December 29, 2011

Yoga & Falling in Love: Do They Mix?

I think he was afraid of love.

Love felt too threatening to him. Way too mysterious. It required a vulnerability that made him feel like the earth beneath him was shaking, and like his ego was crumbling into tiny bits of rubble.

And that was most undesirable to him. After all, his ego was everything he knew. His ego was who he was. (Or at least, who he thought he was) So he clung to it like a little baby gripping his mother’s skirt tails, and didn’t allow himself to fall very deeply for me. Risk having love cramp his shanti? No way!

Or maybe he fell so deeply in love with me that it scared him? Needing another human being so much scared him. Not being able to imagine the rest of his life without me terrified him. Worst of all, he used to ask himself endless philosophical questions that tried to rationally prove the meaninglessness of falling in love. Would it be worth it? What would I gain? What would I lose? Such mental gymnastics haunted him.

I suppose, in the end, the risks outweighed the profits, because he ended the relationship. But I suspect it wasn’t just me he was running away from, but love. Love itself. And the most infuriating thing is, that he ran away from love in the name of becoming a better yogi.

His yoga practice came before our relationship. That’s what it boiled down to.

Am I the only one who is annoyed by a definition of yoga that excludes being close to another human being? I was under the impression that yoga had moved beyond isolating oneself in a Himalayan cave and migrated it’s way into modern lifestyles that embraced inter-personal relationships. But some yogis are just too “spiritual”, I guess, to fall in love.

Lotus by Irene Weirena

What is love anyway?, they ask. Is there even any real love in this world, or is it all an illusion?

Is it all maya, as they call it? Just your fleeting sense of self, mingling with mine, until they both dissolve? Is love just a bunch of distracting biological programing that’s going to intervene with my peaceful quest for samadhi?

Apparently, it is important to identify our human experience before surrendering ourself to it. Not! Here’s where my ex would get into a technical categorization of love that allegedly drew from yogic texts. (Drove me crazy!) So now he’s judging various kinds of love, mind you, and their significance, or insignificance, (as the case may be), to a true practitioner of yoga.

The terms are plentiful, and in Sanskrit, so I’ll spare you the details, but supposedly, to the serious practitioner of yoga there are primarily two kinds of “love: the kind of “love” that holds you captive in this world, and the kind of “love” that liberates you from it. Simply put, one is “divine” and one isn’t. One is selfless and one is selfish. One is pure and the other is impure. One is spiritual and one is material. And, according to my ex, one is worth participating in and the other one isn’t. Ours was the kind that was obviously not worth participating in to him. I guess the love we shared just didn’t measure high enough on his “divine love” thermometer!. So it became disposable to him.  As did all other close relationships he had with human beings.

My ex and I have very different views of love. I don’t think it’s wise to throw out any kind of love in a world that is so hungry for it! And I fear lots of good loving gets unnecessarily tossed out, like a baby with the bath water, by people who are prematurely trying to be like sage Patanjali, or the Dalai Lama, or act like some enlightened being who loves everyone equally, and in the end actually ends up loving no one at all.

So maybe you’re afraid of becoming codependent? So, you want to make sure your bliss is really within and not in the love you find with another human being? So, you fear you may only perpetuate old patterns, and retrace old samskaras, or negative imprints in your psyche by being in an intimate relationship with another person?

You like your freedom, you like your independence, you want to be your own source of satisfaction, make your own ananda? I hear you. That’s all fine and dandy, but do you really have to toss out your significant other to accomplish all that?

I think people tend to equate relationships with suffering, and they connect a yogic lifestyle with a lack of suffering. So they come up with safe, little formulas for spiritual success that translate into trading-in their intimate bonds with others, for a relationship with “the universe”, with “God”, with “the divine”, or whatever you call that more mystical and magical something-or-other yogis derive their bliss from. Supposedly falling in love with *that* is safer, it won’t let you down, it’s smarter. Hey! If I am loving the whole universe, then I am automatically loving you because you are part of the universe! Sorry buddy, that one’s not going to fly with me. It sounds like a cop-out. It sounds like maybe, just maybe, you’re scared of getting your heart broken.

So what if love breaks you, and rips you, and takes your sensitive, tattered heart and tosses it out the window of a moving vehicle and drags it through the dust, like Napoleon Dynamite did to his plastic action figure on his ride to school?

So what if the pain is excruciating at times? So what if love shakes all your safe foundations and leaves you feeling naked and exposed, and unable to predict what’s going to happen next? Does than mean you’re less of a yogi? Because you are human? Because you have feelings? Because you have a human heart that wants to exchange love with another human heart?

 Maybe yoga wants you to take that experience, of being in love, (with all the crazy and wild roller coaster rides that come with it, and the soft vulnerability, and the interdependent sweetness and scariness) and make it part of of your yoga practice?.

To me, it just doesn’t make sense to toss out love in this world, as a means to rise to a higher love. Just the opposite!

What if all the experiences of love in this world amount to the most valuable tool we can use in finding our own bliss?

What if everything you want in a relationship with the universe is hiding in the loving relationships we have with other human beings?

What if the divine in me wants to love the divine in you? Would you call it yoga?

Maybe it has that potential, if you let it. 

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