12 Apr Getting Real
Leslie don Ross
“Yoga is a mirror to look at ourselves from within.” BKS Iyengar
“Yoga acts as a mirror. Each breath, each movement, reflects to us who we are and how we are moment to moment. We look into the mirror of Yoga and see the places that need support and the places that need to open. The postures teach us about ourselves, markers on the map of the soul. They bless us with immediate feedback. As we move deeper into the physical and mystical teachings, we become intrepid explorers mining the terrain of body, mind and soul. “
Julie Rappaport’s quote from her book 365 Yoga Daily Meditations is one of my favorites to share in class. It speaks directly to the idea that Yoga not only gives us information about ourselves, but the practice of yoga helps to create space within. With this space and through a more expansive lense, we can begin to see how all is connected; and with this new perspective we have an opportunity to view our “programs” and our shortcomings with more objectivity and compassion. This space can also inspire a sense of curiosity and a call to action to address our pitfalls head on rather than hiding behind our the highs of our spiritual experiences.
Yoga is about tuning in and not tuning out. When we close our eyes in a pose or meditation we give ourselves permission to explore our inner landscape without external distractions. From this place of stillness coupled with the breath we create more spaciousness, separating ourselves from the internal noise and offering an opportunity see what is real and what we are creating to support our stories. One of the challenge we all face as human beings is learning to approach our shadow side/our inner darkness with embrace rather than rejection. Surrounded by a social and political culture of constant lies and deceit, it is hard to decipher the “REAL Truth” both internally and externally.
At some point, both personally or with those in your yoga community (sangha), you may have experienced this form of compartmentalism or the avoidance phenomenon termed “spiritual bypassing”. Whether it is the “Happiness Coach” boasting that everything is all smiles, or the Yoga teacher whose inflated ego has resulted in a false sense of grandeur and entitlement. Or you are still riding the high of an elated experience from meditation, psychedelics or an intense ritual but your life beyond that is still in turmoil. In each of these examples there is a hiding behind our “Light” and the bright experiences and denying the darkness or failing to confront the “not so pretty stuff”.
Tantra Yoga invites us to bring all sides of ourselves to the party and to use the dark and the light for fuel for our fire to transform what is not surviving us and empower us to thrive. It charges us to not hide behind the practices but explore how can we allow them to support us as we go deeper ; with these tools we can work to refine our awareness and cultivate the skills to serve from a more compassionate caring place and open up the playing field for deeper authentic connections and happiness. So we stay humble, hungry and aware, Rod Stryker was recently quoted saying “The world doesn’t need you to teach as much as it needs you to practice. ~ Practice first. Teach second.”
And in conjunction, Rod’s Teacher Pandit Rajmani Tigunait in Chapter I of The HImalayan Masters a Living Tradition, sources several different sages to share stories of the human condition describing how one finds their way back to wholeness. That “as long as we perceive ourselves as individuals, we will be afraid of losing that identity”. Yoga supports us in our journey back to wholeness, to oneness by creating that space to see that we are all connected.
This summer, Hanuman Festival is stepping up to the plate with the timely theme – Keeping it Real- and what does that mean for you and for the Yoga Community at large. And more importantly how do we sharpen our discernment tools to know firstly what is real and unreal inside. What are we masking with fluff or smiles or delusions of grandeur to hide the pain and discomfort and stuff it into the cave so we don’t have to feel it or deal with it. This life is about working through the challenges and transcenting them by finding new ways to see them. If we were all enlightened, we wouldn’t be here. So let’s jump in together and know that we are all imperfect together and take others off a pedestal and work to remove the lofty ideals you have for yourself to fill those shoes and Get Real and Honest and truthful.
Join me this summer at the Hanuman Festival to engage in a whole new way that is Real, honest and helps us as a community embrace the dark so the light can shine even brighter. Step into the conversations on “Keeping it Real” to look into the mirror of what is actually going on for you and get clear on your intentions. The depth and inspiration of the lectures, discussions, shared meals, asana and meditation practices can help us like a lense cloth is used to wipe away the film covering our vision; with fresh eyes and clarity we can focus on what is really there rather than an illusion we have created to protect ourselves from the truth. And with that we can show up as our most empowered self both on and off the mat.
See you soon.