My kind of enlightenment

I graduate from yoga teacher training this weekend.

Eight months. Two hundred hours.

Yeah, how did that happen?

I feel like I just moved to Savannah. Yet, somehow in my time here I have completed a yoga teacher training course, found employment at two different places and counting (doing my dream job), fallen in love with the city of Savannah, met tons of new people and friends, and I’m the proud mother of two (cute as hell) six week old kittens.

Hell. Yeah.

It’s a very bittersweet feeling to be done with training. On one hand, I am really going to miss learning, being with my friends, laughing, yoga-ing, and spending the weekends with some of the best girls I know. But on the other hand, I’m ready to practice yoga on my own terms, the way I love to practice it, read the books about yoga that I want to read, whenever I feel like reading them, and it will also be nice to, ya know, have a little bit of free time.

My ego will love being out of teacher training. Talk about an ego buster.

I have heard the word enlightenment more times in the past eight months than ever before. Sometimes it will be serious: enlightenment can only occur if you practice yoga every day, and sometimes it will be a joke: Oh so now you’re all enlightened and shit because you practice yoga every day? Sometimes I hear it in a yoga class, or I’ll read it in a book, or a friend will say it during a conversation. Nonetheless, I hear the word a lot.

This is definitely one part of teacher training that I won’t miss.

Many people believe that enlightenment is yoga’s ultimate goal. I’ve had someone ask me, half joking, if enlightenment comes with our teacher training certificate. To be honest, this is something that I’ve never really given a shit about. I don’t know if I ever will.

The whole idea of working really hard to be a good person your entire life in hopes of one day being enlightened, or beamed up to heaven, or whatever, seems like a really shitty way to live. If it works for you, that’s cool, but it definitely doesn’t work for me.

I don’t want my actions to stem from the hope for something in the future. Especially something so far in the future that I might not even get there in this lifetime. How is that fun at all?

Teacher training has taught me that I disagree with this concept very much. What I have learned is that “enlightenment” (if you even want to call it that) is something available to us, as humans, right here in our living rooms, while making lunch or reading a book or walking the dog. No yoga required. No religion required. No devoting your life to God required.

Enlightenment can happen in this earthly plane. I really believe it can.

And I don’t think it happens and then you stay enlightened forever. I think that it comes and goes, and it can happen at any time.

For me, it was important that I stop thinking of enlightenment as something grandiose. When it happens there isn’t any magic pixie dust sprinkled all around you, or a parade in your honor, or a billboard with your name in lights, or confetti, or a firework display. It’s more quiet than that. Maybe it’s happened to you and you don’t even know it.

I think that enlightenment is that feeling that you get when you’re with your best friends and you all laugh at something really stupid, and you can’t stop because you keep looking up and seeing everyone else laughing, and then you forget why you were laughing in the first place, and then you remember but the thing that made you laugh is so stupid that it makes you laugh even more, and then someone snorts or shoots milk out of their nose and it gets funnier, and funnier, then your cheeks start to hurt, a few of your friends are rolling on the floor laughing, and you just can’t stop…this goes on and on for fifteen minutes. Your abs haven’t gotten this kind of work out in years.

You all know that feeling. You know it well. But start to think about how you feel in the few moments after the giggle fest. All of the sudden, everyone gets quiet again. You all open your eyes, let out a few sighs, look around at each other, at this world, and see it differently. All the bad shit has fallen away.

That, my friends, is my kind of enlightenment.

It’s always accessible: via laughing, kissing, eating mangoes, singing in the shower, smiling at a stranger, or doing the electric slide.

And if all else fails, adopt really cute kittens.

I don’t remember who said it, but some wise man/woman once said something like, the easiest way to be a spiritual person is to lift your spirits.

Yes. Yes exactly. In my opinion, the moments when you are closest to the big man (woman) upstairs, the moments when you are enlightened, or saved, or whatever you wanna call it, are the moments when your spirits are high.

The Notorious G.O.D. wants you to be happy. And he/she/it absolutely loves when you’re having fun and doing your thang. Whatever that may be.

Maybe it will hit you out of the blue. Maybe it’s the time when you have just parked your car and right as you step out it starts to down pour, but in this particular moment you just laugh about it and show up a little wet to wherever you were going. You were having a bad hair day anyways.

Maybe it’s the day when you eat ice cream for dinner, or find five dollars in some old jeans, or get a hand written letter in the mail, or swim in the ocean for an entire afternoon, or sleep under the stars, or forgive someone. This is all enlightenment. It all counts.

I don’t know what happens after this life so I want to be “enlightened” (aka: loving it all!) for as many moments as possible while I’m here. Following some guidelines or rules about how to go about doing this may be helpful and interesting to learn about, but by no means will I ever let these rules rule what I do. This is what feels right to me.

And above all…I have learned that these moments of enlightenment are fleeting. That’s what I like about them. If they were permanent, I wouldn’t have to search. Searching is what I like best about being a yogi. Every moment is an adventure and if it were to come to an end, I would be bored. Same goes for climbing…the reason why I love it is because there is always something harder, or more beautiful, or different to climb.

The search never ends.

Two hundred hours really isn’t that big of a number. Just another step on this adventure, and it’s by no means the end.

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