“As long as we feel the separation from our true identity, we will always suffer spiritually.” (Muktibodhananda, Swami. Hatha Yoga Pradipika . Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India. Kindle Edition.)
I was sitting pondering this quote having my coffee waiting to go to yoga class the other day in Oxford and it struck me that connection and the lack thereof has been coming up a lot for me lately in one form or another. This was essentially the key theme of a recent podcast, which I dip into quite a lot, from Tara Brach, Spiritual Reparenting (tarabrach.com). She’s a wonderful teacher and speaker whose lectures have often reminded me not to worry quite so much whilst reconnecting me to some essential truth and putting me back on track when I’ve been feeling slightly lost, or disconnected, either from life in general, or from myself.
That listlessness is not uncommon for me during the dark days of winter and coupled with the amount of change I've had recently (even though it's all really good stuff!) and the feeling of not being in my routines, I have had that sense of drifting that comes to us all from time to time. It’s an illusion, I’m as rooted as I ever was, and certainly nothing is really wrong, but if left unchecked, it can quickly become a negative downward spiral.
It’s really important for me to remember to stay connected and not sink down into it. That connection takes various forms for me including staying present in my body, true to myself through my thoughts and actions (true identity), connecting with other people and connecting with the universe. It always brings me back to gratitude and the knowledge that I am a very, very lucky person with a wonderful existence on this planet, which I absolutely must not take for granted or forget to make the most of.
Spring has arrived and with it a great uplifting energy as the sap rises and the sun shines. It’s such a relief. To me, it feels like coming out from under a cloud of free-floating anxiety and the slightly oppressive darkness of winter, which I recognise only in hindsight really, into a lighter, more gentle and upbeat mood. Letting go of several things that were no longer serving me, a spiritual decluttering if you will, removing blocks and barriers to happiness, and returning to my season, the season of Wood and of Kapha, help too.
Whatever tradition you look at becoming united with a greater purpose or higher consciousness is usually a central tenet together with finding love and gratitude in everyday life. I’ve also found that finding connection to the physical world helps me to stay rooted in myself and sense of who I am. Yoga , of course, serves this purpose for me perfectly. It’s physical, mental and emotional nourishment on every level, getting me into my body, connecting my mind and feelings to my body and connecting me to others as I share my practice through teaching. It just generally makes me a nicer person to be around as well.
I’m a big fan of everyday spirituality, and so doing the washing up, making my bed and starting with the small domestic stuff can also be spiritually uplifting and connect me to this otherness. I find the idea of these simple, mundane acts being transformed from chores into acts of self-care very appealing. I love finding spirituality in the everyday, otherwise mundane stuff that’s essential to healthy living. I was recently watching Marie Kondo on TV and she takes this approach in her tidying up philosophy. Getting the whole family involved, thanking the house in gratitude for its shelter and protection, finding joy in what you have. Connecting in love and gratitude. Being mindful. Fabulous.
I’ll be co-teaching a workshop this month at Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon with a colleague, John Earls, who is the founder of The Mindfulness Movement here in the Midlands. We will be bringing Yin Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation practices together in a two-hour workshop on Sunday 24th March at 10am. I’m really looking forward to teaching a seasonally focused Yin practice for Spring that encourages looking within and connecting to self as a foundation for opening up and connecting to the big wide world in a positive way. The flyer for the workshop can be found here. For more about Yin Yoga check out yinyoga.com, Bernie Clerk’s fantastic website for all things Yin. I hope you can come along to that or to any of my classes soon. In the meantime, happy connecting. Peace and Namaste.