I have a confession. I love to eat. And I dislike working out, unless it involves running or biking outside. I have many days when I’m lazy, and would rather eat a burrito and watch SITC (or other sitcom reruns) on my couch, nap, or read books on esoteric subjects like metaphysics, spiritual feel-goodness and energy healing. I enjoy an occasional martini or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and hanging out with my fiancé or treating myself to my favorite Indian restaurant. I dislike doing ‘actual work’, I would rather dream about what I could be doing with my life. I also have days when I’m brimming with creative energy, and yet, have nothing to direct it to. I do love to meditate, and recently have started to do heart-based meditations to travel into this beautiful, sacred space even further. And I do take part in different forms of service, which has been heart-opening and transformative.
I started Yoga Teacher Training to get off my couch, and to learn what all the hoopla was about. After all, I’m Indian and into meditation, wouldn’t it be logical that I become a yogi as well? I sometimes want to run away from my body, and join with the astral plane. I’m not one of those people who channels spirits and voices of higher wisdom (at least, that I know of), although I dream of doing so. Would practicing yoga regularly ground me in the real world and help me feel more integrated?
I’m a conundrum of sorts.
I love my body, and try to eat healthy as much as possible – eat a balanced diet, a lot of vegetables; but I know that my love for coffee and Mexican food overrides this on any day. I eat even when I’m full, or will eat ‘healthy’ during the day, but give into a craving in the evening. I love to feel physically fit, but I dislike the thought of being surrounded by steel and concrete at the gym. I love to go for yoga class, but I find a million excuses of why I’m too busy, full or tired to go. And I do love to see my friends, but sometimes I feel bummed that I don’t have a ‘good story’ of what I’m doing with my life, and continue to be perceived as a spiritual gypsy or an imposter Zen meditator, telling people how to live their lives more authentically.
I love to write, but then I stop mid-way, as I tell myself that I should be writing about things that are relevant to how I want to ‘position’ my new business endeavor or what I’m doing with my life, which seems vague and far-off. I love to dance, but have made myself too busy for it. I love to sing, but I am afraid to have my voice heard as is, and that I haven’t found the right teacher to train me, that would help me mix spirituality and personal growth with music.
I think I know what I want to do with my life (travel, be with nature, spend time with animals, do workshops on inner transformation, meditate, live by a beach, garden, live with an intentional community for at least part of the year, spend time with my family, be one with nature, be an author of inspiring books, dance, run retreats and seminars, meet cool people, assist in healing people on deeper levels) – but I have no idea how to turn this into a career. I want to inspire people to lead better lives and take the risk to follow their dreams, and yet, I am afraid that I’m not doing the same. I know a lot, and yet, sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything. I have views and a vision of what a better world could look like, and yet I’m afraid to share them, as I lack credibility to back it up, or haven’t articulated it well enough.
I’m sort of a recluse, as I sometimes create emotional boundaries with other peoples’ lives (perhaps because I am very empathetic and am afraid of losing myself in their feelings or stories?). Maybe I’m simply avoidant, as my friends and family have told me in the past. I suppose I’m also a bit detatched from the ups and downs of the world – or perhaps I try to be. I have peaks of emotion and compassion, but have to remind myself that everything is perfect – that the world has been co-created by all of us, through many lives; and there is so much to learn through this journey, through the good and the bad. Perhaps I like to withdraw, or I am always seeking my own authentic voice, which seems to get vague and blurred when I hear other peoples’ stories.
I am passionate about healing and transforming quality of relationships, and many times, I have to stop the urge to run away from them. And I love to speak about authenticity, and yet, I feel like an imposter half the time. I believe in healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, and am a big proponent of authentic and compassionate communication, and yet, I shy away from confrontation. I admire female leadership, especially those that mix leadership with spirituality, courage and compassion, and yet, I don’t want to be classified as a ‘female leader’. I feel like I’m successful, as I have focused on my inner journey, and yet, on the outside, it appears that I have moved around quite a bit, which adds confusion to ‘my story’ and why anyone would spend time with me – mentoring or coaching me.
