Yogi Marriage.

Via Brooks Hall
on Jul 7, 2010
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Yoga Brooks

Do you, individual personality, take the universe to be your lawfully wedded spouse…

My individuality is made up from the stories that define me, and yoga practice helps to go beyond the stories into a more expansive and connected sense of myself. Yet the word ‘yoga’ describes a joining or balancing of being an individual and being a part of a larger connected whole.

I can see why the practice leans toward gleaning insight about that which is beyond form. After all, we do tend to be mesmerized by the physical world. So to balance us we tend to need a spiritual practice, lest we get wrapped up in the daily tasks and then think that that is all there is to our lives. ‘I am a bill payer’ would be an example of an aspect of this kind of reduction.

At the same time I recognize that my warm and cuddly human form with all its unique expressions is a part of this connection. So it’s not about blotting out my individuality in exchange for some kind of compassionate one without a past that informs the present. On a less-than-completely-conscious level I misinterpreted the teachings of yoga in this way. These teachings are an aspect of a total process that includes my earthly existence. Yeah!

The reasons for my past misinterpretation are twofold. One reason I made this mistake is because I read each teacher as if they had “it”—meaning the whole story—when individuals always have a particular take on things. That’s just the way it is. And another person’s take cannot be my own. I have had to integrate my own understanding. So while I was trying on the ideas of other yoga and spiritual teachers I was a bit confused about how to live this kind of excellent life that I was seeking. So my unsophisticated and underdeveloped sense of myself gravitated towards self-rejection under the aim of becoming the best person I could be—which turned into some things that were against the me that was born and will die. And it was under the good intention of helping others. But I have done that at the expense of developing my personal life. I have been Brooks Hall the yoga teacher, and now I’m just trying to be myself: a woman in the world who lives life, enjoys life and teaches yoga.

And as contradictory as this might sound I also recognize that my immersion in spiritual teachings is now part of my life path. Furthermore it is a blessing, and for any confusion and struggle that may come as I continue to assimilate and integrate what I am able to in my life, I am grateful—because this adventure is one I want. I want to see how far I can go, and live what I can learn.

The other way I got off track with the teachings of yoga was my misinterpretation allowed me to hide from hurts from my past. If I can be a yoga-inspired person I can be totally healed and happy, right? There is something false and Pollyanna-ish about the commonly advertised image of yoga yielding a perfect and always-happy life. For me, there was self-denial present. I was fooling myself to think that my old painful self would just disappear—I still have to deal with that one. It also was an easy fit for my self-loathing. Self-loathing loves denial! This way you can hate yourself without feeling the rawness. Have you ever seen someone with the fake yoga smile (the fake smile exists in other places of denial, too)? It’s the kind of smile that holds pain in the eyes—like they’re afraid that you’ll see what’s really going on there.

I understand this because I’ve lived in the fear that others will see just how pathetic I really am—of course that was never true, but was instead a particularly pungent self-judgment. I am who I am. And plenty of people like me and there are some who don’t (exactly as it should be).

What is called for is a sacred marriage or union within myself between the stories that give my life form and the great mystery that is formless and beyond any one person’s comprehension. And while I recognize this I also think that the mystery is something that we hold together, across people. This is an important reason for us to come together and to listen to one another—to explore the mystery and wonder of life!

Together we hold the total understanding of our collective humanity. Separately we only understand a piece of it based on our individual viewpoints.

* This (somewhat improved since it was first published) article is offered with love from the archives of Yogic Muse. *


About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at: brookshall.blogspot.com.


21 Responses to “Yogi Marriage.”

  1. Hi, Brooks.

    I have to confess I was pleasingly startled by your subtitle Do you, individual personality, take the universe to be your lawfully wedded spouse…. I guess it's the natural conclusion to the title to my review of Mitchell's Bhagavad Gita:

    Falling Head-Over-Heels in Love with the Universe

    And of course this is the theme of much of Gita Talk, especially in the poetic crescendo of Chapters 10 and 11.

    I really like your blog. Please keep bringing us your best blogs from the past like this. Don't let them gather dust in your archives when you have such an enthusiastic new audience here on Elephant.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. "I read each teacher as if they had “it”—meaning the whole story—when individuals always have a particular take on things"
    I think this is why I generally prefer poets to gurus–as they don't (usually) claim to have anything more than what seems to be a really good "it" at the moment…and, as for people who do think they have the big "it"–I try not to take them as seriously as they (and their followers) take themselves, and often find that they do have some good stuff to share despite all the bowing and scraping going on. And, then, people with the "fake yoga smile"–that's a challenge for me, since I've always tended to see those people as judging me for not being as spiritual as they are (and, certainly, I've found myself, quite unhappily, in new age hippie communities where fake-happiness might has well have been enforced by law…needless to say, I wasn't appreciated)…so it's taken a while to see the desperation and pain in a smile so forced.

  3. Eric says:

    Brooks~ wow. get out of my head, woman!!!
    where is this "understanding of our collective humanity"?? can we even agree on a BASIC understanding of what it means to be human, to love, to evolve or enlighten??

    let's say I am being the change I wish to see in the world, but the change I wish for is not 'mainstream'. let's say I am slowly shuffling off the mortal coil of convenient labels that place me in a comfortable frame of reference for others. let's say I'm living in the "mystery that is formless and beyond any one person’s comprehension". I find many do not have the inclination or the time to listen and share, it seems people today are too busy/too distracted. this is just my experience.

    in following the spiritual path, we place ourselves outside much of what is held "across people" because we are not merely submitting to the quotidian needs and desires of the dusty world. we are making a conscious choice to evolve in that commitment to the mystery, but many do not…they are unwilling to see or hear. so, this is what I am working with.

    thank you (as always) for a beautiful and thought-provoking post, and the best phrase I've read in a long time "a particularly pungent self-judgment" (…besides "let's plug the Gulf leak with BP executives" :)

  4. Charlotte says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I really like what you say about using practice to hide the hurts of your past. It's easy to layer the feel-good glow of yoga practice on top of whatever confining beliefs underlie our pain. But the only way beyond the hurt is to walk through it, feel it and accept it, not as what defines us, but to see it for what it is: energies that for whatever reason we have chosen to identify with. I feel very fortunate to have had a teacher who understands this and is a master at helping people through this challenging process. I think that the true yoga smile comes from accepting it all.

  5. ARCreated says:

    I love to read an experience that so closely matches my own…it's like the collective consciousness coming alive before my very eyes.
    Recently I too discovered that I was seeking in the all the wrong places — outside of myself, that somehow others were more enlightened or capable than me. But I discovered that IT is in all of us we simply keep practicing.
    I sort of relish in letting my students know that I am NO where near perfect. Has yoga helped me be calmer? happier? kinder? absolutely, but I was a long way out from those traits so I have further to go yet. I am know enjoying the journey more and fretting less about arriving. I live as "me" now…with visits to ME as often as possible…
    I am fond of telling my students that there is no such thing as "bad at yoga" you simply show up and practice and yoga will find a way, and most importantly that the person next to you that can do a handstand is not more enlightened, they can just do a handstand —- its what we do while we are in our poses that matter not what the poses look like. :)

    Thanks again brook great read to start the day :)

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