February 25, 2011

Samadhi: Love Letters to the World.

Image by  Asela

Be present

Honor your efforts

Non-attachment is not indifference.

Love is catching that glimpse of god, of clarity, in another person. Now, I don’t ascribe to the woo-woo side of things, yoga and otherwise. I got into it like a sport, for the sheer physicality of ashtanga, because it was challenging and held my attention. Consistent and very personal practice has seen it evolve it into something more. Yoga is grounding and broadening, and it is something I unabashedly love.

Samadhi is the eighth branch in the sutras as attributed to Patanjali, described as the point when the mind stills and becomes one-pointed. In Samadhi, what is is exactly what should be, everything shifts into alignment and the moment is perfect just as it is. The mind is able to calm the thought waves but remains separate from whatever has caught its attention, thus standing apart and able to observe.

There seems to be a staircase model of consciousness embedded in the stages of Samadhi. Just as you begin as unconsciously unconscious and evolve into a consciously unconscious state, Samadhi progresses from savitarka to nircava. Our progress shows us just how little we know; it exposes the infinity that is the universe to our tiny human minds. Samadhi is a glimpse of the ‘universal,’ when all the atoms line up and dance, but it’s a dance you know. Love is like that, when you can look inside someone and know them. And know that the world is a better place for their being in it.

I had a moment of bliss and joy not long ago when my soul sighed, “Ahh.” Home calls to us most strongly when we are heartsore, and I was answering that call, driving up the mountains. I was passing the interminable potato fields on the mountaintop when the glory of the sunrise caught my full attention. My battered little car coasted as I took in the grandeur of gold breaking over the horizon, streaking the wisps of cloud flamingo pink, my foot perhaps consciously coming off the gas pedal to prolong the moment. The swirling lexicon that insistently supplied words for what I was seeing pulled me out of that moment of Samadhi, but for those few seconds my consciousness was altered, replaced by that surge of sheer joy that is simply being alive.

My joy returned that day. I wrote this article soon after but hesitated to publish something so personal until I could revisit it from a less immediate perspective. But it feels worthwhile, so at the extreme risk of over-sharing in a public forum, I bid you welcome to share my joy upon finishing my yoga practice and realizing that I had achieved non attachment again. The relief was so overwhelming that tears slid down into my ears while I was still stretched out in final Savasana. I am not sure when my Ego got in the way or where the pain of loss came from, but my pointed effort to release the love that was exclusive paid off.

Love, however that has been conceived, is eternal. Breakups can make it hard to find the joy in it for a while. But I got the joy back and it comes from a place of healing. I still love the person, even if I am not with them, and wishing them every happiness is not mere lip service. That trite little cliché, if you love something, set it free, is true. Ironically. Giving the love back to the universe is a gift you give yourself. Whenever you think of the person you send them love and light and in wishing them happiness, you wish the same for yourself.

No longer being part of a ‘we’ is a confusing transition, but it is only lonely if you want it to be. Just as boredom is a creation that we can only conceive of because we have a word for it, loneliness is a state of mind bent into the shape of a woman slumped beneath the daunting prospect of facing the world alone. But that isn’t me. And it isn’t you. I don’t know how I came to identify with her, but she bears little resemblance to the woman who is actively present, and happy to be doing yoga, rock climbing, running in the foothill 5k races. Everything is possible; we have only to conceive of it. And I have come back to that, happily.

Returning to the country has been fraught. What I was coming back to unraveled and I experienced a sense of abandonment unlike anything my heart had ever tasted. But it was deceptive. Because I am not alone unless I want to be, and I have not been abandoned. I have been freed. And I freed myself; no one else could, just as no one may bind me. My sense of agency instills strength and courage in my identity as I seek to redefine myself once more. The dreams I’ve been having about stepping out of my car after pulling up in a cloud of dust and slamming it into park… like I do… then watching it roll away have me thinking. Who do I want to be? What do I want to leave behind and what should I take with me?

Here’s to the future, failing forward, and finding a new home. Transition is upon us, so this is me – here – now – stepping forward to embrace it. Maybe tomorrow it won’t be so terrifying. So, whoever you are, knitting in a café or gazing out your window at this interminable rain, mouth quirking when you see someone’s umbrella blown up by the wind, you aren’t done yet. Every moment is the beginning of a new chapter and I’m looking forward to reading about it. Consider this my hand reaching out and coshing you on the head so you’ll stop mourning love lost and start rejoicing in it.  This is my Samadhi.


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