I like to indulge philosophy like ice cream – up to my elbows and for as long as possible. There was a time in my undergraduate years that my day would be a continuous cycle of read, contemplate, repeat – alternating coffee shops and couches until I hit satiation point. Which, like with ice cream, wasn’t until I reached the bottom of a number of barrels of delicious flavours of contemplation. There’s a part of me that relates to the archetypal scene of an ancient philosopher pouring over texts and scrolls which, except for the glow of the firelight, is enshrouded by darkness, silence and solitude. My undergraduate years are long.
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.
Countless people have remarked how if only they had discipline they would practice yoga more regularly. Discipline can be good, sometimes. And sometimes it can be ego’s way of promising guilt, self-flagellation and a spiritual life that is controlled by will – which is no spiritual life at all.It’s hard not to think about discipline as a sought after quality of the most successful people in the world. We respect the discipline of athletes, soldiers, business people and fitness gurus. And in the name of producing a well-oiled human machine, discipline in this sense is really a formidable feat. The question is: can we come to know our spiritual self through the same means.
Sometimes I love to revel in how immensely practical yoga and spirituality can be. As a very sentimental person I find myself in the throes of wild emotional forces within me daily. For many years I had minimal ability to make space for this inner wilderness. Instead, I would find myself angry, depressed or anxious, yet I knew intuitively there was another way to allow the forces to move in me without being towed under by them. This way has slowed shown itself to me over time through my practices and most especially yoga. Yoga calls us to be completely present amidst awkward and difficult sensations. We are asked to stay with the inner.