newest entry 2002-06-02 10:01 a.m.

There is merit in studying the scriptures, in selfless service, austerity, and giving, but the practice of meditation carries you beyond all these to the supreme abode of the highest Lord.

---Bhagavad Gita 8:28

But sometimes I have to wonder: is it true? I believe in the benefits of meditation, but does it really lead to some measurable state-change? I'm questioning everything, but not in a cynical way. I have to find my own way through this jungle o' experience.

I taught my private session yesterday, and it was powerful: teaching someone how to do mantra meditation is such an intensely intimate experience, and it seems to create as much joy and serenity as actually meditating. (And a wee bit of fear, too--not sure where that comes from). My whole body was singing for hours and hours afterwards. Luckily, I got to teach my 4:00 PM class after that, so that energy was put to good use.

I've been reading How We Live our Yoga, a collection of personal essays by teachers and practitioners. I had been avoiding it for a while because let's face it, "yoga writing" can be really cornball and repetitive (if I hear the expressions "on the mat" or "external rotation" one more time, I'm gonna hurl), and the book is mostly by ashtangis and Iyengar-ites, who, as a group, are rather self-important and dramatic.

But the good news is, the book is a real treasure! The essays are not all sweetness and light--these are real people talking about their failings and confusion and breakthroughs and disappointments with their teachers and with their practices. The most touching piece is by Vyaas Houston, who writes in loving detail about his utter infatuation--and ultimately his disgruntlement--with his guru. (Happy ending: he goes on to befriend his guru and they are still the best of pals).


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