Here is something I know to be true for me; Yoga is not about bliss, yoga is about deep personal honesty. Spirituality is not certainty, but the longing of the heart. Enlightenment is not letting go of bad feelings or thoughts but about truly understanding them, what they are doing and how they are expressed in the body. Non-harming and forgiveness are not about feeling generous or big enough (bigger than and condescending) but about knowing the difficulty of right actions and assuming responsibility for the difficult. Forgiveness often comes directly out of acknowledging how bloody bitter I can really be. Love is joy, only some of the time. Sometimes, love hurts. Love is raw emotion.
Yoga is a grand love story for me, not a romanticized love story, but the real one. The kind that leaves you changed. Emotions are doorways, ways into self-realization, introspection and pure understanding. The goal is not to exist without shadows, but to become “The Original Spiritual Gangster” so that we no longer feel fat, bored, envious or impatient. The goal is to swallow hard (tongue against roof of mouth, relax the jaw, part the lips) as we take on willingness to go into the dark. Because yoga asks us to work with our breath, to connect our body and our mind; the inevitable result is going to be messy, messier for some than others!
There are times when my body itself is fearful, hot and fast, trembles, without the reasoning mind having a clue what is going on. There are days the boredom or loneliness seems so sharp they may actually wound. There are about five thousand ways my mind has told me “it isn’t worth it, it won’t work, ‘that self-love is not real.” And I am not done counting. Yet, practicing yoga for the last ten years has already given me a clue to this, I have already felt how love - whether it be romantic or ethical, compassion, right living, making a solidity of our names - love is the only thing that is real.
The highest and best in human beings is subtle, mysterious and tied directly to the shadows. Life is both unbearably cruel and devastatingly sweet, often at the same time. The shadows will show up. Go there, apathy, acedia, what Mystics called desolation, Existentialist called despair, moves when we move toward it, like the horizon line, forever receding. It is not the passage of time, but the passing through emotional experiences that heal us. There will always be someone telling us to “get over it” to “think positively” or to “let it go”... be wary.
For me, yoga is the love story where things fall apart, people move away, often at the same time a huge storm takes out the power, leaving you in the dark and then a small movement in the heart and then another... Ba-boom, Ba-boom, Ba-boom, I am alive!