I am in a cafe watching the ocean, on my final weekend at Hridaya Yoga. I will be back in Denver on Thursday.
I will begin by saying I have been in great intellectual activation (even hypomanic ideation) my whole time here. It started in Guatemala with all my successes in AR leadership, but which also left me somatically destabilized. Then a week of crazy travel which included more integration. Which doesn’t help the meditation, of course. Not long after I arrived I gave up the hope of ever “meditating” (at least here) and decided I would just try and acquire more self-compassion. That worked, and I started calming. Hypomanic ideation continued, on many topics. It would be fair to say that in the last few weeks I have solved all the problems of my life, at least the ones that can be solved by thinking. I know exactly where I am going and what needs to happen next.
I will only tell 20% of all that came down. In some ways the hypomanic ideation is a trauma-response (or a stress response) to being here. But it’s also good creative work. I accept that about myself.
Let me start with the things that really work here. I had mentioned this in my previous post, that Hridaya is a tantric lineage, meaning that its about finding enlightenment through one’s work-in-the-world and relationships. Sex is allowed but it has to be within Bramacharya, meaning non-ejaculatory orgasm (this is different from the usual definition of Bramacharya, by the way). I met and had conversations with one Bramachari here, that I was greatly impressed with. These teachings are relatively rare, and tantric lineages that have both power and integrity are even more rare. These teachings are absolutely for me, and it is extraordinarily fortunate that I found this place, regardless of whatever immediate success, or lack thereof, I am having with the practice.
There are two issues, or at least qualifiers. The first is that I am not cut-out for full-time spiritual practice. I need my work, I need control of my diet, and the climate here is too hot for me (its not horrible, but I tend to feel lethargic and depressed in this weather). This is, once again, something about myself I need to accept.
The second, related issue, is that although I have come to see Hridaya yoga as a complete developmental practice, I don’t see it as an efficient developmental practice. It can take years to learn simple meditation, let alone Bramacharya in this style. But I need to start, I need to take this into a daily practice. I am starting at kindergarten level, or worse, despite other gifts and wisdom. This is very humbling. Fortunately I am retired and have no other pressing obligations, so it’s all theoretically possible. So help me God. I have decided to NOT go into this gradually, rather to make an immediate commitment to a daily 90 minute practice. If I end up lying on the mat for 85 minutes as the yoga tape runs, cursing my fate, so be it. It needs to be done. I plan on using Sam Harris meditation app Waking Up for the meditation part, it is very good.
The reason which, from my perspective, makes this a not-efficient developmental practice, relates to a disagreement I have with traditional Buddhism and other types of non-dual philosophy. I am not aligned with the cessation of suffering, which is THE key part of Buddhist philosophy, as I understand it. What I am for is the cessation of neurotic suffering. This is the distinction made by Scott Peck in his famous quote, “neurosis is the avoidance of legitimate suffering“. Suffering leads us to our gifts and to the discovery of our blind spots. The distinction between legitimate suffering and neurotic suffering is revealed most efficiently in collective-intelligence activated fields, such as Circling. Other people will inform us from their feedback, and also we will learn simply by speaking and being witnessed (i.e. we learn by listening to ourselves speak). Meditation may reveal our blind spots, but it can take a long time. None of us can have an accurate perspective on ourselves, by ourselves.
“Relationship is the quick path” — Chogyam Trungpa
And this is what I feel is missing in almost all non-dual teachings, including here at Hridaya. Although, in their defense, they do some relational work, there is some awareness there. They do Heart Circles and we have had some community-led men’s group, all of which have been wonderful. But from my perspective, its not nearly enough. Almost everyone here is going through some kind of physical or emotional mishigas. You can take that to meditation, which will clear the problem eventually; or you can take it to collective intelligence, which might clear the problem in 20 minutes.
None of this affects me directly, of course, because I already have the collective intelligence practices. It’s just a bit frustrating, knowing what I do, to see the missed opportunities here. Of course there are relationships happening within the group, its a very sweet group, and it is wonderful to be with everyone doing yoga together, it creates a bond. What’s frustrating for me is the lack of formal relational teachings and practice.
So there you have it. And now back to my “meditation”, if you can call it that.
“Good and bad, happy and sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness” — Chogyam Trungpa