Freedom

Freedom

When I close my eyes I can see

The jewel of my heart.

This crystal clear prism is anchored by golden threads,

Refracting all light, creating infinite rainbows.

Freedom is this steel braid

that keeps me tethered to the light;

the light of my beginning, my end,

my everything.

                                                                                                                       Cindy Stockdale

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Loss

Loss is a funny thing, its nature is like quicksilver, exquisite and toxic but difficult to hold or contain. I saw a photograph this evening that triggered my heart. It was as though I was swimming in a black pool, my head finally above the water after years of grieving and then the loss appeared, prepared to pull me into the abyss of my grief. In this moment, I find myself fighting back tears, trying to clamour back to the surface of the water so I can gasp for air.

And then the shame sets in. Why am I still crying about this?  What is wrong with me? This wound is years old now and yet it still lingers as though it was mostly fresh, the raw and redness of its edges still tender to the touch.

With the hot water of the shower pouring down on my head, crying silently while my husband and daughter fall asleep, I begin to realize that very simply, this particular loss touches my wound of I am not enough.

I believe this wound is a soul wound, I also believe it is a collective wound.  I think most people deep down feel they are not enough. This deep intrinsic need to be loved and the fear of being rejected arguably drive many of our choices: what job we have, what car we drive, how we dress, how we parent, how we eat, it’s why we judge and compare…truly every human action is a call for more love. (I can’t claim that statement as mine, it’s a quote from someone, somewhere and I don’t know who but it’s amazing).

I can’t recall, like most of us, when I was first taught that I wasn’t enough. Maybe it was at home, I know I’m in the habit of inadvertently disappointing my mother. Maybe at school, I certainly was not the most popular of kids, I can honestly say I still feel, in many circles, that I am on the outside looking in. I think the thing about soul wounds is that you often times arrive to this lifetime with them (yes, I’m speaking of reincarnation).

I have had other losses as well. Numerous in fact. Loss of lovers, friends, of my father. The thing that is tricky about parents is we expect them to die because they are older than us. My father died young but not totally unexpectedly. I mourned him for many, many years but was pleased his deep suffering was over.  What a relief for him, too bad he’ll have to keep coming back until he figures it out (see reincarnation belief above).

If I think back of all the losses I have had, the answer to healing is always the same. Time. The length and duration of which is undetermined. Who is to say what healed is anyways? Does it mean you stop crying or you don’t care? Does it mean you aren’t triggered by photographs? Does it mean making friends with the abyss?

Sigh. All these options seem overwhelming at the moment.  Other times I feel nothing, today, right now, I feel that suffocating tightness in my chest when you are doing your best not to explode into tears. Some of you may say cry, but I have cried all these tears a thousand times.

Maybe rather than mourning, I should try forgiveness. Again and again. Forgiveness for myself.

Transcendence

tran(t)ˈsendəns/
noun
Existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level

100 years ago this word was rarely used in the English vernacular. Now, in 2016, it is a common colloquialism but what does it mean, exactly?
To transcend, in spiritual circles and mystery traditions, means (as it says above) to go beyond the experience of ordinary physical life.

The word beyond could also mean ‘to go higher’, that transcendence feels like an ascension of sorts, a connection to the universe, God, the all, whatever you like to call it. But how do we make this connection?

Through yoga, for thousands of years, transcendence and the leaving of the physical, returning to the truth of one’s being, has, at the very core, been the intention or ‘goal’, if you will. The yoga sutras teach us, very basically, that if we learn to be quiet and concentrate, available to us is utter bliss, a connection to the divine and to the truth of who we are; in yoga we call this Samadhi

One could arguably have an experience of transcendence without necessarily being able to maintain Samadhi, enlightenment etc. Just the very involvement of intensive meditation may give someone the essence or sensation of transcendence, even if momentary and slight. The idea is, then, once we taste this sweet nectar of truth and freedom, we strive to keep returning by refining our discipline and our practice.

However, as a mother of two small children, I know, as well as any other householder, that this endeavor for sanctuary seems easeful at times and arduous at others. I long for the time to practice for hours or sit in meditation every morning. I know how effervescent I feel after a good practice and yet, I still have difficulty making it to the mat.

