One can experience a loss of worldliness when they come into contact with the bliss and wisdom of the energetic realm. This dimension provides a stark contrast to the suffering and struggle so characteristic of the physical world. Tap into your energy body, and you will find a self, different from the mind, that is unconditionally loving. You will find your intuition, and discover your transcendental nature. Using these resources to navigate a world filled with conflict, danger, and decay is the life work of a yogi.
There seems to be a prototypical culture surrounding people who identify with this spiritual quest. We have our garb: malah beads and Lululemon pants. We have our own rituals: singing kirtan and smearing spaces with sage. We have our own language. We have downloads. We manifest. Due to the human tendency to disapprove of differences, the rest of the world seems to write us off quite quickly because of these external displays. We’re hippie slackers who don’t contribute. We’re anarchists, bourgeoisie bohemians. In return, it’s easy to write off society as corrupt and backwards; the modern condition, absurd. The judgments flow both ways.
Pursuing enlightenment is a searing path, only for those courageous enough to point the finger inward and walk through life a different way. Yes, the spiritual path forces you to face your dark matter, sensitivity, and wounds. Training your mind to meditate can take years of practice. The mind must be relaxed, yet focused with intensity of a flame. The most challenging part of my spiritual journey, however, came after I found union and had to reintegrate into a world polarized by the flattened silence of secularism and the outrageous antics of violent fundamentalists.
So I traveled to the Omega Institute to live in a community where I could surround myself with similar people. At Omega, managers asked their staff members to Om with linked hands and have sangha to talk about our feelings before work shifts. It was so different than the do-this-as-I-say attitude I grew up with. I lived in a colony of yogis – people with similar diets, tastes in music, and frameworks for interpreting reality. There is no better feeling than to have my beliefs and lifestyle choices be reflected as acceptable by the people around me. Yet, I felt the call to go back into the world, where the people are different and life is more challenging. My true purpose was out there.
As Adlai Stevenson says, “The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.” This is our premium for democracy. This is the cause for the cacophony we experience living in America. Seven years after studying Transcendental Meditation and embarking on the yogini path, I’ve learned the best way to interact with others is not to scream, “Come here! Come with me! I will show you a whole new world.” I do not recite passages from the Bhagavad Gita when I see someone having a bad day. I do not tell people dealing with psychological blocks to read about their chakras. I’ve observed this makes most people shut down – or label me as crazy for the connection I feel to an aspect of life that has not been accepted by mainstream science, for the salvation I’ve found in energetic realms that most cannot see.
The feeling of union I experience in my everyday life, existing in linear time, comes and goes like a breeze flowing through an open window. Yet when I return to my lotus posture, I know in my core that as much as we are separate physically, our lives unfolding based on the cause and effects of chance and possibility, that all living things are intertwined, dependent on one another…and this fact demands a need for humans to live with some sort of spiritual purpose. We are always fulfilling a destiny, whether we allow ourselves to rise to our full potential or fall short of it, as we interact with this vast and complex universe that is perfect, just as it is, suffering and all, for no other reason than because it is able to exist.
I live in a country where I am blessed with the freedom to worship the divine, the mysterious one, the great intangible, in whatever which way I choose. I have developed my own path and practice that I call yogic, but I have shed the consumer crap and social identity I used to sport to associate myself with this tribe of thought. We are all one – Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Yogi. Yet because the people of this world are unable to cultivate the tolerance needed to peacefully coexist, I try to increase harmony while living my personal insights by being kind, resilient in my life’s work, and staying mostly silent about the philosophy behind my faith. The awakening I offer others must come from the presence of my being and energy. I’ve realized if I feel the need to proselytize, or defend my beliefs, then maybe I don’t fully believe. This is how I’ve learned to walk as effectively and humbly as possible, living as one in world filled with people who act and think in ways I cannot control. My conviction only grows stronger in the process.