Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Dark and the Light

"Smoking will not interfere with your yoga, yoga will interfere with your smoking"

     I heard a preacher say once that he had discovered the dividing line between "good" people and "bad" people and I waited with perked ears to hear where this line was. "it runs right down the middle of every human" he concluded and I knew I had just heard truth. I am a great person really doing the best I can and I am also at times a quite selfish and horrible person. I am not alone in this duality I know. For so many years teaching yoga I bound myself with a bunch of  "if onlys". If only I lost some weight I would be better at asana, if only I didn't pollute my body I might reach enlightenment, if only I knew a little more I would be a better teacher. All of these "if onlys" were centered around what I deemed to be the "dark" parts of me. I was convinced all of these "if onlys" were interfering with my yoga. I thought these "if onlys" we're the cause of my suffering.

     Thankfully Krishnamurti was exactly right when he said yoga interferes with our habits. Yoga is such a democratic process, everyone who practices progresses and mindfulness is cumulative. You don't have to be awesome and free of "if onlys" you just have to practice and I have, And its begun to interfere with my habits.  During a recent time out of the country in a fresh environment which always gives us a fresh perspective I sat down to meditate. There was nothing particularly "enlightened" about my attitude that day. I just sat because that's what I do. So for the majority of my "sit" I just alternated between mindful breathing and a wandering mind, like every session. But right before my timer was about to chime I "heard" a clear inner voice say "Your life is perfect". My immediate reaction was a laundry list of all my imperfections, all my short comings. This voice was clearly wrong. But then I saw that this entire list was just "if onlys" and God gave me a vision of all of these "if onlys" being a basket full of snakes that I used to strangle my spirit. I don't know how many years I have told students " You are flawed and you are perfect and there is no contradiction in this statement". I must have said this thousands of times, but in that moment in my meditation it became a living truth for me. No, my "if onlys did not interfere with my yoga but my yoga has sure interfered with my "if onlys".

     That moment God planted two things in me. First, is the realization that indeed my life is perfect. Every scrap of darkness in my life is designed for my good, for my growth and all of my bad habits are part of the perfection. And with that realization came an overwhelming flood of self kindness. Both of these gifts are just a result of practice. Scripture says when we reach for God, He reaches back: deep calling to deep.  Practicing mindful compassion on the yoga mat and off will interfere with your life in a big way. Do you have it backwards like I did for so many years thinking your bad habits will interfere with your yoga? If so be patient with yourself but keep practicing. Whether your practice is asana, or meditation or walking or praying or serving others let your life become your practice. Just be present and when you aren't present and you come out of your trance of thought then just be kind. Even if you are hung over at this moment or just spent an hour gossiping or filled with self loathing you are perfect NOW. You do not need to wait for all of your "if onlys" to come to pass you merely need to practice living intentionally. Keep reaching for God.

     Yes, let your light shine, the world needs shiny people. But do not try to push away your darkness, it creates the boundaries for light to exist. We cannot have one without the other. Your darkness is your teacher, your darkness can be beautiful when you shine compassion on it. So, once more please remember that you are flawed and you are perfect and there is no contradiction in this statement. Practice living that until your self kindness blooms. And with practice it will.

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