I love the human body, and yet, I have a strong disinterest in learning about the internal processes, like anaerobic metabolism and the role of cytoplasm in our cells. And I believe in and promote self-love and self-acceptance, and yet, this is what I struggle with many a time.
I joined the 3 month teacher training program with Yoga to the People a few weeks ago, for a couple of reasons. One, as I continue to be inspired by their mission – to serve, to make yoga accessible to as many people as possible; two, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my classes there and have met outstanding teachers; and three, also because it felt like a ‘journey’, which I felt that I needed to attune with my body, and get a deeper understanding, outside the façade of physical fitness (and doing impossible-looking poses), of what this ‘spiritual journey’ through yoga is all about.
I feel like I have turned my meditation practice into one of self psycho-analysis or positive psychology, one that continues to keep me in my head, even though practices like Vipassana and metta practice offer me bodily experiences. I wanted to feel these changes in my body, be one with my emotions, understand my humanity better, and face my physical limits (which appear to be many), or perhaps to even overcome my urges. I want to turn my habits around, but slowly, through a journey of consciousness (like, ‘I don’t need to drink anymore, my body consciousness is beyond it!’ or I can withstand not eating for a whole day, as my body doesn’t need it; or, I have overcome my urges to gorge on delicious, spicy food, in order to mute the void in my gut or feeling of loneliness’). I wanted to understand all of this – my physical and mental body that keeps me from truly going deeper, or being a a more enlightened person that has overcome cravings. I had reached my limits, through meditation alone.
Yesterday, throughout the arduous all-day class, where we focused on Mountain pose, Chair pose, Warrior I, II and Reverse Warrior, I was mildly distracted. As it was, I was confused about the direction of my life, and the lack of clarity on where I was heading. I was feeling a mild sadness. Right before the class, I had called my fiancé to let him know that my dad and I have started asking around at venues for a potential wedding location. I was excited by the grandeur and the beauty of some of the places, and wanted him to look it up. He immediately got excited, and wanted to get involved – and I told him not to worry – I have it under control. He had some other suggestions, and I questioned and even vetoed some of them. After the call, I was worried that I had shunned his ideas and caused a disconnection between us. I was suddenly wary and paranoid that at the precious beginning of this wedding planning journey, I was being controlling, and that I would get a disinterested husband at the wedding altar. During our first hour of class of Sam Chase deftly flowing us through some poses, I couldn’t get this out of my head, and the sense of regret and fear became pervasive. Right after the session, I called and texted him, and he didn’t respond (I knew, because he had a very busy and tough day, but my mind was of course, swirling). I became a little sad and afraid, as I tried to reach him during the day.
Next, we started to understand the Warrior poses. I was feeling interested, like a good student. I was taking notes, even though anatomy and poses had not been of tremendous interest to me, before the class. As we got into our mini-groups to coach each other on poses, I noticed a feeling of delight and connection, because I felt that I was giving useful advice. When it came to my turn, the two students asked me to lift one of the pant legs till my knee, and I was embarrassed that I hadn’t epilated in over three weeks, and I had long, dark hair peering out, while they inspected my pose closely. I became conscious of the little tufts of hair in my armpits. Suddenly, I was feeling like the ugly, dark, hairy girl, that I was when I was in fifth grade, even though the two girls lovingly accepted me as I was. I became conscious of my unpainted toe nails, and how some of them were discolored due to nail-polish, which I wanted to ‘heal’ naturally during the winter. I worked to overcome the discomfort and self-consciousness, which I managed to do over time. I notice that when I’m in that state, I feel less significant, less beautiful, and I overcome it by being overly nice to others.
While going through the Warrior poses, and maintaining them for long periods, Sam began to tell a story about Lord Shiva and Sati (guessing, same as Parvathi), and how Shiva caused havoc when he found out that Sati’s father killed her. I became mentally engaged, and yet, the poses felt long and arduous; and also, I studied my own relationship to Indian mythology. I had read this story differently, and which one was right? Did it even matter? When Sam linked it with inner transformation, I thought it was an elegant connection, and yet, I couldn’t really link yoga to inner transformation. Perhaps, this is where I am having cognitive dissonance?
