Working Out or Working In?
Apologies for the long silence. I have been doing my fair share of reflection and inner work as of late. I suppose it fits in with the change of seasons, the darker and cooler mornings, the layers, the pants and the earlier setting sun. Even as I sit here writing this my nose is cold and my feet as well . . . Almost time for wool socks. The shift in the season, as summer turns to fall, is a great time to reflect on your intentions, your path and what you are creating and manifesting. I find that this cycle seems to happen naturally, as the weather gets colder we naturally seem to turn inward.
Saucha, is the the first of the Niyamas, which are the second limb of yoga. Saucha, can be thought of yes, as the cleansing practices associated with yoga - the tongue scrapping, net pot, abhyanga and so on, even the cleansing that is brought about my the shifting of energy through asana,however, the practice of Saucha can also go beyond the physical. It can also be thought of as a cleansing and a clearing of the relationships, habits and patterns in our lives. It allows us to let go of the things the feel incongruous or that no longer serve. Just like brushing your teeth makes your mouth come alive and feel rejuvenated, releasing the relationships, habits and patterns that no longer serve can do the same. As my teacher, Janet Stone, says it's an opportunity to clear our platter in all of our endeavours. That is exactly what I have been doing. And as I have been working to cleans and clear I find myself in a place where what I am practicing on the outside is more in alignment with the way I am feeling internally. This to me is the real inner work of the practice of yoga.
I have been reading Polishing the Mirror by Ram Dass and he so eloquently and simply explains the practice of yoga, what it is we are doing in our lives, if we are spiritually inclined. Sometimes it is so easy to get lost in the physical asana, as if that were the end goal, to be able to do a handstand, a crow pose or whatever the shape is that we are working towards. We loose the intention behind the shape, the breath, that we breathe while we are in the shape.. We, our culture, slowly allow the shapes to be king. When we go to some studios, that can lead the way - the sweating, the working, the pushing the doing. Reading Ram Dass's book and this inward time has reminded me that for me, the draw of the practice, the jewel has always been the connection to source, to spirit, the quieting of the mind. The quieter my mind becomes, the more I am able to really hear my heart, my inner, big S "Self,' and the more I am able to live in union "yoga" with that place.
My spiritual heart.
In the words of Ram Dass:
"Shedding the layers of the mind is like taking layers off of an onion. You peel them all away until you come to your essence. The spiritual journey is not about acquiring something outside yourself. Rather, you are penetrating the layers and veils to return to the deepest truth of your own being."
For me this time of reflection of clearing out and cleansing has brought me back to the beginning, always being gentle with the self, with love and compassion. Feeling more and more integrated each time I revisit the key questions and always returning to the practice, to the here and now.