The Sensation of Interconnectedness

When I get caught up with living life in the noise and disjointedness of what we often term the “rat race”, I get irritated with people and feel isolated and disgruntled. When, on the other hand, I spend time in the company of yogis, I feel nourished, uplifted, and connected to every life force on earth and beyond. While I feel expanded and light, the experience never fail to serve as a reminder of my true self and the importance of community.

This is exactly how I felt during the recent Yin Yoga Teacher Training I attended. Corina Benner, in her role as teacher, managed to hold a space and facilitate an experience that was not only valuable for the new knowledge and skills that became available to me, but also enriched my soul. There is something incredibly precious when one shares in the energy of community to remind one that we are all interconnected. We so often forget that yoga is meant to unite, not divide.

In life, we often obsess too much about what makes us different from others: physical body, personality, abilities, thoughts, values, beliefs, habits, and cultural orientation. It is when we focus on our differences that we isolate ourselves in bubbles of discontent. We are after all, in our uniqueness, quite different from anyone else around us. When we accept these differences and view them as essential ingredients to the adventure of life, we are able to focus on all those things we do have in common.

All of us experience nuances of powerful emotions such as pain, love, unhappiness, longing, and joy, to name but a few. It is when we start to acknowledge that we all have our own struggles and elations that we experience the sensation of interconnectedness, which, to me, is mostly a sense of belonging. Finding the most appropriate words to describe it though, often ends in the realisation that it is a futile exercise to limit the experience through the use of language. Maybe, sometimes, we should let go of our need to always ascribe words to an experience, and simply absorb it through our senses without dissection and classification. Words often fail me to do justice to the extent of an emotional experience, yet I am always grateful for those special moments in which I sense my interconnectedness with others, as it makes me a more tolerant, humble and kinder person for a breath or two . . .

Jivamukti bliss

I went to an amazing Jivamukti workshop the other day that was presented by Petros Haffenrichter. I have never been to a Jivamukti class before, but have heard and read about it. But reading about something is not nearly as powerful as actually experiencing it. I chose a session that fitted my schedule, and what attracted me to it even more were the following words: “With kriyas and practices of nada-yoga (the yoga of sound) we will cleanse our koshas (body-layers) deeply – so a feeling of clarity and balance can arise….” And boy-oh-boy was I in search of some clarity and balance!

The workshop started off with a general introduction before we moved onto our mats for some kriyas and practices of nada-yoga, which I have never encountered before, and therefore thoroughly enjoyed, as doing or learning something new always excites me. He cleverly built upon the easy, fun stuff to more complex and challenging practices, before we flung ourselves into a dynamic, challenging asana-practice. For 20 minutes we flowed through a set series of asanas at a pace (a steady 4 count inhalation; 4 count exhalation) that can only be described as challenging. The idea was to build up enough heat in the body, so that it could facilitate cleansing more than just the physical body. To help us keep to the set rhythm, Petros used sing-song dialogue that both inspired and motivated. He also played music to hold us in a space where we could feel that anything was possible. I find music in a class extremely distracting, but this was not the case in point on this occasion. This time it made me feel uplifted, without me being consciously aware of it. If I have to now describe to you what the music sounded like, I simply can’t…. Yet, I have never felt that kind of energetic support in any yoga class I have ever done up to this point.

 The workshop description promised: “Becoming aware of the energy within us, we will then begin a journey towards our very core – through pranayama, conscious, focused breathing we eventually arrive at a point of clarity, peace and freedom. Finally, here we find total silence. A silence that doesn’t occur through the outside, but arises from within, with a smile….” Well, I do not think I have ever been promised and then received something that was described that accurately.

He never promised us samadhi (bliss), the ultimate goal of yogis, but I certainly got a little glimpse of that. I never felt that calm, peaceful and centred….ever! I was literally the eye of the storm…..there was absolute quiet within. This, I realised was my ‘true nature’ so many writers keep on referring to. And although I describe this state as an experience made up of ‘feelings’, it actually goes beyond that, as what I experienced was a state without ‘feelings’. If you’ve ever been there, even just a moment or two, you would know that it is a stillness that cannot be captured by words, no matter how cleverly they are used.  And I am happy to report that I could bask in this energetic state for a full 24 hours…. Well, almost…

Am I now trying to replicate or find this state of being again? No, not actively anyway, as I know I will in the process only become the dog chasing its tail and never catching it. I simply know now what is possible, and I also know that it is through the daily practice of yoga that I will find it again. It will most probably be when I least expect it, and it may be only a fleeting glimpse, but now I know what people refer to when they talk about samadhi, and as a teacher, I am now conscious of the possibilities I can allow to flow through me to gently guide my students to also receive this gift I had the privileged of experiencing.