To Not Know
“Listen: this world is the lunatic’s fear,
Don’t always agree it’s real,
Even with my feet upon it
And the postman knowing my door
My address is somewhere else.”
The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know.
This week, as I started to realize this, I got freaked out. I had so many unresolved questions in my heart, competing desires with my time. Deep and perverted doubts tried to sabotage me every time I tried to make a decision.
They say we teach what we need to learn. I teach my yoga clients to breathe deeply, carve time and space for their mind and mental health, yet it is this very thing that I have been neglecting in myself.
And this week, I paid quite the price for it.
Feelings of sadness, fatigue, overwhelm and most of all - not trusting myself - engulfed me.
I wasn’t practicing what I preached.
That’s one hell of a contradiction, right?
I was humbled. I realized that I wasn’t using the same principles I was teaching. At first, I thought that I was a hypocrite, a fraud. But, after some time, prayer and a good talk with a friend, I realize that I am not a fraud.
I am human.
I am imperfect.
I am learning.
I called my dear fiend Luis and shared my confusion with him. I told him of my conflicting desires, the lack of time for my artistic projects, and my frustration at not being able to trust myself.
He said, “Girl, do you think you’re special? C’MON. So, you’ve got an issue. We ALL got an issue. You have yours, I have mine. Everybody’s got SOMETHIN.’ Are you doing the work? Are you getting up every day and meditating? Are you creating time for yourself? Are you carving out time for REST? Are you giving just even two minutes of silence to the ONE who created you?
I said, “I don’t always have the time.”
To which Luis said, “Don’t EVER tell me you don’t have the time. Not to me. That insults people who are dying, that insults people who are living under oppression who can’t have freedom. You have the time. You’re just not honoring it.”
And then he said,
“Rachel, everyone is confused. Everyone is trying to act like they know what’s going on, but Rachel, nobody knows. Everybody is confused.”
In the “Yoga Sutras”, Patanjali tells us the difference between prakriti and parusha.
Prakriti is nature. It is constantly changing. Just like our thoughts, feels and emotions do. We as humans try to solidfy these passing phenomena as “real” and to insist they are “us.” But Patanjali reminds us that these are merely aspects of ourselves, but they are not our Self.
Instead, he defines that what is real, as Parusha.
He uses the example of a lake: when you throw a pebble into a lake, and see the ripples on the surface of the lake, that is prakriti – passing, just like our emotions and our thoughts. But, when the rocks settle to the bottom of the lake, and the stillness is there, that is Parusha. It is the stillness that is there all along, like the blue sky underneath the sky.
It’s important, I think, to remember that prakriti is not any less valuable than parusha. We need one to know the other. We need the passing phenomenon and emotions, to seek that which is real.
When we meditate, read a spiritual scripture, pray, get quiet, we are finding that still lake inside of us.
I was in Yellowstone last week. I was struck by some purple flowers, so beautiful and fragile, existing with the tough brush.
We are all like that. Equal parts strong and fragile. Tender and tough.
There’s room for it all.