This week I had a birthday. I was remembering many birthdays and how each July 23rd honors my entrance into and presence in this world. On each of these personal anniversaries, I often reflect on this "me" that I was born into. The thread of who I am in the world has had a continuous presence, and yet it's not a static expression or representation of the essence of me. It shifts - I'm not the same as I was the year before or the year before that.
Birthdays or anniversaries of special events are not simply a circle back to the same day, like some present-day expression of the Groundhog Day movie. Rather, we return to the same day but in a deeper location, a more expansive location, or perhaps more accurately, both more expansive and deeper simultaneously. This is the hope anyway, isn't it? That we get wiser, more loving, more clear as we age? The understanding is that our practice of yoga, our practice of touching the heart and contacting the pulsing aliveness inside, shifts us into a more refined iteration of who we truly are and can be.
The wisdom texts of yoga speak about the technology of meditation, of yoga practices, and their capacity to clear the obscurations of spirit, of our fullness. The word Tantra, in fact, is often translated as loom, the warp and the weft. Thus, the practices of Tantric yoga are said to weave the fabric of our being into wholeness and presence. So the places where our heart has been wounded, our fears have created walls, and the tears in what feels like the fabric of our being feel like uncrossable chasms, no longer have to continue to leave us feeling broken. Instead, our yoga helps knit ourselves back together, the body/mind matrix woven together to hold and experience the Life Energy that animates it.
I see in myself and also in others, the places where the past pains have a tendency to lock us into defensive or self-protecting patterns that ultimately limit how we experience our world and our capacity to expand ourselves lovingly into our work, into our relationships, into our vision of what is possible in our communities. It's as if the thick armoring that we put on in the times we felt we need the survival gear, never got taken off when we didn't need it anymore. And while it functions still as protection, it will also not let anything else in either: like love, healing connection, tenderness. How many layers do we have on after all these years? And yet the teachings say that through practice, this armoring gets thinned, becomes more porous and attenuated through practice, so the light permeates through the cracks and our inner self shines more clearly through it all.
Yoga doesn't end the struggle with insecurities, with fears, with personal inner wounds, but rather, provides a deep foundational support from the inside out, so that the spiraling inwardly is not a movement toward isolation and smallness and armoring. Rather it's a winding into a great inner mystery, an exploration of depths and vastness and indeed, a movement toward Source and a great, innate, pulsating Love. And the spiraling outwardly becomes less a movement of frenzy, ambition, grasping. Instead the yoga assists the movement of the fullness inside to flow more effortlessly into expressions of our true, loving, wise, compassionate selves out into the world, our relationships no longer confined to our fears or limits, but open to the possibilities of spaciousness, healing, and relating from a sense of Wholeness. And the delight is that these spiraling patterns are both flowing in and out "simultaneously, without contradiction," as one of my teachers used to say. It's a beautiful invitation- to be our full selves- in the richness of our contact with the deep inner support and life-force, while expressing ourselves out in the world from that naturally flowing potency, birthing itself through our words, actions, and presence.
As we age, may we not drift into the comfort of our experience thus far in our life and take it to mean that we know all there is to know about our life and our capacity in it, to somehow think that we are done growing and learning about the true meaning of our purpose as relational beings. May our yoga help us birth ourselves anew, each and every day. May we spiral into our fullness and remember, in a real and experiential way, our Wholeness. Om Tat Sat.