Here I am. In the lush and humid Ubud, Bali. The sense of spirit and spirituality is strong here. It's in the people, and their daily ceremonial and ritual practices. It's in the architecture, the temples and holy places that fill this tropical mountainous land. It's in the nature, the holy springs, volcano, animals and insects, and the ponds of water filled with lotus flowers.
In Balinese culture, nature is drawn upon with spiritual significance. The beautiful lotus flower is regarded as the holiest.
The lotus symbolises perfection and purity. It thrives in muddy water, it's seeds begin in the muckiest mud in some of the dirtiest and polluted waters of Bali. As the shoots grow out from the seed they reach for the sunlight. The sun represents ultimate truth and pure wisdom. Through the murky water, the beams of light from the sun appear unclear and bent. This represents the reflection of our mind waves (vrittis) when the lens of our consciousness(citta) is not clear. The bud continues to move towards the light. It rises from the muck and opens to expose an exquisite bloom, drinking in the sun. With the days end, it closes to return to the dirty water. The following day, it rises again, perfect and clean. Because of this life cycle, the lotus has long been associated with purity, divinity, and rebirth.
The journey of this sacred flower reflects the journey of the yogi. We are rooted in the earth, absorbed by the endless cycle of births, deaths, tragedies, celebrations, deadlines, bills, relationships, etc... Each time we roll out our yoga mat to practice; each time we move through the body, the breath, the poses and the mindfulness in class; there is the opportunity to connect. As we listen to and balance out our body, we begin to work through the dirt towards the light.
Avidya is a Sanskrit word from yogic philosophy meaning a lack of wisdom. There is this saying that ignorance is bliss. But, ignorance is one of the greatest obstacles on the yogic path towards bliss. Satcittananda is what the yogi ultimately practices for. Sat = pure. Citta = Consciousness. Ananda = Bliss. Pure and conscious blissfulness. In a yogic sense, liberation or bliss means to be fully awake and fully alive.
In the physical practice, ignorance of our habits in our alignment is what leads to imbalance in the body or injury. A present practice with a beginners mindset is what allows us to wake up to our habits and practice effectively and safely. When we falsely identify ourselves with something other than our divine nature, this is also avidya. The body holds us, it listens to us and carries around this false identification.
What are you identifying with right now?
Your name? Your age? Your career? Your history, illness, injury, race, religion?
What is your "I am..." statement?
What are you identifying with?
Those words after the "I am.." are powerful. The body carries this for us.
When we work through the the physical practice, if we really listen, we begin to work through the dirt and muck of avidya towards the light of true knowledge and our divine nature.
This month I invite you to turn your focus away from any limiting "I am.." statements and to open yourself towards light and warmth. Maybe that is in the form of a friend checking in, or the help of a stranger, or something inspiring you've read, or a beautiful sunset. Allow yourself to open to that warmth and light, like the lotus flower opens to the sun each day. As you open to that warmth you offer the gift of your purity and perfection.