A favorite slogan of yoga teachers goes something like “Be present on your mat; do not worry about what your neighbor is doing.” How we relate to what’s going on off our mat directly relates to what’s happening on our mat, so it’s a valid suggestion. But suppose for a second we look up from our forward bend and take a look around. What’s going on? For me, I see lots of people getting engaged, married, lots of relationships starting. And what’s happening on my mat, in my world? I’m separating from the relationship I’ve known for most of the last three years. Simultaneously, I’m starting a relationship with myself (take the cliché and appreciate the beauty it holds; something that rings true is timeless).
We can talk about relationships and marriage by talking a little bit about death first:
We once knew eternal joy, eternal love. It is what we are. Soul matter. Our natural state is one of peace and joy. An easy example is to consider the first thing we do when we are born: we cry. If a baby doesn’t cry, the entire delivery room knows something has gone wrong. Why do we come into this world crying? First, our eternal soul, which is infinite potential, is tucked into this tiny, confining body. Then we come from an internal, pure, free, existence of peace into an externally focused world of duality, pain and suffering. We come into this existence crying, knowing what we have left behind. So then life begins and life is a process of forgetting. Imagine giving a ball to a small child. Without any questions they explore it. They will try to eat it. They might throw it or bounce it. They will probably sit on it or try to pop it. Give that same ball to an adult and what happens? They ask “What am I supposed to do with this?” No potential at all. A completely external approach to the world, looking for an answer from somewhere outside themselves. As we grow older, we are confined more and more until the world of infinite potential becomes a world of this or that. We are conditioned: do this, don’t do that, pay this, watch this, don’t watch that, be this, don’t be that. Duality. Duality is not our true nature; duality is the nature of the mind, the dirty, rusted tool we use see the world by. The mind is always pushing you towards yourself, towards infinite peace and love. The mind is on a never ending search for that feeling of eternal joy, because we carry it within us; it has experienced it before and wants it again. But we keep giving the mind external solutions of peace and love that are always changing (that’s the nature of the external world; the internal world is stable). And then we die, kicking and screaming because we think we haven’t found that eternal source of love. Its just that from very early on we have forgotten that we are that source. The goal is to reverse the conditioning, reverse the forgetting. Remember your infinite potential, remember that your true nature is peace and happiness. By remembering, we begin to appreciate every moment for the infinite potential it presents. Death can the be seen as a transition we need not to be afraid of. We come in crying, but the trick is to leave with a smile.
So then, some way, we come to marriage: People get married because they think they have found the ultimate source of happiness. Then a year in, they realize the peace and happiness is gone. Its not really gone though. The reality is that we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t understand that we are peace and happiness, those things are not accessible to us and therefore we cannot give them to others. A solid relationship is built on the understanding of mutual peace and happiness; you bring that to a relationship, you don’t find it in one.
So while my relationship with another soul is ending, I am expanding my understanding of our true nature of peace and love and I can relax into the pain that comes with losing someone you love.