Word of the Heart by Erica Lee
vitarka vichara ananda asmita rupa anugamat sanprajnatah ||17||
This absolute knowledge is engendered incrementally by divination, experience, joy, and ultimately the feeling of oneness. ||17||
vitarka = divination; opinion; thoughts
vicāra = experience; concentration; reflection
ānanda = happiness; joy; bliss
asmitā = feeling of oneness; sense of self
rūpa = form; nature
asmitā-rūpa = feeling of oneness with nature and with one’s own form
anugamāt = resulting from these steps
saṁprajñāta = (nom. from saṁprajñāta) absolute knowledge
Hi, I’m Erica Jasmine. Namaste everyone and happy fall to all. I’d like to preempt this writing like a disclosure: With the invitation to share this blog post came a temptation to get into the x,y, and z of my story. An African proverb came to mind however, “I am because we are.” The moksha, or liberation from my practice blossomed into the exultation of Oneness that we all have our story, our wounds, and history that tempts us to coddle our past. One of the greatest lessons of my story is realizing that my story doesn’t matter, or as my dad would say, “the only thing wrong with you, is that you think something is wrong with you.” I have come to be so grateful for the hardships that brought me to this point right here, right now and for the perseverance of Spirit to make sure that I know I am never, ever alone. It is my deep desire that the harvest of my practice and the continuation there of will benefit your experience of inner peace in a meaningful way…
“Inhale sweeps uttiha hasta, arms extended in Tadasana. Exhale hands to heart center, close your eyes and set an intention for your practice.” This prompt from yoga teachers began to nudge me towards the vocation of healing, the lifestyle of “miracle-worker.”
I had no conscious clue that this is where I was heading. Yoga practice started for me as a “rest day” activity. I was heavily involved in weight training and intermittently would join my work out buddy for Sunday yoga at the gym. It was still competition based as my only goal was to force my shin parallel to the top of the mat in sleeping pigeon and to look good doing it…woops.
Next stop on my yoga journey was a migration to Bikram Hot Yoga in Vail, CO. I began to realize how much yoga was captivating me when I started missing ski days to be in the studio. The union and harmonization of mind-body-spirit connection on my mat served as a momentary blip in time to rest on an internal island of serenity. It was when I moved back home to Longmont and called up Erik one fateful day that I was introduced to Full Circle Yoga. My intention to “heal and be healed” grew stronger and stronger. The visualization initially was purely physical but as the seeds of my intention started to sprout it became inevitable to see that the physicality of healing was the least of my concern. There’s a great line from an India Arie song that vocalizes, “get it together, you want to heal your body. Get it together; you’ve got to heal your heart.” Amen India. I had been shielding the root of my distress by thinking its source was my body. Nay-Nay. The more I dig, the more I see and sense, at times frighteningly, that my mind is the causal level.
If you really knew me… you would know that the stings of childhood past are nursed by my mat as if it were a mother’s icepack. The tangles of a tumultuous perception continue to be combed into clarity by Yoga’s transmission. Some people feel it in sports, cooking, skiing, dancing, bike riding, etc. I don’t know that Yoga is for everyone, nor does it hold a monopoly on Truth. I do however know it is a gracious, divinely lit pathway for me to experience the Truth, the Bliss, the sweet kiss of Spirit and to kneed soft all the areas where I hold against its coming. I feel the Divine practitioner operating on me, dissolving all the places where I deny the infinite opportunity to be joyous in any moment. Like a fine wine or an exquisite musical experience I loose track of time savoring the rasa, the nectar, juice or taste of the practice. Ooo, it’s making my mouth water right now. The little girl in me gets giddy, every time! “We get to play!” like when you tell a dog they get to go on a walk.
