a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause
Not the most uplifting name for a blog post huh? What does melancholy have to do with yoga? What does melancholy have to do with Yoga Union? Come to Yoga Union and feel a sense of melancholy permeate everything you do….not exactly the best tagline for a new business! #melancholy #sadness #whyamIhere #dontwanttogetup
Well, let’s see, I feel sad sometimes. I feel an underlying presence of melancholy in me at times and most recently it has lasted for awhile. It is disheartening and confusing and I can analyze it and think about it but my mind cannot make the feeling in my body go away any sooner so I have to learn to be in it. Endure. I have to learn to let this feeling be one of the many feelings I have in my life. It isn’t fun. It can be scary. I can start to feel like it is never going to shift. I don’t know what makes it shift. I just know that it did or does and then sometimes it comes again.
I have stuff in my life that I have to deal with. Everyone does. Of course I even have to justify that first sentence, my mind won’t let me just be in the selfishness of “me” and “mine” without qualifying that everyone is dealing with “stuff”. You can spend time rationalizing your suffering comparing it to others and telling yourself it “isn’t that bad so suck it up” or it could be the opposite, the “nobody knows suffering like me” type of suffering. Sometimes you have conversations with others and feel relieved like “thank God my suffering isn’t the same as hers cuz hers is terrible” or it could be the “really, you call that suffering, doesn’t she know what I have to deal with?” Other times, it is just a conversation with a friend that can remind me of happy, content, love, life, anything besides what that underlying gnawing feels like.
My study of yoga includes an innate desire to experience the deepest sense of who I am, unity consciousness, non-dual awareness, cosmic intelligence, whatever you want to call it. So, when this melancholy flows right under the surface, it makes me question the diving into the subtler layers. Like, is that what’s there? Melancholy not bliss? It feels “under” it feels deeper but it also seems stuck. It feels like it is in the same place every time. And that there could even be a specificity to this place, like if someone said “in my gut” or “in my heart” gives the sense of where something is felt.
OK, so now my body starts to tell me something, like maybe this isn’t so much deeper, it is just tied into everything else I feel on the surface at the same time. So, what is under that melancholy, where does that feeling even come from? It takes me back to what one of my teachers said a long time ago…..’Yes, enjoy life, be in life, experience life but do yoga so you don’t get caught up in the Shakti, without ever getting to the core’. The Shakti, the animating vibration of this life. The divine feminine power that brings us directly into this messy dark and light and beautiful and destructive life. The very life force that empowers everything that I am, my first breath, every syllable, every sigh.
When I look back at the conversation that reminded me of happy, content, love I realize that it was not about the conversation at all. The conversation just triggered the reflection of the light of joy that is already inside of me. It’s already in there. And furthermore, it is ALWAYS in there. I can get addicted to the vrittis – the busy mind thoughts and stories and judgments. I can over-identify with these individual waves of thoughts and forget the entire cosmic ocean. And so times like these require me to practice more. To really put my money where my mouth is. The times when I feel the most like I want to give up on what I am doing, those are the times that I need to meditate and sit with myself more.
I was meditating the other day and this thought sprung into my head, a little conversation that I had with my husband that made me laugh out loud and the laughter turned into tears. I tapped into a wellspring. I went in deeper, spontaneously. Without a plan, uncharted territory. And just as quickly my mind wanted to zoom in to grab it, hold onto to this feeling, this real feeling that came from a deeper place. And just as quickly the feeling started to slip away. It didn’t matter, I didn’t need it to stay, I just needed the reminder. I needed the reminder that I am more than what I see in the mirror, than who I appear to be out in the world. I needed the reminder of a real inner sense of feeling. A deeply satisfying comfort in this body. I am not just one wave, I am the whole freaking ocean.