My photo
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Oct 3, 2011


My friend left me a voice mail last night.  She and I have had some great times talking about Yoga teaching and especially about the philosophy that underpins Anusara Yoga.  She wanted to teach her classes this week with a theme of  svatantria - (unbounded freedom - one of the main aspect of the Sacred) - and she was stuck.  She was having trouble teaching meaningfully about unbounded freedom.  I have the same problem with the concept of is one of those concepts that can stay just that - a concept - because Absolute Freedom is ever so slightly impossible for me to relate to except in an imaginary, 2 dimensional, fairytale,  sci-fi way.  But, because my freind asked, I started my contemplation motor and let in idle all night, deciding that I would watch and wait to see what would arise.
  1. The first thing that arose is that I did not want to arise out of bed. I felt an approaching anxiety - dressed up as the 10,000 work tasks I needed to accomplish today and this week. I felt exactly the opposite of unbounded freedom.  And I felt the heavy-handed demand that I spend a day of total discipline - no freedom.
  2. I watched a certification video – (a brilliant teacher).  Her theme, albeit by the simpler name of freedom, was svatantria.  She talked about how she had to limit herself – had to forgo doing the things she generally loves to do like reading, biking, watch films with her sweetie, etc. in order to complete a big project. But in the completion of that project she felt a massive expansiveness and lightness…  She experienced in a real and  embodied way – the essence of svatantria.
  3. I talked to my dad who is 86 now. He told me that yesterday at church the cantor - a man from Africa - had sung so beautifully that Dad just stood there with his eyes closed after the singing stopped.....He said he was completely lost in the beauty. And then he opened his eyes and felt flustered and embarrassed to see he was the only one still standing.  Out of a context of a lifetime of discipline (as a householder, father, husband and devout Catholic) he naturally, spontaneously and innocently begun to have direct experiences of absorption into aspects of the Sacred (in this case svatantria and shri).
  4. I was very disciplined today.  I kept my butt on my office chair except once to practice asana and twice for chanting, pranayama and meditation.  I wouldn't like to live every day this way - but honestly, as the day is coming to a close now - I feel an expanding spaciousness and freedom that woudl simply not be there if I had not accepted the yoke of discipline.  
It seems to me now, after 24 hours of watching and waiting to see would arise to meet my contemplation, that svatantria can only be experienced as the second half of the spanda (pulsation) of discipline. That IS a paradox.
We get svatantria in shafts of light, beams of sun. Otherwise I suppose we would be staring straight at the sun and go blind – like Arjuna almost did when Krishna unveiled his super radiance. So we squint our eyes, wear sunglasses, limit the light in various ways and through limitations and disciplines so we can experience the freedom of unbounded light without incinerating. 

No comments:

Post a Comment