Sacred Life Sunday: Stumbling

A little background first…

Over the past few weeks I’ve been craving a deeper understanding of the more philosophical and spiritual sides of yoga and its spiritual parent, Hinduism, in which, I will be the first to admit, I’m not very well-versed.  I have heard that tends to happen when you listen to kirtan, which I’ve been doing a lot lately, and when you’ve been doing asanas for a while.  (I’ve been practicing asanas off and on since I was 14 years old and ran across a routine in one of my mother’s women’s magazines.)  It’s just a natural outgrowth.

I’ve also been craving digging into a new sacred text.  Growing up in the midst of the Evangelical Christian movement, over 20+ years of my life, I have read most, if not every bit of, the Holy Bible at least once, and a good chunk of it in multiple translations.  In late 2007 through early 2008, I read a translation of the Tao-te Ching.  In the spring of 2008, I started reading Eknath Easwaran’s translation of The Dhammapada, and finished it that same year.  This year, I’ve been missing reading a bit from a sacred text every day or so.

I haven’t undertaken a daily spiritual practice consistently at all, in any form, across this year, and I will tell you that a.) I’ve suffered from it, as it is something my heart and soul need to be at all balanced, and b.) my lack of consistency has been solely from not taking the time.

So I ordered some books in this vein of my curiosity, books on the spiritual and philosophical dimensions of yoga and its parent, Hinduism.  I ordered two sacred texts, and one book of spiritual essays.  Which ones?  These:

The books arrived Wednesday, and I eagerly returned to a daily asana practice–even if only a few Sun Saluations–and dug into Meditations from the Mat and the Yoga Sutras.

The epigraph at the beginning of Meditations from the Mat immediately struck me, and has stuck in my mind ever since.  It could not have found my waiting mind and heart at a better time.  Being a collector of inspirational quotes, I immediately jotted it down in my quote book:

A snippet from my quote collection that has stuck in my mind for days.

A snippet from my quote collection that has stuck in my mind for days.

“‘By your stumbling, the world is perfected.’?  Really?” I thought, “Well, that’s a good thing, then.  I’ve been doing a whole lot of stumbling!”

(If you’re curious, you can find more on the originator of that quote, Sri Aurobindo, here.)

I’ve been stumbling around trying desperately to figure out my place in the world.   I’ve been stumbling in spiritual practice, in taking care of my body, in just about everything, really.

I know I can’t keep going the way things are.  I have to break out of the cocoon I’ve formed sometime in the near future.  While it gives the illusion of safety and security, it’s getting too tight and constricting.

At the same time, I’ve been arguing with myself about the timing of breaking out of the cocoon, and where to go and what to do once I’m out of it.  The more reactionary side of myself says, “I’m not putting up with this past December 31st!  Next year is going to start off brand new!”  Meanwhile, the fearful side of myself quakes and tries to persuade me that maybe, if I cultivated the right attitude, I really could be happy with the way things are, infinitely; I might have to give up some dreams, but the grass really couldn’t be all that greener on the other side, could it?

The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle.  The truth is, I’ve been trying to rush my way through this process.  I’ve been trying to rush moving on, and that is why the way seems so unclear to me and why the thoughts of leaving and the thoughts of staying both wake me up at night now and then, or give me nightmares, and why they take of so much space in my head.    That’s why I’m so indecisive, so unsure, so paralyzed by fear.   I realized, after pondering that quote for a day or so–I can’t describe the mental leap, so don’t ask–that I’ve got to make peace with this place and its people, with my family just the way they are, with the life I’ve led and am leading here, before I can move on.  If I don’t make peace with those things, then I’ll just carry them with me and project them onto other people, other places, and other situations.  That isn’t going to be a process I’m finished with by December 31st.

Figuring that out, after much stumbling in recent weeks, opened me to breathing more deeply, when i didn’t even realize I’d been constricting my breath.   Clear-headed again, I set a date that felt right.  I’ll move on and chase the dream that’s been haunting me since last fall in mid-to-late April next year, with a little more money in the bank, and hopefully, a little more wisdom, a little more peace, and a little more experience under my belt.

I forgot about this part of the Answer I got from my Higher Self during my solitary retreat at the end of August:

“You already know, deep down, what you’re here to do, and one day soon that’s going to become very apparent, so apparent that even you can’t mistake it.  When the time comes, you will know where to go next and what to do next.  Don’t worry, don’t complain, and trust the process.  Plus, if you can learn to live fully and happily where you are, then you will know that you can live fully and happily anywhere.”

Divine timing, I must remember, is often much different than my preferred human timing.  So, when I try to go against it, to rush the Divine timing, I stumble, and everytime I stumble, I’m sent back to that, and I learn and I remember.

I should remember that everytime I don’t do so well at something, or outright fail, it’s part of a larger learning curve…That I can do better next time, or learn something about myself in the process if I remember to see past the proverbial trees and into the forest.

Big changes happen because of a series of smaller ones.  That’s the natural way of things.  The Grand Canyon was carved by the gradual striping away of rock by a river!  Valleys were carved by the microscopic, slow, laborious movements of glaciers.   Most, if not all, of Hawaii was built by the slow flow of lava building up over time.

Building myself a new life isn’t going to happen overnight, and its not going to happen without stumbling.  Even Rome couldn’t build its capital city in a day.

Let this stand as my reminder.

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