Remember the first yoga teacher you ever had? The girl with kaleidoscope eyes who first corrupted you with the promise of freedom from the chains of an ego-dominated, soulless purple haze of ignorance and pain?
Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on you. And you can’t get enough.
It starts off innocently enough… There’s a curiosity. All the cool kids are doing it. What’s the harm in trying it just once?
First one’s free, kid.
Even though you’re a little apprehensive, having no idea what to expect you decide to venture into the unknown and go for it. And it’s better than you could have imagined. It makes you feel amazingly and undeniably peaceful, more so than anything you’ve ever experienced, as if liquid light had poured itself into your fragile psyche and magically made everything okay.
You’ve been searching your whole life for something that made you feel like this, something that would finally create some sense in this mad universe, something to take away the anguish of your circuitous existence of bad vibes, isolation and crappy karma.
This overwhelming feeling of ease and comfort may last a little while, or it could wear off half way home (depending on the severity of the traffic), at which point you already miss it. An animal inside you has awoken. But before long, you’ve already lost that lovin’ feeling.
So you start easy at first, maybe once or twice a week…soon you’re up to three, four times a day. You begin lying to your friends and family about your whereabouts so they won’t know how much you’re doing. You get to work late in the mornings, and leave early.
People are suspicious.
You spread yourself thin. But by the time the Groupons and the “new student” introductory specials you bought all around town start to expire, you’ve drained your bank account to afford classes.
Next thing you know, you’re waiting for the man, the guy working the desk at your favorite studio, twenty-six dollars in your hand to pay off that class package.
It’s in your blood, like music…the yoga and the damage is done.
I’ll stop tomorrow, you tell yourself. But you can’t. You’re hooked.
And anyway, why would you?
I’ll only do it at home, you say to yourself. Or only on the weekends.
As long as I’m not doing it alone, I’ll be alright…
As a bargaining measure, you get a gig working the desk. And now you’re selling it in exchange for getting it for free.
It’s all working out, when you’re careful not to overdo it.
You try limiting the number of classes you take, switching from Hatha to Kundalini to Ashtanga, taking a retreat, not taking a retreat…Your Amazon wish list grows to over 50 books, all on spirituality, eastern philosophy and yoga. You’ve become someone you would never have recognized, considering the only time you’d ever seen anything having to do with manifesting a higher consciousness was looking at photos of the Maharishi in your brother’s Beatles books.
One day while having lunch with your mom, she looks down to see something curious going on with your hand.“What’s that?!” Without realizing it, you had your thumb and forefinger together in gyan mudra, next to your plum and ginger infused roasted dandelion tea and acorn squash lasagna with ricotta cheese, brown rice noodles, garlic, sage and nettle grass-fed butter sauce.
You stutter as you try and think of a quick explaination; you’re just not ready to tell the truth, and you’re too busy trying to hide the bruises on the backs of your arms from Bakasana.
You told yourself you’d never turn to needles. But one day, sitting with your friend at the tattoo parlour, you can’t resist.
And you get an little om symbol on your wrist.
You’ve gone over the deep end, crossed the invisible line. You’re one of “them,” a denizen of a fantastically multi-colored underworld dripping with happiness and sweetness and beautiful people, unafraid, out of the abyss and completely stoked about life.
People are wondering why you always look high. You’re pretty sure they wouldn’t believe it if you told them the truth:
There’s good stuff in life to believe in.
Liberation can be yours, right now, in this lifetime.
There’s no such thing as a dark side of the moon.
And you recall, to your best recollection, a story from 19th century Indian mystic and yogi Sri Ramakrishna:
Three dudes went walking in a field. In the middle of the field there was a place surrounded by a high wall. From behind this wall came the sounds of music; instruments were jamming and voices sang. The guys were charmed by it and wanted to see what was happening. Lollapalooza?
But there was no door anywhere in the wall. What to do?
One of the guys found a ladder and climbed to the top of the wall while the other two waited below. When the guy who was on top of the wall saw what was happening on the other side, he was beside himself. He didn’t even bother to tell his buddies below what he saw; he uttered a rowdy laugh and jumped.
The other two looked at each other. “What an a-hole! He didn’t even tell us what he saw. We’ll have to look for ourselves. Hopefully it’s naked chicks.” So the second guy climbed the ladder. And, like the first one, he looked over the wall and burst out laughing like a maniac, and jumped.
The third guy stood there. What the hell? He climbed the ladder, looked over the wall and saw what was on the other side. It was a raging festival of happiness, given free to all who wanted it. His first thought was to jump down there and join the party. But then he said to himself:
“If I do that, no one else will ever know that this place exists.”
So he forced his mind away from the sight , and he came down the ladder and began telling everyone he met: “in there is a wild, magical sight. Come with me—bring a six-pack and let’s all get down with the gods and live forever.”
So he took everybody with him, and they all indulged in the neverending revelry.
C’mon, baby. First one’s free.
Image: Brian Tomlinson at Flickr