2016 left me lying face down on the ground, spread wide and vulnerable in the mud of all the ideas and expectations I was so desperately lunging after in the hope that they might bring me solace and value in this ever-dimming social, political, and environmental climate we find ourselves moving through today. However, there becomes a point where it is too dark and heavy and complicated, and something deep within tells you to wipe the mud off your face and look up. And when I cleared and opened my eyes, I saw the familiar flicker of light that always has been and always will be- the same light that I have seen and walked towards, and then forgotten and strayed from many times before. In yoga, we call this inherent and eternal direction and soul-longing of our existence, sankalpa. Sankalpa is formed in the heart and if you give yourself time and space to sit, it arrives with everything you need.
So how did I lose focus and wander off course yet again?
Being human means we have a body-mind vehicle and with that comes likes and dislikes, birth and death, joy and sorrow. If something feels good, we try to re-enact and re-live the past experience. If something is painful, we move away and avoid in the future. This is a human behavior deeply rooted in fear and habit, and it is the attachment to these attractions and aversions that push us off the path over and over and over again.
Yoga is a state of being that results from the practices offered in the ancient teachings. Yoga is the union leftover when our consciousness disconnects from the entanglement with the mind and the manifested world. Achieving yoga takes discipline and work. It requires a sustained practice known as abhyasa. Abhyasa can be developed through consistent self-analysis and satsang.
In sanskrit, “satsang” means a sacred gathering to sit, or simply BE, in Truth. It is an invitation to come together as a community of yoga practitioners and study the ancient teachings offered in texts such at the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanishads. This is a two-fold offering to first, go inward deeply through the teachings and sitting and afterwards, to re-enter our outward lives and reflect and discuss how we are experiencing and applying the wisdom that has been so beautifully and graciously passed down the lineage.
The teachings are oh so clear, and yet this path takes devotion and hard work. It is certainly easier to press the snooze button and go back to and remain asleep. However, if your year was anything as emotional and draining and confusing as mine, you might want to wake up. You might hear a whisper to open your eyes and a calling to return to or stay the path. This is it! The time is NOW. We need to muster all our strength and support each other to the best of our abilities. We need to continue to show up, not only for ourselves, but for our community, for our sweet and nourishing and life giving Mother Earth, and for humanity. So please join us! We will gather at Yoga Garden SF every Wednesday night at 8:00 pm.
May this satsang bring more clarity, compassion, and perseverance to ourselves and the world. May we collectively uplift our community, our society, and our species. May this gathering bring more health, happiness, and freedom from suffering to all beings everywhere. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.