Yoga is often translated as union, union with the breath, union of mind and body, union with the present moment, union with the Peace within.
Having recently spent a week vacationing in the Outer Banks, N.C. and being able to connect with the local community there, I have returned with a renewed sense of purpose, of devotion, of clarity.
As a yoga instructor I feel that it's crucial for me to continue being a student, and to frequently take time to nourish and reconnect with what inspires me.
Getting back in touch with my roots so to speak, has rekindled my love of yoga and allowed me to remember how it has changed the way I interact with my self, others and the environment. So, why was I drawn to yoga in the first place? I remember reading Ram Dass's "Be Here Now", and having it resonate with me on many levels. I had been interested in the prospect of meditation and expanded states of consciousness for some time already, and felt that inner peace was all I had been searching for all along, but the "peace of mind" i felt was always temporary, or induced by some kind of outside stimulus. When Yoga found me again, things gradually began to change. Yoga became like the inner pilot of my being, guiding me back to a place of physical health, greater awareness of my thoughts and life style choices, and brought incredible healing to my spirit, my family, and relationships. Through the asanas and kriya yoga, the inner fire that yoga practice generates, also known as the tapas and agni, my physical body became strong and flexible and I found myself alleviated from "common" ailments and states of dis-ease. I felt brighter and lighter and connected to this deep well of pure energy. It was during the intense concentration that a physical yoga practice demands that I began to find stillness within.
I found myself always interested in the tales of Tibetan Lamas and the states of consciousness they could access in deep meditation, the stories of siddhis and Indian masters living off of air alone in the high solitude of the Himalayas, and the Shaolin monks training body and mind day and night with a will as strong as the steel they broke with their fists. Suddenly an intense inspiration burned in me to go beyond the limitations of the body and mind, and access a deeper well of power and strength, to reunite with the Source of all things.
And as I did this, a lot of things naturally fell away, or at least my desire for them did. I was no longer interested in being "the life of the party", I was too busy enjoying life for all that. Eventually my diet changed to better accommodate my sense of well being, and the compassion and respect I have for all life. A lot of people I thought were close friends of mine stopped calling me, and I came to the realization that the only constant thing in life is change. People and places come in and out of our lives for only a season sometimes. Despite all this, an inner knowing told me that I was doing what I needed to do, that I was becoming who I was meant to be. There were, and still are, many times, where I was forced to face my demons, where life's challenges beat me down, and where loneliness, low self esteem and doubt came at me with all they had. I am grateful for all these things, and even more so for a practice that has allowed me to examine, hold and feel what arises without judgement and with a tender loving-kindness. For these things bother me less now, have taught me a lot and my pack has become a little lighter.
As the years have gone by, and the seasons turn one into the next, my practice has also gone through seasons and changes, some more deeply committed and intensified, others restful and relaxed, with a loose focus on always serving, loving and being kind to others, connecting with the Earth, and training body and mind. After this past vacation I found that my seated meditation practice had taken a backseat for the week, and I noticed that I needed it again, the way I need a drink when I'm thirsty. I couldn't wait to rest in silence and turn the gaze inward.
If or when you find yourself with this kind of desire for practice, hold it and cherish, for it is a beautiful thing when this kind of love and devotion arises.
There's an old saying, "Better to never begin, once begun better finished." The ironic part about this, is that on the spiritual path, there is no finish line waiting for us, we don't get a retirement party, even after the goal of yoga is achieved, even after enlightenment, life must go on, and the teachings must continue to be shared.
So, this week has reminded me to follow my heart and be the light that shined for me when I first started, to be that source of encouragement for others to commit deeply to this practice, and to keep doing there best. To be a gardener, planting seeds of love, gratitude and kindness in the hearts of others.
All is Love,
Bryan Josiah Nupp, RYT 200