12 October 2015

Dark night of the soul

4 weeks have now passed without any yoga.
Not acceptable.  I must start again…

I went to my first yoga class at the age of 14.
That was in 1974.  It lit a spark and I bought my first copy of Iyengar’s Light on Yoga very soon after.
Using that book, I practiced at home for 20 years before committing to regular classes in 1998.  I began teaching yoga in 2001 and ran my own yoga school for a while.
Somewhere in the mid 1990’s I began Tibetan Buddhist meditation, then moved into the Theravadan practice attending yearly Vipassana retreats.  From here, I look back and see years of self analysis, introspection, mysticism, ego dissolution, and letting go, letting go, and more letting go.

Spiritual practice has been a lifelong focus.
But not without anguish.

Over the past year, my yoga practice has hit hard times because another love has entered my life – gardening. 
Well, vegetable gardening to be precise.
Yoga and meditation have been dislodged, relegated to the back seat.

Every morning, instead of being on the mat, I’m on my verandah checking the progress of my little seeds in the hothouse, the baby seedlings on the verandah, the adolescent plants on the shelves.
My grand old verandah has become a rather messy plant nursery.
All my spare time is spent cultivating seedlings, watering and attending to my own food garden, tending my children’s gardens which I’ve just planted out for spring/summer, or reading up on other people’s food growing experiences.

Have I suddenly moved into old age?

I’ve had a few vegie patches at various stages in my life, but this current passion for organic/biodynamic food gardening got fired up when I started work with VitalVeggies almost one year ago, and I’ve allowed it grow and burn out of control.

Meanwhile my spiritual practice, my true love, is waiting for me to come to my senses, and come back home.

Those moments when I am still, I feel the desperation.  It's a deep longing for the quietness of contemplative inner work.
How is it that one can be so happy with one’s outer life, yet feel such desperation and disconnection with one’s inner life.

Work is wonderful, fulfilling, fun, challenging, and richly rewarding. I get to work outdoors, in gardens, helping people to grow their own organic food.  I am learning so much new and useful knowledge and practical skills every day.

But I’ve allowed the work to encroach on personal time.
My life, and my life focus, are so out of balance that I no longer even recognise that work is actually part of spiritual practice, that there is no separation.
I have split life into fragments and compartments.
Internal and external are not in harmony or union.

So much of my non-work time is spent growing and tending seedlings, researching and absorbing new information, planning out gardens and trying to do it all better that I have lost sight of the ‘big’ picture and lost my connection to it.
The result?  I wake up crying in the mornings.  
My head is often fuzzy and spinning with vertigo.  I am happy and contented one minute, then confused and distraught the next.

Preoccupation is dangerous.

Getting caught up in anything narrows our broad vision down to tunnel vision.  It whisks us away on the crest of a wave, and distracts us from what’s really going on in the deeper psyche.

I have lost touch with the Source.
I have forgotten that I am not this person. 
That there is no ‘I’.
That all is one.

It’s time to step back, untangle my thoughts from the whirlwind of work, enter the expanse of the void, reconnect with the Source.
Spiritual practice is the key to help this process along, to start dissolving the entanglement. 
Yoga and meditation refocus the mind away from the transient external world, towards the infinite, internal universe.
But dammit, it’s not easy to break the mind’s habitual landing platforms, to redirect thoughts onto something other than the frenzy of daily activities.
Neural pathways have formed and hardened, they don’t just break and reroute themselves.  It takes determination, commitment, focus and practice to change those mind patterns.

To break free from the clinging mind I have to deliberately set up some time for solid, solitary introspection, where there will be no external interruptions to divert my focus.

This weekend, I’ll be saying no to all my commitments, no to everyone, This weekend I’ll attempt to rewire the hard drive, change direction and start again.

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