Torn between knowing that attachment to appearance is an ego-trip, and a deep wish to be accepted as traditionally beautiful, I move through loads of guilt every day. The wish to be beautiful seems a universal moral flaw; Buddha called it Desire, the root of suffering, Patanjali, asmita (mistaken identity), Christ, vanity. I feel stuck, trapped, the suffering that Buddha predicted when Desire is at play. On one hand I want to solve the problem by changing my appearance. On the other, I know the desire to do so is antithesis to Santosha (contentment) practice, prescribed by Patanjali for liberation.
#Yoga Selfie #My Real Yoga Body #Yoga Inspiration – yoga’s social media discussion of the moment is “Body Image,” and the role of appearance in marketing yoga, practicing yoga, being a “yogi.”
Students express apprehension about their bodies – “I’m too fat to do yoga, there are only skinny women in there,” “I’m too old.” “I’m a guy – I’m not flexible!” Indeed, an aspiring practitioner viewing #Yoga Inspiration photos might feel daunted and turned back by seeing lithe goddesses in complex, demanding postures. Which is a shame, because by focusing on appearance, on the outer form of ourselves and our postures we are all missing out. Yoga is NOT about what a body looks like or can do. It is an EXPLORATION of a body, and more importantly, a study of the Self (purusa) that carried inside it. It is about increasing awareness (not judgement) of physical sensations, and then learning to create the feeling of harmony within. The “hard” yoga poses, in my opinion, are only meant to ruffle your ego’s feathers and provide an opportunity to watch ego-in-motion.
Kali’s Real Yoga Body
Kali, the dark mother, provides another perspective; she is fully goddess, fully divine. Kali with her lolling tongue, engorged with the pleasure of unrestrained consumption; her wild and bloodied hair; her bloodshot eyes intoxicated with lust – this is Kali’s “Yoga Body.” Do you think She, fiercest warrioress of the cosmos would give a moment’s thought to her size, appearance, or what yoga poses she can do?
It is written of Kali, “Just as all colors disappear into black, so all forms and names disappear into her” (from the Mahanirvana Tantra.)This means that Kali embodies INFINITY; not just the beautiful things, not just the godly things. ALL THE THINGS. That includes YOU and YOUR BODY. Your failures and successes on the path. All of you, at all times, is worthy of Kali, worthy of yoga.
This is the wisdom-embrace of the dark mother. She teaches me to hold at once the desire to be beautiful, the desire to be enlightened, and the knowledge that I am more than my body.
Connect to Kali
To begin to connect to this wisdom, use the mantra (repeated phrase): OM KRIM KALIAYE NAMAHA. (“kreem”)
KRIM has the sound of flint striking, and holds the energy of agni or fire. And not just any fire – the fire of transformation, of work. Now, when I say “transformation” I don’t mean turning a Buddha belly into a six-pack; I mean radically changing perspective. Seeing yourself as a spectrum of light, of identities, all refracted off the pure diamond of your Inner-Self-Light or purusa. See yourself as all possibilities.
Of course, this transformation is easy to discuss, but hard to accomplish – after all, it is nothing less than un-yoking your ego from some of the only concrete identities we possess. This practice of transformation is exactly what mantra is for. Mantra is a prayer to make the mind take the form of the prayer itself. KRIM does not only express the intention to blast old perspectives apart – it sonically embodies it. The vibration produced by voicing the syllable KRIM is the vibration of infinity cast into darkness, the vibration of Kali herself. This is the science of mantra, the science of matching vibration with intention and imprinting that intention onto consciousness.
Darkness to Light
We are stepping deeper into the season of darkness, the time when the heart-mind gestates quietly as busy lives rotate around us.
The human eye can function in darkness and in light; the pupil dilates, we see more. Peer into the dark womb of yourself. Allow Kali to accompany you, to teach you to transform your eyes so that they see the infinite spectrum of beauty. Like the ocular reflex from dark to light, change the way you see. See that your “Real Yoga Body” is the Inner-Self-Light within.
When the Winter Solstice comes, rejoice for the tender re-birth of your soul and its body-vehicle, in whatever form-slice of infinity they are clothed in.