Integration of Yoga & Meditation into daily life
Expressing your Spirituality through the path you walk
Myogadays Interview with Chiaradina (2012) - PART 1 :
Chiaradina – our Cover-Yogini for October & woman in charge of YOUR SPIRIT MATTERS - talks about her take on Yoga and the “Art of Flow”. We wanted to get to know her better – so we sat down with her for a casual chat. Today she talkes about her reasons for practising, how to integrate meditation into your daily life and what her own spiritual personal path looks like.
When and how has the yogabug gotten a hold of you? Why are you still practicing Yoga? What is it that still fascinates you about it?
I started to get serious about my physical practice back in 2003, when Ashtanga and Classical Pilates became part of something like “flossing my spiritual teeth” on a daily basis. Couple of years before that, shortly after my “awakening” in 1995 (more about that later), I tested the waters by looking into the Shivananda system but it never really deeply resonated with my way of being. So since then (03), I never turned away from my daily sadhana (sacred exercise routine) – in fact, there are barely any days throughout the year where I do not practice.
Initially I came to yoga because I had been looking for a holistic, spiritual, “fool –proof” way to integrate my deep transformation that I underwent on a mental, spiritual and emotional level as a young twen into my physical being. As a teenager my main goal was “to find God” - everything else was great entertainment back then but never could heal the pain of not being “whole”. When people had asked me back then: “So what are you planning on doing with your life?” I always was like: “I don't know, I wanna find GOD!” which usually earned me that disapproving look, sarcastic smile or a “she does not know what she is doing” head shake coupled with the good advice to “join a monastery”. Nevertheless, I stayed true to my heart – and in retrospective, as cheesy as this may sound, it actually was my heart and its love that enabled me to be graced with the experience of “illumination” - and blend with everything in this unspeakable power of love, to be everywhere and everyone at all times, to know everything - yet still at the same time not being able to put any of it into words, because what you feel and know at this point cannot be structured into human language but only be described - as any definition already is limiting and reducing the whole experience to something “tangible” again.
For me, it's a huge step to talk about this openly in public but I feel that it is essential that people know that I did not gravitate towards yoga because of either a fascination with physical fitness or because it became a hip thing to do but that my innate drive always related to my love for God and life and that after my peak experience I really needed a well tested system that helped me to let go of anything that was not in alignment with the basic premise or world view of “love and unity that flows through everything”.
That actually as well conveniently answers the next question of why I am practicing yoga – and have stayed true to my practice. Communicating with a more profound level of existence while opening oneself up to a higher perspective and a more encompassing understanding of life is indeed a never ending process! On the physical level of reality, where it's always about “making a difference” and re-inventing reality as we create, nobody will ever be “done” with it – we all embody totality! When it comes to the consciousness that we are eager to express, choices are actually quite simple: What do we want to conserve? What are we going to change and re-create? Why? What quality of consciousness will this serve? Within the matrix (and I am deliberately using this word here as I feel it got quite a negative connotation over the last years which I feel it does not deserve) and the “timely evolution” of the material plane everything boils down to the harmonious interplay between “reflexion” (the qualities of the moon) and “creation” (the quality of the sun). Although our physical being does integrate all the “quantum strings” (“nadis”) that connect all planes of existence with each other, there are always specific aspects that we need to emphasize – mostly because life has dealt us a certain deck of cards at this time that asks from us to rebalance our being in a specific way in order to feel whole again. So then it really does not matter if “what we care onsciously working on” concerns different qualities and aspects of our physical asana practice or more subtle areas of human existence such as emotions, overall awareness or thoughts that we deliberately begin to manipulate when working with Pranayama and Meditation – everything is important and essential when the timing is right. Yoga is so similar to life – always a work in progress (laughs) - the deeper you dive in and explore, the more you find out what you still need to develop more profoundly. But without love, nothing is sustainable.
What significance does Yoga and Meditation hold for you and how have you integrated these aspects into your life? Do you embody a rather ascetic lifestyle or prefer to lead a life that's free from any dogmas?
Yoga to me is a “living prayer” - how we live and how we are expressing ourselves doing so is an art in itself and all our actions (that are usually based on thoughts, feelings and intentions) are an alive expression of the consciousness we hold. I feel it's never that much about what we are doing – and by that I mean how advanced or challenging our asana practice gets – but more how we are doing it: what kind of energy are we infusing our practice - or in general – our movements with? Are we devotional? Are we present and aware? Can we move in such a way that our gestures, posture, demeanor become unique to us and are felt in the present moment no matter how often we have executed this specific movement? A practice that allows us to feel alive is always connected to a mindful and wholehearted exchange of our consciousness with existence.
The essential goal of either the physical practice of asanas or meditation as a mediating process of communication between specific levels is again quite simple: They are tools offered to us that can enable us to enter a bhava (feeling state) of self-respect, humility, infinite love and gratitude in which we feel and realize that the greater whole always serves us – same as we serve the greater whole – as long as we are striving to move from center and live a heart-centered life and keep the communication and exchange with our divine guidance vibrant and down to earth! That's the foundation for a self-empowered, spiritual life.
I personally do not care if meditation takes form as a walking meditation in nature or the “sitting still zen style”. I consider it important to be able to live in both worlds and experience both qualities so the mind's fixation with a certain outer form diminishes – but of course first the prerequisite is to get accustomed to a certain kind of discipline and to know the outer form!
In regards to asceticism and dogmas: What for one individual is no big deal at all (for example being vegan and to abstain from alcohol) can for someone else be a completely overwhelming dogma. I feel it's quite narcissistic to believe that one holds the answer about “the right way for everyone”. I personally have found my way of doing things but to talk about this in detail would considerably go beyond the scope of this interview. All I can say in general is: Whatever stands in the way of one's own inner clear guidance, structured analytical thinking, the sensing of one's own authentic emotions and the ability to observe oneself in a rather detached way will sooner or later lead to suffering because one's own inner voice is being suppressed. I feel that rules and regulations (dogma) can be of use for certain individuals up to a certain point of personal development – but after that certain point, outer authority actually constitutes a gross violation of the cosmic law of free will – the freedom to explore totality and deal with the outcome self responsively. We all will harvest the fruits of the frequency we focused on anyway!
What does spirituality mean to you and how are you expressing this quality in your life?
For me personally spirituality defines each and everyone's responsibility in regards to his or her actions (that ideally should be based on conscious decisions) - all actions emphasize and highlight a certain tendency within creation and should go hand in hand with the clarity why we want to strengthen this specific attribute or energy – or why we won't. Not everyone has the same focus when performing a from the outside seemingly similar task. For example: someone may enjoy gardening because he or she simply loves the harmonious interplay of nature and desires to learn everything he or she can about plants, soil, animals and seeds. Someone else has chosen this to be his or her favorite activity or call to action for enabling themselves to become independent when it comes to food and to be able to self-sustain his or her family no matter what. Of course, in the end, both ways are not mutually exclusive – I just bring this up to show that we all should reach an attitude of humility: we cannot “know” about other's motives of their actions just because we may have made a choice for ourselves and then start to criticize them for what we are projecting unto them – instead I consider it to be a lot wiser to focus on our own transparent, open communication with Life and our guidance and honestly see how far we have come in that regard – especially dealing with our insecurities, fears or expectation of rejection when “called to action”.
So down to earth, embodied spirituality signifies for me to be able to be honest with myself, to (also) become very quiet and listen to the various messages that either emerge from my own depths or are carried to me from the outside by life itself and then learn to sense & distinguish the various qualities of the energies contained and work with that raw material from a higher, transcending point of view – basically also trust my intuition and guidance and flow with it no matter what if the foundational feel of what I receive is love and a transcendent intelligence that excites me. Sounds super simple but most of the time this demands a tremendous amount of courage! But who is “walking this way” and keeps his or her channels open will agree that the evolutional spiral does indeed carry you higher – always. And the longer you walk down this road, the greater and deeper the love, understanding and compassion – but most of all also gratitude and amazement that is being felt for the perfect harmony, sincerity and beauty of life!