Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OK, Rumi, let's dance.

Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbera/ Flickr Creative Commons
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.
~Japanese proverb

Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.
~ Rumi

Nathan over at Dangerous Harvests just made his second anniversary post. Happy blogiversary, Nathan! To celebrate, he posted his first post from the blog. It isn't my anniversary, but I thought I'd go back and look at my first post anyway. Here's a piece of it (from November 2, 2008):
If yogis discovered the secret of happiness thousands of years ago, why do we now still live in a culture of so much suffering?! And to put it more personally, since this is to be my personal journey, why do I still suffer so much? Why do I forget to practice in my daily life, when I know that it will not only make me happier and healthier, but also decrease suffering in the lives of those around me?

In June, I started a Masters in International Education at the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont. I chose the school because I believe the SIT philosophy is highly compatible with my attempts to increase the practice of yoga in my daily life. In formulating my learning plan, I stated as my second learning objective "Explore ways to bring my career into harmony with my yoga practice." In fact, this is one of the key reasons why I am doing this degree - to give myself the training and the tools to adjust my working life to facilitate my practice - and yes, cheesy cheesy, to do more good in the world.

It's interesting to look back on because I don't feel that way any more. It's not that I don't suffer, but that the quality of my suffering has changed. Back then, I was suffering in the dark. Now, I feel like I can at least suffer with the light on. I have a consistent daily practice, not only of yoga and meditation on the mat or cushion, but also taking these practices into my life and applying them to running, eating, working, and personal relationships. Through this, I've not only physically transformed but I've begun to shine the flashlight of mindfulness into all sorts of dark corners.

In the beginning, this blog was about bringing my career into alignment with my yoga practice. I had forgotten that. Back then, I was working a challenging administrative job and struggling to practice yoga in the workplace. I was reluctant to admit that I was struggling so much because it wasn't the right place for me to be. It was a job that worked with my strengths and which brought out all the worst in me, too. I suffered in many ways at that time: emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. The suffering had to get really bad before I was really willing to look at the forces that were holding me there and ask myself: Why? Why fight? Why not just let go?

I was clearly looking for the light switch, even then. I'd started my Masters program because I was already seeking. I wrote those things in my learning plan and started this blog for a good reason. I've even had a Rumi quote up on my computer sidebar, probably since before I started this blog: Let the beauty you love be what you do. It took me all this time to really see it, to look Rumi in the eyes and reply, Yes. OK. I know why you are here. Let's dance.

When I started shining that flashlight around, mostly what I saw was fear. When I looked more closely, I realized that fear is always worse than the thing I fear.  I know this is not a new concept, but the more I sit on my cushion in silence with my eyes closed, the more I have to make friends with it. I began to wonder if I ever had any other motivation for action in my life besides avoiding fear. I began to wonder what would happen if I did something for love. Would the world end? Would the boogieman in the corner come out and get me? Did it matter?

There's never any map for these journeys we take, or rather, I'd say there are many maps - the experiences of others who have taken their own journeys and lived to tell the tale - but they're cryptic and incomplete, and sometimes we flat out refuse to believe that they could really be telling us to leap off that cliff into the darkness. Over the past three years, I've been evolving. I feel like the same person, but when I look back to that first post, I know I am not. I'm teaching at Community College now, and it's scary and difficult and fulfilling. I just started Yoga Teacher Training this past weekend. I'm finally ready to take the necessary risks in order to make sure all the pieces of my life really fit. I've learned to feel gratitude for the fear and suffering, because I've realized that they were the map and directions. They were the flashlight. I'm ready, finally, to really love what I do.


Nathan said...

Very cool that my repost inspired this. I'm starting to make those leaps as well, and can see where the struggle to hold on to some of the old parts of my life - jobs, relationships, ideas - were all over that old writing. Lately, I've felt kind of identity-less. Living in some mysterious place that's in the regular world, but not quite of it. Hard to put any more accurate words to it right now.

dragonfly said...

Kind of like that silence between the exhale and the inhale? Sometimes I feel that. A sense of waiting to see what flows in.

Jesse said...

Let the beauty you love be what you do ... I love it. Perfect.