What is the ultimate yoga? In the end, it appears to be life itself. Doing asanas an hour or so daily will keep the body limber, and provide a temporary meditative state for the mind and emotions to relax, but if the other 16 hours (given 7 hours for sleep) are a state of war, then what’s the point?
I am currently retired, which leads to a lot of relaxation. And I have a condition in my hands that makes many yoga postures very difficult/painful. I cannot flatten my palms. So, the obvious question that arises is: “Do I do yoga?”
And the question, like all really good questions, does not have a facile answer. It rather asks a deeper question: ”When am I not doing yoga?” Since I am a perfect yogi for the 7 hours of rest, and I experience a deeply restful state of peace for anywhere from 1 hour to perhaps another 8 hours of the day, I would say that a part of me is always doing yoga. I’m just not always aware of it. Let me draw an analogy that will explain.
Let’s say there’s a stream, in a meadow. The stream runs with a certain sound, a symphonic interplay of falling, running, splashing and spraying water. If there are no other sounds in the meadow, and one’s ear is close enough to the stream, this symphony is in the foreground of experience. But, let’s say someone moves into the meadow and sets up a tent. They happen to play music, which draws others who begin to sing and dance. No matter how hard one listens, the sound of the stream is lost. Or is it? What if you move much closer to the stream? It then becomes the foreground once again. So, the apparent coming and going of the sound of the stream is all relative based upon where one listens from.
But what if, rather than sitting in the meadow, or on the bank of the stream, one chooses to immerse oneself in the stream? First, one might assume a full lotus, body partially submerged, but head still clearly above water. But this is not sufficient. One’s identity is still attached to the life ‘outside’ the stream. How does one transform one’s experience to be ‘in’ life rather than ‘outside’? What if one ‘becomes’ the stream, where the ‘individuation’, the part of beingness that identifies itself as separate from the stream, let’s go? If you have ever experienced breathwork, a circular breathing technique where the breath itself takes over and one has the distinct awareness of being breathed instead of breathing, then you may directly know what I am pointing to. Of course there are many other methods of experiencing oneself more as third person than as first, this being simply one directly connected to the breath as a portal.
At this point, from inside the stream, beneath the surface of the water, all sounds of the meadow are now remaindered to a fairly permanent background state, kept at bay, if you will, by the surface water sounds. This is the life of a yogi. And the stream surface is the yogi’s skin. Finally, this skin too falls away. This is what is meant by the expression: ‘To die before you die.’
Conscious death is liberation from the identification with the container.
water flows into Water
If you really
want to drown
you must first
Air is not water.
It is not easy,
You will need
Best friends are good accomplices.
Enemies also work.
Just hand them your last breath,
and make them promise
not to give it back
’til you’ve turned as blue as Krishna
and they’re dancing at your feet.