Well, the thing I keep thinking about is that yoga is really not about being normal.
This idea has been in my head a lot over the last few weeks and after a weekend diving into the Hatha Yoga Pradipka with Carlos Pomeda, I am more convinced of it than ever. Yes, I know lots of normal people do yoga. In fact, I know plenty of people who work 9 to 5 jobs, go to church on Sunday, have families, pay their bills, drive mini vans, watch TV, go on vacations to places other than yoga retreat centers and conferences, eat fast food and also practice asana. I know that people of all walks of life, in fact, practice asana. Fancy people, plain people, rich people, not-so-rich people all practice asana these days.
But you know, I cannot shake the feeling that while some of the practices and principles of yoga may helps us cope better with conventional life- we will be more clear-headed, sharp-minded, fit-bodied and so on with regular practice and if we are lucky we will grow more patient, more centered, more focused and compassionate- I still maintain that yoga practice has probably never really been about conventional life. And just so we are clear, I am just kind of musing and thinking out loud tonight and so its not like I have a lot of facts in my back pocket to whip out and share with the group. I don't. It is not that kind of discussion.
And while two paragraphs ago, I gave a whole long list of exterior symptoms of "normal" the real not-normal part is internal, I suppose. Because even if the outside looks normal, the inside world of the yogi might be quite radical. And in spending some time with the Hatha Yoga Pradipka this weekend it was just so clear that this whole thing was a radical undertaking from the get-go. It was engaged by serious practitioners who were not dabbling in or exploring how they "might get a sense of inner peace" but who were focused entirely on the task of spiritual awakening and liberation. Those are our roots. It just blows me away.
In a good way. In an inspiring way. In a kind of sobering way. All at the same time. The thing is that these early texts are so not about "being happy" or "being successful" or even "being yourself" in the way we ften talk about it as modern practitioners. Originally hatha yoga was for one thing- raise kundalini for your awakening. So I suppose if you got happier along the way, great. But the point was awakening. Period.
Anyway, I have no real point to make other than there have been times over the years where I felt any likelihood of "normal" quite decidedly slipping away from me. Most days, I don't worry about that because I know that I am not- nor have I ever been- cut from the cloth labeled "normal". But sometimes I watch myself worry and I feel a sense of disconnect from some notion of "normal" and that disconnect can feel a bit unsettling to a part of me. But other times and maybe tonight is one of those times, it seems perfectly clear that some inner corner has been turned and there is no going back and that the inner not-normal is quite well established.
I mean I have tried to care about news, weather, sports and what college people went to and which model of BMW is most desirable. I have. But I don't. And while I suppose I could try again, I doubt I will more successful in the future. But what I do love and care about is a weekend of being reminded that this yoga we do is really about Consciousness. It is about our deepest potential awakening within us. It is about a radical notion that we might align in a profound and Real way with the force of Life itself and be consumed. And that this process is ultimately worthwhile.
Yep. Not normal. But worthwhile.