Last year I had multiple losses; in a seven week time period my mother-in-law, my father, and my dog passed away. This was a very trying time, as we had also relocated from the West Coast to the East Coast and I had started a new teaching position.
I found myself last Spring wishing to spend all of my time on the yoga mat. I yearned for the yoga mat and it was the only place I felt really at home. I could mourn their, I could release there. Me, the mat, my classmates. Sometimes I would feel self-conscious leaving the class teary eyed and with my nose running. I noticed though that unless the instructor was clued in, most people seemed to be “clued out” to my suffering or maybe they just were accepting that people show up to yoga and cry. And they leave still teary eyed.
My friend encouraged me to go to yoga everyday or as much as possible during this time, but I found it difficult to make the time between the kids and the demands of the job I was working. Meanwhile, I couldn’t really do my job to my fullest ability if I wasn’t taking the time to heal and process the grief.
Then I found myself in a yoga teacher training course that I chose mostly because I was looking for a course that would work with my schedule; I did not want to be away from 3 and 5 year old daughters for more then a day at a time. I was really sold when I found that the founder of the program had received his PhD from the same school I attended for my PhD ( http://www.ciis.edu) and when I read his works, this philosophy of classical yoga seemed to align with my own.
This form of classical yoga was developed to support one reaching higher levels of consciousness by practicing yoga as a preparation for sitting in meditation. I have been reading a book about yoga and meditation which addresses the question: “Will yoga and meditation change my life?” (Stephen Cope, 2003). Many of the contributors in this text agree that yoga is really the path to meditation, which is what will set you free. One yogi mentions that no matter how great the yoga session today, tomorrow he will need more yoga again. One way beyond and through this need is to also include meditation within the yoga practice. I also noticed in this text that as as many of the yogis and yoginis aged, there was a movement toward more stillness in practice and more use of meditation as yogic practice versus asanas (poses) being the emphasis of a yogic practice.
For myself, I know that I have found more freedom in moving toward gentle and classical yoga poses. The idea is that yoga is not about the perfect pose, but rather your expression of the pose “is what is”- and that expression is your own perfect expression of the pose. (LOL). The focus is on the breath and being aware. The focus is on coming into relaxation so that meditation can be a reality, even for those of us who “can’t meditate”. The focus in practicing is finding ease in the moment, presence with what is.
And then there are options for healing beyond yoga; massage, acupuncture, diet issues, hormone balancing, therapy, and so on. I think this points to what I have found: that for most of us there may not be one mod that is adequate to support healing.
Lately I have also been struggling with this idea that after we are “enlightened” , we then come back to reality; the dishes and laundry still need to be done, we will still feel grief and sadness, we will still have to deal with the mundane, our attachments, our suffering in this world.
Honestly, I really started wondering about my own existential issues as I sit with, “what is the point of all of this suffering”? The children dying of AIDS and malnutrition around the world, the pain of those suffering from addiction, our own suffering and emptiness that we try to fill with our attachments to food, material goods, abuse and domination, and so on….
Even if I have an adopted philosophy or two to apply, like the yogic principles, Christianity, Buddhism, the Yin-Yang, paradoxes of life, or what have you, I am finding myself struggling a bit with what is the point? Are these tools and skills really the only known ways to alleviate suffering? Do we have to experience pain, suffering, chaos, bifurcation points to evolve (include and transcend) on the consciousness or integral level? Does it even matter anyway? what is the point of happiness, peace, joy, love, when we cycle back down again on the wheel of life? Why do I have to keep wondering about this? What am I supposed to learn here? How did I create all of these projections of myself? Why do I keep repeating the same patterns? How can I just let it go, let it go. let it go….?