The environment is paradise, the warm wind is blowing around me, and I can hear the ocean talking in the background as I sit in the lower Puna District of the Big Island of Hawaii and begin to write my next collection of thoughts. In Hawaii, outside living is far more realistic and idyllic when compared to my life in New Zealand. If fact, whether it’s day, night, rain or wind, the preference is always to sit outside on the covered lanai and listen to the waves, mother nature at its finest, and to of course to focus on "present being".
I'm not here for a vacation, for work, to practice yoga or read the Gita, Sutras or Upanishads... I'm here to heal from the inside out. Like a lot of people, I have issues and demons, and some of them have been taking stronger control over me recently. It was time for me to start building it back the only way I know how – by listening to the body, and allowing the divine that sits within me to speak the truth and give me the answers that I've been so desperately searching for. There have been a lot of tragic events that have occurred around me recently. Some of these have been described by my closest friends as soul destroying. Living my life with a damaged or destroyed soul is not something that I take lightly, and certainly is something that I needed to fix.
It's becoming more common to hear yoga practitioners debating what is acceptable or not acceptable in the life of a yogi. Countless blog articles around eating meat, drinking alcohol, coffee, smoking, and even drug use are frowned upon, discouraged, or not allowed, as these things directly relate to creating self-harm, which is a fundamental step in Patañjali's Eight Limbs.
I'm certainly not promoting the above list, but at the same time I'm not condemning or even judging those who partake in these things. The last time I checked, I was a yogi, teacher, coach, and loving individual (the list could go on)... not divine, nor in a position of any authority to set rules around a practice or lifestyle that has transitioned and changed profusely over its 5000 years of existence. Not to mention how much society has changed over the last 5000 years. Hearing or reading about some of these debates really makes me laugh, as who are we to have the right to judge or cast opinions on the correct path for someone to take to achieve their journey?
One of my favourite quotes from Rumi says, "I have been a seeker and I still am. But I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teacher of my soul". I think this is by far the deepest quote I have read in many years. Essentially, everyone's answers are different, everyone has a different path to take and different circumstances in their lives... so how can there only be one path to the answer? And by the way, what is the answer we are looking for?
The Eight Limbs, or the path of what we refer to as yoga, is to lead us to Samadhi, meaning bliss or more technically the state of deep meditative consciousness. In this state, the body and senses are at rest, but the body is alive with reasoning and alertness. It's often referred to as going beyond consciousness. Now, I'm not about to disagree with these steps or even debate them, as it's not my place (or anyone's in theory). To love and let myself be loved is the short and simple version of what I'm indicating is (my) truth and my journey on one day (one lifetime) to reach Samadhi.
After many years of reading ancient texts and scriptures that date back longer than my mind can calculate, my answer is that there are no rules, except listing to your own truth or divine. Rumi said it right... the moment you stop searching, you will see what the truth actually is. Your truth and inner teacher is where all the answers reside, and no book or teacher can show you something that you don't have already in you. It's entirely up to you to find, embrace and allow it to set you free or not. That’s what I believe and that is ultimately what has and will continue to set me free.