The amber hue marked the entrance to Big Bend Yoga Studio – the most notorious and original yoga studio in St. Louis. We were stoked – smiling from ear-to-ear in giddy anticipation for that brief moment in time when Spirit soars, Mind releases, and one is able to dance freely in the Field.
Our beloved teacher – Saul David Raye – was in from California. Saul does not travel to St. Louis often, so this was a tremendous opportunity. And, he was leading Kirtan. Some of you don’t know what that means. But, to a yogi – it’s the Holy Grail of transcendental connection. The environment, the words, the music – it is intoxicating and has the potential to abruptly divorce you from your mind and immerse you into “being”.
The night is upon us. The humming of the Harmonium is beginning. The yogis are assembled. Smiles and open hearts abound. We give our children (4 and 6 year old girls) the 3rd version of the “talk” about mommy and daddy’s very special spiritual time and how important it is to “behave.” We pray that our youngest son will take solace in his mother’s bounty, we put on our Zen face, and we stride into the Studio with the warm feeling of hope stirring.
We sit down. Saul begins by talking about the state of the world, the universal Field, Quantum Mechanics, the old teachings, love, union, and the Path… the songs begin to build, dancing begins… my oldest daughter taps me on the shoulder.
“Daddy, I feel a little sick in my belly.”
“Oh… are you sure?”
“Daddy, I need to go to the potty.”
“Okay, sweetie, let’s go…”
I tip toe through the crowd of yogis, hand-in-hand with my daughter – and still buzzing with hope and possibility for the night… And, then it happens.
She opens her mouth in slow motion and releases a torrent of vomit all over the room. Trying to cover her mouth, it spills between her fingers like a horrific waterfall of disappointment. She looks at me with those eyes that say “what is happening to me?” just before releasing her second round. Then a third. Then a fourth. The smell invades quickly. I look helplessly to my Beloved. Her eyes are closed and she is in the Flow of the music. I am here. Alone. Immersed in the sweet smell and liquidity of vomit, staring at the stains on the yoga studio rug … and walls and steeped in the smell of wrongness.
Inside my head, I curse and lament existence. And, then, just as quickly, I attend to the cleaning that must be done. I remind myself that the Brahmin Priests were not allowed to step into their roles as guru until after their children were reared fully. I remind myself that I am learning service and humility. I remind myself that my children teach me patience, service, and unconditional love. I remind myself to accept reality. I remind myself to breathe…
Of course, we had to leave our teacher and our Kirtan. I think we got in at least half of one song. As we climb back into the car amid protests from high-pitched wee folk and to the sound of a hungry infant, I look over at Sheila and our eyes meet. A wry smile creases her lips and there is a timeless moment of soul gazing and instant understanding – of empathy and surrender. This is our dharma. This is our yoga.
We can chase enlightenment like shooting stars – blanketing ourselves in the warmth of spiritual experience and soulful expression. But, these ecstatic moments fade like the smell of a new car. Everything changes, always. Enlightenment isn’t warm and fuzzy. It’s the gap. It’s finding that moment of serenity – the pause of presence. Dharma is the law of cause and effect that has created your reality in this moment; your task? Accept it. Embrace it. But more, give your all to it. Stand up in the flow of life and surrender victoriously. There is power in acceptance.
So, take this day. Give it everything you have. Take everything that comes your way as a teaching opportunity and go all in – even if your dharma is dharma doo-doo. Sometimes you gotta change the diaper. Sometimes you get to sway to the music. Sometimes things are great; sometimes they are hard. Your task? Go with it and give it all you’ve got, no matter what.
Dr. Ryan Pride is the owner of the Moksha Institute, a firm dedicated to improving Wellbeing - for you or your company. A profit-for-purpose company, the Moksha Institute applies Ancient Teachings for the Modern Time in order to transform striving into thriving. We are closing the gap between engagement and wellbeing by applying engagement interventions that actually work – and also improve Health in the process. For more information, please go to: www.mokshainstitute.com