Saturday, September 17, 2011

Illuminated Heart

This  is  the essay I wrote trying to win a scholarship for BJ's second immersion at The Yoga Center. The essay question is to write in 500-750 words about the potential to reveal  the Illuminated Heart.
Yoga, most definitely, has the potential to awaken the illuminated heart. In this easy I will touch on the definition of the word illuminated and point out how appropriate the illuminated heart is for explaining the outcome of a committed yoga practice. I will also reference yogic practices and philosophies that help with this process.  
The word “illuminated” means, to brighten with light, to make lucid or clear, to decorate with lights (as in celebration), and to enlighten (as with knowledge). This is the invitation of yoga so we may expand and shine out our intrinsically divine essence, to see our self beautifully and clearly, to celebrate this embodied gift by expressing beauty, to know we are connected and to experience vibrancy and ease. We practice yoga to unveil the illuminated heart so we may know more (chit) and be happy (ananda). I don’t think every yoga student would identify this being their reason for practicing yoga, when I first started practicing it was to rehab from an injury and possibly lose some weight. However the practice of yoga helped me connect to my heart.
Yoga unveils the truth. The truth is that we are connected, we are loved, we are whole, and as John friend puts it a part of this “big ball of pulsating bliss” (describing Shiva-Shakti tantric). The truth is we already have an illuminated heart. This awakening in my experience has not been like turning on a light switch, but more of a steady practice of showing up with an intention to see the heart clearly. To make clear is an aspect of an illuminated heart.   Through the practice we begin to see and feel that all our stories, all the bull shit is just various coverings (daksha, cloaks, kleshas and maya) that make it hard to see that ultimately we are an embodiment of spirit. As we remember this we start to see and experience the world and our self as being made up of absolute goodness, consciousness, bliss, pulsation, self-awareness, ultimate freedom and perfect fullness. These are the attributes of the divine and we experience these qualities in our self and in the world around us because we are all part of the divine.  
Yoga’s potential for unveiling an illuminated heart, I think really comes in the face of obstacles. Even the physical postures we put our self into on the yoga matt is a challenge. We are taught to stay in the challenge, feel the intense sensation, connect with the breath, feel a sense of ease and feel supported. My practice for a while was learning to face challenges and feeling supported by grace. Now I have been working on learning the distinction between what is satisfying and what is gratifying, again this can be learned on the mat! My point being, the potential of unveiling the illuminated heart through yoga is so high because yoga offers so many different teachings that can be applied to your body and can shift your life. Yoga’s potential for unveiling an illuminated heart comes in its dynamic ability to meet people where they are and help them with their struggles.
The illuminated heart is like a muscle, because we don’t always think we are bright, beautiful, and intelligent. This doubting makes the muscle weak. But when we overcome these challenges by cultivating heart qualities we strengthen our illuminated heart muscle. So, even when we are off our yoga mat and shit hits the fan we still feel this inner illumination, it is not based on external situations.
In conclusion, we already have an illuminated heart. Yoga is one of the great ways to unveil that illumination.  Throughout life we are filled with bliss, yet there are many ups and downs that come along with it as well. Just know that at your core you shine with the divine. I want to bring these ancient practices into my life, deeper into my heart, and to refine my asana and move beyond the asana, to awaken more fully into my own illuminated heart. You are that which you seek!

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