Updated: Oct 15, 2020
It was Day 1 of The Silent Buddhist Retreat at Tushita Meditation Centre in Northern India and Venerable Drolme (our teacher) was running us through the daily schedule: within that schedule was ‘stretching time’. I raised my hand to ask if I was allowed to do my own yoga practice during this time, the answer was “yes, as long as it is part of your Dharma”. Meaning, as long as it would complement my meditation practice and help me go deeper into the Buddhist teachings and personal discovery. I went red when she said this!
Reason being, in that moment I realised that my yoga wasn’t an act of Dharma, in fact, I had lost my connection with the real meaning of yoga.
At that point in time, I had fallen victim to the Instagram trap of comparison, wanting to achieve challenging poses. Not only that, I also didn’t want to lose my physique or muscle strength... my yoga was actually feeding my ego in that sense.
I cannot thank Venerable Drolme any more for questioning my intentions. The next 10 days I rediscovered the yoga mat and my body in a way I had never dared to explore before. It was a combination of teachings on attachment, the ‘self’ vs. the mind, and analytical meditations, that allowed me to tap into a higher level of meditation during self yoga practice.
So let me briefly say sometime about the elusive mind-stream continuum. This is a theory that our mind is a continual stream of thoughts rolling into one another. Every moment during the day is an interconnected state of consciousness, and not only that, when we sleep it is still the same consciousness that is active.
During sleep, where is this body that we so often refer to as ‘mine’? It has no part in defining ‘me’ anymore as it isn’t physically present in my dreams, it is lying dormant in my bed.
I know this is getting a little deep but this lesson really taught me that my body does not have to define me, my body is not me, it is just a vessel that carries me through my day to day activities. It is a body I should be grateful for as it allows me to walk, eat, breathe, dance, and move in any way I chose. Without it I certainly couldn’t physically practice yoga. This led me back to understanding the true meaning of yoga, to ‘unite’ (derived from the sanskrit root ‘yug’).
As I practiced my breath and movement came together and my mind went blank. It was as if I was a blur of smoke exploring the mat in a euphoric state of bliss. My focus went inwards as movements were led from the heart and instinct, internal wisdom. I detached from how I looked and shifted towards feeling every moment even though they faded into one.
Yoga can teach many lessons and this is one of it’s greatest: not to compare yourself to others, not to judge or let the inner critic rule, but to allow your breath to guide you and love yourself as thats where inner peace lies!
Photo Credit: Mohammed Salik Photography