Lately I’ve felt a loss of innocence….
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this.
When I was 16-I stopped believing. Before that time, I had the naivete of a child-I believed in happily ever after, in all good things happening to good people and even the belief there was a God up above who had my best interests at heart.
Then, that was all shattered…….
The year I turned sixteen-a classmate committed suicide after learning she was pregnant, my uncle died and a friend confided in me a secret that was so horrific and unspeakable that I blocked it from my mind until years later (yet it still affected me).
And, I realized, all of the strength of my father and the prayers of my devout grandmother weren’t going to save me. I realized that the world is not a fair place and that the good die young and children are taken advantage of and there is nothing and no one to stop that.
So, I lost my faith……
I spent my college years recklessly with alcohol and boys and cars thinking that “if there is no one up above to give a shit about me, why give a shit about myself????”
Luckily, through years of yoga practice and mindfulness-I found some sense of spirituality and solace.
I’ve developed a daily practice of meditation at my altar which is made up of photos of family, mala beads from India, my Ganesha statue, a Rosary blessed by Pope John Paul, good luck charms and even pictures from Burning Man. And, it grounds me and helps me sustain my sense of connection with the Divine.
But, lately, my faith has again been shaken and I feel blindly naive like the kid in the Life of Pi-seeing Bengal tigers and zebras where there’s just empty sea. Having attended the memorial service of young people taken too soon (one being a 3 year old child)-the idea of karma and righteousness seems like pure idiocy.
And, I resented my altar-I felt like ripping it to pieces, burning up the notes and prayers and photos, smashing the Ganesha.
(But, I was late for my 6:30 yoga workshop, so I didn’t have time for that.)
During the workshop, I thought-what IS my yoga??? Then, what IS yoga itself?
The literal Sanskrit meaning of ‘yoga’ is: ‘to add’ or ‘to join’ or ‘to unite‘.
The Yoga Sutras give the ‘practical’ aspects of yoga being “the union with the Supreme” accomplished through practice of duties in everyday life. They realized that in addition to the scholar, the average householder would need an affirmation of their connection with divinity and their humanity overall.
For me: my little offering of my meditation and asana practice grounds me and reminds me of this connection. While I don’t have the adolescent belief in a God in flowing robes issuing commandments or keeping score-I DO have belief in my fellow man.
Another yoga ‘thing’ is the greeting Namaste -meaning “the Light in me honors the Light in you”. And, from the script I’ve read it also has the spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of one another.
It makes me think of the Leonard Cohen lyrics
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.”
And, I think of the beauty that I see in those suffering around me-in the rawness shown by those who’ve loved and lost, tried and failed, did everything right and yet had everything taken away.
Their light shines brighter -their ability to empathize stronger-their humanity a bit truer.
That’s something I can put my faith in…..