Last week I went to see AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, a documentary about the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda gave the world Autobiography of a Yogi and dozens of other books, the Self-Realization Fellowship, kriya yoga meditation, and a wealth of teachings on how to live a divine life.
I’d been feeling very disconnected the last few months, over-worked, over-burdened, and tired. I felt my spiritual practice had plateaued. Watching Awake I was reminded of my love for God and how Yogananda, and millions of others, have made the choice to serve God the central theme or purpose of their lives. The fullness of my heart in the closing credits brought tears to my eyes. These were not tears of sadness, but of a longing for God, for the feeling of being one with the Divine, with the energy of creation, with the supreme intelligence that knits together our universe and beyond.
I finished reading Ana Forrest’s Fierce Medicine for the second time for my Forrest Yoga Mentorship homework, and between that book and seeing Awake, I have begun speaking to God as I know him/her/it once again. But, as I approached it this time around, I had to re-think what exactly I do believe. I wondered why my faith wavered so much, why I couldn’t really zero in on a way to STAY connected to God. I knew that part of it was due to my mind and my heart being on opposing sides of the debate.
I have a conflict. My cynical and habitual thinking mind questions the concept of divinity or a positive, loving force in the universe. In my darkest moments, I feel adrift, a boat on a chaotic sea that is totally random in its movements and machinations. Thriving in this random universe is a combination of luck and wits and it is exhausting. But seeing Awake reminded me of how I FEEL, which is knowing I have touched the vastness and beauty of God as manifest in our physical world, in periods of meditation, the practice of yoga, sex, love, being in nature, or playing music.
With this reminder that I do love God and know God, and that I know this through a feeling sense, I was able to return, with faith, to speaking to God, which Yogananda oft repeated to his devotees: in meditation, they should repeat over and over again “reveal thyself!” and to the true disciple, God will. Then I had to find a way to speak to God that felt authentic to me. Drawing from Ana Forrest’s work, I found the way I could commune. Oh Great Spirit That Moves in All Things…
And so began a ritual of prayer, a ritual that I have abandoned in the last strange year of my life, and one that has never really stuck with me as much as I liked the idea of it. The last year has seen me leave 20+ years of corporate life for life as a self-employed yoga teacher; return to an abandoned relationship and the healing and growth therein; review who I am and what I truly need and what I’m here for. In prayer, I ask the Great Spirit to give me the strength to persevere and not fall to the pressures of city living, money, confusion, fatigue, and day-to-day relationship struggles, to infuse me with patience and gratitude, and to have the strength to see the good in my life and to keep going.
It was a Beauty Moment that I took myself to see this documentary. I haven’t really been attending to my needs well, to romancing my spirit, as Ana would say. The last year has been all about working and making sure the bills are paid, about deep inner work in terms of my training as a yoga teacher and within my primary partnership. It has been a more difficult year emotionally than I’ve had in a long time. It was Beauty that I took myself to see this and got a small bit of an answer that I am seeking. A-ho!