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Jul 2014

Greetings yoga friends -

Wow, the last week has felt like a hard re-entry into my regular life, coming back from over a month travelling in Corsica. A visceral sense of not wanting to step back into...something.

Why? What have I not wanted to return to? After all, I had missed my friends. And I love my community of yoga and climbing here. And living in foodie Portland? I can find as sweet a little cappuccino or as chewy a baguette as anything I enjoyed in France.

Then it struck me -

What I am sick and resistant of coming back to is myself. My own story. The constructed self that inevitably becomes fashioned over time and well meaning effort.

I have been reading an excellent book by Michael Stone - The Inner Tradition of Yoga - and he has helped me put concepts around this. In Patanjali's sutras on yoga practice, the obstacles to our practice and to our happiness are the five Klesas. The most tangible of these are raga (attachment) and dvesa (aversion), our Likes and Dislikes - the things we cling to and the things we avoid. Which, by the way, are very easy to discern when we travel - our attachment to home town's familiar morning coffee house. Or our willingness to put up with anything at night EXCEPT that snoring from the bunk opposite.

More subtle, and more pervasive, is asmita - the very sense of having a self, a ME. That this history of experiences has built something real, substantial and lasting as our identity. 

At first these didn't seem connected - our likes/dislikes and our sense of self. But then I realized that, in a way, my SELF is how I LIKE someone else to see me - along with the things I would AVOID them knowing about me. It is the identify we all fashion in our world - whether on facebook, or in our every day interactions, even our imagined conversations.

Let's be clear that the issue here is not whether we have a GOOD self. Not whether we are narcissistic. Or whether we have enough self-esteem.

It's the concept of this fabrication of a self at all. This fabrication that is an inevitable part of being successful in our lives. Yet also can become a cocoon that muffles us from experiencing the simple reality of this present moment. Limiting the freedom to be in just this raw interaction, without assumptions or filter. And a concept we can temporarily feel free from when we travel, or when we are in the zone at yoga class, or when we stay focused on the breath rather than our usual circle of self-oriented thoughts.

It is this self I have been feeling myself coming back to - and backpedaling as I feel its tenacious grip begin to once again tighten around me. 

I am struck anew by the simple Buddhist prayer. 

May all beings, everywhere, be free.

Namaste - Eugene