I think this is poignant because the question here is whether mainstream yoga stays ‘true to its roots.’ I think this is a question on everyone’s mind. As someone who has studied archaeology and psychology, I first ask myself “what does that even mean?” In archaeology there is an adage—good ideas spread quickly. You can follow the trends of ancient people through the movement of art on pottery, the design of jewelry and other artifacts where you see an idea begin in one place and then see how the motif spreads out from the epicenter.
Part of the nature of the movement of ideas, thoughts and art is that, like human behavior, it evolves and it adapts.

In the beginning yoga, we think, developed as a methodology for self-transformation, transcendence and enlightenment. It, however, was never really built for those who were living a householder’s life. Yoga was reserved for spiritual astutes and Brahman.

In the late 1800s, Swami Vivekananda brings yoga to the West. It sparks a few people and yoga has a slow but steady movement throughout the beginning of the 1900s. A couple of world wars later and yoga enjoys a resurgence with the 1960s peace and love revolution. In the 1990s, however, we begin to see the ignition of what yoga is today. I personally believe it was Bikram that strongly facilitated bringing yoga to the masses by changing the intention from transcendence to exercise. This intention shift fed off the Western desire for thinness and the inability for the householder to have a traditionally devout practice because of work, family etc. Admittedly, however, if you’ve ever been in a 110° F room with 50 people for 90 minutes, you can be pretty close to seeing god.

Yoga has traveled out of India, was brought to the masses and, to date, it is estimated that in the U.S. alone there are over 20 million people who do yoga. Truly, this can’t be bad. Whether or not the intention of mainstream yoga is transcendence, exercise or a little bit of both, I think any regular yoga practitioner could argue that most people, if they attend yoga regularly, are leading happier, healthier lives. It may not be that meditation, chanting, Sanskrit or even all the juicy spiritual pieces are being taught. I know this makes some traditionalists cringe but isn’t that part of their yoga? To let go, surrender and trust that everyone is exactly where they need to be in this moment?
I think the yoga most of us seasoned practitioners grew up with, or have practiced, is enriched with a deep spiritual reverence and saturated with the practices that do allow you to transcend, to have out of body experiences, to find that expansive, luminous and radiant peace that is available at the center of the universe. I can’t say whether or not this is what is being taught today. I definitely have had the experience of both in the classroom.

Social media has added an element to this. People are learning yoga from Instagram, they aren’t even making to classes. I can say that I am happy more people are doing yoga and that the consciousness of the planet is clearly changing. I also celebrate that everyone will get to transcendence in their own time through their own practice. It could be yoga, could be climbing a mountain, swimming in a river or painting a beautiful picture. Yoga is a mystery school. Like all others, it endeavors to answer the questions of the universe in a meaningful way for people and to provide an opportunity for direct experience with transcendence. I feel blessed that we live in a world where, now, the mystery schools are revealing themselves so that more people can begin to live in a sweeter way. Perhaps this is transcendence, learning to love one another and live peacefully, thereby bringing heaven to earth.

Cindy Stockdale
Shamanic Yoga Institute

(as seen in Canadian Yogi: http://www.canadianyogi.com/transcendence.html)

Illumination

I lay asleep

Not knowing I was cloaked in darkness

Dormant.

Whispers kept me fearful, separate.

I shook awake, trembling

I saw myself glittering and radiant

I remembered how to breathe

How to pray.

I started to walk in a different way

Softly on the belly of the mother under my foot

I reached for the stars, into the cosmos and

My heart began to beat

Pulsing blood

There was an explosion of light

A recognition

I took off flying

And remembered God.

– Cindy Stockdale

On Solitude

This morning’s inspiration:

Solitude:

Solitude is the sense of space as nourishing.

 

There is a way in which we treat our relationships almost like a colonial expedition: we want to colonize the space, all the territory in between, until there is no wilderness left. Most couples who have deadened in each other’s presence have colonized their space this way.  They have domesticated each other beyond recognition.

 

I think it is more interesting to be with somebody who still has his or her wilderness territory – and by that I don’t mean bleak, burned-out, damaged areas where wounding has occurred; rather, I mean genuine wilderness.

 

The authenticity of her difference and the purity of her danger and the depth of her affection are all being secretly nourished by that wilderness, as all of my spirit is being nourished by my own wilderness.

John O’Donohue