Rediscovering yoga’s sparkling truth
How yoga, our closest of friends, can help us rediscover what’s really important in our lives. By Greg Ormson
On the life journey, it’s certain that we’ll endure failures and make mistakes. A friend of mine, an inventor with eight devices in use and registered by the Office of U.S. Patents, is a good example of reinventing after mistakes or failures. Before any success he experienced numerous failures. It’s as if he, along with all the other creatives of dogged determination, have memorised - and then forgotten - Samuel Beckett’s oft-quoted statement on success:
We were college roommates, and though I’ve not kept up with him, I cherish the memories and recall his dormitory room experiments even in his 20’s. After college, our lives sent us scurrying toward a lot of things that ended up secondary; but like many of our peers, we were not fully prepared when thrust into adulthood’s responsibilities. Our vocations were the focus, and that meant working through the stages of life centred on careers and fatherhood. In the world of work, we laboured under authorities that were not always kind or fair, and our jobs kept us bound to responsibilities. The process of inventing and registering for patents is unclear to me, but I think registering new inventions confirms that the stumbles leading up to it were ultimately productive and each failure produced a better failure leading to a patent-worthy
invention. An inventor’s name is frequently connected to their product and the impact it makes. It’s hard to think of the atom bomb without invoking the name Robert Oppenheimer, and his reported musing at the bomb’s detonation, quoting Vishnu speaking from the Bhagavad Gita. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I’ve registered some things too: vehicles, my writing, my fingerprints, credit cards, post office boxes, drivers’ licenses’, telephone numbers, passports, addresses, and more.
And while some registrations are a simple formality, others are more complicated. Together they mark the official unfolding of my life housed all over the world in bits and
documents. Yoga brings each of us to private changes that have no official registration. When practiced with others, yoga can still be a personal experiment leading to individual reinvention. And now, due to the worldwide pandemic, most of us are more familiar with private yoga than we were before.
Many of us have greater clarity and know that our experiments and private failures can discourage us, or provide us with a springboard to reinvention. Before the pandemic, I’d go to class and walk away after handling the small detail of writing my name down on a sign-up sheet when I entered the studio – or signing in on a computer screen. Sometimes, I’d fill out other forms too. My registration was official and public but also my inner experience of yoga was unofficial and private.
All of us register for moments in yoga but more importantly, yoga registers on us. It blooms inside – accruing over time – to the construction of what I would call, a re-invented person. Through reinvention and imagination, I’m not just a lion exhaling with force, I’m an avatar for Simasana. I’m not a lion, but my body doesn’t know that; and Simasana’s lionhearted, barbaric yawp, registered deep in my body speaks to something “far more deeply interfused,” in Wordsworth’s words.
Before yoga, and much like my college roommate, I forged ahead to meet goals but was not very mindful of people around me. And while it I was focused on achieving my goals, my ambition and single-mindedness was costly.
I now believe that I bought into group think and accepted my obligations too uncritically. I put too much effort into my secondary roles and not the primary role. I did so because I believed that advancement in career was good, but I’ve heard other people also come to this awareness when listening to them.
Interviewing a retired woman in Hawaii for a newspaper story on yoga and senior citizens she said:
“Most of us had big old careers and we burned ourselves out. I wish I would have known about yoga before this. It would have helped me…and I think it should be in all schools.”
It’s easy to become focused on career advancement, but hers was the voice of experience which had me thinking about reinventing my future. Yoga offers an alternative to aggression and competition, and its mindset accepts failure as a step to something better. Yoga practice reveals to us that failure is a natural part of life and that we are wise to accept it. This brings a perspective that can lead to a deeper sense of peace and wellbeing. That’s how yoga helps us
reinvent. Failures and new discoveries take place when yogis register upon their hearts and minds what the body and breath is saying… namely, get more true to yourself. This is not on any business mission statement; neither did anyone from my past teach this deeper truth. Such good advice ought to come with a warning though; it may detour the avenues you thought you were supposed to be following. It’s because yoga is a process of awareness that starts – but doesn’t end - with going inward, and often leads to a reinventing, or at the least, a reframing of life. The poet Tazima Davis captures the personal invention and dynamism present in yoga with her poem, ‘Sadhana Reveals’.
Reinventing lives has become a big dollar industry in America; life-coaches and plastic surgeons are busy. But a reinvention doesn’treally take money, it takes a friend, and that friend is oneself. My flesh and blood inventor friend lives far away from me now, but my new friend… yoga, is close. Engaging in conversation with my new friend leads to lively threads that registers my presence and reinvents me before, during, and after each session. Through trial and error, and more trial and error, and even more, every drop of my being responds to yoga’s unfolding effects, and I become deeply aware that something has changed, and I accept that beyond the trials and failures, something new is happening. In those crucial moments, away from the solitary crush of a worldwide pandemic, and demanding noise from the outside, I realise that my life is being slowly reinvented, and I’ve learned to trust this reinvention. As Tazima Davis wrote, it’s a “rewriting of sparkling truth”, and it happens just the way it needs to happen.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.