The philosophy of life is this: Life is not a struggle, not a tension… Life is bliss. It is eternal wisdom, eternal existence. ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Amidst the fragrant vanilla incenses burning, the invigorating breathing techniques, and the revitalizing postures designed to release serotonin, all I can focus on is one thing…my puppy as she barks and whines next to me.
I try to tune-in on the instructor as she speaks softly, “Loosen up; release tension; close your eyes; ooommmm.” But instead, I tighten up. I again focus my attention on my 4-month old puppy, Indigo, who can’t stop whimpering as I grip her collar even tighter and attempt my own downward dog. She runs in circles around me, getting all caught up in her leash, and I collapse onto my mat.
Attempt number 2; same thing. Upward dog isn’t any better, as now she is licking my face and pouncing onto my back. For her, this is a game, and she continues until, in her mind, she frees herself off my tight grip and can play with all the other dogs in the room.
I begin to feel like that parent on the plane who can’t get her child to shut up or who has to pick her child up almost every other day from detention. The bad parent that clearly hasn’t taken her dog to obedience training or spent enough time watching Animal Planet. At this point, I am thinking that this new yoga trend, called doga (doggy yoga), was a really stupid idea. For the first time ever during yoga, I begin to watch the clock tick tock. One second at a time.
As I move into triangle pose, I have no more energy to follow the class instructions for how my dog should be behaving or where she should be sitting. I let go and detach from all outcomes of the practice.
I detach from getting a great workout, from creating a relationship with my dog, or even finding a meditative state at the end of the practice. And in this moment of detachment, I feel a new-found freedom to just accept what is and just be. I focus on Indie and how cute she is with her eyeliner eyes, her paws that are way too big for her body, and her painted wagging tail. As she attempts to chew my hair dangling down, I begin to smile.
I begin to think, “why had my intention for yoga always been perfection?”
Perfecting every single breath, pose, and chant.
And then it hits me…
I always assumed that the act of perfecting yoga might somehow move me higher on the “spiritual scale” (if you can really measure that sort of thing). I had it all wrong.
Perfection might satisfy a sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t necessarily make you more spiritual. It was really ok that everyone was doing something different at the same time. Nothing but unconditional joy and love can get you any closer to your spiritual goal than where you are today.
In society, we are trained to believe that going somewhere, such as a yoga class, a chapel, or monastery, or meeting with someone, be it a priest, shaman, or a monk, will make you more spiritual.
In that moment, I discovered that choosing to be in this space with incredible other people and their animals while laughing, being joyful, and happy in-and-of itself is spiritual.
Certain moments in life are spiritual and we don’t necessarily have to go somewhere or perfect a “known” spiritual practice to find that spirituality.
It is always within us…especially when we are joyful and in the present moment. Waves of gratitude filled me as the class came to an end.
While I sat cross-legged, Indie in my lap, I heard the words, “Send unconditional love to your dog.” Twenty minutes ago, I would have thought she’s crazy. Now I was extremely happy to do so 🙂