by Octavio Salvado.
Peering out from amid the 333 million divine and demonic faces of Mythic India, there is one whose reflection illuminates the path of yoga as ‘skill in action’ more thoroughly and wholeheartedly than the rest – Akhilandeshvari, the Goddess Never Not broken.
Her invitation is simple: Recognize that there are no full stops in life, or in yoga and that the long road of truth snakes on eternally. Meaning that we are always gifted the opportunity to refine ourselves and our authenticity and redefine our relationship to whatever experience life is presenting us with.
Sure, we do our best to impose completion on our endeavors. We make certificates of proficiency, of marriage and ownership and grant titles of authority to solidify a sense of finality but in the end, all becomes dust. The papers will burn or degrade and the particles that once seemed so firm will fall away only to be reconfigured and reborn as some new expression of this ever changing, never not broken Universe. Like bread, marriage must be remade each morning. Like a heartbeat, every asana must pulse with aliveness, constantly being broken apart and rebuilt with every new breath.
In this way the theatre of Life mirrors the arena of Practice. Within both contextual fields we are being called to step up and recognize that we are never not in the pose, never outside of a moment that deserves our deepest commitment to remain present. Life is falling apart? So what? Stay present. Can’t do the pose? So what? Stay present, do what you can do and do it with your whole heart. THAT is the essence yoga, the shape is just the environment, the ‘Dharmekshetra’, the field of Dharma where we are offered the privilege to come to know the inner turnings of our mind and through the alchemical blend of our own dedication and insight, potentially disrupt our habitual tendencies that cause us to show up in ways that do no justice to the truth of who we are and what we are capable of.
That is why the great master, Patanjali asserts at the very outset of his timeless Yoga Sutras, ‘Atha yoga nusasanam’ – The practice of yoga begins NOW! And NOW! And NOW! Because the practice never ends and despite what the self-help books say, Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes practice. The call to presence in other words, is our collective human dharma and there is nothing else. No big secrets, no hidden meanings. The answer is there in plain site of our radiant inner eye. Be present, be ready and know that our work is to smooth out all transitions both on and off the mat through the steady cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness until our destiny pulls us deep into the heart of its heart. Presence is where purpose is born. The in between spaces is where God lives. Bibles and Bhagavad Gitas, burn them all if they cause us to fixate on something singular, robbing us of the sweetness of extracting God from every single circumstance.
The truth is, I can no longer with any real conviction separate Life and Yoga. The gap has thinned and they now bleed into each other like streams of red and blue dye, staining the world permanently purple. This same stain afflicts the best students, not the one’s with the prettiest poses or the most online followers, but the ones whose eyes burn bright, blazing purple and whose breath echoes through class like a mantric breeze, seamless and humming. The best students are the one’s that show up, literally and figuratively. Even when they fall down, they show up. Even when their edge is met, especially when their edge is met and their triggers are firing, they show up. This is true Adikhara, true studentship.
Such a beautiful word, Adikhara, one that yields the ripest fruit once the hard shell has been pierced with an etymological blade. ‘Adi’ means ‘with respect to’ and ‘Khara’ comes from the root word ‘Kha’, which quite simply means ‘axel hole’. It is the space in the center of the wheel that allows things to turn. When things are turning smoothly it is called ‘su-kha’ and when the turnings are difficult, ‘du-kha’. So the literal translation of Adikhara is ‘with respect to the space between things’ or ‘with respect to the gap in the middle’.
When we pay attention to the gaps and the spaces between things, to all of those little details of our ordinary, everyday lives, we slip into the current, we become a student of Life and the yoga becomes whatever moment we find ourselves immersed in. When we get present and begin noticing all of the gorgeous eccentricities and nuances of our partner’s personality, or the way golden sunlight sometimes hits cloud tips after rain, or the exact way we place our toes when we step again and again to the top of the mat, then there is ‘Sukha’ and life turns with ease, with grace, with God. We have become Akhilandeshvari, the eternal adjuster, never complacent, never finished, forever refining our relationship to the moment by breaking down what we think we know and stepping vulnerable, raw, ready and willing into every new field of Now.
Because that is all there ever is, right now.
So my friends, spread and stretch your toes, firm your feet on the floor, deepen your breath…. and let the practice begin.