Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yogi Marriage

In some sense I am the stories that define who I am, and yoga practice helps me to go beyond that into a more expansive and connected sense of who I am. Yet the word yoga indicates a joining or balancing of being an individual and being a child of a larger connected whole.

So I can see why the practice leans toward gleaning insight about that which is beyond form. After all, we do tend to be mesmerized by the physical world. So to balance us we tend to need a spiritual practice, lest we get wrapped up in the daily tasks and then think that that is all there is to our lives. 'I am a bill payer' would be an example of this kind of reduction.

At the same time I recognize that my warm and cuddly human form with all it's unique expressions is a part of this marriage. So it's not about blotting Brooks Hall out in exchange for some kind of compassionate one without a past that informs the present. On a less-than-completely-conscious level I misinterpreted the teachings of yoga in this way. These teachings are an aspect of a total process that includes my earthly existence.

The reasons for my misinterpretation are twofold. One reason I made this mistake is because I read each teacher as if they had "it"--meaning the whole story--when individuals always have a particular take on things. That's just the way it is. And another person's take cannot be my own. I have to integrate my own understanding. So while I was trying on the ideas of other yoga and spiritual teachers I was a bit confused about how to live this kind of excellent life that I was seeking. So my unsophisticated and underdeveloped sense of myself gravitated towards self-rejection under the aim of becoming the best person I could be--which turned into some things which turned out to be against the me that was born and will die. And it was under the good intention of helping others. But I have done that at the expense of developing my personal life. I have been Brooks Hall the yoga teacher, and now I'm just trying to be myself.

And as contradictory as this might sound I also recognize that my immersion in spiritual teachings is now part of my life path. Furthermore it is a blessing, and for any confusion and struggle that may come as I continue to assymilate and integrate what I am able to in my life, I am grateful--because this adventure is one I want. I want to see how far I can go, and live what I can learn.

The other way I got off track with the teachings of yoga is my misinterpretation allowed me to hide from hurts from my past. If I can be a yoga-inspired person I can be totally healed and happy, right? There is something false and Pollyanna-ish about the commonly advertised image of yoga yielding a perfect and always-happy life. For me, there was self denial present. I was fooling myself to think that my old painful self would just disappear--I still have to deal with that one. It also was an easy fit for my self-loathing. Self-loathing loves denial! This way you can hate yourself without feeling the rawness. Have you ever seen someone with the fake yoga smile (the fake smile exists in other places of denial, too)? It's the kind of smile that holds pain in the eyes--like they're afraid that you'll see what's really going on there.

I understand this because I've lived in the fear that others will see just how pathetic I really am. But that's really just a self-judgement and not really true. I am who I am. And plenty of people like me and there are some who don't.

What is called for is a sacred marriage or union within myself between the stories that give my life form and the great mystery that is formless and beyond any one person's comprehension. And while I recognize this I also think that the mystery is something that we can hold together. This is an important reason for us to come together and listen to one another.


Michelle said...

Well said. I relate completely!

Anonymous said...

Great post and its something I relate to as well.

Over the years my Guru has consistently said to us - Work exactly where you're at...

But of course, it takes ages and ages to realise what that means on a practical level.

This: "There is something false and Pollyanna-ish about the commonly advertised image of yoga yielding a perfect and always-happy life..." is, I think,
a common experience for many yogis and yoginis.

At least among other yogis within my school it is, so you're not alone there.

We have to learn to accept ourselves, the good and the stuff we think of as not so good. Only when we're working from that place can we really start to grow.

As I'm sure you know, honesty with ourselves is so important on the spiritual path.

I like that analogy - a marriage of all those parts of ourselves!