What moves us, what inspires us, what in our experience of life provides us with the spark to transcend? No matter how much or how little we have, the inherent repetition of life can dull our appreciation for its singular beauty. Sometimes we are jarred awake by tragedy or catastrophe and become painfully aware of living in the present. Other times the majesty of nature or the deep sense of belonging when we are connected to others, provides us with the spiritual nourishment we need to stay inspired. Rather than pointing us toward experiences that encourage a wider and deeper perspective, the consumer culture of today reinforces acquisition of things as both the primary activity and meaning behind existence. The result is a kind of spiritual bankruptcy or at the very least a kind of cultural dysthymia. As a society, we over-work and over-eat and generally reach for anything that will stave off the boredom or emptiness.
Last summer I had the distinct pleasure of walking through several old European cathedrals. As I crossed the threshold into each and every one of them I was struck by how the din and chaos in the world outside faded into the background. Believe what you will of Christianity but they absolutely understood the inherent need within all of us for an inner sanctum and how to tune the mind to that space through light, architecture and iconography. As I sat in the pews of Sacré Cœur in Paris I was moved and inspired, not because I have some need to be saved by god with a capital G, but rather because I was reminded that the meaning (with a capital M) is within all of us all the time. It helps to sit in silence before a gorgeous stained glass rose window, but whatever the catalyst, finding peace and deeper meaning expressed externally through art or music or nature is essential. Ritual in all its forms is a powerful force in every life. It can produce both rapture and discontent. I have often said that for me personally yoga as ritual is my cathedral or church. The sometimes halting, sometimes graceful movement of my body through space makes it possible to better align my mind to the hearts fluidity...thereby making my internal space an external expression. What is your yoga practice? How do you find inspiration?
With great affection,
John Merideth - Spring 2011