The Edge and The Calling of the Cliffs @Lynne Buchanan
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Tonight was my last yoga class at Garden of the Heart in Sarasota. I will be going on a journey in the fall and then moving to north Florida. My students have taught me so much that I wished to leave something for them in return. I asked for guidance about what to say to them in this final class, and these words poured out from me in a matter of minutes. I know they did not come from my ego. They came from some higher wisdom that is way beyond me and which I am so grateful to connect with in those rare moments in which I am truly able to hear. This is what came to me. The words do not evoke my personal story. They speak to the potential that is the birthright of everyone who lives or has ever lived. I was just a channel...
So often we place limits on ourselves. Our ego wants to keep us safely in the same place. Even if we don’t like exactly the way our lives are going, at least it is familiar. Yet, each of us is capable of so much more than what we can envision. In order to get there though, we have to let go of a lot of things that are tethering us to where we are and we have to turn inside and listen to the voice of our inner wisdom. It is not that we need to do everything alone, but we have to be willing to make changes and keep our ears open to new voices and new directions.
We often talk about letting go of the old to make way for the new. Usually we are referring to destructive patterns that do not contribute to our highest good. Sometimes, we have to let go of things or relationships that are not destructive at all and that really served us at one time. My daughter has to go off to college and learn to follow her own calling (though she has come so far already even living at home), and I have to leave the Garden of the Heart Yoga Center, my students, parents, and friends in Sarasota. Leaving behind these sorts of bonds is much harder, though we always carry a piece of each other in our hearts after any meaningful interchange. Yet, there are times in our lives when we feel a calling inside and that calling takes us away from the familiar, even when it has helped nurture our growth. We come to a new place that requires new paradigms. In astrology, these are called times of transit. In yoga, we talk about Kali, the destroyer, coming and wiping away all that was known so we can rebirth our universe. These times, as Sandra Ingerman told us, can be the best of years and the worst of years. Really it is all change that we experience every day, just on a much larger scale.
Once things have been set in motion and you start down a path of seeking an authentic life, you can’t turn back. It can be frightening and unsettling, mainly because the ego cannot envision what is going to happen. It is like you are standing on the edge of a giant ocean which you can’t see the other side of. You can't help but wonder if you are a good enough swimmer, if you are strong enough, if you will see your way over the breaking waves, or if you will just swim in circles and end up back where you started. If you start to drown, will someone appear to throw you a life raft in time? You could play it safe and stay on the shore wondering what is on the other side, but then you would miss the opportunity to actualize your dreams which can only be done by diving into this moment and the next with every fiber of your being, both physically and spiritually.
At such times, I look to Moksha Tandava, Shiva as he engages in the dance of ultimate freedom fully incarnate in this moment. I purchased a Moksha Tandava statue from Manoj Chalam at one of John Friend's workshops that I attended right before I discovered my calling to become a yogic photographer and I have practiced before it every day of this remarkable transformation I have been experiencing and which each and every one of you can experience if you so desire. Manoj sent me an explanatory email about the statue. He said the freedom Shiva experiences is expressed by the flame in his hand that represents "Jnana, where all the lifetimes of darkness are lit up with the fire of Knowledge." The drum Shiva holds symbolizes the fact that time and space exist within us. Manoj said one side represents the world of multiplicity and one side symbolizes pure non-dual consciousness. The murti depicts Shiva with his feet above his head and his heart fully open as he swans dives into the moment. Manoj said when the head is down and the feet are up, the concept of being a "doer" is turned upside down and all we are left with is effortless grace and faith. Yet, Shiva still has to keep his hand on top of Apasmara, the mythological dwarf who represents ignorance and epilepsy. Apasmara is our small mind, which keeps trying to tell us we can't do things and causes us to worry and panic. These karmic patterns never completely vanish and in a way form our personalities. Even Shiva, fully incarnate in the moment and ultimately free, still has to keep a watchful eye on the parts of himself that could cause him to place limits on his own freedom. Manoj writes, "Shiva also reminds us of the grander ideal we can all live for. He brings out the yearning some of us have to make an impact on people and society and leave a legacy beyond the transitory nature of our lives." The statues are so powerful because they don't just exist out there, they represent archetypes that exist inside us all. This dance is not just for gods.
When the time comes for you to push your edge so far that you suddenly find yourself swimming towards the other shore, you will know. The calling inside will be so strong that you won’t be able to ignore it, despite all the protestations of your ego. When that happens, you will have to place your hand on top of your own ego and keep it where it belongs, subservient to your expanded state of consciousness. You will discover yourself turning inside to listen to a new voice, a voice you have always known but which has been muffled. When you tap into this place, you can expand beyond all limitations that prevented you from living up to your fullest potential.
At the start of our paths, this voice is barely audible. We aren’t ready to fully hear it, so we allow other voices to drown it out. Yet we hear whispers from time to time. As we move further along, this longing to hear our own true voice becomes stronger. We begin expanding in our hearts and consciousness and as we develop inner strength and trust in ourselves, we are able to hear it more clearly and we begin following it with courage into the unknown. We stop second guessing ourselves and develop more faith in both our inner wisdom and the universe, and with that comes a more graceful state of being.
When we start really hearing, we follow up on hunches we would have ignored. We see the gifts the universe is providing us with, no matter who they comes from: people who are younger or older or than we are, experienced or less experienced, naïve and intuitive or highly educated in something we are drawn to. Teachers and students become one and the same. We see each interchange as an opportunity for learning and growth and we notice how the universe points us in directions by giving us seemingly random gifts of people or circumstances that we would never have even noticed before.
It is exciting and terrifying, but when we allow ourselves to connect with the Moksha Tandava inside, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Though we don’t know if we really are good enough swimmers and our egos still try to tell us not to jump, we jump anyway. Really this is the nature of our lives every single moment, though some cliffs are taller than others. We practice by taking little jumps until we leap further and further and finally believe we can and must take the big plunge. Our experiences teach us that our faith is not groundless, that we are not alone and that we will be supported by currents that we can feel even when we can’t see them. So keep practicing. This is the point of our yoga.