India to Canada during Covid: What is enlightenment? What is overreaction?

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Some light yoga philosophy mixed with some practical everyday integration

In an interesting turn of events, my two months long journey into India concluded in 2.5 weeks. #thankscovid19 lol (whatever, laughter is good medicine).

The process of returning to Canada was unto itself pretty surreal. Most of my trip was spent totally alone. On the plane, everyone had their own aisle -- which I gotta say, for about twenty hours of airtime, is a hella welcomed experience that I don't anticipate any time again soon.

It is funny how after seven years of working with teachers, studying yoga and preparing myself to go to India and study in Rishikesh -- the moment that it felt "right" to make the journey just so happened to be the moment only two-ish weeks before the country closed its borders completely to travellers and visitors alike.

The decision to leave was low-key difficult.

I've spoken with a number of friends and family who are or were on the road prior to Canada's border call back. Its funny, but I think everyone in the whole world resonates with the concept of balancing healthy respect for reality with overreacting to a sensationalized, self-inflated situation.

Travellers are interesting in the way that they will themselves into feeling like they are somehow outside of society. I feel like most of us, whether travellers or not, try to tell ourselves that we are removed from the collective "we", as if we (the individual "I") are viewing a collection of people and their behaviours -- as if we could ever step outside of this.

Nobody wants to be scared. Everybody wants to be rational -- but straight up, media makes maintaining calm and coolness difficult to maintain. And the sick joke is that we are our media.

Beautiful Nina at the river Ganges

This is what I loved about being in India.

All of us shared in a common goal, a practice, a study. There was no focus being given to this "pandemic". And so, there was no fear of contracting the disease, we did not focus on the slow climb of confirmed cases (which by the way is at like 149 since January, with a population of 1.4 billion people -- not bad, India.)

I dunno, I didn't start this entry wanting to talk about this friggen virus. That's the whole issue I've noticed with it since returning to Canada.

Its like the virus is actually in our minds more than it is in our lungs.

So -- moving right along.

There is a concept in yogic philosophy known as Samadhi. I'll chalk this up, albeit a grossly broad chalking up of a concept, to "Cosmic Consciousness".

In other words: Enlightenment.

Its like this, yoga is not just the practice of showing up to the mat, listening to nice sounds and nice words. Its not being reminded to breath and its not Namaste.

Then again, yoga is all of these things, too. Yoga is a lot like a science towards enlightenment. As Swami Satyananda puts it, "Every seeker and practitioner on the path of yoga must remember that the various paths of yoga are to improve the quality of head, heart and hands."

I felt like a classmate of mine in Rishikesh was judging me for giving in to my attachment to my partner, when I stated that I would leave for Canada and that I didn't want him to be sitting in Canada, on self-quarantine, stressed out about me.

Funny how my thinking that she was judging me, is actually only my thinking it. As in, I was the one judging myself for my attachment to my partner. I have no friggen clue if this is actually what she was thinking about me.

The reality is that I want to be able to, without a doubt, and without wavering, arrive at constant oneness. A mental state that is not subject to intense emotional waves, an experience where there is no "I" and no difference between experiencing life and witnessing it.

There are certain teachings along the path to Samadhi that suggest one must observe certain practices. Practices such as detaching from the human experience to different degrees in order to move through the stages of enlightenment. This is kind of the same energy or conceptualization that Catholicism's lent is born of.

Releasing the physical world (foods, creature comforts, partners, parents, luxurious desires etc.) absolutely gives space for tuning into a reality that does not depend on physical affirmation of ones existence. It helps us arrive at a reality through experiencing self without the interruption, distraction, hormonal spikes and so on that are a result of stimulation from the outside world, people, place or things.

This is the funny thing about Kundalini energy, it wakes up within us, it elevates, it reveals understandings and rememberings, it inspires -- and then it descends (click to read about Kundalini descent).

The other day my partner Lee and I took the little 1982 Bravo snowmobile out for a tour around fields and backroads. This was incredible for many reasons, two of which I'm going to highlight.

1. Snowmobiling is Bitchin'

Riding on the back of this little machine through the deep drifts was the redneck equivalent of making it out to Fernie for a weekend of mountain riding. I am in love with this madness.

2. Everyday Enlightenment

While standing in a field after searching for deer sheds (the antlers that fall off of the male deer -- because yes, they regrow them every season), Lee listened to me attempt to explain to him Samadhi.

"...I'm just sad to have left India because I feel like I got caught up in the physical worlds illusion. Like I stepped out of witnessing life as a great big play" I said to Lee.

I loved him so much in that moment. He had his big sunglasses on and was dressed for the Alberta winter winds. He gestured around us, with the untouched snow on the fields, the reflection of the sun and the dipping coulees lined with trees.

"Isn't that what we're doin?" he said with a bit of a laugh.

I couldn't help but laugh. This is a guy who's never studied yoga, who doesn't particularly fuss himself about whether he is doing this or that "right".

From Eagle Hill, west of Olds - being human

Maybe my attachment to the people I love will never allow me to reach Nirbeej Samadhi (the level of enlightenment that does not experience falling back into the illusion of emotions and physical body), who knows -- tough to say. After all, the world is changing.

Perhaps Sabeej Samadhi is the way (the level where you have felt enlightenment, but do not remain in that state constantly).

All I know is that I'm grateful to continue my studies while home with the man who would have been worried sick.

It is a blessing to witness life from the perspective of an ordinary human being.

In the words of Swami Saraswati, "Nothing finishes, only one level of experience ends, but then another begins".

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