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.
Yesterday I stripped bare on a secluded beach on the West Coast of Canada and threw myself in the ice cold ocean. I had to shed it. My clothes, my better judgement, the ought to’s and shoulds of culture that weigh on me daily like an ascetics hairshirt. I had to strip it down. The cloak of expectations and duty to a social order that wants to break me of my wildness. I had to become naked and swallowed by sea so I could emerge a starfish, an anemone, a grain of sand and know myself as the natural thing I really am. As I flopped and swam like a clumsy fish amidst the gentle.
Today my daughter and I were home sick with the flu. As I sit down to write this post on the nature of spiritual living I can see – in living color – the collision between human and divine. How do I muster the fortitude to talk about the sublime amidst the drudgery of snotty noses and piles of dirty laundry? It’s not easy, sometimes, for me to see daily life through a spiritual lens. It’s work. Despite the contrary claims of so many new age gurus, knowing Spirit amidst the mundane requires pause, practice and an ongoing desire to tend to my suffering in a way that is.
I’m obviously into forces these days. My second last post talked about the importance of recognizing that our own personal will is but one of innumerable forces acting on our lives at any moment. This post is about learning to cooperate with and see ourselves as a dynamic play of forces in yoga practice. Through this, we come to know ourselves as something other than the rigid, crystallized entity we call our ego. The first force we must cooperate with is the grounding force – we must root before we can sprout. This means yielding. We must learn to yield our body weight into the points of contac we have with the.
My daughter, Rowan, is a crucible through which the depth of my yoga practice has been tested. She was only home a month when I was besieged by post partum depression, colic and sleeplessness. One desperate day I settled, with feeble energy, into downward dog. I breathed there, listlessly, and felt my exhaustion. I breathed and felt the sensations of pain, fatigue and self doubt live their way through my body. I breathed until I became completely and honestly present to the deep ache of motherhood – the ache of immense fear, anger, fatigue, confusion – and love.As I descended deeper into experience my awareness held this ache like.