Yoga, connection, and the religious experience.

I have been practicing yoga pretty consistently now for 6 years. Funny thing about yoga is, the longer you do it, the more it becomes about all the other limbs of yoga outside of the poses. You start adding a workshop here to learn about meditation aspects. Add another one there to learn about the yamas and niyamas (self observances and how to conduct yourself in the world – think Ten Commandments). Before you know it, you find yourself laying in the final resting pose of the class or maybe during a session of yoga nidra pondering life’s great mysteries and what is it inside of you that is suddenly lacking.

Yoga – the yoking of mind and body.  Steps you move through from breathing, to poses, to removing distractions, to meditation, and finally connection.  And for me, settling the craziness, anxiousness, and the unease to connect with what?  Well, the universe was one.  Ok.  But then what?  Oh wait…

Do we have to go to church today?

Growing up I believed what my parents (and by this I really mean my mom) believed and I went along with them to worship and pray.  As I hit adolescence and the teenage years this was still the case, but maybe I grumbled a bit (or alot) about it but I still really didn’t have a choice.  Then, pretty much once I graduated high school, I took a step back from church and then I took a, “yeah, sure, uh-huh, I’ll get back to you in a little while, like when I am done washing my hair and walking the dog and going to this party…” step back from church.  Of course I went to church at Christmas and Easter (I was a Chr-easter I heard its called these days), but committed I was not, I didn’t really “feel” like I needed it, and I certainly didn’t have any kind of real connection to it.

Fast forward to married life and I go because my husband wants to go and we should go as a family, but I am hesitant because, well, its been a long time and some bad memories arise of a few self-proclaimed Christians who said things to you that left you really not wanting to walk back into a church if that’s how its going to be.  These thoughts and feelings are only compounded when you are sitting in church and the pastor says something really judgemental or just flat-out ignorant about certain people or another religion and now I REALLY don’t want to be here.

I began to affiliate the current state of religion with judging and blind ignorance.  And, well, it is not our place to judge.  And, if you are going to talk about something maybe you should take the time to learn about it.  As it turns out, I was making a few blanket statements and judgemental thoughts myself and we just hadn’t found the right place, but we aren’t to that part yet.

And then…

So there I am, laying on my yoga mat wondering what it is, what is it that I am missing, whats the “connection.”  I love God, sure, I would love to connect with Him and this universe he has created but, good grief, all I have known about Him is doom and gloom and guilt (I was raised Catholic, what can I say) and judging and ignorance.  And sure we say prayers every night with the kids but eh…

And then someone says, and MY GOSH I can’t remember whose class it was, “when we meditate, this is our time to listen to GOD, so just lay here and listen.”  That was it.  All this movement and reconnecting with the body was just about that, laying here in stillness and listening.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to hear anything – you just have to lay there and listen and see what happens – maybe something or someone or a voice pops in your head, maybe it doesn’t.

Yoga does not change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees. Quote by B.K.S. Iyengar.

And then I wanted to know what He had to say – I needed to hush up and listen.  My perception changed.  I have been too busy yapping and judging and making blanket stereotypes that I wasn’t listening.  Asking in prayer but not really waiting for a response.

Its funny, because once I just hushed up and listened… we found an amazing church at persistence of a friend who had been talking to me about it for months.  A church where “no perfect people are allowed.”  Where judgement is left to a higher power.

I finally felt like I was, and am, in a comfortable place to learn and grow and CONNECT.

Its all about the connection and the stillness.

Yoga. To connect the mind with the body so we can move in prayer and calm the restlessness, meditate, and just be still, be quiet, and listen.

It doesn’t matter what religion you are.

I am trying to listen more now.  And now that I am, the not so obvious is becoming obvious.  Lately, and repeatedly, I have been seeing quotes and posts about finding stillness such that we can listen to God and he can work on our hearts.  THIS ladies and gentlemen, is where the yoga comes in for me.  Yoga enables me to be still.  It calms my anxiety and a restless mind and body. Light bulb. Moment.

I get it. You could probably stand to beat it into me a little bit more but I get it.  And if you believe in things happening for a reason, this is my neon sign with flashing lights that says stop here because you are going to get to meet a celebrity and win a million dollars or something.

Be STILL. LISTEN.  Allow God to do his work.  Don’t try and do it for him or speak for him.

And I have to think this is the same for any religion or any one seeking connection with anyone or thing.  Find out what it is that you need to do to remove the distractions. CONNECT with your body. Be STILL.  LISTEN.  Allow whomever or whatever to do their thing and stop trying to do it for them.

In practice..

So what does this look like for me right now?  It means I get on my mat more for myself.

In practice this means –

  • BREATHE – breathing through my favorite technique (inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds),
  • FLOW – moving with yoga (sun salutations are always an easy one to get into the flow with my breath or I’ll find a flow that corresponds with a prayer or verse),
  • GROW – and finally, relaxing (see body scans and progressive relaxation techniques), meditating, listening.

See what I just did there? 😉

I still have alot to learn.  It’s a constant work in progress.  I am not entirely “still” most days, but I hope the day will come where its more constant.  I know the day will come.  I have alot to journal about – which is my next step in this.  It is all new ground for me and a new place to explore and I want to keep note of it.  It’s an interesting place to be at 40 but maybe it’s taken me 40 years to get here and I’m fine with that.  =)

 

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