I’ll take my soul freerange, grass-fed and pumped full of affirmations please.

Why is it that when I’m in one place all I want to do is move around, and when I’m moving around all I want to do is be in one place? Oh right, because I’m looking for happiness outside of myself. 

Chai love you!
I’ve been reading a book called The Untethered Soul (shout out to Carolynne from Fearless Heart Yoga who recommended it years ago). There’s a lot to dig into so I won’t aim for a comprehensive summary, but a fundamental lesson in the book is that you are not your thoughts and emotions. Rather, you are the one who observes the thoughts and emotions that pass through you. The author, Michael Singer, explains that you are not the voice in your head narrating your life, you are the one listening. Singer describes this voice as a roommate–one you would never normally tolerate, whom you can choose not to listen to.
The real you, the one who observes the thoughts and emotions running through your head, is pure consciousness, heart, spirit, soul, etc. The real you is completely self-sufficient, contented, and free. 

But through our life experiences we accrue proverbial thorns in our heart that are incredibly sensitive and painful when touched. To avoid this pain we “protect” these thorns from the outside world by living our lives in ways that steer clear of potential disturbances. In doing so we change our behaviour and ourselves–we let our fears drive our lives and we barely even notice it. 

For example, if I have a deep fear of rejection I will do everything I can to impress others, make them like me, and avoid disapproval and exclusion. I would try to figure out what kind of behaviour, beliefs, clothes, looks, lifestyle, job, opinions, etc. would be acceptable to others and then do my utmost to stick within those boundaries. I might hold back from connecting deeply with others for fear of them rejecting me. Even in small ways, we’re constantly doing this: weighing whether we should say this or that, debating a different hairstyle, or stressing over what to wear. All while quashing whatever personal truths that don’t fit the narrative we’ve deemed safe.

We spend our entire lives constructing a magnificent internal structure to protect ourselves from pain, and Singer suggests that all we have to do is stop running from it. Instead, when something comes up, we just stay aware that we are the observer of our thoughts and emotions–that as pain arises, and it will, we can just feel it, breath into it, relax, and let it pass. If we do this consistently we will slowly release the thorns that we’ve been trying to protect all these years. 

For some, this will be a little too abstract, spiritual or unscientific, and that’s alright. But for me it really resonates. When I think about change and growth, and reflecting on my last blog post, it’s easy for me to get caught up in hoping for some resolution to my current pain points. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I’m not measuring up to the growth that I know is possible for myself. But it’s clear that this is counterproductive. If I beat myself up about how I’m not fixing all my problems and being the stellar person I want to be, I’m just cutting down my own foundation. 

So I’m trying something different. Whenever fear, frustration, anxiety, or just plain old negative self-talk rises up, I can just feel it. I can breath, relax my face and shoulders, and observe my thoughts and feelings as if they were objects trotting through my mind. “Oh look, some major validation seeking coming through! Oh interesting, I see some victimhood slipping in. Hmm. No need to hang onto or battle with those. Let’s just let that pass on through, ya?” 

Ooo boy. It’s tough to even write those things! It just goes to show how much I try to avoid pinpointing and tugging at the pain and shame that I’ve been “protecting” myself from. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of arranging my whole life to appease those buggers!

Be your fabulous self!
I’ve been playing with a few mantras/ affirmations to help trigger me to find awareness when I’m starting to react to something. Maybe they’re interesting for you:

BYOV (Bring Your Own Validation)

I’m constantly seeking validation from other people and mechanisms. When I become aware of this I think to myself, “What if I had that validation already? What then?” Funny enough, just suggesting that I already have the validation I’m seeking often liberates me to move on to the behaviour I actually want to enact. It’s like banging on a door waiting for someone to come open it for me only to realize I it’s not even locked. Alrighty, don’t mind if I do!

