Ogres (and Yogis) Are Like Onions
Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. Yogis have layers. Our layers are called as koshas, or sheaths. Like nesting dolls we have five. The outermost layer being the physical body and the innermost layer being Bliss.
What's really cool about yoga is that it meets you where you're at and dances you to where you're meant to be. And it is so sneaky, it just takes you there, kindly and gently, slowly over time, uncovering the next layer that you didn't even know was there until exactly when you're ready.
We go to yoga to de-stress or get stronger or more flexible. Or we find Yoga Flirt because we want to do something fun as a workout and the next thing we know the instructor is telling us about ahimsa, non-harming. And of course we're really nice people who don't harm others but we discover that we are mean to and beating up upon ourselves internally. And so, surprise!, the first little bit of layer beings to melt away.
Yoga provides us with the tools to slowly unpeel those layers, often through great teachings from great instructors. Similar to the 10 commandments of Chrsitanity or the 10 vitures in Buddhism, yoga offers 5 yamas and 5 niyamas for right and peaceful living in the world.
Back in the day they were taught to students one at a time, the next one presented when the student was ready. They begin with ahimsa, or non-harming, and end with isvara pranidhana, or surrender to God.
So what is really interesting is that the first layer I unpeeled for myself was ahimsa. It first thing I learned in a yoga class that was something other than taking care of my body. Just like how it is presented first in the sutras. Over time I have learned and begun to practice most of the other yamas and niyamas. And now, many many years later I come to isvara pranidhana or what first came to my mind as faith.
Let me share my story with you, to inspire you that your layers will, too, unpeel in perfect timing without you even know they are there or need to be unpeeled.
Just this past Monday (today is Thursday, so it really has been a short while) I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, fearful if not down right terrified. I reached out on Facebook and asked my awesome virtual community to send me some loving vibes and set myself up in a soft, receptive yoga pose.
In real time as the love poured in over the miracle of the internet I could feel golden sparkly angel kisses all over my body and the word faith popped into my mind.
Faith. A word I have never used in my life before, so it feels new with a unique feeling tone for me. The first time I thought it in my mind, the tight, clenching feeling in my belly opened up and a deep breath flowed in. It was brief but I had deep resonance that this was something meaningful coming in or actually, being uncovered.
I didn't even really know what the word meant, so on Tuesday I looked it up: "complete trust or confidence in someone or something"
Yes, I could see many places in my life where faith was missing. Like I did in my mid-20's when I didn't know self-love, I began to ask the Universe to help me know faith.
I was kindly allowing myself to inquire within, with no specific question in mind, and each time I thought the word "faith" tears would spring quickly to my eyes. So, I asked myself what the tears were all about....
It was as though faith was a beloved friend I had been missing for so long, my whole life actually, that I didn't realize how much I missed her until she came into my life. And then all those years grieving her absence came flowing into my heart. I let myself feel that. To me grief is a sign of love. We grieve the loss of those we love, so this grief over not knowing faith simply showed my love and need for it in my life.
I also realized that faith is directly connect to isvara pranidhana, or surrender to the Divine. Here's how it is for me, I believed that "if the only prayer you say is thank you then that is enough". And before I get out of bed every day I say a lot of thank you's to the Universe. But in these last few days I've realized something profound about that. My gratitude is for things that have already come to pass. An amazing hubby, a roof over our heads, love, work we are passionate about, health, enough money to live fully. Yet there was a subtle undercurrent of fear, that all that good stuff might run out. Gratitude is the exhale.
Faith is the absolute knowing that the good never runs out. There is an unending stream of good, an unending stream of great, an unending stream of thrive flowing to me, and you, at all times. Faith is the inhale.
I grabbed my yoga sutras and studided a bit more on ishvara pranidhana, because this piece of the practice is new to me. And I got really excited becasue the book explains that all our needs will be met if we are of service to the Divine. And the thing is, God isn't sitting on a park bench waiting for you to bring Starbucks. Each of us is the Divine, bursting forth through us as us. And so to be in service to the Divine means to be of service to each other.
Now I'm all fired up! I can be of service to the Divine by doing what I love, which is teaching really awesome yoga to women. I'm re-energized on creating great classes and new workshops. And, even more thrilling is I deeply understanding now that doing things like laundry, dishes, and grocery shopping is me being of service to the Divine, because, duh, my hubby is also a Divine expression of the Universe and by doing these things I allow him to fulfill his unique offering to the world though his art.
Faith and isvara pranidhana allow me to be fully engaged in my life with a trust that everything that I need will flow in. I can release fear and worry, which suck up a lot of energy and direct that energy into what I love: yoga and my hubby.
I know that through this practice we will always have enough. Enough money to meet all our needs and wants, enough food, clothing and shelter, enough well being and wisdom, enough time together to keep our connection strong (my hubby is my biggest supporter and the sole reason I embraced yoga as my path, lifestyle and career), the resources for me to attend yoga trainings and events so I have even more good stuff to offer my students, the resources and time for my hubby and I to vacation together to replenish our energy, vitality and inspiration for our clients, and on and on and on.
Faith and isvara pranidhana are the most recent layer I have unpeeled. I know that the timing of it is perfect. It leaves me excited for the next layer I don't even know is waiting to be uncovered.
And so, dear yogis, I leave with this: you too are uncovering layers in the right order for your life. May that light you up with excitement and wonder.
If you enjoyed or were inspired by what you read, please comment below, Like, Share, Pin and Tweet. With Gratitude, Cathy