The more I do Yoga, the more I question what this yoga thing is about.
When I learn and succeed at something I’ve learnt, I wonder who decided at what point that knowledge was ready to be applied and at what bar it is then deemed ‘a success’.
Each time I’ve truly fallen in love, the relationship dies many deaths but the love lives on and in living on, its depth intensifies beyond the person or thing that instigated it in the first place.
And so with loss. Absence grows and grows with time. Where is that Time they speak of that is the healer – pretty words to buffer the finality of something gone?
As for wellbeing, ah… I should be top of that game. But chronic illness seems to be bedfellows with my innate wholeness.
As for growth, said to come from how we navigate challenge, discomfort, tragedy and disappointment, I find as I let myself truly face and work through such challenge, I become less layered by experience and instead more raw. Not far off like a child who hasn’t yet developed a shell of defence, and yet sees everything. Is that.. growth?
So perhaps no surprise then that I find myself this year standing in relationship to that global commonplace timeless ritual of New Year Resolutions in a backward facing way.
Who are you that stands behind New Year Resolutions, who is this presence asking me to make resolves and promises ostensibly to bring success and joy? I am not talking here of WhatsApp messages wishing me ‘all I could ever dream of’ or ‘deserve’. But of the pervasive air enticing us to supposed greater joy and fulfilment, but actually keeping us on the merry path of yo-yoing between shame and wishful thinking, between not feeling good enough and believing we are much more, between lack and greed.
It is a ripe time to affirm those lifestyle habits and changes. So we are told. Winter and hibernation and all that. It makes sense to use the turning into a new year as a milestone for something new and for letting go of what no longer serves us. It can be pragmatic, personal, spiritual or symbolic. The New Year does not discriminate between desires for wealth, materialism, personal development, martyrdom, purpose or simply a lighter load. In our Resolutions, which are intensely personal and only ‘I’ need ever be privy to them, one can encompass a whole spectrum and shade, or just one thing. The need or desire need never be judged by another.
And even if you fall into the cynic or smug superior category of folk who poo poo the New Year’s beckoning to start something new, change something for the better, give a direction, voice or hope to a yearning, or lose the weight that held you down from the previous year (literally or metaphorically), or even if you are one of the fortunate minority who has unsubscribed to social media platforms and mails that go into a January bombast of ‘thou shalt’ positive psychology, or the overload of over-shares about ‘my journey and what I have learnt’, the air we breath is infected by this urge to review, to resolve and to push on in life with clear goals that can be seen, evaluated and then yes… posted for the rest of the world to see (for a second or two, a they scroll…).
Even the savviest of minds cannot escape the writing on the wall – and on the calendar and diary of every phone and device on the planet, that puts it out there: now is the time to ponder what you don’t have and what you do want, and how you are going to get there.
Every yoga studio is subject to the same epidemiology. Let it be said though, there is no ‘yoga text’ or sacred verse that asked us to ‘sort your life out’ on the 1stof January. No, no sage or yogi asked for that. Yet in recent times, yoga has become appropriated by the psychological and technological age we live in, just like everything else has. The idea that YOU are as divine as any god, that you are divinity itself, that you are entitled to ask and wish for whatever you truly desire, that if you wish hard enough, and deep enough and believe it in enough, you will get there and it – whatever it and ‘there’ might be – this idea has become almost a hub of a wheel of much yoga practice nowadays.
I myself, as a devout Yoga Nidra practitioner and teacher, allow myself in a daily yoga nidra meditation to ‘set an intention’, such is one of the fundamental aspects of the whole premise and practice of the this type of yogic meditation.
On the start of this new year we share, I find myself incapable of looking ahead. I am not lost in past times. I am not stuck. I’m not a second or hour clock hand that no longer shuffles back or forth. I am… the face of the clock itself. I am the thing that has had numbers and shapes imposed upon it. Only the frame, or Nature and her dark and light changes, feels like a truth to work with.
Do I have things I would like to let go of from the past year? Well… if I let go of them, where does that leave who I’ve become now?
Are there people or lovers I must forget, or be closer to? Well… if the connection is real nothing I decide to put in a notebook, or app, can dismantle that.
Would it not be helpful to chalk out some tangibles, say, to help me find a lodging that can one day be welcoming home to a dog, or boost my savings for security bearing in mind a self employed yoga teacher is about as secure as an Italian government financed bridge…?
Well, I could develop brilliant strategies, and get expert advice and take on more work (note: done all that, been there, t-shirt, etc..), but as a conscientious businesswoman and a wholly self-supporting adult, these are things that are part of the course. Not a January thing.
So what about symbolic things, like, personal attributes (‘be less reactive’ is one I’ve seen flying around the social media posts a lot lately), or letting yourself be bravely assertive to want the life, or lover, or whatever, you so wish. Isn’t January ideal for formulating life affirmations like these, especially if you have been denying yourself the life you want. Well. I’m not here to write to argue against that. Nor the noting of perhaps more day to day yet significant in their own way rituals, such as, do more exercise, be kinder, go to bed earlier. I just don’t see how a date in the calendar is the prompt for such things.
For the first time in my life, New Year Resolve not only has no power in speaking to me, but no voice at all.
In the greater cacophony of opinion and channels of information that we are now exposed to and living in, I hear something else – a silence.
It’s not something I’ve conjured, or studied or even been asked to consider by any of the highly spiritually literate people I’ve known or know.
It’s just.. there. Silence beckoning. Like a basket next to the radiator where a dog loves to curl up in.
Is this what happens when you love, lose, and love and lose all over again?
Is the result of study and hard work, an obliteration of their very goals?
When you understand wellbeing at its essence, does that uncover a harder curve ball in the body, to test the spirit further?
I cannot say.
Maybe I’ll never know.
And come 2020, I might need a strategy to lose weight, firm up, or keep a real-life (non virtual) business afloat. Or another loss, or gain, will require tangible attention, and a notebook and pen…
.. for now, the clock of 2019 says to me: rest in the silence within. Awareness, after all, needs nothing. It always has what it needs.