When I tell people what I do for a living, yoga therapist, writer, and doula, it lends itself to some interesting conversations. I was having lunch at our local food co-op one day, when a guy I had seen around a couple of times was asking about yoga. I love speaking about yoga, obviously it is the topic of conversation that I have a tendency to “light up” over, more than any other. Still this person threw me a curve ball when he asked, “have you ever been illuminated,” after just less than five minutes of conversation. I thought to myself “When did this become typical conversation for a Thursday afternoon, with someone you just met?” My first teachers warned me to not get caught up in the circus tricks of yoga, and my inner Guru teaches me to let go of results, so when I see students striving to attain siddhis, special powers, through the practice of yoga, I try to gently guide them back to truth and away from this trap of the ego.
Our Sadhana(spiritual practice) has great power, it has to if it is the path to enlightenment. But the very thing that sets us free, can also cage us if we are not aware. Be aware of this trap, it is the trap of all religions and mystical experiences that we hand over to the ego to make sense of and dual.
Enlightenment is the point, but the path is the destination.
This statement is a very hard one for our egos to wrap themselves around, but the overtly spiritual student is often missing the point, the same as the student coming solely for the yoga butt.
As Yogin, we should evolve into practices just for the sake of the subtle bodies, because our subtle bodies are what govern our physical, mental, and emotional health, and to be a Yogi means to be rooted in our highest self, the seat of the buddhi, which is like the center of the flower.
I have shared intimate information of mystical experiences, in my writing and in teacher trainings, but as I said before, they are the signposts for you to know you are still on the path. Keep walking as if you were walking to nowhere.
If you were running in a race, and in the middle someone told you there was no finish line, what would you do? Would you hand it over to the ego and say, “this sucks. You did this to me!” Would you keep running? Would you give up? Would you slow down? Would you drop to your knees say “if this is your will for me, Lord I will keep running with all my heart.”
This is the humility that develops from our sadhana, our spiritual practice. The surrender that allows us to be seen truly as we are. This humility helps to ground us, and carry out love into the world. It is the digestion that can take what is spiritual and make it applicable to our lives, and take what is life, even the obstacles, and make it applicable to our spiritual knowledge.
Just as we should not compare the shapes of our postures, we should not compare the brightness of our souls.
We come as spiritual seekers and each of our paths are as differently shaped as the bones in our bodies. We all have the ability to become illuminated not from some special yoga mudra, pranayama, or vigorous asana practice, but by choosing faith, devotion, and connection. A wise one once said. “Once I became Enlightened I never met another person that wasn’t.”
I don’t think this is because he/she was just wearing rosey colored glasses..although, seeing things in a different way, may be the first step. I believe it is because when we are completely aligned with truth and the ability to be a vessel for light, just our presence can change the nervous system of the people around us. No convincing necessary. We have all tasted illumination to some degree, and it hangs out as a distant memory, clouding the ego, trying to make sense of it all.
To know even a particle of your own consciousness allows us to remember who we are. It is very difficult to remember at all times. As we enter into our lives, and say yes to fulfilling our purpose and reaching into our full potential, it can seam like the closer we get to discovering our own truth, the farther we fall away from the body of love that we come from. Just like all paths, there is expansion and contraction. When this happens, return to the questions of your values, making sure that every action serves the greater good. You are sure to rise and fall like the waves of the ocean.
As you are rising, remember where you come from, and as you fall take comfort in the surrender, rest, and support beneath you. If we can learn to ride the waves of life remembering that we are not separate from each other, we can truly learn to be happy. We feel alive when we are at the peak of our creative energy, but even this must rise and fall. We feel held when we return to the state of oneness that exists beyond creation, and once again this will peak into your expression of creative energy. It is through the balance of process and attainment of Light, that we coexist with spirit and life.