Where I used to suffer through asana and life in general, I now see the Light of dawn on the horizon and I am reminded constantly by the practice to, “cock-a-doodle-do!”, the day is new, and rejoice in the homecoming. As my practice deepens I notice the way I handle heartbreaks, disasters and mistakes shifts. My ultimate goal becomes to see the Good, the God, the Spirit, Light, the Shakina, whatever you call it, in all things. This brings my definition of what it means to “heal and be healed” to heaven’s gate, where on my mat and in my life I more frequently remember to open the flood gates and let Love in & through. It lifts me to a place above and beyond the appearances of the physical world, where I see the face of Spirit in the eyes of everyone I meet. Yes, yes, yes! I’ll have another serving of that please. My slips, mistakes and oopsies become opportune times to show up as less interested in changing myself or the other person or criticizing them of being the one who needs Yoga, but getting back on my mat and giving forgiveness a try, mercy a try, Unity a try to see the Almighty in the other and myself. And it works! (when I let it) The miracle of a change in perception allows me to actually see the words I say in Namaste, “no really, the Light and Love in me truly and deeply honors the same Light and Love in you, even when I’m upset by you, even when I’m hurt by you, and especially when I’m tempted to judge you foully.”
Ayurveda, -ayur meaning “the knowledge of” and –veda meaning “life”, is a comprehensive science navigating us to perfect health, which it defines as synonymous to inner peace. The practice of this sister science to Yoga alongside the asana sequences is what enriches life heavily for me these days. The word Svastha in Sanskrit to describe the state of perfect health. Literally translated, Svastha means “established in Self.” For the sake of this conversation we will consider the Self to be with a capital “S”, the Self of the Soul, the Atman, Holy Spirit, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, etc. By whichever name you call it or don’t call it is irrelevant. It’s not wet because you call it water. It’s the state grace that I enter into contact with in the flow of Yoga, or Union. Its/our presence is eternal, changeless and perfect regardless of the name, even reaching to the highest level of quantum physics where it is called the Unified energy field.
We want to have a well-rounded, grounded experience in our bodies however over attachment to the physical body puts a stress on the body which it was not meant to carry. In Ayurveda this is called “deha-adhyasa”, or “I am the body”, and is considered to be the origin of all physical disease. The body is understood to be what self with a little “s”, or the ego identifies itself as. In contrast, the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi”: “I am Brahma, such is the Truth”, reminds us that we are no different than our Creator. When we leave our house in the morning with this awareness we are not seeking to get anything, to gain, shame, blame, change or conquer the outside world but solely to be conduits of Divine Love, vessels of healing, secret agents for all that is Good.
We sweep our arms into Virapadrasana 2, we gather the foliage of our internal harvest, and exhales deepen our roots back into the Earth, back into the awareness of Oneness. We are harnessed in knowing that wherever we go we are One with every other that our drishti, or gaze may fall upon. The body is then seen like a glass jar that has been dunked in the ocean, filled with the ocean water and then sealed with a cap. The water inside is that same as the water everywhere else. There is then no need to defend. We seek to befriend our brothers (our brothers being everybody else) so that we may stay in remembrance of our True Nature. We rejoice for we have not changed the world, but have risen above it, which indeed does change the world. The physical is intrinsically tamastic, or dull. We infuse it with Sattva, or light by way of the Love we share. We come to expect and anticipate the ego to come knocking like a trick-or-treater, but we are not fooled into thinking the costume is real. We relish in the creativity it has in coming up with such elaborate schemes to make it seem like we're separate. We can come to recognize the temptation to forget our True Nature for what it is and laugh at its fearful notions.
As peaceful warriors and tenants to the priceless suit of clothes we wear as our physical body, we carry a Namaste consciousness offering as our contribution to every relationship and every interaction we engage, bowing to the light of the divine in all things. The practice then becomes, “Aham Brahmasmi, I am Brahma, such is the Truth, let the scales be taken off my eyes that I may see the innocence of my brother. Let me see my brother the way Spirit sees him, let me have the thoughts that Spirit would have about this person. Let my practice on the mat compost all thoughts, words and actions that hold love from being expressed freely into fertile soil where I nourish all things with Love and acceptance. Let my practice fuel endless compassion and mercy for myself and my brother.”
