Monday, February 13, 2012

spiritual practice

I remember the time I thought, no I expected that by having a spiritual practice I would be free from struggle. Yes it's true.

In the midst of some yoga high, riding on the waves of bliss, when everyone and everything was perfect in my eyes. "This is it," I thought.

Now I see how unreasonable that is. I thought "being spiritual" meant feeling good all the time.

What I didn't understand was that my spiritual practice was about making room for all of it. "It" being the feelings of fullness, wholeness, and peace that are a by product of a regular spiritual practice as well as the anger, fear, greed, and jealousy that comes with simply living as a human being. Even the Yoga Sutras say that yogis, sages, and seers are not excluded from pain and suffering.

While Mama Alice was receiving treatment for cancer I would get emails and messages from people commenting on how "well" I was handling the crisis. What people didn't see was the crying, screaming, questioning, and breaking of one not so sturdy lamp.

Those moments came on when I least expected it. In a conversation. When a particular song came on. Driving past a hospital. Looking at artwork. Seeing a baby. Writing on this blog.

There were times when the feelings came in waves, slow and steady, building gradually. There were times when the feelings came ferociously like a lion.

Every time the voice of judgement started to say "straighten up and act like a yogi" I would remind myself that this too was the life of a yogi.

I would allow myself permission to feel the full range of emotion I was experiencing (something that is still challenging for me). I would connect to the virtues that are important to me. Virtues such as kindness, compassion, and gratitude.

I would take a step away from the stories swirling in my mind and take a step closer to trust.

Take a deep breath. Bring my attention back to that which is pure and whole. The part of me that is untouched by the chaos and conflict that swirls around.

That's what my spiritual practice is about these days. It's about trusting even when I don't fully understand. It's about getting quiet and connecting to the fullness of life. It's about reminding myself of the peace that is ultimately available in the moment should I choose to see it, should I bring my attention to it.