path is totally understandable if, like me, someone has painful experiences in the past."

How true. I far too often beat myself up for spending so much time running away from the past--smoking dope all day for year after year, wanting to be a hermit in the woods, taking on personas that simply try to hide the pain I don't want to acknowledge. But, one thing that was wounded particularly badly was my sense of self as capable of dealing with anything--and, as such, it's understandable that I didn't see any real choice but to run away in any way I possibly could, and, if anything, I should be glad that I at least had the strength to avoid getting tied up in the more self-destructive forms of escape. And, paradoxically enough, acknowledging that there wasn't anything to punish myself for in running away does seem to be the first step in not running away any more...

The word verification is "issea" which seems particularly appropriate for this post....

Brooks Hall said...

Reply to comment from YogaforCynics