Part 2 in a Series
Being the ‘Outsider’ was always more comfortable than mixing with people. With so many sisters and brothers at the ashram there was newfound safety in meditating, asanas and chanting. The fact that my eyes were closed during our sadhana (definition: spiritual practices) made it easier to be intimately close to so many bodies and let my guard down. Or at least notice that my guard was up.
This business about guardedness was something I unconsciously clung to as an automatic. Every minute of my waking life I was always guarded. With people I was guarded because people are unpredictable and all too often rude. Without realizing it I was carrying cellular memories of being physically and verbally assaulted mostly in my teen years. When alone I was guarded because I could not shut off this primal voice saying, “Be careful! You can be attacked most easily when you’re alone! It’s happened before. And it will happen again. Perhaps any second now.”
There were exceptions. Like in the fleeting glimpses of making love and its afterglow. But I wasn’t doing that anymore. I believed Yogi Amrit Desai when he said that most of human attempts at lovemaking were really more about fearmaking. We needed to get away from the illusion of the beloved which was like quicksand to the soul. The journey was about learning how to love ourselves more authentically. So at all hours of day and night when I wasn’t doing asanas, meditating, chanting or seva (definition: service or job), I took long walks through the forests around Kripalu repeating our guru mantra.
What I jumped out during these moments of reflection was how much ambient fear was still living and growing inside me. In the midst of struggling to attain significance by becoming a famous writer, I had been oblivious as to how my thoughts and actions were spoon-feeding this ever-hungry beast. I was living in a state of constant overwhelm with a downward spiraling trajectory.
Thank God and guru for Kripalu. It was the oasis into which I staggered from the desert of the pretend-world where most people existed out there. What I was discovering each day anew was a refuge where I could stare at this beast. Try as I did, I could not slay it. Nor could I banish it from my mind and body. But I was watching the beast. I spent hours bleeding into months listening to the beast. I could breathe with the beast. With the support of my yogi community I was learning to stop pretending that I had my life together. I was letting myself fall apart. I was learning to hold the beast instead of hating it/me.
During holidays it didn’t take long to hear how appalled my mother, father, brother, sister and others were with my new lifestyle. It seemed to them that I was going in precisely the wrong direction. They openly disapproved of my dietary choices, my clothes and the fact that I spent a good deal of the time chanting the names of god. But I had been listening to the words of these very same people for years with the result of suffering in silent misery. Now I saw these loved ones as my emissaries for ‘the voices of false authority.’ They did not how to love themselves. They had not mastered the turbulence of their minds. They were not my teachers. They could not guide me into the gateway of my heart. And they could not begin to touch this conversation.
Think about it. If you ask your mother or father, “Can you guide me into the gateway of my heart?” What do you expect them to say? “No, I don’t live in my own heart. How can I guide you?” Well, I think it’s asking a lot from most parents to admit their inadequacies. Because parents need to act as though they have their shit together for their children. Especially when they don’t have their shit together. Cuz they are so freaking frightened & they don’t know to refrain from slathering this fear all over their dear precious little ones.
Spending time with my family was always a fantastic gauge to check the progress of my sadhana. Was I growing in conscious awareness? Getting back to the ashram always felt like relocating that elusive oasis in the middle of an endless desert. From my heart I’d speak the words, ‘Thank God & Guru for the existence of Kripalu. May it live on forever.’ Little did I know Kripalu would vanish as an ashram & transition in becoming a yoga mall during the few short years I was there.
Continued Next week: Please share LIKEs & COMMENTs