I was trying to get this out before I left, but as they seem to do, things in life happen (or don't) when they're supposed.
First, thank you to all that have contributed financially to this trip - without your support I wouldn't be here. So far I have raised $6,200 from your generosity, and with finding a sub-let for my apartment, that brings me to exactly $10,000 raised to help me cover expenses over these 2 months. (Yes, you are correct. The rent in NYC is still too damn high). So, thank you! I know some people still want to contribute, and you are of course more than welcome to do so. If you would like to make a gift and/or purchase class packages, you can do so at anytime here.
Second, many people have asked me why I am doing this trip and what I hope to get from it. I wrote about it below. 50% of the time I think what I wrote is true, 50% of the time I realize that it's all in my head and all I have to do is be present and live in this moment. 100% of the time I know am so fortunate to have this experience and one day in it feels tremendous. I had my first practice this morning, more on that later...
The silent voices of “no, I am not that”, "no, I don't want that", and "I don't care" have had their intended affect throughout my life. Perhaps they have for you as well. They are unconscious protectors of Self - shame masquerading as humility, guilt displayed as temperance, vulnerability shielded by apathy. And so I lived for others, executing on their visions, missions, and ideas. I was capable enough to find success in many endeavors that I pursued, but I was also fragile enough to quit many paths when I encountered small doses of hardship. And because we only learn certain life lessons through direct experience, I woke up at 34 years old and realized I lacked, to a certain degree, some of what we humans require for fulfillment: Resiliency, self-confidence, intentions and belief.
Perhaps this awakening was normal - as we age we learn from our past, we care less what others think of us, and we focus on building lives we want to lead. Or perhaps the raison d'etre of yoga - the attainment of self-knowledge- looked me in the eyes, yelled "stop looking at me swan!" (funny if you're younger than 40), and revealed itself as the short, yet complex, answer to why I came to Mysore.
I want to know things about myself and the desire of wanting to know. I want to believe in the unprovable, yet knowable - an understanding of truth found within. I want to believe in things such that the current of shame can't compress them back into apathy. I want to have strong opinions on 1% of life, fundamental truths of existence, and weak opinions on the remaining 99% - things like the clothes we wear, the current value of copper, the interior color of our Jeep Wranglers, the job titles on our business cards. I want to know that these things are not unimportant, but that overly strong opinions of them are.
I want to be true to myself, so others can do the same. I want to live life without fear - not with certainty, but without fear of uncertainty. In the face of disease, poverty, violence, racism, war, income inequality and oppression, I want to replace inertia with experience. Numbness with sensation. Anxiety with equanimity.
I want to continue to ward off the Self-protective thoughts that prevent me from expressing myself - "I don’t have anything to say, I’m a privileged white man who doesn’t understand, I don’t really want to create this, someone else knows better than me." I want to remind myself that I'm 1 of nearly 8 billion humans on this planet - and to be scared to share my thoughts would be to be scared of something as small as 1/8 billionth.
I want to be honest with myself. To understand if I'm being brave in carving my own path, or have merely quit a previous path again for fear of new responsibilities and new pressures. I would like to know if the past has meant anything, if previous experiences have stealthily ushered me to this very day or if what has come before is as meaningless as the pictures of lung cancer on a box of cigarettes.
I want to understand if a universal force has convinced me of a path, or if I have merely convinced myself of a non-existent force. I want to explore the ancient teachings of the world - philosophies and first hand accounts of human experience thousands of years old. I want to find truth in the practice of yoga - whether that truth is the fundamental teaching of the existence of the human soul, or whether the truth is a inconvenient gullibility within myself. I want to ask those silly questions: Who am I? What is going on? How do I want to live?
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of art, knowledge, music, wisdom, and learning. She is often depicted with 4 hands holding symbols of these endeavors - a book representing the eternal truth from the Vedas; a mala (rosary) symbolizing the power of meditation and spirituality; a pot of water representing the ability to discriminate between clean and unclean, right and wrong; and a veena, a musical instrument representing the creative arts. And of course, she rides a swan, a symbol of wisdom and linkage to the spiritual world. My teacher for the next 2 months is Saraswati Jois. I want to know if there's some weird destiny stuff with this Swan and his teacher Saraswati, or if we humans are just really good at making ourselves believe what we want to. I guess some truths are really just beliefs anyway.
I want to love my family and friends more - showing up with more joy and emotion, less depression, and more connection. I want to believe in love, one that is undeniable. To challenge the notion that love and union are merely practical matters of existence rather than gems unearthed by belief and vulnerability. I want to know if the soundless message “I’m going to marry her" was whispered by Mrs. Verse, first name Uni. Or if the residue of too many romantic comedies had simply pierced the mind of a fantastical romantic.
I want to pursue desire. Not merely for selfish reasons, but because perhaps true fulfillment is reached upon fulfilling the desires of the Self.
And as I gazed out the window of seat W 60 on the 16558 Rajrayani Express train from Bangalore to Mysore - with a yoga mala wrapped around my left wrist, So’ham Hamsah and a swan tattooed on my right forearm, and a Brooklyn Circus cap perched atop my dirty blonde hair - I must admit that for a few moments it felt like the things that are meant to be in our lives will occur if we’re delusional enough to listen to the whispers of our souls. As for the rest of the time? I was mainly just thinking about how big the number 8 billion is and the cheesy romantic comedy set for production in 2020, "Eat Pray Love, but with a Dude."
Healthy Living from Mysore. Life is now, always.