Updated: May 8
I still can not believe that I returned home. LA is home. Where the family is and the friends are. The streets are familiar and I do not need to rely on the navigation to whiz through local residential streets avoiding big avenue traffic. LA roots.
On a very early sunrise hike in the beautiful hills of Griffith Park, my go-to head clearance walk, the city lights still glitter the cityscape while the glimmering sparkle of the winter sunrise warms the land. And, right then and there, when darkness soon gave way for light, I smirked. I thought to myself, “I am home.” I have returned home, again.
Here in my native LA, which I’ve really resented for most of my teenage and early adult life, was a place I tried to escape. It is quite evident that it was not the city that I was trying to leave behind. Of course, an identity of an adventurous traveler is what i was holding on to freely.
Although I have to say for most of my life, I’ve lived with this unsettling feeling of not belonging. Of not aligning. Not fitting.
Sutra 2.42 of Patanjali's Yoga texts deals with Santosha. It states, "By contentment, supreme joy is gained." It is not this western notion or conditional happiness that we often associate with joy. For example, if I get a raise, then I will be happy. Or, if I am no longer singled then….
Truthfully, after I somehow achieve what I wanted to achieve, after a brief celebration, once again there will be some point of discontentment.
The sutra resonates most with me in the following way: to practice gratitude and appreciative joy I may get closer to that place of contentment. Now, it would be foolish or inauthentic to say that I too do not get to a place of extreme craving and yearning for things that I do not necessarily need. That in itself brings me away from contentment. However, keeping this value system ingrained as a non-negotiable, I tend to turn towards it as a guiding source, of stability, and of one that permits me to not swing back and forth from boredom and this idea of not having, to one that is grounded in gratitude and contentment.
Yoga is many things. It is physical and emotional wellness. It is mental clarity. And, also, its confusion, addiction, arrogance, and ignorance. All states belong. Integrating them is what yoga asks us to do.
The thirty-year-old version of me thought, “well if I could escape through traveling maybe all would be well.” And, failing to achieve this notion of happiness over and again, yet with newfound wisdom from those lessons, slowly I began to see that at the base of it, there was very little gratitude and appreciation.
The practice of yoga is dynamic and fluid. I do not permit the sutras to guide my whole life, because that would not be true to who I am. I believe in alignment and representing my truth as it aligns with the present moment. This spiritual alignment looks like this. If I lose touch with nature, I know something is off. If I lose touch with seeing the good in people, I am a bit off-kilter. Now, if I notice that I am in a continued state of stress and discontentment, then I know that there needs to be big change.
An analysis of a grand scale to be able to see the ignorance that is at the source of why I may be not meeting my authentic needs.
Often, it is simply that I have lost touch with the idea that I am a part of a very interconnected web. To me, yoga is not only physical alignment but this heart practice that shows me that I am not alone in this.
That I belong.
I know to take deep pauses, when I lose appreciation of what brings me pür joy. At that precise moment, when I realize I have lost joy from the simple things that brought a smirk to my face, then it is time to get back into the body and into nature. Spiritual alignment begins with the body and mind.