Part II: Stop Practicing
For the next three months I had the most complex relationship of my life with this man who I surrendered to as my guru. Over the time together, he asked me why I was practicing asana.
“Is it working?”
At that time, I had been practicing yoga asana for 11 years, and practicing daily for 7. I had no idea how much was wrapped up in my practice until I was asked to give it up.
All of a sudden I worried about getting fat—I had no idea that that was a part of why I was practicing. I was worried about not being a good person. My life might be shitty, but at least I am a good person because I practice yoga two hours a day. And now, if I don’t practice, then who am I?
This neurosis confirmed to me that this was a necessary, if temporary abstinence practice. I didn’t want my self-image and identity to be based on my yoga asana practice. I wanted to address these deeper wounds that I had apparently been concealing or glossing over with practice.
From then on my sadhana would be 4:00am chanting—(4am is considered the most auspicious time for practice—Brahma mahurta) and meditation. All my action, words, behaviors, were game for correction, instruction and dismantling.
I was game. I believed that he had wisdom and access to information, knowledge and connection worthy of my surrender.
Any time of night I could be woken up and tested for the Sanskrit verses I was memorizing. When I went to the bathroom, I had to leave the door open, and he would comment on how I flushed. If I did not learn something after the first exposure, then I was not offered that piece of knowledge again. For instance, if we were walking in the morning and he started humming a tune for a bit, he would ask me to recall it at night. If I did not recall it, it was gone.
And I wanted every morsel of knowledge he had to offer.
So it mattered to me.
On the other hand, although he had scoffed at my yoga asana practice and asked me to abandon it, whenever he paraded me around chanting, he always asked me to demonstrate Surya Namaskar for the small audience. Despite intense allergy problems, if he awoke before dawn, he did so to help me strengthen my sadhana and break through resistance.
My learning was his first priority.
The Bigger Problem
The bigger problem was that he fell in love with me.
Why do I allow some people to touch my body and not others?
Why do I not recognize his love as purer than any I have received before and therefore offer myself completely to him?
And why do I have so many prejudices against sexual relations with an Indian, a man older than my father?
Is Intuition Real?
All I knew was deep in my gut, I wanted a teacher, not a lover or a husband.
That is not how I felt about our relationship. But in our studies together, he taught me that intuition does not exist. That intuition is actually a refinement of observations—very small, detailed ones that our subconscious mind collects and that our conscious mind can learn to recognize when we refine our awareness. He said that we have hunches all the time, but we only call it intuition when the hunches are right. We have tons that are wrong that we never express. If you observe this, it is true.
So my intuition, which I had fought to reclaim on a solo journey to India 10 years prior (ironically) after being date raped in college, was under suspicion again.
Somehow as much as I wanted this knowledge and had been craving an intense student/teacher relationship, I could not accept the demand of total surrender of myself, including my physical body.
My guru pulled out all the stops. He told me I was not a true sadhaka. He said he had nothing to teach me, because this work was on every level, every aspect of life, so what good would it be for him to teach me more of the sacred texts, chant more together, if I was so blocked, and blocking the true nature of our relationship.
So I left.
To read Part One, go here.
…to be continued in Part 3: the Road Back