Lost. Confused. In a funk. That was me a few months ago.
I craved passion, love and purpose but the fog I was in was so thick that not even my yoga practice was going to dig me out. My practice wandered. I lost it’s focus, it’s meaning, it’s message. Seemed like everything was OUT.OF.CONTROL!
So I went wandering… to Encinitas to escape my world and see what could possibly fill me up again, spice up my practice and shine some light into the dark corner of my being.
One word: Timji… Known as Tim Miller, the first westerner to get certified by Pattabhi Jois to teach Ashtanga. After studying with him for 2 intense weeks, I consider him one of the most humblest, compassionate, devoted yogi I have met.
Be devoted to something.
“What are you devoted to?” asks Timji to the group while we were learning about Hindu deities, Vedic astrology, and the like. I tried to keep my eyes from rolling back because here we go talking about devotion as in devotion to God… a subject that I would rather not talk about. It strikes an uncomfortable, irritated, highly opinionated chord in me. But before my eyes could roll, Tim said, your devotion doesn’t have to be to “God,” it could be to anything like your practice, your family, your hobby, your <fill in the blank>. “But the first step is to be devoted to something,” he said.
“Huh? The first step to what?” I thought to myself. I could sense that I’ve lost devotion to my practice even if I was consistently practicing. It felt meaningless. Poses were just poses and I wasn’t really interested anymore. I wasn’t even interested in the physical benefits either. I just kept doing it because that’s what I do.
Life Without Devotion
I felt run down. What was my passion started feeling like a chore. I could foresee what my life would be like without devotion. No more commitment, no more meaning, no need to follow through, no grounding in what really mattered. Thank goodness my practice didn’t give up on me. It lead me to Timji.
Devotion is not for sissies.
When you find something to be devoted to, it can be very scary. You might feel a burning fire under your belly. This feeling oozies and oozies until the yearning, the longing convinces you that you’re unstoppable. Devotion demands courage, commitment, and mostly surrender. Are you ready to surrender? Are you ready to give up what you think you need and want in order to surrender and receive what you really need and want?
How do you know?
“You just know,” said Tim. Through the course of the two weeks, we sang devotional songs, practiced asana, listened to stories from the Ramayana, learned about yoga traditions, and had lots of fun. Tim shared with us how he became a devotee of Hanuman, you might recognize him as the monkey God, or incarnation of Lord Shiva. It was apparent that Tim was truly devoted to Hanuman because I think we sang the Hanuman Chalisa (a 40 verse poem/devotional song/kirtan based on Hanuman as a model devotee of Lord Rama) at least once a day. I think it was the 4th day or so when we sang the Chalisa, I felt a bubble rise in my belly at the end of the song. As the ending reached a crescendo of a “Sita Ram” chant, my eyes flooded with tears for reasons I could not understand. But I let it be.
As the rest of the days progressed, I felt an opening. A softening. A surrender. To what? I still do not know. All I know is that I want to sing.. not any ‘ol song, but just the Chalisa.
And when I’m not listening or trying to sing the Chalisa, there is s.i.l.e.n.c.e……………………
s.p.a.c.e…….so that I may see where my devotion lies.
I’ll know when I’ve found it because my life will sing my devotion.
What are you devoted to? How does it show up?