I really hope that someone in the condos directly across the street from where I’m taking yoga teacher training was watching us today.
If they were, they would have seen a carafe, pitchers of water, 3 little cups, set up on a folding table in a parking lot. Six women in lululemon pants, two women in harem pants (all with mugs and towels), a beautiful woman in a sari, and a little grey dog gathering around the table when a discussion ensues.
One by one the women pour water from the carafe into the mugs, with little spoons dip something out of cups into their water. They all separate into different corners of the parking lot, hinge at the waist to bend over, appear to drink the water and cough and snort all over the parking lot. The dog observes. The woman in a sari refills their cups from the table when they return for more only to go back and cough and spit water until they’re done. Then together they simultaneously forward bend.
In the reality of anyone watching from the condos, would either think we are crazy, all sick, or god knows what. In our reality, we were learning a valuable lesson on how to jala neti but it must have looked crazy. These realities are really only perceptions.
Once you start talking about perception you can get into all kinds of interesting discussions about “real life” – which is a ridiculous concept if you really think about it.
I guess this example of the neti lesson reinforced in me that reality is really an illusion — and by that I mean that in any given situation there are multiple realities existing simultaneously. Reality only exists to the one experiencing or perceiving it. Reality is relative to your perspective.
From the point of view of anyone observing us without all the information, we are crazy. From our perspective, we’re learning something new and amazing (or not amazing depending on who you talk to in the group). From the dog’s perspective, the shade feels nice and there’s lots of great smells outside today.
It’s interesting when you really start becoming aware of these concepts. It’s something I’ve always applied to relationships but have never really been able to articulate it in such a way. Just because I believe something — doesn’t make it an absolute truth — no matter how right I think I am (which is usually pretty right). If you remember this — it’s really hard to get resentful of people or hate people or become intolerant to them. You don’t know where they’re coming from or what their reality is in that moment.
If you bring this kind of awareness to others — you become less angry, less frustrated, and happier. You just observe people instead of getting caught up in them. Even if you don’t completely understand or get it “right” – you can still get something out of it. If anyone saw us using jala neti techniques… If they didn’t know what we were doing (or didn’t ask), they probably got a good laugh if they wanted to. If they didn’t, they probably thought we were in a cult or had SARS or something.
I think the danger we get into is believing that there IS a right and a wrong and no in between. You have to leave a little contingency for the in-between, for flex and flow. Life is about breathing room… it’s evolving. Life’s reality is not an absolute — it’s a continuum.