The Yoga of Place

sunset

I’m at Watarrka, in thesis isolation mode, uploading this post via a very slow satellite internet connection. I know that most people who read this blog (Jammiegirl excepted) won’t comprehend the remoteness of where I am or the reasons why I can’t post easily. In the rest of Australia and certainly in the US, there’s mobile phone reception and ADSL everywhere. Here, where I am, we don’t even have a corner store, let alone mobile phone reception. ADSL is a just a sick joke. Look Watarrka up on Google Earth. I’m in one of the most remote places on Earth.

Nonetheless, when I look out the window where I’m sitting, I can see the scene that’s the blog’s header picture above: King’s Canyon (Watarrka). There are no hoons screaming past my house, there are none of the streetlights that Alice Springs HAS TO HAVE on every bloody power pole in the interests of ‘safety’ (for whom and what, I don’t know). Instead, there are Desert Oaks, Spinifex, Eremophila and Acacia species in winter bloom (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere) and the ever-changing colours of the sun playing on Watarrka’s walls and angles.

This place is YOGA. It is deeply, deeply spiritual and highly conducive to PhD writing, reflection and thought.

gibber and spinifex

There is nothing you could give me that would make me swap my remoteness with city life.  No money, no material goods. No offers of eternal happiness. This remoteness, this yoga of place, is something – contentment, union, wholeness- that city life can never ever give. This is where insights happen. Where growth happens.

Where your world is taken apart and reconstructed, one tiny bit at a time…

When I live in a town or a city, I begin to die. It is always the way with me. I do not expect you to understand, nor is this a critique of your life. Cities and towns are where the life is slowly (or quickly) sucked from me. The bush, the mountains, the desert (but ironically, never the seashore where the city folk bring their ‘stuff’) nourish me, make me whole, give me the union and strength and courage to go on.

Along time ago, in my childhood, I knew this. When I am depressed, the bush and desert heal me. I find the small, quiet voice within. The watcher. It speaks to me in silence, compassion, non-judgement – never in the streets or busyness of the city, but ever so effortlessly here, and ever louder, surrounded by nature.

Here, my life is writ large and effortlessly. What must be done comes easily, races from my fingers to the glow of the computer screen, from tiny stirrings within to my conscious thoughts like liquid light. I am filled, flooded, with inspiration, energy, peace.

Stripped bare, I find me. Who I am. What I am.

And most importantly, what I am not.

No white noise. No noise.

This is the yoga of place.

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This is one of my favourite teachings. It comes from Pema Chödrön’s compilation book, Comfortable with Uncertainty. It is a teaching that I like to read at the beginning of a class, prior to teaching ujayyi and beginning asana. I am posting it here that all may benefit.

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Practice Vs No Practice

 

 

 

 

One of the main messages I’m getting from the Advaita teachings (hang on, I’ll qualify that: apparently, most of the people I’ve been reading and listening too are considered neo-Advaitans), is that one can spontaneously awaken (obtain enlightenment, self-realise … whatever) without practice of any shape or form. So all the meditation, yoga, study, service, prayer etc that you might encounter on other paths is excess baggage; the products of seeking and ego.

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Advaita, Yoga and Meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few weeks, some truly amazing people have touched my life through this blog, other blogs and websites. Their sharing, counsel, and teachings are shining light on places I never thought would see the light or be understood by anyone.

I am humbled and thankful to those who’ve shared so much with me. You know who you are, so this is from me to you, in the heartfelt way of a student taking transmission from her teachers: Namaste. Hari om tat sat.

Today, I am sharing some answers to my questions (see my previous post) that are able to be shared. I share this in the hope that others with the same questions about the relationship between Advaita, practice and yoga can glean something from it.  My questions are in bold italic.

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Advaita, Yoga Astanga and Practice

  

 

 

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about Advaita and listening to a lot of audio Satsang (podcasts), from people like Sailor Bob, Adyashanti, Mark Wells, and Nirmala and the guys at Clearspace to name a few. Although I’d been aware of the teachings of Advaita for several decades, I’d never really looked deeply into them. I have a lot of questions… a beginner’s quandry.

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