It was in a first year philosophy class that I first heard the famous Socrates quote “Know Thyself”. I kinda thought I did. I was a rural Albertan girl with all the hard work values of a redneck, the social morals of an activist and the naive dreams of a hippie. That sums it up right? Almost twenty years now I’ve sought to embody Socrates words – words that have become an incantation of sorts living just beneath the surface of perceivable thought. Like any good incantation the pursuit of self-knowledge bubbles up from the cauldron of my unconscious inciting questioning, feeling and understanding. I am truly spellbound by it.
One of the major contributions yoga can make to greater mental and emotional well being is its capacity to develop new ranges of feeling and expression. Like a tree that wants to grow into full expression, in the directions inspired by its natural ability, we also have a myriad of potential for feeling into and expressing our aliveness. But, like a tree forced to grow inside a box, we are hampered in our expression by cultural norms and expectations as well as our socialization. From a young age we are taught what kind of emotional expression is acceptable and will secure us the affection of our caregivers and peers. We.
Tonight I drove just out of town to a familiar field to watch the lunar eclipse with my 6 year old. I told her we were going to see the BLOOD MOON, hoping to instil some excitement – she wondered if there would be rides there. I told her “no it’s just a field”, which she thought was good enough because apparently she’d never been to a “field” before. I talked to her a bit along the way about how the moon is always there to listen to her if she’s ever lonely, to which she replied “oh yeah? So is the moon alive or something?”. It’s so hard to.
This post is my contribution to the attempted dialogue about body positive yoga involving Melanie Klein of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and Kathryn Budig. For background, Melanie’s “Open Letter to Kathryn Budig” can be found here (An Open Letter to Kathryn Budig) Melanie, I feel impelled to reply to your Open Letter to Kathryn Budig as I believe there are few essential points that have not been touched on. You’ve presented one part of a very large issue on celebrity culture in yoga, body image and privilege. The first point I want to make is this: you state that Elen Bahr’s tweet “Say NO to Kathryn Budig as.
“We must no more ask whether the soul and body are one than ask whether the wax and the figure impressed on it are one. ” – Aristotle Gurdjieff speaks of the crystallization of a force through spiritual effort that has the capacity to withstand the torrent of external assaults we experience regularly. This force is the place where human and Divine collide – an interface that we call soul. He sometimes describes this force as a “finer substance” which can be felt distinct from the denser vibration of our personality and physical reality. As you traverse the spiritual path of yoga (or otherwise), the question is: Can you sense the presence of this “finer.
The concept of “neti neti” stems from Advaita Vedanta which is a non-dual Eastern philosophy. Neti neti means “not this, not that” and is a specific way to approach the search for God. In our human experience we have thoughts, emotions and sensations of living in every day life. The notion of neti neti posits that Spirit or God is none of these things. The ecstatic experience of being moved by the primal sounds of a chorus of drums – that’s not It. The vast, spacious feeling at the apex of a mountain or the silent, soft longing for wholeness and peace – that’s not It either. I am.
What can I say about Wanderlust? I write this with some hesitation because not all I have to say is full of the love and bliss that was the incessant mantra of this festival. Carl Jung said “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious”. It became clear to me over the last week what it really means to seek enlightenment by imagining, conceptualizing and talking about unity, love and bliss – sadly, I think, at its own expense. Don’t get me wrong. The festival had some lovely components – wonderful music, lectures and earnest practitioners gathering in community as an expression.
One of the central themes of the Soul of Christianity workshop I recently attended was that of grace. To me, grace is those moments in life when greater understanding unfolds and I am gifted with a sense of wholeness. Grace is an ever present gift that flows naturally into our openings – those times when our ego cannot fathom the bigness of the Mystery and it breaks down – allowing for a little pocket of the Mystery to be known. Grace waits for us to open to it, I think, and we often must be shocked into knowing it by instances that disrupt the ego and call us into such presence that.
Everytime I hear the term embodiment it rings in me like something I long to realize. I have an intuitive notion of what embodiment means and the string of this knowing is plucked each time I read or hear about it – leaving a vibratory ache for greater understanding that is ineffable. I believe that my understanding of embodiment will continue to evolve for the rest of my life. For now, all I know is that there are times when I feel more filled out, like more of me is permitted to live. There are times when my attention is not captivated by my ego and it holds the tender elements.