24/7 heart

Another mantra I’m loving, based on a quote in Singer’s book, is “Nothing is worth closing my heart over.” This is such a powerful one. It reminds me that when I let myself be driven by fear I close myself off in every possible way. The sensation might be familiar to you–it’s a closing in around my chest that I can feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually all in one fell swoop, and all it takes to trigger it might be someone giving a one-word answer to a story I care about, or just looking at me funny. More often than not it’s arbitrary and small, and the only reason it matters is because I wanted something from them–validation, love, to be proven right (because then I feel valuable), or just to confirm that I do in fact exist. And they didn’t do that! Shame on them, right? Well, why was I looking for that from them anyway? What a weird choice, my dear psyche, and yet so common. So why do it? Absolutely nothing is worth closing my heart over. Because I know that when my heart is open I’m not looking for anything from anyone. I’m just exploring, enjoying, experiencing whatever comes, and having fun with the people, events, thoughts and emotions that are passing on through. Why else bother with this life stuff if not for that? 

Relax, don’t do it, when you wanna get to it

The last mantra I’ll share is underscored throughout the book, but it’s also based on something my Dad says often: “Everything is driven by either fear or love. Choose love.” It’s not always clear what that even means, and sometimes I feel like “choosing love” is like trying to conjure an orgasm* out of thin air (sorry family members reading this, but for me this is exactly the right analogy). You can’t look at it directly, staring it down, commanding it to happen. We all know that’ll get you nowhere fast. We’re more successful with an indirect approach–just being present, feeling all the feelings and letting everything flow through you as you enjoy whatever the experience brings, and then letting it pass. Stay open; choose love. 

Of course, all of this is hard. And I am the furthest from being on a high horse on this–most of what I share here is for me at least as much as it is for you. But it’s all about practise, vulnerability, and doing our damnedest to support each other and keep moving forward. 

What do you think? Do you use any mantras to help you find supportive mindsets? Does this all sound crazy to you? Good thing I’m not looking for your validation! (Lol, working on it.)


*I debated sharing this slightly riské analogy with you, but then I remembered how I feel about sex and shame: we’re so terrified to acknowledge reality when it comes to anything sex related, and in my opinion, this is one of the most damaging hang-ups we have. It leads to tons of misinformation, risky and harmful behaviour, and so much missed opportunity when it comes to enjoying this dear life. How ridiculous! Let’s do better with this, ya?

You can listen to Michael Singer discuss his book with Oprah on a recent episode of her podcast, Super Soul Conversations. Find it anywhere you get your podcasts, or on YouTube below!

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That vipassana course was a breeze, said no one ever

It’s difficult to explain what it’s like to do a ten-day vipassana course. At its most concise, I think I can say that a vipassana course is like a self-imposed minimum security prison with mental solitary confinement. It’s a test of mental discipline; a roller coaster of emotional baggage repeatedly kicking you in the face; it’s experiential proof that meditation can be a really powerful tool; and maybe, just maybe, it’s the first step on your path to enlightenment.

Surprise! You’re here to meditate.

Going into this course, I thought that the hard parts would be not talking, writing, or using technology. These were hard, though not talking was actually the easiest of all of the rules to follow. No, the hardest part was contending with the TEN AND A HALF HOURS of meditation scheduled every single day. That is a long effing time my friends. A long effing time.

I must have read the schedule at some point months ago and thought something like, “I’ll get used to it. It’ll be hard, but I’m tough, and it’ll just kind of work out because that’s what everyone will be doing.” NO. It does not work that way. To give you the full picture, here’s the daily schedule for ten full days:

  • 4:00 Wake up
  • 4:30 Meditate in the Dhamma (meditation) hall or in your room
  • 6:30 Breakfast
  • 7:00 Rest
  • 8:00 Group meditation in the Dhamma hall (required)
  • 9:00 Meditate in the Dhamma hall or in your room (according to the teacher’s instructions)
  • 11:00 Lunch
  • 11:30 Rest
  • 13:00 Meditate in the Dhamma hall or in your room
  • 14:30 Group meditation in the Dhamma hall (required)
  • 15:30 Meditate in the Dhamma hall or in your room (according to the teacher’s instructions)
  • 17:00 Tea break (you get tea, a bit of fruit, and puffed rice instead of dinner)
  • 17:30 Rest
  • 18:00 Group meditation in the Dhamma hall (required)
  • 19:00 Discourse (watching a recorded Dhamma talk by S. N. Goenka)
  • 20:30 Group meditation in the Dhamma hall (required)
  • 21:00 Bed

