What about Me?

books (1)I am a firm believer that accidents don’t happen but there is almost always a reason for why things unfold the way they do.  Of course when I am in the midst of an emotional breakdown, crisis, or lacking sleep you may not get me to utter these words or subscribe to them but when I am able to step away and look back, it is often fascinating to figure out what was to be learned by the experience, sometimes it ain’t pretty.

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to participate in a girls over-night retreat at one of my friends house. I led a yoga class (been awhile since I did that), my friend led us through a meditation exercise and then we indulged in great food and company. The next morning she pulled some books from her library and this one spoke to me to pick up, which I did.  It is one of those books that you have to be ready for on so many different levels and I think the timing couldn’t be perfect as I have struggled recently on a few different fronts.

It is only in the last 10 years or so that people could have open dialogues with others to say that they are practicing or exploring a spiritual path without them thinking that you belong to a cult or are a little strange.  I believe that we are entering a new era on this topic just like yoga was considered ‘out-there’ only 15 years ago. Now there is a yoga studio on almost every corner.  After being out of the yoga world for almost 5 years and coming back to practicing at a local studio, I can feel an energy change within the room and from the instruction itself.  More specifically I feel that instructors are able to introduce or inject more spirituality into the instruction and there is more reception from the yogiis in the room.   Although as I write these words, in person I still consider myself to be a closet spiritualist, waiting to come out but only once I get a little more comfortable and confident in backing my actions with my thoughts and vice versa.

I often wonder though whether this slow and steady build into this new era of ‘spirituality’ is a natural evolution of where mankind has come from in the last couple of hundred years.  By no means am I a historian (studied Commerce in University) but I am pretty sure the order of things is as follows: Agriculture era>Industrial era>Information era> TBD.   Not sure if today’s time period is going to be referred to as the Intellect era or some variation but the focus on the individual and the power of the mind is going to guide us in ways that we are only touching on right now.

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Photo of a section of the ceiling in the Ottawa Museum of Civilization. M.Harris

I believe up to this point the notion of practicing a spiritual path in any form was considered a luxury or reserved for very few individuals such as monks, priests, or those willing to give up the material order in order to achieve this coveted state of “salvation”.   Even when I took my Yoga teacher training program over 10 years ago now there was very little guidance on how we could incorporate the demands of the western world with the pursuit of a greater meaning in our lives.  At least for me it seemed that it was all or nothing or a  permanent conflict would remain.  Only recently is there more material out there that provides assurance that there is a way to do both – retain the normal responsibilities of this world we live in and need to keep functioning but also reap the benefits of working within this greater spiritual world of wanting a more meaningful life.

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Photo of a section of the ceiling in the Ottawa Museum of Civilization. M.Harris

In Sakyong Mipham’s first chapter he states “We already have what we need – the opportunity to weave the tapestry of happiness every day with the needle and thread in our own mind”.  Easy to say when you can devote your whole life to this pursuit but it is easy to be a cynic, especially since the homework is difficult.  I could probably write a dozen blog posts on what I have taken from the first chapter alone and maybe I will do just that but for now the one message I want to pass along is that spending time on the mind and the soul should not be considered a luxury. We exercise the body whether it be running or biking or a team sport without question, we eat healthy to support our mind and the activities we engage in, but just as important is to nourish the mind through meditation and understanding that the origin of happiness is not in the external world but can only be found from within. A thought that definitely warrants further discussion.

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