the unemotional yogi: master or myth?

Emotions and Yoga: BFFs or Enemies?
“It is not a great thing to feel nothing. I know there are so-called yogis, gurus, and masters out there who shrug and say, “It doesn’t matter,” who can do things like get into and out of a relationship with no feeling…but this does not mean enlightenment. This means they are closed.”

My Ayur Vedic doctor and friend Shiva (or Dr. Varma to those in the biz) said this to me the other day. Shiva’s been telling me something along these lines since I first met him over two years ago. I nodded each time, wondering why he was mentioning it.

Slamming the Lid
And then, finally, it hit home this week. I believed this, am still caught up in this way of thinking. Somehow, somewhere along the lines during my teacher training, I came to understand that non-reaction was “yogic”, that being able to shrug and say, “It is what it is,” or “Ah well, that’s the cycle of life,” was important. I remember reading a book by Iyengar, where he talks about why he didn’t cry at his wife’s funeral; it was because to cry would just be to give over to the petty human experience, to cry in self-pity, and not for her, to lower down to the level below the soul. So I began to work on that.

Here’s what my method was: anytime something hurt me, or disappointed me, or made me mad, I would shrug and say, “It’s okay,” or, “It is what it is.” Here’s what that did to me: It denied all those feelings–those honest, integral human experience feelings. It slammed a lid on them. So they boiled under the surface, unacknowledged and unreleased. And my body reacted with anxiety–one of my great teachers in life. As Shiva says, my body was saying, “No, why is she shutting down?”

What a Load of Hooey
Because it’s not yogic to not react, to shrug and say, “It’s okay.” Yoga is union, is opening to the connection with the greatest love in our own hearts. How can we love if we’re not open to it? How can we be open to anything if we’re always shutting down?

I definitely don’t have all the answers, but one thing I know is this: I’m not slamming the lid on anymore, no matter what any yogi, even Iyengar, has to say.

Jan 22, 2010 · Comment

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