The Lesson and the Boon

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Yoga and all the great adventure of that India has given to my life, has been an ongoing lesson in the illusive art of making ritual meaningful and letting that meaning organically flow into every way I engage in life.

At the moment, however, the lesson is bittersweet. I am now living proof that an advanced asana practice does not necessarily mean an advanced yoga practice. I am still somewhere in the learning curve of yoga when the extent of confusion in the mind is still showing more and more of itself.

What a year it has been. This year I have found a new spaciousness in my backbends and depth in my forward bends, and experienced the ecstatic physical sensations that accompany this grace. I have also encountered the same old stiffness in thinking, resistance in loving, and hesitance in acceptance. I’m almost 40 years old and still growing up!

Our school of yoga has a way of setting off some pretty extreme standards for physical strength and flexibility, and sometimes I feel these standards creeping into other realms of my life. Like so many of us, I am still chasing down some fancy asanas, even though I know and feel the lure of the more simple and advanced yoga of mental peace. The truth is that the asana practice really works for me now – to keep me engaged and balanced.

Yet in a way, the more confusion in my head, the more I turn to the physicality of the asana practice. Ironically, when I am most confused or in turmoil, my asana practice gets the biggest boost. So I tend to look on folks with advanced asana practice and wonder what is behind their momentous project.

For me the asana practice meets the meditation practice when my body teaches my mind to work skillfully, delicately, sensitively, to balance on what sometimes feels like the razor edge between pain and captivity. Life has a way of bouncing me back and forth between these two zones like a ping-pong ball.

India is the space in between the paddles, where I am flying, kept aloft by the precious energy of the living tradition of ancient vedic spiritual practice. I’m not saying that I know tantra, mantra or puja, I’m just saying I appreciate the energy of being near it.

I love India because it inspires me to perceive a sanguine, elegant melody of peace. For me it’s like swimming in a gently flowing river. And I feel deep gratitude for this boon in my life.

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