A bit more than two years ago I went in search of enlightenment in the jungles of Peru by means of ayahuasca. I didn’t quite meet the divine as expected, but an insightful experience it was nevertheless. Five weeks ago I came to Mazunte, a neighbouring village of beach-bum town Zipolite, in total lazy-arse mood very much ready to get into some yoga action. That ‘action’ was of quite a different nature than expected, yet profound nevertheless.
A spiritual practice from the heart
Back in February of this year I booked myself an intensive 24-day yoga course as part of my location- independent Latina Dark Fairy Ball. I expected to do some thorough exercise and learn some yoga theory alongside it. As I said, that is not at all what happened. The school I am (still) attending teaches and practices what I call ‘extreme hatha yoga’. Extreme in the sense that it is not about the movement. To the contrary; one is aiming to keep the pose for as long as possible while maintaining stillness, as if the pose is meditation. The school is called Hridaya, which means heart in Sanskrit and is, as you can guess, very heart-centred. Hridaya teachings aim to fulfill Self- realisation, with capital S, or union with the Divine, using the heart-centre, located in the middle of the chest one-finger-width to the right, as a portal or trigger. In Hridaya yoga one practices self-enquiry, which entails always genuinely asking the question: who am I? I am not the body, I am not my thoughts or feelings, I am not my experiences, so; who am I? The objective is to truly experience the Self or Divine, rather than ‘just’ knowing about it on an intellectual level. Although I aimed to stay open-minded and especially open-hearted, I did experience some resistance, especially in the first week. Resistance against the ‘lack of’ movement and resistance to such an open-hearted vibe. All the teachers had this faint smile on their faces constantly emitting love, which is not quite the experience in the ‘outside world’. I had a room to myself on site and throughout my stay I felt considerable resistance against the dustiness and the creepy-crawlies in my room. I am by no means squeamish, but when it comes to super-sized cockroaches, scorpions the size of two-fingers and decaying lizards falling from the roof onto the bedside table, there is only so much I can take. Despite the resistance I stuck with it and was treated to some very valuable tools and ways, to maintain a holistic and profound spiritual practice and be a better and more fabulous person in the process.
On the Path towards the Divine Self
Besides hatha yoga classes, we had lectures, did a lot of meditation and were fed a strictly vegan diet. The diet, meditation and hatha yoga practice, which can be considered a meditation, had a very clear and strong effect on me right from the start. I’ve always been a person who loves to sleep and needs her eight hours. Whether I got it or not, I was always up for a nap. I didn’t sleep well at all in my room at the centre throughout the course. Not only didn’t I feel entirely comfortable, I also felt terribly wired. With the exception of a couple of nights I didn’t sleep more than four or five hours a night and the most extraordinary thing to me was, that I didn’t feel tired during the day and I didn’t feel like napping. Since my early teens I have always had issues with my reproductive organs and these issues have given me great discomfort off and on in the last six years or so. When I travelled through South America a bit more than two years ago, my symptoms diminished significantly and since I have been in Mazunte they have been non-existent. As the aim is to cultivate a sense of detachment from your body, personal, story, your thoughts; all that, that could be considered the ego, as that is not what we are really are, it becomes easier to place certain experiences and mental and psychological issues into perspective.
It’s All About the Community
I was lucky to be a part of a fabulous group of people from all over the world in all shades, sizes and ages and all with wonderful hearts and great stories to share. You might guess that the hippiness level was high, yet it weren’t only hippies attending, but people with an interest in yoga and spirituality. It’s a true blessing to gain profound insights in a truly kind, warm and welcoming environment. To me this form of yogic spiritual practice is ‘just’ a form of mysticism; how to experience the divine directly without priests, a ‘holy’ book or any dogmas. I’ve might just become a Self-chaser and a follower of the mystic path.
imagery: Hridaya yoga