I’ll say again, that’s 10.5 hours of scheduled meditation either in the Dhamma/meditation hall, or in your room. Oh, and every meditation period is opened and closed by 5 – 20 minutes of god-awful recorded chanting blared at volume over speakers in the Dhamma hall. The first moment I heard this chanting I had to actively stifle my laughter. You see, while the teacher who’d recorded this chanting (this guy named Goenka) could definitely sing well if he wanted to, he, for some unfathomable reason, chose to gurgle his chanting instead. Have you ever seen the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Early in the movie an alien species called Vogon captures the main characters. These aliens are all bureaucrats by nature and love paperwork and boring policies and regulations. They also use their unique Vogon poetry to torture humans and individuals of other species. Although it’s not quite the same, this is what I pictured every time the chanting was played. Later on, some new chanting was added, which sounded very similar to Dori when she’s speaking whale.

I was not a very good vipassana student. 

Despite the, ahem, unique chanting, I really did try for the first 4.5 days or so. I even thought I was getting the hang of it on the fourth day when we started doing actual vipassana meditation rather than the preparatory annapanna meditation. Unfortunately, this feeling did not last, and I soon was finding ways to reduce the number of hours of meditation I was doing each day. 

One way to do this was by escaping to my room at every opportunity (leaving anywhere from 4 – 6 hours of unavoidable daily meditation). Fortunately, no one’s monitoring whether you’re actually meditating when you’re in your room, but you pretty much have to stay in there (in a 5 x 8 ft room in my case, which I was lucky enough to have all to myself). And, of course, you’re not allowed to write, read, use technology, or even do yoga while you’re in there. So, essentially, either meditate or have a timeout. To be clear, here are all the rules:

  • Don’t kill (not people, bugs, or animals for food)
  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t lie
  • Avoid “sexual misconduct” (abstain from sexual desires)
  • Don’t take intoxicants
  • Keep “noble silence”, meaning don’t talk, gesture, pass notes, make eye contact, or even walk with another meditator (though you can talk to the teacher during specific times to ask practical meditation questions) 
  • Don’t read or write
  • Don’t use technology
  • Don’t jog, do yoga, or do any exercise other than walking
  • Don’t meditate outside (apparently, nature is distracting. WHAT?)
  • Don’t mix with the opposite gender (basically impossible to do anyway because men and women are kept almost entirely separate)

The first thing to go was the 4:30 – 6:30 am meditation. Not because I didn’t want to wake up early–I actually don’t mind as I’ve gotten quite used to waking up at 5:30 during my yoga teacher training course. This was the first to go for two reasons: 1) because it was the time slot that was most in my control to cut out; and 2) I could try to sleep instead of being stuck having a timeout in my room. The day could just get a little bit shorter.

Escaping to my room at greater and greater frequency helped, but I had a lot of time on my hands and very little to do with it. Very quickly, the simplest tasks became focal points of any breaks or timeouts in my room. 

Napping became a genuine passtime. There was a day (when I was still attending 4:30 – 6:30 meditation) when I napped three times before 1pm. THREE TIMES. And it’s not like I was doing lots of physical activity to tucker myself out. That morning looked like this: I woke up, sat in a room for two hours, ate breakfast, napped; woke up, sat in a room for 1.5 hours, napped; woke up, ate lunch, napped. How is that even possible?? 

Other very, very simple activities became centrepoints of any free time I had. For example, needing to use the bathroom could be stretched into a solid 10-minute break if you walk slowly to your room, get your toilet paper, walk slowly to the bathroom, take your time, wash your hands slowly, and walk back to your room to return your toilet paper.

There were two exciting incidents in which I got to handwash my undergarments. I genuinely looked forward to this because I could take 30 – 45 minutes to do this if I tried. 

One time when I was “meditating” in the Dhamma hall I instead counted the number of bricks I could see in the section of wall in front of me (working around the curtains and the girl blocking my view, of course). There were 314. I remember because Pi. I later found out that I was not the only person to count bricks in the Dhamma hall.

Here are the rest of my key pastimes (that didn’t break any rules…):

  • Stitching up holes in everything I owned. (I managed to stitch up 8 small holes in some very worn-in pants, one hole in the crotch of another, and reinforce some stitching coming apart in my backpack. Thank god for my little sewing kit.)
  • Watching monkey parents teach their monkey children to climb things
  • Flossing and brushing my teeth
  • Plucking my eyebrows
  • Staring into the forest
  • Staring out my bedroom window
  • Staring at the ceiling
  • Organizing my tampon stash in its ziploc bag. Yep, did that.

