I have experienced a plethora of loss and betrayal in my life and when it has been relevant to share some of my experience with those close to me, the question which always been directed at me, has been “why?”
I do not find that this question serves me very well in what I would call my own spiritual evolution.
The questions which I choose to focus on are “How can I keep my heart open?” and “How can I forgive?”
Presently, I am working with my teacher, Christina, on a series called “The Gift of Practice” and one of the questions she has posed is a series of questions around why we practice, what does practice mean to us, where is it sourced inside of us.
Having not been able to practice asana for the greater part of 15 months now, and as evidenced by the naming of my blog, my practice has needed to become something more than an asana practice. My deepest and most challenging, dedicated and daily practice is the practice of forgiveness and as I have already mentioned, I tend to it every day, sometimes I tend to it for hours at a time. There are many reasons for this, which could be the content for another blog, but I raise it here for another purpose.
My teacher spoke about the present culture in yoga which she somewhat disenchanted with, the way in which many yogins are not getting along and not supporting one another. I have been bearing witness from afar, not having been in a studio, but twice (when she came to town after two of my surgeries).
This weekend there is an event happening which I was interested in attending in order to bear witness to the present culture. A friend whom I love very deeply is attending and I thought it would be a sweet way to sit beside her, even though I still cannot turn my head but fractionally. So, it really would just be sitting side by side (just to give an accurate visual). My friend was honest in sharing that the most supportive thing to do would be for me to NOT attend because my presence would complicate her life (given that there are some who would simply wish to not see me there).
Now, the flat truth is, I am a bit of a Norma Rae. No question about it. And if people cannot control themselves, even yogins, then why are they sitting together in the first place? Where is the yoga?
But the fact remains: I know where my practice is nested. And it is far more important to me that my friend have a pleasant experience (god willing), hopefully an experience which even offers her some light, than for her to have an experience where hostility is coming at her due to my simple wish to sit beside her from a place of love.
Although I find all of which I just described troublesome, it is not mine to hold. I recently read “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” (Susan Cain) And I can push like bloody hell to wake others up to patterns that they have. But that is not “the gift of practice.” That is me, breaching another person’s boundary and taking an arrogant and self-righteous posture in thinking I have the right to tell another where his/her work lies (even if a panel of 100 psychiatrists were to agree). That is not ME, being nested in my practice nor rooting myself in the source of it.
The gift is to step away, LISTEN from love to what my friend needs, and not put my own need before hers, since this is NOT my storyline, and from there, send those souls back to god and if I wish, pray that they all tend to their own work as I will simply tend to mine.
Could I be in a room filled with people who do not wish me well? Yes. I have ample experience in this department.
And what I know is it is not mine to hold. When it is personal, my practice kicks in moment to moment, and I work very hard to keep opening my heart while asking nothing in return. I work every moment towards holding my own heart in compassion when the pain of forgiveness gets difficult to bear. And I begin again.
This is where I am nested.
I am also nested in my devotion and love towards all of the people who have come before me and through me and have also fallen away.
My practice asks and informs me to keep trying. To keep working towards an open heart, yes, but to keep staying in my own life, but not work externally. Because my heart knows only that it wants to love. To heal. And to remain whole. And my heart can only be whole if I am whole.
May we each find the source of our own practice and be nourished and buoyed and empowered from that potent source.