Deepening into the practice doesn’t necessarily translate to life being easier. We do however become aware that every situation is Divinely orchestrated to be the perfect opportunity for us to hit our wall, where we’ve been withholding love and move past it to the Peace that lay beyond. We start to become aware of all the places where we have our hooks in other people, where we want them to be different, where we haven’t forgiven, where we need to forgive for not having forgiven, where we’ve judged another as guilty, where we’ve been tempted to not accept people exactly as they are, where we've ruled that it's them not us, where we accuse the other person of being the one who needs Yoga. We realize that we need only concern ourselves with our own continuation of the practice as we realize that the only thing ever lacking in a relationship is what we are not giving. The only thing ever holding us back from our Svastha is our choice to see the costume as real.
Our hindering thoughts of others aren’t just inconvenient , they keep our experience of Love at bay. They keep us hovering above the ground that would so gently nurture and nourish us if we would only surrender to it. To come full circle means to me that we return to the innocence of mind, and mercy towards ourselves and each other. We turn the drishti inside again and again, reminding ourselves that as we point the finger at another, three point back at us. Our dristhi becomes so internally rooted that we know the circumstances of our life have less to do with the circumstances of our life and more about our presence with them.
The ego is quick to tempt us to think, “oh, no! I need to set boundaries, I need to assert myself or I’ll get walked all over. I need to tell that person how to behave.” Our spirit waits quietly knowing that we are able in choice to be of good cheer because we are not of this world. That's not to say we never say no, Unconditional Love does not mean unconditional permission however, we can move through transition with seamlessness cherishing the our Self in another. We already have and are everything. We Ultimately are already perfect. What does that mean about everybody else? So are they. We see it in the eyes of anyone we choose to give understanding to.
Of course in the physical world we make mistakes. We trip, slip and flip but it’s much easier to have mercy when we realize that we’re not of the physical world. It’s only natural to enjoy this experience. It’s not just inconvenient to blame or shame ourselves and others but it keeps us from experiencing the Love, peace and perfect health lying in plain sight.
Being One however does not mean, as the self with a little “s” would like to think it does. The little “s” does not see the answer as rising above the circumstances of the world to the peace that lay beyond. It sees it as “I am a little fish in this really big pond, there’s a lot of scarcity and competition going on here. I really need to fix my bank account, I need to fix my body, I need to work harder, I need to change what part of town I live in and more than anything I need to change and fix how other people are. By the way, I’m not getting any younger and I will die.” The ego would have us boast self-esteem with how great we are, constantly seeking to compare itself to everyone else in the hopes of finding moksha, or liberation through separation. Instead of self-esteem, or establishment in Self coming from the physical form as the ego would have it, let’s remember and be esteemed in the fact that we’re just like everyone else. Let us be esteemed by the fact that we hurt just like everyone else, we’re wounded just like everyone else, we’ve made mistakes just like everyone else and above all, we desperately want to give and receive love fully, just like everybody else. We now choose to let go of our strong hold on the grievances we’ve held so dear and as a result dissolve back into the life giving water of forgiveness. We choose to see our brother’s innocence, that we may embody the perfect health of inner peace.
We are not made to be at the effect of others’ lovelessness. Let us root into our Self this fall, harvesting all of the abundance of our True Self and composting everything else back into the Earth to be holy transformed. Let us not be swayed by the winds of Autumn that tempt us to forget who we really are. Let spaciousness and ease of total acceptance of and at-One-ment with our Brothers fill every crevice of our minds. We will know that we are succeeding when we feel joyous, at ease, at peace and more alert in the company of our Source. Resting in plain sight is the Love that we seek. It is not our job to seek love, but only to seek all of the boundaries we have built against its coming through in any situation, any interaction, and in any given relationship. Love’s will is all that is true. Everything else is as if we were complaining that it is so dark out, on a sunny day, while we cover our eyes with our hands. It is our True Identity that lifts us up and beyond being at the effect of the circumstances of the world. “So-Hum”; “I am That”, is a mantra repeated to oneself looking upon anything and anyone to swell the awareness of Unity. Inhale, "So", exhale, "Hum". Be still and know, "Aham Brahmasmi", I am Brahma, such is the Truth.
May all beings be at peace. May all being be joyous, and may all beings know Loving Kindness as our very essence. In sincere reverence & anticipation to continue along this journey with you.
p.s. Here’s that India Arie song I was talking about: Enjoy! J https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XKirCbflZ