Some days are like this....
You feel like your world is dying, falling away from you, crumbling like the Parthenon; an old edifice standing proud in its own ruins, aware it did not build itself, yet somehow, still the keeper of its own karma. Yesterday, as I felt myself watching the parts of Me slide off and disintegrate, I became, too, the keeper of my own Karma and Divine Witness to its consequential Flow.
I was having a panicky, fearful sort of day from the outset, mixed with an unforeseen sadness I just could not explain. I was fortunate to have a yoga class taught by one of my peers, I had already promised myself to attend; so instead of breaking down in tears on the side of the road after dropping my husband off at his work, I took a slow and quiet class while my unsettled Mind desperately tried to come to a pause. Towards the end of sivasana, where I was finally feeling some peace, a weed whacker lit up, roaring to life and shattering debris against the wall outside the hall. I was jostled awake with a start, feeling that perhaps my unsettled energy was keeping me safe after all. I had to teach the following class with the the buzz of the weed whacker whirling and sputtering as if it was in the room itself. I pulled it together with ½ my wits available and struggling to survive. Incidentally, my class had the worst turnout it has ever had with only two students smiling expectantly at me to lead them through the chaos. I tried to raise the volume on my computer's playlist, to drown out the frantic noise in the “back”ground. Something happened, and I ended up shuffling all the songs on the list into a new order....not a good one as a fast paced version of Krishna Das singing Sita Ram came on early and was followed by the song I was planning to play for sivasana. Another test in a series that would not soon relent. Some days are like this....
The two students who showed were one long-time student of mine and one young woman who had never taken my class but had clearly done her share of yoga. They were perfect. It was perfect. We challenged ourselves to step up and out of the fray and into balance. I set up difficult asana for us to find our inner calm in the sound current beyond our control. All the while, it was truly them that transformed me. Through the simple act of offering myself in service to others, to something greater than myself, I was able to lift out of my own funk and embrace my gratitude instead. If even for that slice of time. Grateful to have a path, yes, but even more grateful to have students. Individually, their bright souls shine beautiful lessons to me like mirrors. Collectively, they give me a reason to pull myself together and get out of the muck. Their mere presence and the fact that I signed up to teach them, forces me to rise up out the murky mud like a lotus flower, and allow the Pure Light to guide me so that I can be a vehicle for it to Shine.
My day had more trials, as is to be expected with the Moon just moving out of an eclipse days before and into my 12th house in the unsettled sign of the Ram. The 12th house being the one of Letting Go, which is not always voluntary, and Escaping, which generally is. I could not expect immediate relief either, nor could anyone, as the Moon moving into its exalted position later that night would only produce a mutual exchange with Saturn sitting in Scorpio; the planet of our Fears and Humility in the sign of our Fears and Inner Battle. This happens to be in my 7th house of partnerships, and adult relations. It has almost been a year since Saturn entered this place, and I (and probably you) have felt it every step of the way, but with this drishti happening with the Moon, our Mind and Emotions, and where my very identity opposes my relationships, I was getting hammered. Fears surrounding my partnership were aflight and I was being swarmed in doubt revolving my own abilities to make manifest my dreams and ambitions. The eclipse occurred with the Moon joined critical Ketu in my 11th house, with the Sun, joined obsessive Rahu and an exalted Mercury Retrograde in my 5th house. Highest ambitions and my shortcomings regarding these were on the tip of my emotions, while my ways of Creating them sat under a microscope in Virgo. Helping one of my two students with his Astrology chart after yoga class, helped me identify the ways in which I was experiencing all of these energies myself. As always, just knowing that my experiences were celestially supported helped me by pulling me out of my individual little Me-Verse, and that is why I love and practice Jyotish, the science of Light. Understanding, that our trials and tribulations occur only until we are free of our attachments to the results of our actions, each one serving as a test and a lesson to further us on that path to True Freedom. It doesn't hurt to also remember that “this too shall pass...”
After teaching my final class of the day, which much like my morning class, also had a series of noise disruptions, musical difficulties (although this time with a live musician, who happens to be my husband) and low class attendance, I took my sad earnings from a sad day to get some food in town and pick up my husband who had walked out of class an hour and 25 minutes earlier. Heading home with a heavy heart, I finally allowed myself to cry. I Let Go. As I sobbed and heaved and shook to the dismay of my husband, I finally felt genuinely good for the 1st time all day. Releasing somatically that which was twirling and gurgling inside of me all day, I was brought into memory of some trying days I had when I took my first trip to India, when I was Letting Go of everything I had loved and known to seek a new paradigm of how to Live.
