30 day challenge, or 16 year challenge, this Valentine’s Day coincidentally marks both milestones in my yoga journey. I can only reflect with gratitude all the changes in body and mind, and reflect with gratitude the certainty promised by my many teachers who assured a healing path which would go beyond that of fixing a broken body; that with dedicated guided yoga practice, beautiful connective and comforting truths would emerge. On reflection, I would like to assure those for whom this is their first 30 day challenge, that indeed all this is true. The questions need not even be asked, simply practice, and answers will blossom.
The sages of the Upanishads assured that "there is a Reality underlying life which is the essence of every living thing, and this reality is our true Self, so that each one of us is One with the power which created and sustains the universe." They promised that Faith is not required. Ritual is not required. Truth is found Within, and Love, compassion, gratitude, peaceful presence and deep understanding is achievable in this life. Revealed within yourself, a proven path to this discovery can begin with the discipline of yoga. It is the very goal towards which evolution steadily moves. The sages implored seekers to practice asana and meditate, in order to discover the true nature of one's self. It is scientific: If you do x, y, and z, they discovered, you will understand; asana practiced with focus and discipline, breath observed and nurtured, and thought focused through concentration.
And so begins the yoga challenge, a journey into Being. Physicality explored, truth arising within, beginning as physical blocks, painful spasms, muscle injuries are wrung and stretched, and layer upon layer is eased, truthfully revealing what lies deeper within. Like layers of an onion peeled back, like the small waves of a rising tide washing smooth the ragged beach sands of the body, disrupted by stumbling footsteps of life. Pain recedes, ease arrives, breath deepens and the body finds stillness. From that vantage, the physical comfort of stillness reveals the chaos of the mind. Comfort in the body allows focus of concentration, and fosters an acknowledgement of the constant chatter that accompanies us always, dream like in it's persistence, like a room-mate in our heads, conversing, assessing, remembering and projecting. Regret and fear, past and future. Lists and plans. What if.......?
Just as asana stills the body, breath, underlying all, also washes like waves of a rising tide over the jumbled beach of the Mind. Calming the trembling body, smoothing and stilling mind's thought. A focus of breath, mantra, and meditation, together, just as surely brings to the mind the smooth sands of a morning beach. Yet further beneath, Awareness remains, seated behind mind; the Observer of Mind, witness of the seat of Presence. New questions arise. Who am I? Who is this core of being, and how is it we all exist together, each with this exact self-same core experience available to us, each individual helix profoundly shared and linked through time? Practice, with gratitude, ......and the journey continues