When I went from India to Colorado in a matter of days I had some adjusting to do. The jetlag was one thing, but I also went from a 7-day silent retreat to my 6 nieces and nephews, my 4 sisters, 3 brother-in-laws and my folks, from steady Mantra repetition and chanting hours daily to an epic present opening marathon, from warm, humid, t-shirt weather to a dry, zero degree, can’t-be-bundled-enough winter. But even more than these, the transition I was concerned about was that I had to come back out from living solely in my inner world to living again in the outer world. In India I had pulled so deeply within myself that I was basically in a constant state of meditation- resting in my own breath, heart and silence, and I then traveled across the world into the jaws of my family constellation, the no frills truth of my outer reality.
Too my surprise, without making a concerted effort, I soon noticed that I was able to stay rooted in my own witness state, to hold on to the inner space I had come to relish, as I gave my attention, my time and my love to those around me. I experienced an internal space that enveloped every situation in unconditional love and understanding. Not that I didn’t still hope and work to better my relationships, noting the places I could drastically improve, but being able to do this while also feeling steady within myself meant that I was learning how to yoke, to unite, to simultaneously know both the inner and outer worlds. The result of having that much ground to stand on largely released the worry or feeling of dread that I was used to whenever I was confronted with what still needed to be done in my immediate world.
In the Tantric understanding, Yoga or unity awareness, is expanding ones awareness to perceive the intricate weave that connects and underlies the inner and outer worlds. We all have these moments from time to time, as it is a natural occurrence, whether the experience is subtle or life changing, whether we recognize why we’re feeling at peace and unhindered or not. The practice of Yoga, then, is to maintain this state without interruption by establishing oneself in the flow of unity awareness. This is not easy, in fact it can take a lifetime of practice, as maintaining awareness of both the internal and external is usually only talked about theoretically- where in real life it seems the best one can do is see how consciously they can chose which to focus on at the right time.
Looking back on those few easeful days, what I’ve realized is that the sequence of events was my greatest ally. Admittedly this yogic union is both something I am constantly contemplating and teaching about– but what made the week simultaneously light and productive was not all of my studies and articulations but that I had applied the practices sequentially by first turning deeply inward.
Every human has an inner longing to come to know the full, whole picture of what is. The problem is that even with this longing we tend to look for truth and comfort solely in the realities of the outer world- reason, fulfilling relationships, accumulating knowledge and procuring positive feedback. And if that’s all we have to rely on to create our picture, we will at frequent intervals feel we’ve been let down when the outside world comes up short, when it doesn’t tie everything up with a pretty bow. The full, whole picture must include an close, accessible connection to our inner vision, as this inner vision is that which unifies the known and the unknown, which holds the often harsh outer realities in the space of unconditional love.
Hence the sequence– before you set out on your way to impact, accomplish and thrive, take the time to touch down into your internal space where nothing more is needed than being with your breath, your vitals, your deep mystery. When we traverse the inner landscape and come to know the vast internal space that trusts, accepts and forgives, that is at peace with exactly what is, it inevitably leads one to really experience the full picture- the ‘purple mountains majesty’ that is the outer world when known from the inner vantage point.