Part of the journey in my book Minerva’s Owls is an unplanned odyssey, a yogic journey through consciousness. I went to yoga one day on a whim, with no idea how it would change my life for the better. Yoga opened the connection I needed to weave hundreds of disparate strands into one solid rope, linking consciousness to both the earth below and cosmos above. This excerpt from Minerva’s Owls offers a taste of that illumination as it shares the tools I found upon the way.
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What happened when I went to yoga.
We are all products of modern society, conditioned to perceive through the five senses we are taught at grade school. We are Enlightened, so we are taught not to believe in what we can’t see. We are taught to exist entirely in the concrete, material world where our perceptions are limited to the five senses. None of this explained how I found myself in a yoga class floating above my body in an ecstatic warm bath of translucently pale light. I had never so fully experienced any moment. I was entirely within the now. I was aware of my body, yet I was outside of it. When my yoga teacher asked us to change pose from the squat we were inhabiting, my consciousness floated back to my anchoring body. At the time I had no reference for the experience. It is hard for a product of modern Western society to explain such an event. But I knew intuitively that we are not alone. Either our own subconscious can be activated in a new way or we can channel higher source. Maybe we can glimpse the universal consciousness. Maybe a little bit of each. I knew I had connected to something. I knew that everything was fine on a much larger scale than I had imagined, that we are of this source light, and when we return to it there is no need to fear. It was my first introduction to my higher self, my first glimpse of the Divine wholeness within, and I realized that our job here and now is simply to realize our connection to our source and to each other. Our job is to remember the higher self. We need only remember.
And activated Muladhara, the Root Chakra
The seven chakras, or energy centers, line our spines from our sacrum, or seat, right up to the crown of our heads. The Muladhara chakra is the root, forming the perineum, where, in beautiful imagery, the three and half times coiled snake of wisdom, the kundalini, resides. The Muladhara is the lowest chakra and as such is dense with the secretions of living, connecting us to the earth with earthly associations. Its color is red, recalling the sometimes red of the soil and the red of the blood of birth of that flows through our veins, salty as the ocean. Muladhara is symbolized by a four pettled lotus, and deep in our species past we must have inhabited the Muladhara fully, as we needed both its earthly, bodily connection, and its life preserving fight or flight instinct as well as its crucial reproductive aspect to survive. The Muladhara chakra corresponds to our earliest evolutionary phase, when we were connected to the earth. We still need it today, as a grounder to return us to our bed rock, the earth. This is where our instinct resides and whence our potential comes. As the first chakra, Muladhara is where we start as we awaken each chakra through the practice of yoga, it is where we ground ourselves. Muladhara begins our species evolution and our yoga evolution. We start with the earth we are of, we start with Muladhara. It is where the kundalini is said to first stir and then to raise as we are raising our own awareness. As the kundalini makes its way through the chakras to the crown, we get closer to source. Eventually we find the thing behind the pose, the source energy invoked by the poses.
I almost didn’t discover yoga. I went one day on a whim, having been told many times by different people “you should go to yoga”. I had no real idea of what I would find there. There were only two of us in my first class. I was inflexible and carrying extra weight and generally perplexed by somehow not feeling right. I had never met the instructor before, but as I attempted to move into at least a semblance of a pose, she attempted to assist me. She asked if I’d suffered a trauma. I realized I had, childbirth. She told me our culture doesn’t recognize the enormity and stress of giving birth and its aftermath, and that I was fully capable of doing yoga, I simply wasn’t letting myself. Now I know that I had severed from source. I was holding myself back physically from healing. This insight energized the root chakra, sending me back to the beginning of my disconnection, allowing me to reestablish my grounding. I could suddenly identify the problem. I realized I had reacted to the pain of childbirth by separating myself from my body. I was not inhabiting my skin in any comfortable way. Body and soul were out of balance. This insight must have been source inspired, but I didn’t understand that at the time. What I did understand, on a deep level, was that I had come to the right place and found the right teacher, and I began to regrow my roots to regain my grounding.
And landed in Mountain Pose
A yoga practice is comprised of a series of poses designed to stretch muscles while relaxing the body and the mind, sometimes to the point that the mind can then stretch itself. Each pose evokes something significant. To ground yourself, assume mountain pose. Stand with your feet at hip width. Spread your toes and feel your feet interact with the ground. Stand tall and straight and grow from your waist. Breathe. Establish a solid foothold. You are connected to the earth as a strong mountain is connected to the earth. Breathe and receive the energy from the earth.