Alas, even with all of these new pastimes, I still had a lot of time on my hands. So I broke a rule. Two rules actually. Or maybe I broke one and bent the other, you be the judge. The first, I started doing yoga in my room. After shifting my night table around, I managed to just barely fit my yoga mat in the space immediately adjacent to my bed, the door, the wall, and my night table. I even had to duck my head under my bed to do a wide-legged forward fold, but it was so, so worth it. I ended up doing yoga every other day or so and it made me feel normal again for a few hours.

The second rule I broke/bent/whatever was that I started doodling. I say bent because technically it wasn’t a rule that you couldn’t draw. Though I was supposed to lock up my notebook and pens along with my tech, valuables and book, so I admit that it was kind of implied. But this doodling was marvellous! Never have I truly appreciated the magic of how time passes when one draws. 

You start to lose it a little.

Despite this rule breaking, you start to go a little crazy. Once when I was trying to jailbreak from my timeout, I did my best to look meditative as I paced thoughtfully back and forth down a 100m path at the back of the property. (I tried to stand back here once staring into the forest and a teaching assistant kindly told me that it was meditation time and I should be in the Dhamma hall or in my room. So I learned to make myself look busy and meditative). I paced that path 20 times. It took me about 40 minutes. I wondered to myself whether it would take the same number of steps walking one direction as it did the other. Turns out it took 137 steps in one direction but 145 going the other. Fascinating. I theorized that it takes more steps to go downhill than it takes to go uphill. Around lap 8 I was thinking about how grateful I was for this little path, how it was keeping me sane. I started calling it the Path of Salvation, because it saved me. My neighbour entered onto the path and I welcomed her with open arms–come child, you are welcome on the Path of Salvation. I had to stifle the huge smile that burst out when I thought this to myself until she passed me so as not to look like a total weirdo. Around lap 12 I found that same neighbour next to the Path of Salvation picking something out of a pile of dirt. By lap 14 she was arranging small white pebbles into the symbol for Pi on a small concrete slab. The second time Pi had come up. Curious. I again stifled a hysterical smile and kept walking. 

Another time, I saw a woman sitting very close to a tree, meticulously examining the ivy growing on it. Someone else told me that she started counting the number of shades of green she could see, because she had literally. Nothing. Else. To. Do. 

So what? 

Going into this course I’d heard mixed reviews, though mostly positive. Many people say that vipassana has changed their lives. They start to break down their ego and experience the reality of the law of impermanence. Fantastic. I’d also heard of an experience in which someone desperately wanted to leave every single day. My experience was more like the latter, though I think many people experience both. 

But I think I’m glad I did it. Ya. Yep, I’m glad I did it. For one, because it was on my bucket list. If I hadn’t done it, I would’ve always wondered about it. Second, doing this has helped me discover other options for learning about and practising meditation and Bhuddism that aren’t so intense, which maybe I’ll try another time. And third, although I didn’t practise vipassana “properly” as Goenka would say, I did try to apply vipassana’s key elements: awareness and equanimity (neutral observation). Yes, I let my mind wander pretty freely during meditation, but when I ran into painful baggage that I’m carrying around, I tried to catch myself and observe my reactions with equanimity. Despite this not being quite the intent of vipassana, I found it very useful. I started to chip away at some of the negative stories I’m carrying around. It’s certainly going to take a lot more work, and I’m nowhere close to enlightened, but it’s a start, and that’s good too.

I do have one clear takeaway: with a kind of Bhuddist foundation, vipassana teaches that we should observe the law of nature that is impermanence. This law of constant change is called anicca (pronounced a-NEE-cha). When something happens, remember that it is impermanent. Instead of reacting, just observe the sensations that arise in your body. See how long they last. Watch them as they pass away. If there were a motto for vipassana it might be, this too shall pass. In day-to-day life and while traveling, I’ve learned that whether this moment is the absolute best or absolute worst you’ve ever had, remember, this too shall pass. So don’t get attached to this moment. Don’t crave it or avoid it. Just enjoy it while it’s here or take solace in the fact that the storm won’t last forever. 

Anicca. Anicca. Anicca.

