Sunday, 8 April 2012

Anusara and the Order of the Phoenix

When I started writing this blog, I had just washed off the drywall putty dust off my entire body, after helping The Divine Miss N on the renovation of her new yoga studio.

To my surprise, Bhagvati was there. She left Calgary a couple of years ago but recently came back for a visit, and has likely already left by now. I was so glad that I got to see her, albeit only for a couple of hours. Her sweet demeanour is very much missed in Calgary. Anyway...

Some of you may know that The Divine Miss N had owned another prominent yoga studio before, not counting *the* old house. Her old studio will always hold a special place in my yogic journey. I literally lost many of my yogic "virginities" there: my first of many asanas, my first yoga class that I actually loved, my first yoga workshop, meeting my first yoga buddy, my first yoga immersion of any kind, my first acupuncture treatment, my first pranayama workshop, my first teacher training, my very first class as a teacher... yes, I am fully aware of the irony of using "virginity" in the plural form, but that's a different conversation.

When the studio closed in 2009, as you can imagine, I was very devastated.

I also found out recently the chiropractor, who took over the old studio space, is moving out while The Divine Miss N is getting her new studio ready. All of these happen, of course, while the 3A yoga community is going through the same.

Shiva Nataraja shows the three stages of life from creation, symbolized by the hourglass shaped drum (or damaru) in his right hand, going through the heart, and to dissolution which is symbolized by the flame in his left hand. This cycle continues, much like the legend of The Phoenix. Interestingly, the myth of The Phoenix appears in almost all cultures: Greece, China, Russia, Japan, you name it. It's the sacred firebird that before it dies, its body bursts into flames and turns into ashes, where in the ashes, a new bird (or egg) arises and begins a new cycle.

This cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth resembles Samsara, which is the idea of reincarnation in many religions. As an aside, the six realms of Samsara, much like the use of "virginity" in the plural form, is a whole different conversation, but I digress... Take a big step back and look at the big picture, there really is no final destination. The end of one journey is the beginning of another. You really should be cautious when someone, anyone, preaches about your only final destination is either heaven or hell, based on this, this, this and that. That's because even those don't last forever. Actually, if there were only one final destination, wouldn't it be overcrowded and boring?

Guests will eventually leave the party. The final course of a grand dinner will arrive. Another party and another dinner are always already in the works. Same guests, different dishes, who knows.

I, just like you, am in the continuous cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. I do not have a get-out-of-jail-free card, but I will share with you some teachings that I have picked up along the way so far:
  • Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Hell will eventually end, even in the form of death, which is the release from pain and suffering.
  • The honeymoon phase of anything will end. So when you are there, enjoy it, love it, devour it.
  • In San Marcos, Manorama said "have a concious relationship with fear" and "hang out there". This one is heavy.
  • Compare and contrast "life is a battlefield" to "life is easy". This one is even heavier.
  • All of the above may change. Bad, good and everything in between, because "nothing lasts forever".
  • That also means gratification / pain from irresponsibility will end and repeat.
Oprah recommended "The Power of Now". It, or "now", might be nasty, terrifying, happy, orgasmic... but consider hanging out "there" for one more breath... we all know it won't last forever anyway, may it be pain or an orgasm.

In that one breath, live to the fullest, and be ready for the next journey.

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