Lately, part of being present in the moment has been to stay away from the computer and dip my skin in the cool clear water, feed the chickens and watch their hilarious running for the food, and of course, play with little Laszlo. Also, I was going to write a post every day but after my last disjointed rambling, I’m opting for the quality over quantity approach.
There are so many humbling experiences on the path toward yoga. A powerful one happens for me this afternoon. It is a sunny day after lunch and karma yoga (for me – organizing the vast library). We spread out our mats in the airy bright yoga tent for our afternoon session. Dee, one of our instructors, and a few neighbors (one who stashed away three barking purses full of chihuahuas) are present because it is a special class.
Karmamurti, aged 86, is teaching. Karmamurti has a varied past – an avid Episcopal church goer, chiropractor, Shakespearean actor, and founder of several yoga ashrams throughout Australasia, he now spends much of his time watching TV and baking bread.
I bring a chair out to the tent in case he needs it, but Atma laughs. “He won’t be needing that,” she says. I wasn’t so sure; he hasn’t taught a class in years. I hide the chair away in the corner, to bring out if needed.
He arrives, and takes a seat. Of course he sits in lotus, which I can’t even begin at this point. He takes a deep breath and begins a series of brief instructions that basically open our lungs to expand the breath, and bend the spine in all six possible directions. He says very little, although he does mention we shouldn’t be shy about neck rolls – that if our heads fall off, he’ll help.
We do a series of incredibly simple postures, but our whole bodies tingle from the oxygen flush. After about thirty minutes, we sit in meditation. We breath in light while thinking the word “Aum”. We exhale, thinking the word “Love.”
We picture people – people we love, people who need help, the whole world. And send them light and love. Which is, as Shanti says, the most aerie-faerie expression, but in this context, it is heartbreakingly sincere because of his simple presence.
He reads us the Prayer of Saint Francis as we sit still with the sound of waves breaking in the distance.
- Where there is hatred, let there be love.
- Where there is injury, pardon and love.
- Where there is doubt, faith and love.
- Where there is despair, hope and love.
- Where there is darkness, light and love.
- Where there is sadness, joy and love.
- With that, he thanks us and says he is ready for dinner.
- We are left with the thought that we’ve been in the presence of wisdom. All our striving – for fancy poses, new breathwork, interesting meditation techniques and being fun yoga teachers – is stilled.
- We sit with the essence of it all.