January 2020: Life is neither black nor white, and impossible to put into boxes, although there are many times that we try desperately to contain it. With that in mind, I find myself living an extended sabbatical from teaching yoga/meditation/healthy lifestyles, yet putting all that I have learned and practiced into apparent reality. It is said that we only teach to learn for ourselves. I am happier, stronger and all around healthier than I have ever been. I am not actively involved in marketing products that have enhanced my health, yet I continue to take and endorse them; you will find them advertised on this site. I am no longer in the business of consulting folks on breast care, yet I am an email away from answering any questions you may have on the topic. I have been a student of life for all of my existence only to discover that I know very little, and hear an echo of this in Rumi:
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
insofar as credentials go, the main discipline for study in my life, beyond teaching, has been that of the science of yoga and meditation in the Western Himalayas of India for 15 years under the guidance of Swami Shyam. There, I earned a degree in meditation and advanced yoga sciences that included in-depth work with yogic philosophy in its original Sanskrit texts.
T.S.Elliot wrote in Little Gidding
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
This place now for me, is home - the place of the above revelation and the physical place of St. John’s. The elemental nature of things so clearly on display and so alike to the place whence I budded in England. I am at home here.
I have recognised that pain - and its response - is a universal thing; this explains a lot. We learn forbearance, a pause before that knee-jerk reaction - and an understanding that what we really want is to be understood in order to understand. From that point comes every form of love.
7 years earlier
In 2011, after the second time around of full cancer treatments, and feeling an enormous sense of transformation, I was asked to elaborate on what I meant by ‘morphing into a new manifestation’?
This is a very interesting inquiry into the process of transformation. I have always been intrigued by that moment of change – why in just that moment does the dyke open and waters run? Patanjali Yog Darshan (the handbook for yogis) tells us that it happens when everything needed to effect that change is supplied to the original state. The caterpillar will morph into the butterfly when all necessary conditions are met.
Prior to that emergence of new life, the caterpillar spends time inside its chrysalis - a period of transition.
As I undergo these allopathic healing treatments, I recognize I am in a time of transition; by nature it is one of uncertainty.
This uncertainty, scary at times as it may be, is actually a very important and essential part of our growth and evolution. It is a temporary stage – important to recognize that point and allow that these spaces of discomfort, confusion and fear are actually setting the stage for a new clarity and wisdom to emerge.
One characteristic of this uncertainty is that we have very little clue as to what kind of butterfly we will become – what if it is a moth? We are no longer in apparent control, we rest on very shaky ground desperately searching for something to hold on to. And this is where the discipline of practice enters the picture. In a recent earthquake, I instantly ran for the doorframe – that drill was in my head. Mind you, once there I realized I could actually go outside into the open. In the same way, our daily practices of awareness, whatever they be, from a morning sun-salutation to daily meditation, from chi-gung to moment to moment loving kindness, they give us that something to rest in until we see that we can leap off the cliff and we will fly.
At heart this expansion process is mysterious; this is a good thing. We rarely can believe the wonders that lie in store upon awakening.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
My vision is 2020
"The change from one state to another transpires when everything needed to effect that change is supplied to the original state.
When the present body, mind, and senses have been transformed, that is, the nature or habits of thought and action have changed, it is called:
Excerpted from Patanjali Yog Darshan, Kaivalya Paad, verse 2, as translated by Swami Shyam