Like most people, it is the challenges of life that brought me to yoga and meditation. Encountering pain made me re-examine my choices, behaviors and subsequent patterns that created my life, and that contemplation led me on to the path of meditation.
Yoga in its entirety encapsulates the eight limbs that guide one into living a meditative, awakened and enriched life. Therefore, whether it is the practice of being watchful of one’s conduct as the Yamas teach us or practicing Pratyahara, the inward turning of sensory perception, or Asana as a gateway to the final meditation in corpse pose; all these teachings contribute toward the inner journey. A journey far richer than the one our eyes can perceive. We learn through meditation how to tune into the well of wisdom that exists inside each and every one of us.
For some reason meditation has been made into something that can only be attained through rigor. In truth, meditation comes naturally to us. It is an innate wisdom that we are pre-programmed with. For example, we have all observed children when they are at play or transfixed and absorbed by an activity, or even when they are day- dreaming. They enter a place of becoming completely present with their activity. They generously indulge in moments where their attention is fully consumed in what they are doing. Scientists have called this the “flow state” in adults. Artists and athletes alike enter a “zone” where they are one with the moment they find themselves in. Quite simply put, this is meditation. It is doing something you so fully enjoy and can lose yourself in, that you become one with it.
The practice of meditation is as familiar to us as sitting in front of a fire and feeling captivated by it’s magnetism. Our ancestors sat in circles around the fire and let their attention be absorbed by what they were perceiving. They were practicing Dharana, one of the eight limbs which is also a road to meditation.
When I started studying Tantric meditation seven years ago, I was asked, “What it is that ignites your soul? What brings you to life? What awakens you?” This is a practice, a ritual I return to every so often. I ask myself what is it that sings to my soul? Some days it is the practice of Asana, some days it is reading a good book, sometimes it is just the act of sitting quietly and enjoying my tea in solitude. Anything that you love to do can become a doorway into your deeper, inner journey. Your glorious return to yourself, to that which nourishes you.
Here is a poem that always helps me to remember the way back to myself:
LOVE AFTER LOVE by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Kula February 23rd 7:45pm