What drew you to yoga as your spiritual practice? In my case, it had everything to do with having a direct or felt experience of spiritual practices and philosophies. In the eight-limb practice of yoga, I do not have to rely on another person’s words to discover what is true for me. Furthermore, by observing what I feel in each yoga experience, I continue to expand my awareness of who I am in each moment. It is this growing self-awareness or consciousness that keeps me returning for more. Yoga provides me with an in-to-me-see experience with my mind-body-spirit, one of “best-friending” my true self.
Experience is my one true mistress and I will sight her in all cases. Only through experimentation can we truly know anything. Leonardo da Vinci
Recently, during a spiritual study group, the conversation centred around a proverbial question, “Who am I?” In grappling with this question, many of us start with what we “do” in life — mother/father, teacher/entrepreneur, woman/man, etc. — only to realize that these labels are incomplete.
Unless you drop your personality [the roles you play] you will not be able to find your individuality [authentic self]. Individuality is given by existence [being]; personality is imposed by society [doing]. Osho
As the study group pondered our existence, we became aware of being less and less interested in who we are and more and more interested in the mystery of being. Upon registering these words, one attendee immediately experienced a visceral sensation, not unlike puzzle pieces moving together to form a complete picture. Even though she had a felt experience of resonating with the words, she still had no language to describe the ‘mystery of being’. How would you describe your experience of the mystery of being?
IMHO, the mystery of being is the process of deep collaboration, which first begins within (intrapersonally) and then spreads outward (interpersonally and extra-personally). Both intrapersonal and interpersonal collaboration are relatively more known experiences. Intrapersonal collaboration is essentially the practice of integrating all the layers of our being (our physical, energetic, mental-emotional, intuitive and joy bodies) into one healthy whole. This is more easily written than accomplished.
Interpersonal collaboration is the effective and harmonious joining together of two or many to create a new widget or write a book or save a planet, etc. Extra-personal collaboration, however, is not so easily imagined or explained. Hence, why we call it the mystery of being.
In retrospect, the past several years of releasing desire, ambition, goals and destinations opened me to experience the mystery of being. My spiritual practice was at a point where living through ambition and effort inhibited my growth. In order to access the depth of experience and understanding necessary to transform deeply ingrained reactive patterns (physical/emotional/mental holding and tension), I needed to get out of my way. Releasing attachment to desire, ambition, goals and destinations taught me to rely on my inner experience of what was emerging around me as a means to both survive and thrive. The present moment spiritual practice that supported my development of self-reliance and non-attachment (aparigraha) consisted of these four steps —
- Show up — practice being present in each moment.
- Open up — say “Yes” to whatever shows up, that is, crosses my path or lands in my lap.
- See/be the truth — own the whole truth; recognize how ego’s interpretation has limited healing and growth.
- Accept what is — acknowledge and appreciate every outcome as meant to be.
Practicing this four-step process enabled me to remain present and open to emerging possibilities, which then revealed personal truths I was previously unable to see. Interestingly, the effort needed to manage my life was considerably reduced.
In summary, what amounted to a move toward effortlessness in my practice and life meant allowing myself to be led into an experience rather than to always set the agenda. More accurately, I learned to let life lead me into the experiences I needed for growth rather than to manipulate emerging events to suit my own agendas.
As an example, when I practice with yoga and breath actions (i.e., draw the psoas up the sides of the spine or breathe into the pelvic floor), I am manipulating with my will and breath to direct my felt experience. This is appropriate in the early stages of yoga practice in order to build physical and breath capacity. As our capacity grows and stabilizes, the time comes to move beyond the Annamaya (physical), Pranamaya (breath, organic) and Manomaya (mental-emotional) Koshas (sheaths). We rest our awareness in that space of cellular wisdom, intuition (Vijnanamaya Kosha) and bliss/joy (Anandamaya Kosha).
When we rest awareness on present moment emerging experience whether within and without, we are deeply collaborating with all of life. Simply, we are surrendering to what is and trusting that what we need is being provided to us in each passing moment. Such deep collaboration aligns us intra- and inter-personally with the flow of life (extra-personally).