Am I No Yogi?

“If your goal is to become a yoga teacher, five-and-a-half months are good enough. If your goal is to become a yogi, it may happen in five-and-a-half seconds, or it may not happen in five-and-a-half lifetimes, because it is not of the physical nature. It depends on how an individual being allows it to happen.” – Sadhguru

Just this past weekend, I graduated from Yoga teacher training and I’m now an RYT with Yoga Alliance.  It was an amazing experience with incredible people!  And Sadhguru is spot-on; it was five-and-a-half months.  But does that make me a Yogi?  Hmm …

What does it mean to be a Yogi?

Is it practicing and performing poses and breathing deeply?  Is this Yoga?  Well, if the effort and action (hatha and karma) of performing asana brings us closer to synchronization with the energy of the universe, then yes.  Because Yoga means union.  Union with the universe and all things that are, including all of us humans.

But to be a Yogi, it’s about living the way, not just knowing it.  No easy task, because our reality is dynamic with its infinite number of variables and circumstances, multiplied by about eight billion humans, all with our own baggage of shit and opinions.

But, we do our best to be Yoga, living the eight limbs: non-violence, truth, non-stealing, moderation, non-attachment.  It’s cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, and surrender to a higher power.  And yes; it is the postures and a lot of breathing.  It’s withdrawing from the external world through the senses.  It’s concentration, meditation, and … bliss.

Sadhguru goes on to say, “Even if you are not like that (Yogi-like) 24 hours of the day, at least a few moments in a day you should be a yogi. If you keep it alive, things that you do not understand, things that you have never experienced, will happen to you. That means you are allowing another dimension to function.”

I know, I know, it sounds quite mystical and if you know me, I’m not one for mysticism.  In all my years of training and teaching martial arts, my mission was to clear the fog of mysticism with down to earth language that everybody could easily understand (there’s a song in there somewhere).  So to be clear, being a registered yoga teacher does not necessarily make one a Yogi.

Knowing and teaching the knowledge is merely academic.  Being able to do a one-handed hand stand with our legs in a pretzel is quite impressive, but that’s not Yoga.  The practice of living and being Yoga is true yoginess, no matter our acrobatic prowess.

So … am I a Yogi?  All things considered, yes.  But don’t tell anyone.  I have a reputation to maintain.

Namaste.

Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

That Time I Met My Childhood Self

One night, in Yoga Teacher Training, our instructor took us through meditation.  Nothing unusual, but this time, we were to go back and meet our childhood selves as we are right now.  I never thought of doing this before and I thought, “Oh, this will be a fun experiment.”  Maybe, I’d give him a high-five and ask him how school is going; that sort of thing.

But, then I saw him and it hit me in an unexpected way.

There I was; eh … me.  He.  We.  Whatever. When I came up to him, I immediately realized that the high-five thing was a dumb idea.  Neither one of us said anything, but he knew who I was and just looked at me with no judgement.  Just observing me, with a welcoming expression.

And this bothered me, because it was like I wanted him to judge me.  I expected it.  He should, dammit!  I felt unworthy of his acceptance and it made me uncomfortable.  Then it made me sad and I did my best to hold back the tears.  I was among my classmates and they can’t see me like that.  You know?

That kid was awesome.  He was naïve, innocent, and okay.  I felt like I fucked that up and that he should push me or punch me or something!  But nothing. He was cool.

I wanted to give him all the excuses about life, reality, circumstances, and survival.  I felt like I should vomit explanations: The first time I saw my parents have one of those fights where they throw shit; and then … the twentieth time.  All those fights I got into.  That time I saw my first dead body.  I was way too young to see a bullet-riddled bleeding corpse.  That time I got jumped and beaten in the projects.  Oh, and that other time and what I had to do to make it home.  That time my cousin died in his sleep.  That car accident.  That time I had to decide to put my mother in hospice and then have her cremated.  And then my father as well.  Or, that time I had two guns pressed into my skull by bank robbers?  Are you kidding me?!  Fucking bank robbers!

And … you know; a bunch of life, multiplied by decades.  I lost my hair.  His hair.  Sorry kid.

But, he just looked at me with that face.  Like … as if he liked me.

So then, I realized where I am now, which is a pretty damn good place.  It took a lot of work, sacrifice, loss, pain, setbacks, eating ramen noodles, self-responsibility, letting the bad shit go, striving for the good things, loving and being loved, and trying to be a better version of myself this day than I was yesterday, multiplied by decades.  I have a soul to protect.  I’m grateful for that, every day.

He saw me.  For real.  All of it.  And he’s proud of me; eh … himself. Us. Whatever.

Thanks buddy.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Am I Worthy of My Soul?

I was watching an episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman recently, and he was talking with a religion scholar about good and evil.  The scholar went on to say that we need the belief of the devil or hell as a deterrent to evil behavior.  As if we need a threat to be a good person.

I have a different philosophy. I don’t follow religion.  I don’t do church.  I do believe we have a soul and this body is just our human form for this experience in the grand scheme of all things.  I don’t know how it works or what happens before or after death.  I simply don’t know.  By the way, no one does.  Having said that, I do believe in the concept of a soul.

