It occured to me the other day while speaking to another seeker of life’s truths, that my relationship with “doing” yoga seems to be more unusual than ordinary. Not that i think i’m so very different from most others. No, on the contrary. I am convinced i am just like everyone else here on the planet: born with a body, given a set of circumstances to “deal with,” and — between the gene pool inherited from my biological parents and the people and situations i’ve run into in my life thus far — I’ve shaped my life into something truly unique, that is mine!
I consider myself very fortunate indeed that things happened to me, early enough in life, for me to make conscious decisions about not letting those “things” force me into a depressed, anxious, neurotic, or otherwise unbalanced, unhealthy person. One of these things was a deep psychological event that i won’t go into here, but is the focus of my recently finished spiritual autobiography that you can read, in excerpt form, on www.heartislandstory.com. The other pivotal influential thing that spun my life toward yoga (“a disciplined approach to living” is the rough translation of this Sanskrit word) was developing scoliosis as a young child.
Oh, maybe it was that time I fell out of the tall tree, where I was balanced in an ernest game of playing hide-and-seek; or maybe it was another of the myriad falls on my bicycle, when I’d lose front teeth and end up with deep cuts on chins and shins. Who knows how or when? But by the time I was a pre-teen i was in such pain i’d wail with back nervy-arrows shooting up and down my spine, that my poor parents took me to one doctor after another. They generally thought I’d been born with one leg longer than the others, but in fact, my hips had rotated laterally from a severe lower spine trauma that threw off the axis of my spine so much so, that later in life, when I saw my own x-ray, my spine reminded me of an Amtrak wreck with the train-like serpentine curl of my lower lumbars completely off its track in the sacrum. Ouch!
Finally, after being told by one doctor after another there was nothing to be done (my folks didn’t subscribe to the new-fangled quackery of chiropractic, too bad!) when I went to college back in the Dark Ages of the mid-sixties (yes, you guessed it! lordflea is a “flower child”) someone suggested yogo so I bought myself a book and taught myself how to do a sun salute, seeing as there were absolutely NO yoga classes anywhere, back then.
the very first day, after painstakingly learning this 12-pose series of fluid stretching movement, and … next, teaching myself how to do a headstand — I experienced such fantastic relief I couldn’t believe it. From that day till now, i credit the fact that I practice, in private, a yogic prayerfulness, using my body as the “object” of my devotion, focusing my breath and coordinating my movements with whatever part of me that needs attention —all of which adds up to me experiencing pain-free movement and a healthy relationship with my body. PLUS, and this is the best part, when the mind-full-ness of yoga began to sink in to my Westernized, opaque understanding of life’s true concerns, I began to see my yoga practice as a way of meditating using movement, breath, one-point-focus — THEN my life and perceptions of things began to expand as well as my muscles, ligaments, and tendons. And it still does. I am always a beginner, although for eons now I have been practicing all forms of yoga: breath, stretching and strengthening poses, dietary awareness, philosophical and Vedic scriptural studies, and have even come up with the term “household yoga” to describe how i include my relationships, house, garden child-rearing duties, studio and office routine — my entire life, in fact — as part of my yogic discipline..
I would love to do more drawings like this. Perhaps I will! Meanwhile, I hope you get the picture. Yoga, or any other MIND-ful discipline that unites the body-soul-mind with aware breathing, changes us from having an “ordinary” experience (just living and gettin’ by in this human body we’re in) into that of awakening to the truth, that the “extraordinary” awareness of realizing we are spiritual beings having a human experience is the key to life’s happiness. For those of you who haven’t yet come to this realization — don’t fret. It’s just a matter of wanting to have this experience. Then….once your energies are sending out this message of desiring to change, like a radio beacon sending out a signal, almost,the “right” teacher will appear before you. YOUR job is to recognize when the teacher appears. Sometimes the teacher has been right there before you all the time, but some of us haven’t yet come to the open-hearted stage of our human development to be able to recognize that the teacher has, indeed, arrived.
All my good wishes to all of you who are seeking life’s great joys. In the midst of so much strife and confusion, pollution and dire circumstances, join with me in celebrating life as a journey of discovery (not a negative apoocalyptic, dystopian cataclysm of life soon-to-end, as too-many one-sided doom-and-gloom folks loudly herald). The yogic way of life is a mystical journey, one filled with infinite discoveries and magical synchronicities. Nothing happens without a cause. The effect of seemingly negative events is to present opportunities for us all to grow more open, more aware, more wise. This happens first on the personal level, for each one of us, as individuals. Then — it happens, collectively, on a worldwide level. This is what’s happening by 2012, by the way, according to my internal barometer. Ahhhhhhh, the journey. So exciting, so much adventure!
And this, my friends, is the yogic way of life.
in the Light, with much love, lordflea