The sun’s coming up and I’m on my way in to the city to teach. There’s an air of quiet that wishes only to be experienced. And as much as I grumble about what my early start time does to the rest of my schedule, I love this part, being in the quiet that is so rarely felt here in NYC.
But what I’ve noticed over the years is that this quiet has less to do with NYC and more to do with the time of day. Once the sun is in full force, the day is burdened with activity, and it becomes all too easy to disconnect from experience.
Something about dawn and dusk helps me to feel aware of my core being, a part of me that doesn’t identify with yoga teacher or wife or New York City resident, but simply feels: joy, sadness, empathy, hurt, relief, fear, pride, bliss.
This seems kind of ridiculous on paper. How is the undifferentiated experience of joy different from “Esther the yoga teacher” feeling joy?
Sutra 4.4: All minds that are in existence are results only of the process of being. Translation by Kofi Busia
Sutra 4.4: The individualized consciousnesses [proceed] from the primary I-am-ness. Translation by Georg Feuerstein.
Written in our DNA is the means to creating a sense of self. And I’m pretty sure this coding is in all living things. I happen to think it’s just chemical and not spiritual, but however it got there, we have a sense of self, we build identity in order to live in the world relating to others.
Apart from this identity that helps us survive, we are also just the various atoms and electrical impulses that make us up. And though I can of course only speculate, I imagine that “experiencing joy” as opposed to “Esther feeling joy” has something to do with being aware of the atoms doing their thing –“my” atoms as no different from the atoms around me– without creating a story for those processes.
Don’t get me wrong –we need the stories. We need to look at how we work and who we are through our identities as much as through a microscope. But there is a special kind of bliss in unadulterated experience.
That’s what I think yoga is trying to uncover for each of us –reliably and daily– through samadhi and samyama.
But don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.