Our soul is ours to care for, respect, manage, and grow throughout this universal journey and if I do bad things, that is a dent to my soul.  This is the most valuable thing that is us.  Our soul is us.  If I treat it like a shit pick-up truck, driving it through mud, never cleaning it, broken windshield, not running on all cylinders, bent frame, and blowing out black exhaust, then it is what it is.  Shit.

Nothing wrong with a pick-up truck and it’s quite normal to drive through some mud once in a while.  It’s built for that and in this existence, mud is hard to avoid.  We can’t, nor should we avoid it all.  That would be exhausting, miserable, and quite boring.  But, we must take care of our truck, eh … soul, if it’s going to continue to perform well for, I don’t know; maybe … eternity.  Again, I don’t know.

Some souls are just broken or their connection with the human form was botched from the beginning.  Back in that same episode, Mr. Freeman met with a man, a life-sentence prisoner, who murdered and raped people.  This man said that he should never be freed from prison, because he knows he would do it again.  He said that he has no sense of remorse or empathy like most normal humans do and he knows that.  He knows he’s not right.  His truck is a lemon.

But, for the greater majority of us, our soul, mind, body connection is in proper working form.  However, there are some of us who do bad shit anyway.  I guess they either don’t believe or don’t care about things like heaven and hell.  Who knows?

For me, I don’t need a threat called hell.  I don’t respond well to threats.  Wrong approach with me.  I think this is true for most humans.  I also don’t need the excuse of a devil if I do something wrong.  As a responsible human, my thoughts and actions are mine; demons be dammed.

I don’t need the promise of heaven either; like a carrot hung out in front of me.  I don’t like carrots.  They make my stomach hurt and taste like dirt.

No, I simply respect and love my soul; Atman, as we refer to it in yoga.  I don’t know whomever/whatever created it, but it’s mine and I do my best to keep it clean and in good working order.  So, at least when I say “Namaste”, I feel good about my soul being worthy of greeting yours.

Namaste.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

Meta-human

Meta X = X about X

So, if X is data, then Metadata is information about data.

Data, data.

It’s self-referential.

Meta-archeology is archeology about the study of human history.

Archeology, archeology.

Meta-comedy is comedy about jokes.  Very funny.

Even a metaphor is using one word/phrase to designate another word/phrase.

It’s next level stuff, right?  Going deeper from within.

Following this “meta” pathway, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a Meta-human.

A human about people.

Meta-Cheers.

Photo by Artur Kraft on Unsplash

Is Karma Really a Bitch?

“Oh, she’s such a nice person.  Karma’s a bitch!” Said, no one … ever.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Rarely, do we hear karma mentioned after a kind act.  “Karma’s a saint!”  Sounds weird, doesn’t it.  But, we’re quick to call her(?) the “B” word.  We’re so focused on the negative, ready to cheer the universe on in vengeance.

But as karma goes, it’s neither good nor bad.  It’s not for us and not against us; it just is.

In ancient Sanskrit, Karma simply means, action.  Given that, we are karmic beings and there are three aspects of our being that create Karma: Thinking, speaking, and acting.  The accumulation of these three things is karma.

Karma is action and action is energy.  The good and bad is in the action itself and that becomes the positive or negative energy that goes out into the universe.  And, as it’s been said, no debt in the universe goes unpaid.  It comes back.  This is Karma.

“Oh, so is this what they mean when for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction?”  Mmm, no.  That’s Newton’s third law of motion, but I see where your head’s at.

While Karma is action it’s not a transaction.  Doing good as payment towards a positive outcome is not really how it works.  I know; you just can’t buy good juju anymore.  Am I right?

The philosophy that we get what we give is true, but not in the way we might think.  It’s more of an investment from our soul to the betterment of not just ourselves, but the world.  It’s not an exchange of goods and services.

What about “instant Karma”, like when someone loots a store, runs out into the street, and gets hit by a bus.  That’s when all the villagers rejoice, cheering “Karma’s a bitch!”

Is that instant karma?  Well, the thing is … karma is always instant.  It’s just that sometimes, it takes a while.  If you believe in the linear concept of time, that is.  “Wait; what?”

Hey, I’m no yogi.

Our thoughts, words, and actions (karma) go out into the universe.  If we give effort, value, time, advice, responsiveness, authenticity, honesty, love, humor, attention, thanks, work, care, empathy, diligence, and so on and we try to improve ourselves through study, practice, training, and research to be a valuable source to others, then that is good karma; so to speak.

But, reality can suck and we are only human.  I’ve seen Buddhist monks lose their spiritual shit.  Some crap happened to us, someone wronged us, disrespect, tragedy, death, aggression, sickness, vandalism, thievery, or we smash our toe on the damn coffee table.  No one is immune, it’s just that some of us shake it off more quickly than others.  Some hang on to it and live in a negative state of anger, hate, worry, fear, and sadness, because without it, they feel they’ll have nothing.  Not true, by the way.  If they don’t let go, it will continue in perpetuity.  I’ve seen it and its very sad.  But if they do let go, karma will respond in kind and life can be pretty good, considering.

She’s not the “B” word; she just is.  Our relationship with Karma, is up to us.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash