I am not even a week back from India and though the sights and sounds and smells are a world away, my memories remain and the knowledge and learning will be a part of me for a lifetime. It would have been great to stay on for a while longer to celebrate the Diwali Holiday, the festival of lights, but alas I am here at home again with our first snow on the ground.
Diwali is the celebration of light over darkness in all its forms – truth over ignorance, spiritual lightness over the darkness of evil, the light that shines from within over the darkness of the world that tends to seep through, etc…etc…etc… So, wether you are Hindu or not, this concept is fitting for all of us, worth the lighting of a candle to shed some light on what guides us in our own life.
For me, that guiding light was lit by my practice of yoga. Before being introduced to yoga, I absolutely admit to being a bit of a dark cloud in the world. I was angry, disappointed in pretty much everything and everyone, all stemming from that complete dampening of light within me. Study and practice of yoga began the process of wiping away the dust and grime and cloud cover of the inner truth and light that shines within. With each experience a little more light began to peak out.
Of course I cannot say exactly when it would have happened, but at some point the flame became large enough to burn away new dust…a light able to overpower the dark even during times of strife and depression and disappointment…still shining there with the reminder of what is true. For sure there is still yet old grime and cover to get rid of, and new dust continues to try to settle, I am definitely not kidding myself that I am perfected in any way. But, at least that inner light has found its strength to guide me along more clearly than before.
As Geeta Iyengar reminded us the last week I was in India, “the soul knows” even when the mind and the body may distract or derail you. And of course we have to trust that light, turn to it, not doubt it. It is easy to fall into the dark because it is familiar, it is “the way the world works”, it is a path with less resistance, it is solid. To follow your light goes against most of the grain of the world, is more fluid and flickering, harder sometimes to grasp.
But boy are the results more gratifying and freeing. I see it not just in myself, but in students who embrace their practice more fully, study themselves more thoroughly through the practice of yoga. Yes, it takes some deep digging, to face and see and touch the darkness that has to be removed. But once that pinprick of light appears there really is no turning back.
So on these days of Diwali, light a lamp on the outside, but also see if that light may find a reflection from within…