yoga; embodying the sacred.

What do you do when you experience the sacred? When your heart trembles? When your inner fire is so bright it can barely be contained… When your cup of joy is filled to the brim?

I had the joy, the pleasure, of spending the past 3 days with Shiva Rea, Shiva Kumar, and a myriad of other luminous beings. Even now, sitting here with the intention of sharing the experience, it’s hard to bring forth the words that will fully express the joy of what I feel.

I want to keep this feeling. Carry it with me and experience it off the mat. But how?

This morning I wake, my first morning of not having to jet off to Denver in 3 days. Wrapped in the arms of my beloved, I am in bliss. We arise, I make my daughter breakfast, pack her lunch for the day, and send her off with a kiss as my husband waits to drive her to school. I notice our dog going along for the ride, as he often does, so I attempt to retrieve a bag out of the back that I don’t wish to be trampled on and covered with dog hair. However, they are already running late, my husband hands me the wrong bag, there is confusion that I realize I am causing, so I try to just send them on their way and not worry about the coat in the backseat. I walk away feeling slightly frustrated, and then guilty for putting an edge to the morning.

This is not what I wish to be feeling my first morning home with my family. So I leave the wrong bag at the door, enter the house, and immediately sit… and breathe.

The short moment of frustration is gone. The guilt has passed. I sit and I breathe and I relax. The dog is happy he gets to go for a ride. My husband comes home and makes me laugh and the morning strife was all in my head. All is well.

The saying of ‘choose your battles’ is so very true.

So back to the point, if there was a point. Embodying the sacred and carrying it with you. The previous passage only an example of what can distract you from your path, and what you learn from it.

I am able to find the sacred in most of my daily journeys. Preparing food for my family, playing with my daughter, making love to my husband… but it’s the Embodiment of the Sacred that I am after. With every breath, every step, every word, every action. I’m not talking about being a saint. Just practicing awareness, and bearing witness.

As I am able to fully grasp the essence of the past days, as it slowly makes the transition from the pathways of my heart to my (cyber) pen, I will hope to get it here, in some comprehensible form, to you.

In the meantime, I will share a piece that has stayed at the surface, and still radiates throughout.

Photo by Amy Meyer

Photo by Amy Meyer

Studying yoga with Shiva Rea is a yogic adventure unlike any other. After the first session on that first day, I called my husband to share my joy, and send my love. As we talked, I tried to convey to him the feeling of my morning. What I came up with is this: Practicing with Shiva, every asana, every breath, every single movement I made, no matter how simple, became a prayer.

Now I must mention, I do not generally pray. I do believe strongly in the power of prayer, but I am not one to practice it. Unless, and I say this without shame, I am in need of something, like protection for my family while I am away, or I am giving thanks for a good meal or good health. But these things are usually just in passing silently to myself, or at times, aloud. I do not ever recall really feeling prayer though. So as I spoke to my husband, I realized that at this moment, I did. I felt it.

I moved and I prayed with my movement. It wasn’t an effort. It was rather divine in its simplicity. Embracing that realization for myself was very powerful. If I could find this prayer on my mat, I could surely step off with it as well.

The next morning, before beginning a very vigorous and intense physical practice, Shiva had us pair with a partner. She wanted us to pray together. How appropriate, that I should find my prayer the previous morning and now to find myself in another lesson, at Shiva’s request.

I found my partner and observed everyone else pairing together. We faced each other, knees touching. Some simply laid their hands on their knees, palms up. Some placed their hands together in a prayer position at their heart. I took my partner’s hands and we placed our palms together as if we were a mirror image. She smiled at me, communicating silently that we had found our perfect position. We closed our eyes and were silent.

I tried at first to pray in what I thought was typical prayer form. You know, compassion for all living things, etc., etc. But that just wasn’t working for me. Of course I wish compassion for all living things, etc., etc., but this moment had to be organic and effortless. I had to stop trying to force it and just let it happen. So I sat there in silent meditation with my friend, our hands pressing, and just focused on my breath. And then the words came to me. “My body is a prayer. Everything I do is sacred.” Yes! That was it. Everything about those words felt perfect to me. So I repeated it, over and over again. I made it my mantra. And it became my prayer.

I passed it to my friend through the silence, through our touching skin, and I embraced her in my words. “Our bodies are our prayers. Everything we do is sacred.”

When we were called back to the present, my friend and I opened our eyes, squeezed our hands together, and hugged. No words were exchanged. Only love. And the entire room was vibrating with it.

So I share this with you as an invitation to make this your mantra.

When you wake up in the morning, before you open your eyes, stretch out your limbs, breathe in your god/goddess breath, remember and embrace your divinity, and say these words.
My body is my prayer. Everything I do is sacred.

Mean it fully and repeat it often.

Let your love light shine!
-B

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