I was spending 10 hours a day plus, on learning yoga, studying yoga, and practicing yoga. Yoga as a complete science, not just an asana practice. I would wake up at 5 am each morning, which for me, as someone who had only recently been bartending into the wee hours of the night, was quite early to rise. First I would meditate for an hour and half, followed by an hour of asana practice. I would then eat a very light breakfast and walk 45 minutes to my teacher's tiny ashram over the Ganges on the bridge that brought me to the Laxman Jhula side of Rishikesh. He would question my silly desire to live so far from where I spent my days, but I loved the mountain getaway I was nestled in and the walk every day nurtured me on a level even I didn't understand, just watching and engaging in the every day life of India. Once there, I would demonstrate my asana practice I had learned the day before and had done that morning already, then he would teach me new asana. Then we would study; the Sutras, the Limbs, Mantra, Mudra and Pranayam. We would meditate for an hour and half before I would depart for my 2 hour lunch break, where he would teach his short-term pupils and I would go to the banks of the Ganges, taking the time to eat a little and study or learn mantras. A young Indian sadhu that lived in the forest by the river would come out and sing with me. Once he invited me for tea, but I was cautious and politely declined. He never asked again. After lunch I would go back to the ashram and have more lessons on the spiritual texts, and we would end with another 1 ½ hour meditation before embarking on my walk back home. I would stop by to visit my friend, an old, round Baba living in the woods on my side of the bridge in a tiny hut, on land given to him by the Indian Government after he fought in the Sino-Indian war. First I would stop and touch his large statue of Nandi, Shiva's bull, and bow to the murti of Shiva, then go up to the little spot outside his hut where his disciples and friends would gather to chat, sing and smoke ganja. “Chatting” was a funny exchange of loud gales of laughter and utterances from Baba, who spoke no English whatsoever, some Hindi and broken English from the Indian friends of his, Japanese from a couple of Japanese kids “studying” to become Babas, some French from a Swiss hippy and me and an Austrian friend speaking fairly fluid English. Then I'd head back to my room, shower, eat dinner, study some more, and finish my long day with another 1 ½ hour meditation before laying down for the night. Meditation was necessary 4 times a day, for an hour and a half each time, in the morning, before lunch, before dinner and before bed, my teacher insisted as he taught me a way into myself. This was my schedule for a month and a half and I loved it.
One day, as I sat by the Ganges at my lunch break, I felt homesick, lonely for the life I had left behind in Los Angeles and desperate for space. I perched myself on a rock like my own little island with my journal and proceeded to break down, much like I did at the end of my day yesterday. You would think people would respect my privacy on that rock. I would think people would respect my privacy on that rock...but not in India. Every man, woman and child still came up to me to take a picture, hold their baby or to ask what country I was from. As tears streamed down and smeared the letters on the page, even a cow came up and put its head on my journal, begging to be pet. Looking around me at the colorful sea of people and buildings contrasting with the pale sand of the river bank and the deep blue of the rushing water, I had to wonder...how do people cry here? Seriously, if you are always surrounded by others, how do you find time to be alone and just let go? I had been in India for over a month at this point in my 4 month journey and had spent the first two weeks traveling before I got to this traveler and yoga haven at the foothills of the Himalayas. I had seen little girls combing their long, black hair in the doorways to their square homes seemingly shaped of sand in the towns in Rajasthan. I had watched fathers, mothers and children alike brush their teeth out in the open, and bathe in the river with thin, colorful cloths covering their bodies. In a country with modesty as much the fashion as vibrant colors, the inhabitants seemed to spend most of their time in view of their neighbors and visitors alike, and it did not seem to phase them one bit. I realized that in this Eastern culture with a rapidly accelerating population, they had to make alone time within themselves, if they wanted it. I wondered if they even craved it. Probably, as Western influence moves in more and more, and capitalism begins to take over many of their hearts, they will start to crave individuality and space. But when you are raised so enveloped by your family and neighbors and space and time to yourself is not as accessible or coveted, perhaps you feel less sad because you are never left alone to wallow in your sadness. In the West, we place great value on being individuals and on leaving our families to live alone in a quest to achieve great things we can be known and paid for. We view ourselves as having a unique experience, and we love to drown in our sorrows. It feels good to feel our individual pain and I, at least, sometimes enjoy not pulling out of it; rather, staying in it and having a human experience that transcends the protocol of society.
Sure enough, my young sadhu friend appeared while I was gently lifting the cow's face off of the pages of important thoughts and emotions that only I could have sputtered on the page. He said, “Let's sing a bhajan. I always feel better when I sing,” with a big smile shining on his face. I resisted, wanting desperately to hang on to my Individual Sorrow and Personal Pain, but he began to sing the words to a familiar hymn and eventually, my heart fell into the song. Before I knew it, I was lost in the sounds and rhythms of the Sanskrit prayers and my Individual Experience was lifted up and carried away by the Divine melody of Universal Love. Hare Ohm
Alexis Cox is a yoga teacher, Vedic Astrologer, and a burgeoning Priestess who lives with her husband, 2 dogs and a cat on the Big Island of Hawaii on an active volcano who's fiery eruptions are known to locals as Tutu Pele, the Goddess of Fire. As a student of life, and a teacher of sciences and practices that have helped her to navigate her own life, she has spent her time thus far on Mother Earth collecting and assimilating observations and knowledge regarding her own nature, the nature of other humans, and the wild and free Nature Herself. She is devoted to the Wisdom that lies at the root of right knowledge and to the eternal Source who reigns within and without. For information regarding writings, yoga classes or astrological forecasts and readings, please visit her at www.alexiscoxyoga.com
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