Monday, February 21, 2011

Maya, the Veil of Illusion

One of my biggest struggles as a yoga instructor is getting students to understand the concept of Maya. In Sanskrit the term Maya derives from the idea that the mundane physical and mental reality of everyday consciousness has clouded our perception of being part of a bigger whole. The idea that the self is separate from the Universal Consciousness thus causing karma and rebirth. In other words, we see our reality on Earth as being severed from what is happening in the larger scheme of things. I find this perspective to be selfish, denying that we have something intrinsically divine within us.  With regards to a yoga practice, the concept of maya deals with our delusions about our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions and our circumstances. We choose to attach to our injuries, our stories and our emotions hindering us from experiencing our god given right to freedom. From the Tantric perspective, yoga is a means to move with the momentum of Universal Consciousness and becoming one with it. Through this union, one is able to experience a state of liberation while still being embodied and being of this Earth.

The great George Gurdijeff once said, "You are in prison. If you wish to get out of prison, the first thing you must do is realize that you are in prison. If you think you are free, you can't escape." Hear Osho's response below:

This brings to light the question, well "if I'm in a prison of illusion, who put me there?" According to Eastern Philosophy, you put yourself in a "prison". Well why would anyone want to do that? Simply stated, it's easier. It's easier to have a story, to cling to old events and emotions, to stubbornly hold onto the false notions of reality that we are not good enough, not beautiful enough and not capable enough. Instead of putting the work into creating a reality we desire, we instead choose to travel the road often travelled rather than the one less frequented. Okay, so what to do then? How do I become free? There's the million dollar question. Can you experience "freedom" without worrying about the limitations of finances or relationships or family and jobs? Yes, by Goddess, Yes you can. It's a choice. Which do you choose? 

I hope that in my classes, students get a small taste of what it feels to be free even if for an hour and half of the stories of their injuries, their addictions, their "responsibilities and ties to everyone else except themselves. I hope that they feel the joy of liberation and dancing in union with the cosmos. I wish that change comes and comes swiftly so that we may all live enlightened and in alignment with Universe. 

See you in class.