Choose your Company – by Petros Haffenrichter
..there he goes with his perfect, holy, unkept hope… (Eddy Vedder, Pearl Jam)
Equanimity. Same, or at least similar distribution of polarities: in and out, up and down,
self and Self, them and me… To cut through the idea of “otherness” and to rise to an awareness of the complementary nature of life is one of the ways to describe what happens through the practice of yoga. When we dive deeper into it, physically as well as mentally and energetically, through asana, breath, reflection, contemplation, self-analysis and devotion those polarities are moving closer to one another, but we may not even realize, how the extremes we live, endure and project are being “softened” or neutralized. We may not even understand a level of balance as comforting as we are used to extreme positions (personal likes and dislikes), deriving from our habits, attachments and desires. The first degree of moving towards balance is the decreasing impact of imbalance, and that may feel quite unpleasant and even unwanted for someone who is very much used to imbalance, like in addictions to people, substance, places and ideas.
One of the things that we slowly start to realize though, is what has a pull towards the polarities of life, pleasant or not, is increasing. We feel desire as stronger desire, once we have cleared the balance point, doubt as stronger doubt, toxins really as what they are, harmful. With a regular practice it’s almost impossible to keep up a toxic lifestyle or toxic thoughts all together, in case you actually practice yama & niyama and some lifestyle changes conducive to the practice. Like a veg diet of course, facing truths and being interested in a sequence of actions in life that deepens the commitment to learn and experience higher sensations and awareness – or call it deeper, or more subtle. Just not the kind of feeling that is available on first glance, with pushing a button, or taking a pill, with a distracted mind or distracted heart.
As we are never alone – even if we are physically not in the presence of “others” we have to accept, that we are the sum of all our relationships.
The experience of the universality in life, such as life-force (simply what keeps you going, waking up every morning, taking a breath) or love or consciousness, is to experience life and yourself not as as a entirely singular, private individual. To trust this process, even if it seems to go against the merits of the ego is one of the main challenges.
One of the strongest signs to understand what imbalance is and what causes it, is our increasing ability to discriminate between virtuos, uplifting, supporting company and distractive, side-tracking influence that is not supportive of a collective responsibility and a mutual awareness of unity but aims to the fulfillment of sensual desires what usually leads into the increase of desire and not vice versa.
Our habits, our desires and the large amount of (self- and collective- ) manipulative relationships keep us bound to easily available rewards (oh, he’s such a strong worker, good son, she’s so pretty, such a good cook and so on) and to feedback on a level of dependency and attachment – usually with a narcissistic touch and an according level of inability to go beyond a superficial level of relationship and emotional depth.
It’s essential to trust time and practice which slowly is lifting the veil of illusion. And to understand that it takes time until the person is ripe to be in balance. Nature is balance – but with a human agenda and individual priorities we have moved away from that point quite a bit, so balance may be a process… good to know and to have patience
So it all may take a moment. And it may be challenging. While it takes the time it takes it’s an easy reminder to hang with people who know of such processes…. I’d like to remember one of my beloved teachers, Shyamdas, who always used to emphasize the importance of good and virtuos company as the main thing, the main practice.
As I depart to the “Free Life Emersion”, a month with likeminded, like-hearted beings, there is no masterplan, no scheduled outcome – but trust, that we will be together in this, on this path, with passion and compassion, with our different individual realities, with our hopes, acknowledging our fears and levels of illusion, weak and strong, aware and unaware, soft, maybe hesitant but also all-in, courageously…
sat-saṅgatve nissaṅgatvaṁ nissaṅgatve nirmohatvam
nirmohatve niścala-tattvaṁ niścala-tattve jīvānmuktiḥ
bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha-mate