The irony of Yoga?
While we practice to focus and quiet the body & chaos of the thinking mind, we are essentially choosing a distraction to distract us.
We are learning (the art of) DISTRACTION.
We are reigning in the vṛttis (vrittis), the whirling thoughts, so that we may find a less invasive distraction to… do what? … care to take a guess?
To distract us!
Yoga, quite simply, helps us calm the waves so that we may return to a calm state.
Yogas chitta vritti nirodha.
Which translates to:
Yoga is the neutralization of the vortices of feeling.
What do we do with THAT?
Well, it brings us to the practice Yoga!
(We can agree that “Yoga” is not just the physical movement on a mat, yes?)
During pūja last week, as the Pūjārī (celebrant) said, “…. please allow us to perform this pūja to honor Your Presence and receive blessings… please let nothing distract us…”
Now, I’ve meditated on these words many times over the years… I’ve said them out loud to remember them… and each time my ego would chime into my thinking mind, and echo “how on Earth can we be distracted during this holy and auspicious offering?? And it’s only like a 20 minute service.”
Every single time.
One can say I was distracted each time by even thinking this way… and you wouldn’t be completely wrong, but, on this particular morning… I was distracted by a most incredible, magical sight out of the corner of my eye. You might say seeing deer in the mountains is like seeing a dog in the suburbs… but, as Swamiji Ma was up at the altar praying and chanting – on this particular day, I sat in a completely different spot and this deer momma and her baby were nibbling at the berries and I looked at them precisely at the time we chanted: Sa Bāhyābhyantara Jyotih Sa Jotiś Śiva Uchyate:
“That auspicious pure Light is within and without.”
The inner warm light I felt observing the love of the deer caring for her young offered me a chance to welcome into my heart a sight of beauty, with the backdrop of the Lotus Temple, making me feel at peace… at hOMe.
That’s all we want, right?
Is to feel we belong.
It may take us several tries to feel a connection. Some of us spend a lifetime seeking connection.
And this is the beauty of the practice. Repetition. Faith. Perseverance. On this journey back to the Self, we get to bathe in the glory that makes us, us! But in order to succeed, we need to focus and let nothing distract us.
The deer was indeed a magical sign just like your dimes, your hair clips, and your red cardinals… walking into pūja, I was holding my Dad in my heart wishing he could see me “being okay.” He took his last breath worrying about me. That is one tough pill to swallow. When he left his body something crushed me. I WANTED him to see me okay. And I nearly was…. but as crushed as his passing left me, I had a four week old, and I had to focus, untethered, flapping in the breeze. Then, it was my practice of Yoga (a long) four years later that embraced ME.
Not the other way around.
Today, it’s a balance; I need Yoga as much as It needs me. Not globally, I’m simply acknowledging my light.
Acknowledging one’s gifts lends itself to inner healing. I’m acquiescing to the fact that (of course) Yoga really doesn’t need me, per se, but rather, I can bring something TO the prayer, the pūja, the chant, the offering of my ego so that Yoga may take root, deep within me so that long after this world is done with my physical body, my vibration of love and light continues to serve.
And that’s how a healthy relationship is cultivated. Acknowledging reciprocity for the greater good.
Service isn’t (always) one sided!
Distractions come in many forms.
Some, maybe most?, have purpose.
Seeing this deer and her baby was like a hug from my Dad that I long for to this day. I can close my eyes and feel his embrace but we all know it’s never the same. He gave the best bear hugs… they melted away a lot of baggage, even for only those few moments.
I know what it’s like to worry for your children but, I can’t imagine how he must have worried for my peace. He knew I battled many demons and his kindness brought light into my life and it held me until Chant scooped me up and gave me my life back; the life I was born with that dimmed with every passing year.
Yoga was the electrical surge my soul required.
So as crushed as my soul was losing my first Guru, the kindest soul, and as distracted as I was… it was through Yoga I realized my imperfections, inconsistencies, inability to commit… (I could go on but) neither of these made me a failure, nor will your challenges make you a failure… our pure Light is just as bright-it doesn’t dim when your mind pulls you out of your focus, it’s there… always.
I say again, our light is always burning. Maybe at its brightest when we feel we are submerged in our darkest of moments.
This is where I believe we lose souls – when they lose focus, they forget that the light (stability/Self-love, purpose) is there… or they just don’t believe everything they need to right them Selves is within… I didn’t even know I had a light or purpose in me until the raw pain of the loss of my Father just four weeks after my first child was born – at a time that should have been the most joyous of my life – I was at my most vulnerable, most distracted state.
Then I wasn’t.
My beloved Teacher, Ma, reminds me we all have a job to do-and no matter what it is-we should do this job, the best we can. If you’re kind-be the kindest person you can be. If you’re a jerk-be the jerkiest jerk you can be. She says next time someone is being a huge ass, tell them: “GOOD JOB! You are THE BEST ASS, EVER!”
(I might be paraphrasing a bit;)
We can’t fault someone doing their job well!
Maybe we need to accept that distraction is a part of growing… accepting… or perhaps it serves to remind us we’re souls having a human experience, not the other way around.
This has gotten me through many a doubtful moment on this winding path of Light and Love and Self discovery.
May it serve you well, too.
Look at who else was distracted… and I was SO GOOD at being distracted, I took of photo to remember how distracted I was! (photo above)