This morning I took a class at my new home studio, Mountain Yoga. The teacher encouraged us to move through the transitions between postures with awareness and intention in order to liberate the body/mind from the dullness of habit and momentum. She offered this theme as a metaphor for life's constantly changing set of circumstances. Having recently relocated from Seattle, WA to South Lake Tahoe,CA, I met this metaphor with curiosity and willingness.
This major life/work transition has been an opportunity to strip away the many filters through which I see the world and to examine the various external influences through which I find relevance, purpose and meaning in life. This self-reflexivity, in conjunction with the total absence of routine inherent in a change of scenery, resulted in a loss of momentum accompanied, and perhaps fed, by a nagging sense of grief and loss surrounding my move. This genuine longing is not tainted with regret or resent yet, inertia has a certain gravity and I found myself grappling with existential questions like, "Who am I?" and "What is my purpose?"
In times like this, I am grateful for the Yoga practice and philosophy. Through this morning's practice of mindful transitions, I was reminded of the unchanging truth, light and wisdom of the Self. My faith renewed, a deep sense of knowing spontaneously usurped the wheel of suffering and I was able to ask myself the question, "What does the Seer see?" This question is the cornerstone of the Yoga tradition. When the Seer sees clearly one realizes that much of what we think we know is actually mired with misperception, fantasy, opinion, ignorance and projection. This is not a judgement, it is merely how humans are hardwired. Practice, active surrender and a heavy dose of recognition that there is actually very little that we can control is one way to re-wire the system. Non-attachment is often confused with apathy. On the contrary, when properly understood and cultivated, it is the ability to plan and set goals free of the chains of expectation. Simple, but not easy, it has the ring of a nightmare in which I stand naked, vulnerable and scared in the front of a grade school classroom of old. But, the invaluable rewards provide tools that skillfully enable one to negotiate life's ripples, waves and tsunamis.
Ultimately this is why I practice: to see each moment clearly, to be with what is just as it is, and to be comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing. I recognized that a great many of my students, peers and mentors over the years have come to yoga in a period of transition. Others, have weathered still more challenging situations with grace through dedicated practice. Yoga is the perfect microcosm, the ideal research platform and the richest soil in which to nurture and develop the truths that will eventually blend seamlessly into the space beyond the mat.