I Keep My Eyes Open so that I Can Meditate on Life.

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Self-Portrait, Gaudi's Parc Guell, Barcelona, SHR.com
Self-Portrait, Gaudi’s Parc Guell, Barcelona, SHR.com


I’m sitting in a square in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona.

I’ve just finished teaching a weekend of yoga philosophy workshops at the Yogaroom, so I happily decided to spend Monday relaxing and exploring. I watch kids ride around on miniature bikes with tiny helmets on their heads while I drink a hot foamy coffee, and I’m writing because apparently, I am incapable of accepting a state of complete repose.

Coffee in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona, SHR.com
Coffee in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona, SHR.com

I have a vague worry that my iPhone may die as a result of having texted too many pictures in Gaudi’s Parc Güell, where I was just meandering and basking in the late-March sun. I realize that this should not bother me and that it would actually be a good thing. Then I take a few more photos.

Sitting in Gaudi's Parc Güell, rakis from Chidambaram temple on my wrist, SHR.com
Sitting in Gaudi’s Parc Güell, rakis from Chidambaram temple on my wrist, SHR.com

To my left a German Shepherd-ish looking mutt wiggles ecstatically upside-down, legs waving in the air, as she scratches her back against the paving stones.

A soccer ball bounces next to her head, barely missing her as a group of boys rush by. Older men sit in the benches a few yards in front of me, vigorously speaking to each other in Catalan. A woman stands nearby smoking a cigarette while waiting for the next available table. We are all eating and drinking so she eventually walks away.

Watching a Dog in Plaça del Sol, Gràcia, SHR.com
Watching a Dog in Plaça del Sol, Gràcia, SHR.com

There is so much to see, so much to do.

I tend to put off my bedtime at night because I am so interested in my engagement in the waking world.

I often tell people, Once I found yoga, I was never bored again. And this is true. I don’t try to quiet my mind very often because my mind loves abundance in the same way that I love that the foam from my coffee is overflowing its cup and sliding down the side of the glass. I choose a yoga of intelligent abundance, a yoga of Shri, one that reminds me that there is always more. I choose a yoga that turns toward the world.

I’ve been having parallel conversations this weekend with my host, Amelie and my friend Sattva about embracing the diversity of voices within the yoga community. Yoga teachers who are worth studying with are passionate about their approach, but aware that it is important to balance depth with expansion, to entertain new concepts, and to revel in the vast mosaic of our shared community. Here too, we are presented with a feast.

Teaching at the Yogaroom, Barcelona. SHR.com
Teaching at the Yogaroom, Barcelona. SHR.com

The first time I went to Tamil Nadu with my teacher Douglas Brooks, I fell in love with Darshan, which means the seeing and being seen that happens between you and the deity, as well as between you and everyone else in the temple. Darshan is the experience of an intense open-eyed meditation.

I loved that I could reach deeply inside myself while remaining profoundly visually engaged with the world. In fact, it is the intense visual engagement of Darshan that mirrors back what is residing inside of you.

As the Upanishads indicate, What is within is without. And what is without is within.

Day-glo Meditation, Minakshi Temple, Madurai SHR.com
Day-glo Meditation, Minakshi Temple, Madurai SHR.com

And just like this, I want my eyes to take in something so elaborate and exquisite that it accesses untapped corners and recesses of my own life.

Darshan is a reflection of what resides inside of me, and why wouldn’t I want more possibility? More complexity? More thought? More beauty?

Parc Güell, SHR.com
Parc Güell, SHR.com

There are a multiplicity of ways to do our yoga, just as there a wild diversity of personalities, intelligences, and sensibilities in the world.

I keep my eyes open so that I can meditate on life.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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About Susanna Harwood Rubin

Susanna is passionately committed to finding beauty in everyday life. She is a yoga teacher-writer-visual artist, which means that she rarely stops moving except to meditate. She is ERYT-500, has been teaching for over 12 years, and travels regularly to South India to delve into the traditions of Rajanaka Yoga that inspire her work. Her spiritual home is the great Nataraja Temple of Chidambaram. She teaches internationally, but is based in New York. Find her weekly classes at Twisted Trunk Yoga and Abhaya Yoga . Susanna's artwork is represented in collections such as the UCLA Hammer Museum, the Berkeley Museum, and the Addison Gallery of American Art. She lectured and wrote for MoMA for years, including co-writing the book "Looking at Matisse and Picasso," and she will still happily talk about Picasso for hours if you ask her. Susanna currently writes on yoga, writing, art, and life for a number of publications, including The Huffington Post , Mantra Yoga+Health , Rebelle Society , and YOGANONYMOUS . She gives talks on yoga, Hindu myth, and philosophy, and created the popular Writing Your Practice workshops and telecourses for yogis, applying yoga philosophy and myth to the practice of writing. Overall, she is amazed at the richness of her life. Find her on Twitter , Facebook , & Instagram


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