Monday, February 27, 2017
A Morning Surprise
This morning, as I stood in my dressing room and prepared to brush my teeth and get ready for the day, I decided to try something different. I took a whiff of my favorite essential oil (frankincense and amber) to see if it would offer a moment of relaxation, as it often does. I immediately felt my shoulders go down in a more relaxed pose, but then I felt something more. To my surprise, I began to feel bliss, here and there, in this area and then that. What started as nearly imperceptible joy (stroked gently by a feather?) grew until I was feeling deep delight everywhere I moved my hands (again, never touching). I continued this sweet practice for about thirty minutes, about the maximum time I can easily stand.
This lovely experience led me to contemplate, once more, the difference between asana yoga as sacred practice and yoga as secular exercise. Of course, the latter has many benefits. It revivifies and tones the body in marvelous ways. It gives you more energy, makes you more loving toward your fellows, and makes you stronger and healthier.
But true yoga has none of these as its purpose. The word "yoga" is generally interpreted to mean "yoke" or "joining." But what is yoked or joined? Done with the right attitude, it is the small self uniting with the large Self, human connecting to the divine. To achieve this state, it is essential to have the Kundalini awake and functioning in harmony with the great life force that creates and inanimates the universe. It is at that point that we know what we truly are––a tiny particle in the Great Bliss that is called God/Goddess, the ultimate reality. The corollary of this is the realization that we, in fact, do not exist as separate beings, for It and we are one, in the way a droplet is part of the ocean wave. Many are angry and deeply disappointed at this idea, for in them the "ego" (sense of separate self) is strong. However, I believe that our energetic body (subtle body) survives mortal death, and so we may reappear in new packaging as humans or other astral beings again.
Does what is called "Kundalini yoga" awaken Kundalini? I have my doubts, but have had others who have practiced it claim otherwise. Is "hot yoga" actually yoga or just a form of exercise? Yoga was created in a very hot climate, where I think it was especially suited for slow movements, held for sufficient time to allow one to feel a spiritual connections to the unknown gods. Remember, in ancient times in India and elsewhere there were ceremonies specifically designed to summon the gods. I suspect that their arrival involved not so much a physical manifestation as deep ecstatic feelings within, such as can be known (to some extent) even today through slow and thoughtful movement.
Alas, some yoga teachers today do not even know the history of yoga, its purpose or intended divine nature. They do good in the world, but not that which was the original intention.
One more thought: I believe that the origins of the actual asanas of yoga, as well as the movements of such practices as chi gong or tai chi, came about because the ancient practitioners found that certain bodily postures awakened bliss, and thus these became the favored forms. Today the emphasis is often on doing the forms correctly, not feeling the energies they were created to arouse. Once the movements were codified, they often lost their original shakti and became rituals empty of inner joy.
I consider experiences such as I had this morning to be a form of yoga, for they reinforce one's sense of connection to that which is most sacred and most mysterious in human experience. Anything (music, nature, art, poetry) that arouses this feeling is also yoga, the ultimate connection to the unseen divine.
February 27, 2017