Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Paradise Lost...and Found

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.- Joseph Campbell

A few months ago as I was writing one of my blog posts Mike made a comment about the name of my blog, "Yogi Girl in Paradise."He said, "Do you really think you are in paradise here?"Now as my husband says quite often in his sermons, you have to take his question within context.I think that day he had been stuck in terrible traffic on U.S. Highway 19(a.k.a. the most poorly designed road in the U.S - seriously!) and probably did not make it to the beach that day as well.You see, Florida has its moments just like any other place in the world.There are things down here that drive us crazy, like traffic and miles of strip malls, but then we make it to the beach and all that disappears.

When I first decided to start this blog it was named more for the idea that I was moving from the cold of winter to the warm of summer year round.No more shoveling snow, I was going to live the "Salt Life."I actually knew very little about the area of Florida besides the fact that the weather is pretty awesome all year round and that the Gulf beaches are breathtaking.We were ready to experience a new way of living, we were excited for change. At that time my "paradise" was the adventure itself.

It has been a few months since Mike posed this question and I have kept the thought tucked in my brain for a while.What is paradise?

I think for many of us it is something tangible like a location. Yes, my physical paradise is the beach. I find a peaceful energy when I hear the roaring waves and smell the salt air.

As I have lived near my physical paradise I have grown to realize that paradise has become more of an internal place, a state of being over the physicality. Right away it ties back to the practice of yoga.

For many, the physical practice of yoga is what gives us joy. We can feel our physical body getting stronger and releasing tension. Yet, the asanas or postures of yoga are merely the beginning of the journey.

In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga (hence Ashtanga Yoga), which literally means "eight limbs."The eight limbs are guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.They direct our attention toward one's health and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.

The asanas (the physical practice of yoga) is the third limb which falls towards the beginning of the eightfold path.What I find very interesting is what the final limb is and that is Samadhi.Samadhi is described as a state of ecstasy.At this stage, we transcend the Self altogether.We find the interconnectedness with all living things. Some might look at it as the experience of bliss and being at one with the Universe.I know, that sounds pretty out there but what if we made it simpler like examining what we really wanted to get out of our lives?Would we not want joy and freedom to be part of our lives? Patanjali describes this final path of desire for all human beings is for peace.This final path that is the ultimate stage of yoga, enlightenment, can neither be bought nor possessed.It can only be experienced.

So as I reflect upon the initial question about the name of my blog, I realize that it has evolved into so much more than a beach paradise but to a state of being.Just like our yoga practice over time becomes so much more than just the physical movements.We are searching for that inner peace, the ecstasy.I will say that it is not so much about the beach anymore but I will add that the sunshine and the sand between my toes does help with getting me closer to that peaceful paradise.

May the blissful light in me honor the blissful light in you.

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