Learning to enjoy my own company with 10 days of silence

Starting tomorrow I won’t talk, read, write, use technology, do yoga, or be in touch with my friends or family for ten days. Sounds a little crazy, but that’s how you learn vipassana meditation, apparently. 

Vipassana is a style of meditation that I actually know very little about. And yet I’ve signed up to learn it for ten days at a centre in Dharamkot, in upper Dharamsala, India. I’m a bit terrified about how this will go. I’m pretty new and unpracticed at meditation in general, and I don’t think I’ve ever gone a whole day without at least talking to myself. But it’s the extremeness of this course that I hope will give me new perspective on things. 

Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The word Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be freely practiced by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and will prove equally beneficial to one and all. 

– from dhamma.org 

Many people find it unthinkable to spend ten days in silence without any form of distraction. I also find it a bit insane. But should this be so unimaginable? Why does the idea of ten days with nothing but my own thoughts scare me and others in this way? Shouldn’t we be able to sit with ourselves and enjoy our own company? Not in this modern world, where spending 20 minutes alone in a cafe is nearly impossible to do without turning to one’s phone or book. 

A couple years ago a friend reminded me that the only person you’ll spend your whole life with is yourself–what a scary thought. Another wise friend of mine occasionally points out that in general, we’re terribly mean to ourselves; if we were our own best friend, we wouldn’t say 90% of the things we tell ourselves every day. You may not think this is the case for you, but it’s certainly true of my own self-talk. I’m much more supportive and understanding of my friends and family than I am of myself. Judging by my behaviour and addiction to distractions of every kind, it seems like I don’t enjoy my own company much at all. 

This is why I’ve opted into these terrifying ten days. Perhaps with some externally enforced discipline I might just get to know myself a bit, and hopefully learn to like what I find. I’ve talked with and heard about a number of people who’ve done a vipassana retreat like this, and most of them say that these ten days break you down completely and then, just in time, build you back up again. I hear that the breaking down part isn’t too comfortable–in fact, it’s very likely that most days I’ll desperately want to leave. But for those who stick it out the experience is often life changing. And I could use some of that. 

If this torturous experience sounds attractive to you, you can likely find a vipassana centre near you (or you can build it into your next adventure). There are hundreds of centres around the world, which you can find at www.dhamma.org. Generally, you have to do a ten-day retreat if you’re a beginner in order to learn vipassana, and then you can do three day retreats (if you ever want to do it again). Incredibly, retreats are residential, providing accommodations and food, and students just give a donation at the end of their stay. This way, students only ever pay for future students rather than themselves. I hear that you usually have to register two or three months in advance to get a spot so plan ahead! 

If vipassana sounds a little bit too intense for your liking (fair enough), then you can also do a tushita meditation retreat. My understanding is that tushita retreats are ten days and introduce you to Buddhism and meditation. These courses are still a serious commitment, but you’re allowed to read, write and talk (not sure about using technology), and silence is observed only some of the time. Sounds pretty luxurious to me right about now. There’s a tushita mediation centre right next to the vipassana centre in Dharamkot, and tushita centres can also be found around the world. I’ve gone to one drop-in meditation class there and it was lovely. Perhaps I’ll try one of their retreats later on. If you’re interested you can find information and register for a course at www.tushita.info (it’s a good idea to register a couple months in advance). 

Wish me luck! I’ll be off the grid until May 26. Hopefully I’ll be just a little more enlightened the next time we chat.

What makes someone a yogi?

Before coming to India for a yoga teacher training course, I hadn’t thought too much about what it means to be a “yogi”. I figured that if you like yoga and do yoga pretty regularly then feel free to call yourself a yogi (if you want). It doesn’t give you superpowers, nor the right to teach yoga or be superior; but if it helps you enjoy your practice and find other yogis to hang out with, then great! 

As you might expect, it turns out that being a “yogi” in India is a lot more intense, and the title is a lot more meaningful. To begin with, the study and practice of yoga is both more commonplace and far more spiritually significant in India. It seems to me that the title of yogi is a meaningful sign of expertise and dedication to one’s yoga practice. I should point out that, traditionally, yoga is much more than a physical practice. It’s a spiritual practice that gives guidelines about how to live, the goal of which is to control the mind so that one can reach enlightenment. (This is according to the practice of Ashtanga, or eight-limbed, yoga, which outlines eight elements of yoga, only one of which is the physical practice). So while there are many levels of yogi-hood, the great yogis are those who have reached what’s called samadhi, or enlightenment. 

