Years of yoga practice has peeled away layers and layers of behaviours and thought patterns.
The veil of avidya (self-ignorance) is lifting, but not without pain and discomfort. It’s this pain and discomfort that sent me fleeing from class so many years ago.
It’s this pain and discomfort that has made my practice sporadic and disjointed at times. Bikram in particular used to dig deep inside to this bottomless well of tears that would erupt during class and pour forth without pause until the final savasana.
In the last two years, I’ve come to an understanding of what some of this pain is about.
As the veil of avidya lifts and I see myself with clarity, so too have I seen all the pain that I’ve caused other people through my unconsciousness action.
I have hurt friends, family and lovers in doing things that at the time I thought were justifiable, but now I see were ways in which I was trying to make myself feel better.
This knowingness of all the “bad” things I’ve done hurt deeply. It seeped into my life and caused a film of tension that means I feel guilty about who I am and what I’ve done.
Deep in meditation about a year ago, I was progressing through these layers. First the understanding of how I’d hurt my ex-husband and then the guilt in causing such pain in another.
In this meditation I felt the presence of the Divine, and in comparison to the Light, I felt so ashamed, so guilty, so unworthy.
In that moment I understood the teachings of Jesus – that we can’t come to know God until we ask for forgiveness – not from a power outside of ourselves, but from our OWN selves. I couldn’t open to the Divine, to the Light while I felt and thought myself to be unworthy.
So in the midst of the meditation, tears streaming down my face, I forgave myself for all that I had done, knowing that it was me who suffered as a result of my unconsciousness actions. I don’t understand the process, nor what happened exactly, but one moment it was if I was crouched in the darkness, a weight suspended above my head. The next moment I was standing tall, light streaming all around me.
That the path of yoga has brought me to the same understanding Jesus taught about God does not surprise me. It is something I have known about intellectually for years, after a Presbyterian upbringing. But to learn something from a book, from a minister, from the outside in, is a completely different experience from discovering something from the inside out.
I know in my heart that forgiveness is the only way to God. It is acceptance of both the Dark and the Light that dwell within each of us. We all do “bad” things, things that in that moment for whatever reason, in our ignorance, we feel compelled to do. Today I am different. I wouldn’t do those things anymore because I know differently, and because I don’t NEED to do them anymore.
This understanding also means I look differently upon other people who do “bad” things. I know that in that moment, within the constructs of their reality and the depths of their unconsciousness, they know no other choice. They are ignorant, as I have been ignorant.
When I think of the pain and grief I have unearthed as I progressed through yoga, I wonder what it would be like for someone who has created far more pain in the world. I wonder how much harder the path of truth would be for them – how much more pain they would have to endure.
What is it like to have ended another person’s life? Surely one of the only ways to cope with the guilt and pain of such a thing is do wrap a mental construct around the event that prevented one from either taking responsibility or fully owning up to what the action meant.
In essence, the punishment for causing pain is internal, because the amount of pain we cause externally is matched by the amount of pain we feel internally – if we allow ourselves to become conscious, if we allow ourselves to awaken.
Yoga has taught me that Heaven exists here and now, it is with us always. The path to Heaven is via Awareness – when we wake up to who we truly are, we wake up to Heaven – Samadhi, Bliss.
I don’t know if other people experience it the way I have, but waking up has been painful. I have cried an ocean of tears. Yet those tears are cleansing. They release so much paid and grief. They allow me to forgive myself for all the pain I have caused in the past to others and to myself. They allow me to see that Love was always available to me, and that the only one blocking it was me.
This is true for you too.
Right now, there is so much Love available to you.
It is unconditional too – this Love doesn’t care what you have done in your life. It just wants you to Know It.
To Know Love.
That is all heaven is.
And it is always here with us.
It starts with awareness, with forgiveness, with acceptance, with opening.
It starts now.