It is often stated that the meaning of yoga is union.
I’d like to propose a more esoteric definition: the meaning of yoga is divorce. In fact, the practice of yoga should come with a warning label, so here it is.
Few people realize that their partners are projections of their internal narratives, their deepest expectations and their unconscious beliefs. In reality, all of us fall in love with the karmic lesson that we most need to learn about ourselves. Unwittingly, we project that attraction onto another human being and the circumstances that will reveal these life lessons to us. It is aptly said: “Your girlfriend is your guru.”
Your partner, then, is a mirror into your inner psyche—but remember that a mirror blocks our sight even while reflecting it. The experience of separation is often the only way to see behind the mirror into another realm of our psychological being. Only in the absence of the hypnotic eyes of a lover can we identify and purify certain aspects of prakriti from our lives.
Our life force has many sheaths, our being many layers.
By releasing deep body energies, yoga can trigger frightening and unexpected events in our lives. A separation experience is the result of a fundamental shift in our being; it is the emergence of a new and previously unseen force within one of those layers. If embraced, this energy can transform the individual. Divorce is a natural, and often necessary, experience that leads us to an inner knowledge of these splintered projections and the complex reality of our disavowed ego. The few who gain that gnosis complete a very specific karmic agenda and end a life cycle. Not everyone will.
For a variety of reasons, separation and divorce can often feel as traumatic to the individual as a death—the initial resistance to this process may in fact originate from those unresolved primal fears. Anxiety regarding these subtle inner messages usually causes them to be repressed and ignored until they manifest in increasingly painful life experiences, until they are heard. Ironically, it is the resistance to these archetypal energies actually leads to hardening, constriction and death.
Yoga ended my relationship, and saved me from a living death.
Yoga is more than mere exercise, it is a progressive psychological system. My practice set in motion causal forces and simultaneously unleashed the vitality and courage that I needed to confront reality: my girlfriend was not my soul mate. I had in fact long ago stopped listening to my secret lover, purusha; he was never anyone other than my projected inner self.
It was difficult to reject the heavy weight of cultural conditioning and jejune childhood expectations of my life path, but this opened the secret door to the transpersonal realm. Although this is a warning, don’t let it scare you. You came to yoga for a reason. I believe if embraced with compassionate awareness, enlightened separations can lead to a magical empowerment whose mystical fruits are wisdom, freedom, and bliss.
Dedicated to Lisa Doughtery, Goddess
David Johnson is a certified 200 RYT Yoga Alliance teacher and divorce attorney in Atlanta GA.
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Assistant Ed. Caroline Scherer