A myriad of spiritual teachers have talked and written about the realization that we humans are more than our bodies and thinking minds. Many names are used to describe this larger consciousness, like consciousness spelled with capital C, or larger self with capital S. Some call it universal consciousness, open awareness, the force or god. I personally don’t see that it matters what we call this felt sense of being. Something much larger then our physical bodies, through which we are connected to all life on this planet. But now and then I want to try and share with curious friends or students what my experience of being human is like these days. Having lived with this clear sense of being part of this force, this consciousness, for many years now. But it’s not easy for me to put words to this, so I will share one of my favorite images of this felt awareness.
Imagine a large pot on the stove. That is who you are. Then imagine how the “chef”/life starts putting things into the pot. There goes oil perhaps, onions, carrots, celery, whatever you can think of. All these ingredients represent all that you encounter in life. Your own body, other people, things, events, literally anything and everything around you. Now, as you taste all these ingredients, over time most of us lose sight of the pot. We actually grow up almost completely forgetting about the pot. Everyone around us are focused on the ingredients, so we learn to do the same. And they vary over time, different dishes are being prepared. Some we find wonderful, others not so much, and some we wish we didn’t have to have anything to do with. We learn to identify ourselves with whatever ingredients are in the pot at each and every moment. Family, friends, work, pets, homes, cars, whatever it is. But this is the thing. You are actually not the soup. It’s part of your human experience, but it’s not who you are. You are the pot. The pot that holds all these coming and going and ever changing dishes. And that pot never changes. But the ingredients do, continuously.
Yoga practice offers a few different ways to find our way back to actually experiencing the felt sense of being the pot, being open awareness, universal consciousness. And it’s an undeniable felt sense that we can all have again, but we have to turn ourselves towards it. We need to look. What brought me back home to this awareness was the practice of breath awareness combined with deep relaxation in corpse pose. Which then many years later brought me to the seed of meditation, yoga nidra. A meditation most often practiced lying down, incorporating deep physical relaxation. But, that’s just my own journey. And there are many types of meditation that will help you getting back to knowing yourself as the pot. You just have to try a few different ways, and a solid yoga class will introduce you to a few different kinds. Posture practice, breathing practice, deep relaxation and seated meditation. And whenever you have the chance for a guided yoga nidra session, go for it. I doubt you will regret it.
Now, you might ask; why bother? What’s the point? Well, here are a few of the words that are most commonly used to describe this state of awareness, and I think they will answer your question. Indescribable yet undeniable. Peaceful. Loving. Calm. Everywhere but nowhere specific. Warm. Heart-centered. Presence. Safe. Connected. Refuge. Sanctuary. Well-being. Spacious. Timeless. Complete. Perfect.Share