I’m covered in freckles. Depending on the season, this is a more noticeable cosmetic trait at some times than others. This January, while winter waged its war in the northern hemisphere, I escaped to the equator in order to soak up the sunshine of Costa Rica. There is a direct correlation between the amount of sun I am exposed to and the freckles that forge their way back to the surface of my skin; so, when spending time in sunny locales such as CR, I’m not too surprised to see my familiar little friends reappear. Every now and again, though, I do a double take.
One day in training, as I exhaled to deepen into a forward fold, my gaze rested on my slightly tanned shins. I flicked away what I thought was a piece of dirt (how’s that for focus, eh?). It didn’t budge. I flicked again.
It was a freckle. A new freckle. Just one little guy stuck on my leg, looking back up at me.
It’s kind of a strange sensation to find things on my own body that I don’t recognize. This has happened a few times before with freckles (they’re wily little buggers). I’ll think I have a piece of chocolate on my face (a more common occurrence than you might think) or dirt on my arm, go to wipe it off, and laugh as soon as I realize it’s tattooed onto me.
Prior to Costa Rica I would’ve considered myself covered in (or, rather, filled with) happiness. I would’ve thought I recognized all the insignificant flecks of my felicity, how they present themselves depending on the season, where they are within my body, how they feel… But, I found new happy “freckles” in Costa Rica, as well. I thought that through the trials I’ve experienced that I ultimately emerged intact afterwards, and had learned, understood, and practiced the concepts of contentment, acceptance, peace, and non-judgment. To an extent, I had. Just as, to an extent, I knew all of my freckles.
But just as yoga-induced self-awareness brought discovery of new physical aspects of my being – by finding freckles or improving poses, it’s whatever – increased self-awareness brought a revealing of, a deepening of, a fuller discover of my elements of happiness. I felt like I was in love while I was in Costa Rica. Not a panicky, lust-driven kind of “love,” but some semblance of Agape, of God-love. I was in love with love itself, in a way. I was in love with peace and acceptance. I was in love with non-resistance and letting go. I was in love with God, with the Universe, with my fellow students, with myself. Love is our fundamental nature once we find it and reflect it back to the world as the world reflects it back to us. This can’t be written about (although, clearly, I’m trying)…it has to be experienced. Each person has to find it out for themselves. Just as Christians who have had a “come to Jesus” moment struggle to articulate that exact feeling of being in intimate communion with God, yogis who experience bliss (whether temporary or lasting) have a hard time verbalizing that sensation and presence of the Divine.
As I’ve continued my daily practice since coming home, I have found that Steve Ross was right once again when he wrote this in Happy Yoga: “Regardless of your mood, your situation, your company, or your location, practice every day, and the rewards will be immense.” Just ask Pete (my boyfriend); I think he can substantiate my claims. 😉
So, my friends, I leave you with this to ponder: “Remember that you don’t know everything. There is a larger force at work within your life and everywhere. Use your mind when you need it and don’t let your mind use you. Don’t resist what is – allow it. Happiness comes from acceptance. And make freedom your first priority.” (Steve Ross)
Your trials did not come to punish you, but to awaken you – to make you realize that you are part of Spirit and that just beyond the spark of your life is the flame of infinity.
– Paramahansa Yogananda