Friday, October 14, 2016

Acorns and Enlightenment

(We live in) a self-organizing and self-correcting universe: the embryo becomes a baby, the bud becomes a blossom, the acorn becomes an oak tree. Clearly, there is some invisible force that is moving every aspect of reality to its next best expression.

We have a huge oak tree right next to our property that has been dropping acorns all over our driveway for weeks now.  I am always grateful to this tree during October as the days get darker and my mood usually follows, because each little acorn is the reminder of the potential of every small being in creation. (I have kept a bowl of them on my altar for years for this very reason). Acorns, like all seeds, hold the potential of the entire tree inside themselves. It’s from the tiniest of sources that some of the biggest beings on earth spring from, and whenever I feel small I meditate on my acorn collection as a way of connecting to what is contained inside these little tidbits and myself. 

In our yoga practice, one way we move towards our fullest potential is through cultivating enlightenment.  I used to think “enlightenment” was some aha moment, like in cartoons when a light bulb pops up over someone’s head, and that when it “happened” to me I would suddenly and miraculously be free from the challenges and pitfalls of modern life.  I actually think it does happen that way for some people, albeit few. For most of us though, the spiritual path towards "enlightenment” is a slow steady progression of little awakenings and a shift in how we see the world and our own experience.  Danny Arguetty in his book the 6 Qualities of Consciousness says “Enlightenment is a never ending process that simply continues to illuminate more and more.” It is a daily practice of waking up and choosing to see a little more light in the world than you did the day before. It takes a wide angle lens to see this perspective or else the path of enlightenment can be discouraging.  We have to look back past yesterday to 2, 3, maybe 10 years back to see what shifts have happened and see the progress we've made and how far we've come. 

In the acorn/oak analogy, enlightenment is bringing the dormant, potent qualities of the entire oak contained within the seed to fruition which takes a certain cultivation - the right soil, water, sunlight, fertilization.  In our own lives, we bring our own potential to realization through not only our yoga or meditation practice, but meaningful work that fulfills us, through the people we choose to surround ourselves with who help us nurture our own unique and powerful qualities, through study and contemplation and soul cultivation.  As Tantrikas we are not looking to transcend life, but to enlighten the life we already have, to bring more awareness, love, joy, and ease to the here and now. We become “enlightened” when we realize that although our experience on the physical plane is most often the acorn, we are really the oak.

Tantra teaches us that we are all unlimited divinity which has chosen to take the form of a limited body, and it is paradoxically only through that form that we are able to reveal the infinite possibilities of who we really are. That is the “invisible force” Ms. Williamson is referring to; it is woven into the fabric of our being, the coding of our DNA and it is our life's spiritual work to uncover it. It is the force contained in the oak and in the acorn, it is in you and me, moving us towards our next best expression. Whether it lies dormant because it wasn’t offered the right conditions to flourish is entirely up to you.

It is easy to come to the mat and feel full, divine, spectacular. But it’s when we leave the room that we really begin our practice, and that we take those sparks of connection we touch on on our mat or meditation cushion and put them into practice.  With that in mind, be aware this week of when you feel small, insignificant, unimportant.  Let each acorn you see – and you should see a lot this time of year – be the reminder of what is contained inside you.    

Once again, the great Marianne Williamson:
From a mind filled with infinite love comes the power to create infinite possibilities. We have the power to think in ways that reflect and attract all the love in the world. Such thinking is called enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a process we work toward, but a choice available to us in any instant.

For the Anusara Junkies:
Open to Grace: With the fullness of your breath, feel fullness of your own potential.
Feel the inner body bright with limitless divinity.
Fill up with the limitless potential within the limitation of your skin.

Muscular Energy: Firm your muscles like the shell of the acorn containing potential within.
(From the earth to the FP) Like tree roots drink water, draw energy up.

Side Body Long: Let your body lengthen from hip to armpit and feel your unlimited potential grow inside you.
Lengthen the side body and feel the oak inside your acorn begin to flourish.

Inner Spiral: Widen your sitbones let your acorn blossom open.
Broaden inner thighs back and apart and open to new possibilities lying in the seed of your being.

Outer Spiral: Root your tailbone down into the fertile soil of your soul’s potential.

Organic Energy: Blossom like the mighty oak.
Bring forth the light of your own potential through the form of the pose.
“Enlighten” your pose with the knowledge of your own oak nature.