During lunch, I enjoyed connecting with my new friends. Half way through lunch, though, I decided to nurse my reclusive side and take a walk outside in the sun (also, to break up the day, which I found long and strenuous to my attention span).
Later, as our teacher talked about muscles, I felt interested, which made me a little proud – I’m engaging in the physical world and getting it! I’m interested in the physical body and the mechanics of it! Half way through, I started to lose slight interest in the workings of isometric, concentric and eccentric bends, as these seemed complicated. I began to think about the food I would eat right after class. What would I treat myself to – a falafel? Some Thai food?
Soon after, we began to dissect the dreaded chair pose. The first few times we practiced and learned about it, I thought I had mastered it. Then, as Sam asked us to sit in the pose for 4 minutes, I was hopeful at first, then afraid. I noticed the resistance begin to rise in my body. The heat in my thighs started to become unbearable, and I was already having thoughts around food. My mind was telling me that I don’t need to do the whole 4 minutes – after all, it’s a given that my legs aren’t that strong yet, and also, what do I have to prove? Sam began to instruct us to keep it longer, and reminded us about using this pain as a way to overcome resistance, to accept transformation in our lives. My mind began to question – how is this linked to inner transformation anyways? Within the first minute, I had to stand up (quicker than anyone else, I noticed), and then a squatted back down. I continued this every 45 seconds, while I noticed that several students were able to hold for the whole period. In the last minute, he encouraged people to scream in anguish if they wanted – many people started groaning and screaming. I, of course, felt more ease, and I partook half-heartedly. I was accepting this as a reality for myself, and yet, I was wondering what this did for others? Did others have greater strength than I did? Did I push myself to my limit, really?
It was nearing the end of class, and I had originally intended to stay to practice my dialogue with volunteers. Of course, the pull of food (even though I wasn’t hungry) was telling me to leave – and also, I was ready to leave this very physically and mentally arduous experience, which I was still getting used to.
While walking out, I exchanged notes with a fellow student, who talked about how her most important revelations came during long, strenuous poses. So many memories and healed during those moments! This was confusing for my mind, and I made a vow to explore this further. Is this the reason why I had taken up Yoga training? I believe it was… I wanted to explore this dimension further. I had just finished Drunvalo Melchizedek’s book on ‘Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life’, and how the human body formed the sacred basic pattern for understanding and creating the world.
What is the sacredness in our human body? I want to know, and yet, I want to transcend the physical plane. But, can I only transcend, once I know, feel and revel in it? Would yoga bring me closer to that? Can I only understand and perform magic in life, when I truly understand the consciousness in my body, its various sheaths, the illusion of it? Can I melt into the earth, be one with water, merge with trees, fly as a bird, with my body? Can I transcend eating and having a real ‘desk’ job, or even the need to work? Can I ‘do’ through my ‘being’, rather than ‘being’ what I do? How do I let my heart loose, and follow my heart? How can I connect with God, through this body? What greater truths can I find only in myself – not through books, gurus or classes? Can I let go of my attachment of ‘finding my truth’, living my truth, and ‘being’ wise or perfect, or manifesting the life that I have desired, and just ‘being’? Can I surrender my body to this exploration, fully, and joyfully, and let my mind rest, once and for all?
Sarika, this is a wonderful entry. Thoughtful, authentic. You are asking some great questions. re. the story of Lord Siva and Sati, note: Sati was reborn as Parvati to a father whom she respected! I am curious to hear how Sam linked it to inner transformation and how your recollection/take was different. I see a strong link between Siva-Sati-Parvati and David Deida’s depiction of the Femine Devine and Supreme Masculine!
Hi Mani, so glad that you enjoyed this post! It was something that just flowed out, almost like a personal diary, but then I decided to post it. Sam talked about how we begin the process of transformation, by challenging ourselves, or even enduring physical pain, for something that we believe in (in this case, it was chair pose). The differences in the story were minor, and I’m sure there are many versions floating out there 🙂