Living In My New Skin

Have you ever gone through a deeply transformational experience, only to get spit out on the other side and find that you are just the same as you’ve always been? That’s how I feel on this first morning, post Ananda yoga teacher training. I now hover upon the page… wondering how to begin to put my experience into words… wondering if and how I have changed, grown, purified. And this wondering feels so familiar… it’s the very same wonderer who has always greeted this open, glowing space, and always will. Perhaps because I AM the open, glowing space.

But I shall remind myself now, as I oft must, that there is a time and place for spiraling philosophicality… and now is not it. Trying to say the most perfect thing is giving me the symptoms of writer’s block. And I’m here to WRITE, not feel stuck and frustrated because I’m not perfect. So instead of finding the absolute RIGHT thing to say, I’ll just pretend I’m writing a letter to my grandma, sharing some broad brush strokes of my recent life experience.

Or maybe I’ll tell you about how mesmerizing it is to watch the three tiered fountain spill slowly into itself. The water moves slow, as though it is drooling. Perhaps I’ll tell you that the air is thick with smoke because a distant forest is currently being engulfed in flames… and sitting outside is giving me a headache and I feel like I might be doing harm to myself by sitting at this picnic bench, groping about inside myself for the ultimate meaning du jour… but I went inside the market and the ambiance felt wrong. So I came back out to my perch in the poisonous morning.

Ahem. Dear Grandma Grace, yesterday I completed a month long yoga teacher training program at the Momshram. Although I have been studying yoga for thirteen years now (plus God knows how many prior lifetimes), including a regular daily practice for much of that time, two immersions, three prior teacher trainings, plus occasional workshops and retreats, this is the first time in my life that I feel certain that I want to and am ready to teach! I didn’t know when I set out on this most recent leg of my journey that this clarity and deeply rooted conviction would be the outcome. Not even close. All I knew was that the life I was inhabiting was rejecting me like the body rejects a splinter. Nothing felt right from the inside… though from the outside it “seemed” good enough. Like a snake shedding her skin, my once beautiful, nourishing life became inexplicably dry and lifeless…yet it concealed the vivid, tender, unborn life, still taking shape beneath the surface.

Am I in my new skin yet? I must be. But I have not yet come to recognize myself within these new sleek patterns of sacred expression… and this is why I am perching in puzzlement, upon the picnic bench wondering what I have to say for myself on this thick, smoke-strewn morning.

Oh, but Grandma Grace, please rap my elegant knuckles with your antique ruler, because I have begun to levitate again, and I must be brought back down to the rudimentary telling of this most recent chapter of my endless becoming.

Ananda yoga is different than any other asana practice I have ever encountered. It has facilitated a deep experience of my innermost self. All of the other yoga classes I’ve attended in my thirteen years of exploration have moved unceasingly from one pose to the next… until finally we arrive in savasana, the corpse pose, where we lay for five or ten minutes, before sitting up, joining our voices in the sonic resonance of OM, rolling up our mats, and forging back out into the urban storm.

Ananda yoga is about internalizing awareness; cultivating energy in the body, and then drawing it up the spine, to the point between the eyebrows, which is said to be the seat of superconsciousness. The place where one’s consciousness is merged with All That Is. And if that’s too woo-woo for you, this point is also the prefrontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for producing the experience of happiness, peace, calmness, and other such savory textures of human beingness. In Ananda yoga, rather than moving from one sacred shape to the next, like a fluttering flip book, we do a pose and then return to a neutral stance, close our eyes, absorb and EXPERIENCE the energy that has been aroused within. We draw the energy IN and UP. Letting it become fuel for higher awareness.

No wonder I never felt moved to teach before now. For better and for worse, I am not one of those people who can make myself DO things just for the sake of doing. I can only access self-discipline when compelled from the depths of my soul. I was never compelled from the depths of my soul to teach a spiritually persuaded exercise class. Shrug. Not enough gravitational pull. To guide people to the profound, powerful truth that abides within the silent center of each of us… Now THAT’S something I can get behind!!!

I am amazed at how simple this yoga is, Grandma Grace! And yet how deep it brings me, when I offer myself fully to the process. I find myself wondering why it is not more widely practiced. I mean, doesn’t EVERYONE want to cultivate their inner garden of peace and unconditional, ever-new joy? I would assert that we DO… but most of us are going about it all wrong. We are incessantly grasping and striving for external circumstances to bring us peace and fulfillment… and unnecessarily suffering for this. We co-create a matrix of unnecessary complexity as we dream up new, bigger, better schemes which we unconsciously hope will finally deliver the contentment we seek.

A couple days before the training began, I went to the Yuba River with two of my best girlfriends. I remember telling them that I desired simplicity in my life… for the first time EVER. Up until recently, I thought simplicity equated to boredom. But something has blossomed within me. I no longer require the intense stimulation I once did, in order to know that I am alive. I can feel so much fulfillment, listening to the fountain’s gentle, gay, splash song; take delight in the sensuous language of wind upon my skin. I am called to reverent stillness, beholding the majesty of trees.

I am pretty sure this return to my Self is a result of regular meditation practice. Simply remembering how to inhabit my silent center. This is the aim of Ananda yoga (of which meditation is an essential component!). Yoga is not just a set of glorified shapes to twist your body into. It is a science. A tried and true method that will lead every sincere and devoted seeker to the experience of Self as Totality.

Wow, that letter to grandma trick sure got me on track! Mere moments ago, I was almost convinced I had writer’s block… And now I am a passionate font of spiritual revelation!!! I could gush for another millennia about this intelligently crafted system of Self-mastery. But the practice speaks for itself. And this is why I am delighted to serve as an ambassador of these ancient teachings.

Wow, I just proofread this, and it seemed to piss on the slippers of other systems of hatha yoga. Which was NOT my intention. I appreciate all of the teachers and practices that have been stepping stones on my path. Essentially, I am saying that it just makes sense to pause and go inside between poses to feel the power I am awakening, and channel it intentionally to raise my consciousness. And it makes sense to let the asana practice be an access point to deep meditation. And this potent and simple practice is something I am madly jazzed to share!!

OM. Peace. Amen.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Moses Rune
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 19:59:11

    Wow wow wow wow!! SO AWESOME 🙂 Mummy and Daddy Schlussel want to take your class!!! Congratulations love.


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