A Life “In Body” is A Value “Embodied”
Adventures of the Soul by Khadija Muhaisen Dajani
My life is organized in themes. I have themes for my days, weeks, months. Sometimes year. They present themselves randomly. Sometimes recurring to make sure I pay attention to them. They include food, colors, people, songs. Mostly, they are words. With so much depth and weight that they nestle themselves deep into my being. And they start to permeate. And brighten my world. Sometimes, light bulbs turn on in my head. And heart. These last two weeks have been illumined by the word “bypassing”.
We are just days away from wrapping up the 300 Hour Sacred Activation Yoga Training, my fourth in the last two years. I am still learning the mechanics, subtleties, and depth of plank pose. After thousands of minutes in plank, I remain inspired by the profound answers it reveals to life’s reflective questions. Beyond plank, we read. A lot. Part of our reading material included an interesting interview “On Spiritual Bypassing, Relationship, and the Dharma” with John Welwood, the psychologist who coined the term “spiritual bypassing.” My theme was born.
“When we are spiritually bypassing, we often use the goal of awakening or liberation to rationalize what I call premature transcendence: trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it. And then we tend to use absolute truth to disparage or dismiss relative human needs, feelings, psychological problems, relational difficulties, and developmental deficits. “
It is easy to be “spiritual” while one sits in a cave alone. I find this to be an experience of the mind at its most basic. In my mind, I am a lot of things. The list is too long to share. It also happens to be extremely embarrassing. The problem arises when there is a disconnect -“a bypassing”- between the mind and the body so that the experience we are living in the mind is not necessarily the one we are living in our human body. We all carry traumas and scars -stagnant energies- that lodge themselves in our bodies. In order for them to be released, they need to be acknowledged. Once they are, the release is inevitable.
This is easier said than done. (Bypassing underway). You see, we choose to wear our “spiritual” mask not only on our face, but also on the traumas and scars in the body. When these are ignored and moved aside, they root themselves deeper and become more difficult to process as time moves on. Until the dam breaks. And the damage is irreparable.
In this training, we meet for 6 hours, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. (A new number theme is making an appearance. Did I mention these themes pop up randomly?) We live most of our day in our “spiritual” experience, hidden away from the world. And it is magical. And peaceful. And completely in line with some of the list items of who I am in my head. (Guru is one of them, yes. White robe and turban.)
But when the sun sets and the day ends, we have to return home to families, responsibilities, and Amman traffic. The peaceful sadhaka -a Sanskrit term that describes someone who follows a a spiritual practice or way of life, with the aim of achieving a certain goal- turns into the personification of “Crazy Bitch Syndrome” the second I sit behind the wheel and put the car into drive. My borderline personality disorder rears its gnarly head. Loving compassion to all humans dissipates quickly and is replaced with a strong urge to detonate a nuclear bomb to reboot our entire traffic structure -including its immoral human dimension, all while Krishna Das plays on the radio. Another manifestation of “bypassing” appears before my eyes. A new car lane emerges from nowhere on a narrow, two-lane entryway so drivers can “bypass” the line to get into the roundabout. It jolts me back to the present moment. I smile. After I own my rage. And set it free. Back to Krishna Das. And the peaceful, compassionate guru. I will need 1000 trainings to clear the bitch that sits deep inside. For now, I see her. And find her funny. Sometimes. No bypassing her for sure. When that “crazy" is acknowledged, the reward is instant. Messy human emotions if left unrecognized show up in plank.
“Fitness bypassing” came up a few days later. Arjuna Ra casually remarked that many avid gym goers seemed to be afflicted with “fitness bypassing”. They have the gear, the gym membership, and the best trainers. In their minds, it all works perfectly. But the connection to the body is out of service. There is no growth. Strength, mobility, and flexibility -the three important pillars that form the foundation of a physical practice- are not evident. After years of training.
How can one stop the “bypassing” process? Themes like hard work, discomfort, courage, intensity, urgency, fire, disruption, chaos, and difficult truths come up. These also form the vehicle to getting into the body. In order for us to be true to our humanexperience and essence, we must navigate our life “in body”, “embodying” the grandiose themes we have set as goals in our minds. Only then can our existence be authentic, inspired, and enlightened. This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.
My themes for the last two years have not changed. They have been about living “in body” (embodiment), “in power” (empowered), “in Light” (enlightened), and “in Spirit” (inspired). And these ladies and gentlemen are the core values of Sacred Activation Yoga. And they are experienced -in fact carved- in 1000 minutes of plank pose.