One of the best descriptions I’ve ever encountered for meditative practices such as yoga is this: ‘a guided investigation into the overlooked obvious’. I’ve definitely fallen prey to a tendency to seek exotic states through yoga; those ‘great achievements’ promised in books like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Clairvoyance, clairaudience, levitation, telekinesis, the bliss of total realization – the list goes on. These promised powers are indeed seductive; the imagined super-human version of myself hanging tantalizingly in the mists of the future. I mean, can you imagine how cool it would be to move objects solely with the power of your mind?! You’d be a big hit at parties for sure.
Over the years I’ve been waiting for these powers to manifest (and I’ve encountered some weird stuff) but I’ve always been left wanting. It has taken over a decade of striving to finally begin to realize that any imagining of the future is only that; imagination. This super-self who might woo the world with amazing magic tricks is simply a fantasy. It has taken this past decade and many breakthroughs and disappointments to realize that the only self that is real is the one who is in this moment, right here right now. This self, and all of its weaknesses and strengths, all of its potential for love and loathing, this self with its zits, its bad hair days, its foibles with the credit card company, is the only true self there is. It is only in this ordinariness that true magic can be accessed. Otherwise, if I keep seeking an idealized version of myself, I’ll simply stay lost in fantasy and miss the magic of this moment.
When we can turn our experience of seemingly ordinary things – those most mundane, often overlooked and ‘obvious’ moments of our days – into a sacred practice, then an action as simple as picking up a warm cup of coffee or taking a deep breath can be utterly sublime. Rather than seeking out a ‘super’ version of ourselves, we can realize that who we are right now is already ‘super’, already the ultimate manifestation of who and what we are. This isn’t to say we won’t change and grow, with continuous practice we will. But the only self we have to work with is this one – zits and all. Practice approaching every event of your day as sacred and as an opportunity to bask deeply in the miracle of your flawed, vulnerable, wounded, absolutely fabulous self.
Cameron Gilley has been teaching yoga for over 8 years and has a vested interest in yogic philosophy. He is a faculty member of Semperviva Yoga College, and will be greatly involved in the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings. Cameron draws from his deep well of esoteric knowledge and endeavors to communicate it in an open and expressive manner.