I struggle with the concept of samadhi. One of our teachers (who considers himself a middle-of-the-pack yogi) describes the path to samadhi as one of detachment. (I’m about to get into some granola here so bare with me). Supposedly, most people spend their entire lives living in their first, second, third and, if they’re lucky, their fourth chakras. Chakras aren’t really my thing, but I’ll give a quick overview in case you aren’t familiar (feel free to skip the next paragraph if you already know this stuff). 

There are seven main chakras or energy centres, (though there are a bunch of smaller ones throughout your body). These chakras start at your tailbone and follow your spine up to the crown of your head. The first chakra, muladhara, is also called the root chakra because it’s located at your tailbone and relates to safety, survival, stability, food and other basic needs. The second, svadhishthana, is at your sacrum and relates to intellectual interests, emotions, relationships, pleasure and creativity. Manipura, the third chakra, is at your navel and relates to things like ego, power, respect and fear. The fourth chakra, anahata, is also called the heart chakra because it’s located at your heart and relates to compassion, unconditional love, passion and devotion. Vishuddhi, the fifth chakra, is located at the throat and governs communication, expression and relates to teaching. The sixth chakra, ajna, is also called the third-eye chakra because of its location just above and between the eyebrows. It relates to intuition (and even the ability to see the future), visualization, and balancing the inner and outer worlds. Last, sahasrara is located at the crown of the head and relates to samadhi (enlightenment), inner wisdom, a sense of oneness with the “universal consciousness”, and detachment from the body. 

My understanding is that one should generally aim to balance energy across all of the seven chakras, but that for just about everyone, their first, second, third and, if they’re lucky, fourth chakras are most active. Supposedly, most people want to expand their heart chakra (without knowing it), because they want to be happy, and value compassion, love, service, and helping others–all elements of an open or active heart chakra. 

Getting back to my point about yogis: apparently, a “true yogi” aims to move up into their fifth, sixth and seventh chakras, as they work toward enlightenment. A “true yogi” works to detach themselves from this world, which is why many people on this path become monks, giving up their belongings and families, perhaps eating the same simple food for the rest of their lives, and relying on the generosity of others to sustain them. This is because one can’t move into the upper chakras if one is distracted by the worldly desires and attachments of the lower chakras. “True yogis” even release their attachments to the heart chakra. They can show some compassion for others but, supposedly, they can’t busy themselves with helping others or changing the world if they’re ever going to reach enlightenment. 

The intention of moving into the upper chakras isn’t to deprive oneself of the things and people you’re attached to or enjoy, but rather that through one’s practice of pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, and living in alignment with the yamas and niyamas (codes of social and personal conduct), one releases any attachment to worldly things like food, ego, family, and service. Eventually, a “true yogi” just becomes disinterested in the world, coming to reject their life as it was, and becoming a recluse. If they’re lucky, they release their attachment to their individuality and spend their time in samadhi, or oneness with the universal consciousness; coming to truly know that every single creature and thing in the universe is an individual drop of the same ocean. 

Now, I know I’m living it up in my first three or four chakras, but I’m having trouble with the idea that the goal of a yoga practice (according to Patanjali’s Ashtanga, or eight-limbed, yoga), is to detach completely from the world. In fact, I can’t help but think that the process of becoming disinterested in all of the pleasures and people that one used to enjoy, and becoming indifferent to life sounds an awful lot like depression. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for someone who’s reached samadhi to decide when they will leave this world, and kill themselves. 

When I asked about this, our teacher tried to distinguish depression from samadhi, saying that someone with depression is sad and feels stuck, whereas someone in samadhi is happy and free. I understand this for the most part, but I still don’t like the idea of becoming so disinterested in life that it would feel natural to leave this world rather than enjoy it. I suppose it makes sense that I feel this way–for now, I’m perfectly content to stick around in my first four chakras. Maybe one day, when I’m much older, it will feel perfectly natural to prepare myself for leaving this world by detaching in this way. 

Perhaps then I’ll be a “true yogi”. But in my opinion, being a yogi is like being a good person who does their best to live with intention and be happy. That’s certainly hard enough as it is, and it’s good enough for me.