I've started a new blog. Why, you may ask, when I wasn't consistent with the blog at Passionate Life Yoga? Because although the argument could be made that things like redefining values, simplifying life, and mindfully working towards health and healing are all things that fall under the "yoga" umbrella, I felt pressured in my yoga blog to always tie my lessons back to the mat. Not that it couldn't be done, but I didn't like the pressure. And, as I just mentioned, I'm trying to simplify life and work towards health, so extra stress and boundaries are out.
The word svastha is Sankrit for "perfect health." More specifically, it means, "a person who is established in the self and the Self." The "self" is defined as the ego, or the "I-maker" part of us; that which allows us individual identity by defining us as separate from everyone and everything else. The "Self" is defined as the higher part of our being; the part of us that can distinguish truth from illusion and the part that connects us to each other as well as to the Universe.
The "self" is an important part of who we are, and for some, it's the only part of our being we're aware of. The "self," or ego, often gets a bad reputation -- those with too much ego are often regarded as shallow and naive. In yoga, we're usually told to "let go of our ego." And while it's vital that we learn to see past the ego and all of the trouble it can get us into, it's also important that we learn to harness a healthy ego. Healthy here doesn't mean a boosted ego, as in, "That guy flexing his muscles sure has a healthy ego!" A healthy ego means self-esteem without arrogance, courage without fool-heartedness, and enough self worth to give love unconditionally. Fostering a healthy ego is learning the skills necessary to be successful in the world while keeping integrity.
Finding a healthy "Self" may be more difficult. The higher Self has a voice within us, but it is not as loud as the voice of the ego. While the ego may blatantly direct our senses toward things it wants in order to feel validated -- like a new dress to feel pretty, ice cream to feel content, or sex to feel loved -- your Self speaks in softer voice. It is the voice heard during the times when the senses are not overloaded; the quite times of meditation, the quite space just before falling to sleep, and the times that you go (gasp!) without distraction of phone, Facebook or TV. We must do the difficult work of introspection and meditation, for to harness a healthy Self is to realize that our true nature is not the undulations of our ego -- our true nature is spirit.
I'm not sure if "perfect health" exists, or if it does, what it looks like. The word "perfect" triggers all sorts of daddy issues for me, and so I'd rather look at svastha as a journey toward a place where my body is healthy and I'm so happy I feel like a fairy-goddess atop a mountain singing to the world, and where my soul is at peace in my body because it is recognized and honored. Above all, I want to create a life for myself where I feel that I am living my life to its fullest, with integrity, a healthy body, loving relationships and honest communication. I want this for myself, but also because my dharma is to heal others, and in order to do that with integrity I must first create a my own life of svastha.
My intuition tells me this journey won't be easy all of the time. It may not be pretty all of the time, either. But knowing me, there will be plenty of moments of comic relief, lots of slackline breaks, hot baths, and ice cream. I think it may also be lonely. I hope at least a few times to find myself surrounded by friends when there is laughter, and wrapped in supportive arms for some of my tears. There is a lot to cover when it comes to finding svastha, so topics may be as lighthearted as how to make homemade ice cream to feed a crowd, or brutally honest, or the wanderings of a vata-vitiated mind -- I'm just not sure yet what the road will bring. Today, I learned that magic still exists because I sat in a tree house with a goddess, sipping tea and surrounded by fairies. Then, the goddess taught me to make raw chocolate while we listened to two sprites play live music and a group of healers discuss crystals. Real, natural healing is happening in the world and I am part of the community who not only believes but makes it happen. That is magic. And in my book, creating real magic is one step to cultivating svastha.