Like fierce caterpillars my eyebrows crawl up my forehead where they lash out at the presence of ghosts, spirits, God, and angels. They produce exclamations of suspicion, even as I desperately try to open my mind. Sometimes I’m positive they’re trying to keep my third eye closed for good.
My mother loves Jesus. She’ll inform you she talks to God and she knows she’s his favorite. My dad likes facts and statistics, yet has never implied that he is anything but Christian.
I floundered through Wicca and atheism. Buddhism caught my eye for a bit. General paganism seemed like home for a while. Christianity made my mouth pucker, it was never an option. All the while I desperately wanted a spiritual connection I could call my own. Somewhere I could feel equal to men, that rang true to my beliefs, and didn’t make my eyebrows dance like mad across my face.
Meanwhile, yoga was a healing balm to my barrage of negative thoughts. It was my self care. It was healthy.
A friend of mine told me her traditions for the Persian New Year and my heart ached with envy. I couldn’t help but compare my measly watch-a-ball-drop-and-kiss-someone-drunk tradition. The whole thing seemed hollow and cheap. I read an article discussing Christmas and Easter out west compared to Greek traditions. Again I saw a list of traditions that made me pout. For weeks I walked around frustrated with commercialism and the disconnect from holidays. I was angry with the lack of spiritual connection in my life, with the empty traditions that had no scrap of sacredness.
One morning I thought about what I learned during our weekend class. We had discussed Ishvara pranidhana, dedication to your personal God. My teacher had talked about how OM is sacred, not a word to be thrown around but a true root and deep expression of God. I had just enjoyed the beauty of several people chanting together and the way it made my body feel after.
As I sat there and chanted OM to myself that morning, I tried to connect to what she had said. I imagined what I suspected my personal God to be. OM. I placed the emotion of being completed supported in my heart. OM. I felt a connection to the purest form, the purest energy. OM. I opened my eyes.
I suspect my face looked much like my moms when she sits in the pew at church listening to a beautiful sermon, or sharing God’s peace, or singing His praises. Suddenly, I’m finding that my yoga practice has moved from a means of survival to a religious practice. It carries the quiet grace of a service. Holds the rites of a magical practice. Allows the space of Buddha’s words.
Within my practice I am finding God, however I define that, and it is becoming a little easier to tame my personal, fiercely skeptic eyebrows.