I have been waiting for a muse to share with you the state of my yoga practice after six-hundred and thirty-three days of continuous yoga. The muse appeared in the form of a white seagull. My Sanskrit tutor in Mysore, India, Chandrashekhara E (Chandru) named the seagull “White Heart.”
Are you conscious of a muse when it appears in your life? Artists have used muses throughout time. Muses reveal themselves when we are open to the metaphor.
Every morning around 8 AM, White Heart lands on our ocean front deck for a saltine cracker. His discipline reminds me of my daily yoga intention. My highest purpose of each day; to pursue some aspect of yoga. Yoga means to yoke, to make union, integrating my body with movement/asana, conscious of my breathwork/pranayama, and to be mindful. How is it to be in my body this day? Where is my emotional state? My mental state? My sense of a greater consciousness? How can I integrate all these aspects of me? I am aware of each inhale and each exhale and to be mindful, to be conscious of the state of pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses…and in the next moment to be acutely aware of all of the senses.
To withdraw from the senses and yet at the same time to be acutely aware of the senses is a fascinating exercise. In the Yoga Upaniṣads, the Kaṭhopaniṣat, Vallī 3 talks about the wisdom of the mind in control of the senses, so one can see rightly. In yoga when we sit mindfully, we have the opportunity to truly observe the mind and all the senses. You can experience physical pleasure and discomfort in your seated āsana, you can taste, smell, see, feel the temperature on your skin, your body against the mat, your breath, digestion, all the senses become very real. One moment you are multi-experiencing, and in the next moment, you practice withdrawing from the senses and focusing 100% on each inhale and exhale. Moving towards that sense of integration. Yoking body and breath, breath and mind, emotions and breath, moving to just a sense of consciousness. When this happens I am withdrawing from the physical senses.
My focus, to ultimately strip everything away. For a nanosecond, experiencing my true self, my Sat Nam. In Sanskrit, Sat means truth, Nam means name. My truth name. My sense of self beyond the physical body, beyond the personality, beyond the events of the day. Who am I? Who am I really? I sit here. Exposed. Vulnerable. And ironically it is in this state of vulnerability I am often led to my greatest strength. The fleeting nanoseconds of my true self. How do I string more of these nanoseconds together?
In my current Upaniṣads Yogic Studies course with Dr. Varun Khanna he talks about the word ‘Sat.’ Sat is an immense word. It means more than Truth, it is all encompassing of everything that exists. It is difficult for me to wrap my arms around the total meaning of such a word. I’m not sure there is a word in English that assimilates all of life as in the Sanskrit word Sat?
Ignore the Emotion and Begin…
“White Heart” the seagull shows up every day. He sits patiently without moving. He is so steadfast in his fixed gaze, his drishti. The same for me. I just need to show up on my mat. Yes, on these dark winter mornings, some days I would rather sleep longer. Yes, there are days I awaken quite inflexible. Yes, there are days my mind seems to wander. And yes, there are days I just don’t feel like going to my mat. And then…something magical happens.
With nearly two years of daily practice, my brain knows to ignore the emotion, the sense that I am not interested in practicing. I may feel morning arthritic discomfort, boredom or just resistance to once again going to my mat. It can feel like ground hogs day. And yet, within minutes of sitting in easy pose, my world feels better.
Within minutes of beginning the practice, many of the resisting thoughts and emotions drift away. I am in the moment. I am connecting to my breath. Each inhale and exhale deliver my life-force. I feel a calming presence, an equanimity wash over me. I feel connected to each person in the Zoom Room. I leave the practice a better person. All this in just one-hour. And some days the effects can last all morning. A sense of well-being, a sense of connectedness to my purpose. A sense of being enough. A sense of positivity and curiosity.
We are mid-way on our one-thousand-day Kundalini Yoga challenge. What will day seven hundred bring? Day eight hundred? Day nine hundred? One thousand days?
I look forward to completing this 1000 day yoga challenge. And I am content to experience each day along the way. And when we reach day 1000…we will continue to on…day 1001, 1002, 1003…..