Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

Surrender August 29, 2012

I’ve heard and said that word so many times in the last few years that I can’t remember a life where I thought one could go without it.  I can’t remember being the person who would rigidly fight for her dear life with any decision, or any opinion, that disagreed with her’s.

This fault-line opened at a gracious moment when I first surrendered and accepted life as it is.  It was a leap of faith, courage, and of immense heart opening.  I thought I was done now with this lesson.  This surrendering, I’ve figured it out.

But today after a moment of absolute clamoring madness, in a room with my mother, I saw myself cruel and unkind to her.  I saw how I did not have patience, and I did not have any compassion for her anymore.  I was saying the right words, but I did not feel them in my heart.  And not surprisingly she didn’t hear my words, as right and logical as they were, she felt my with-holding energy and before I even knew it I was back in a melodrama, playing my part to perfection.  Our dance had not even begun to end.

I sat back in my car and felt like I was bleeding from inside.  It was too much.  I couldn’t take this anymore.  This terrible grief, this terrible pain, I just don’t want it anymore.  I ran through the motions, watched myself move through the city with an angry arrogance, and at home, the point where I bowed down to pray, I became angry at God.  I heard my own words, and I felt my tears and then as swiftly as they came, I felt them disappear.  And I remembered what I read just two days ago:

“The reason we’re often not there for others –whether for our child or our mother or someone who is insulting us or frightens us — is that we are not there for ourselves. There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away…Only to the degree that we’ve gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we’ve related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough and enough of a warrior to feel the pain of others.” – Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron.

I had confided in some friends and felt a little bit more supported.  I have a beautiful loving family and again I felt less alone in my pain.  And then, tired as I was, dragged myself to my friend’s house, to take a yoga class in his open garden.  A yoga celebrity, my friend gives classes that are notoriously challenging.  In fact many times I have laid in dead pose or childs pose while he talked the class through super vinyasas.  Today he was going to take it easy, and I sighed with relief.  Knowing his easy, meant, well I’d still have a difficult time keeping up.

I moved through the class with precision and grace.   My mat is as familiar as my own breath.  When I’m on it suddenly it does feel as if I’m on sacred duty and I have surrendered to what will arise in me, and I will watch it, breathe through it, and be completely present with my contradicting & conflicting feelings.

We got into Warrior II and held it for almost 2 minutes.  1 minute in, my legs quivering, I kept looking at my focus point (dhristi) and surrendered to the pain.  I knew this was just the first side, the weaker leg, and I continued to be there for myself as I was debating: should I stay with the feelings or should I escape them?  Sometimes I had to release the pose, and then resume it.  But I did not push the pain away.  I did not push to create more, but I accepted what it meant to be a warrior.  I realised deeply that surrendering was the ultimate task for any warrior.  Surrender to the moment as it is, “because we escape, we keep missing being right here, being right on the dot. We keep missing the moment we’re in.  Yet, if we can experience the moment that we are in, we discover that it is unique, precious and completely fresh. It never happens twice.” (Chodron).

And as I finished yoga today, and felt the incredible connection and peace within my soul, I wished for a moment it would not go away.  And then, a new practice came into being.  I embraced the impermanence of this feeling, felt gratitude for it, and understood that soon it would be gone.  I returned to my car again, and I asked myself, what do you need to be there for yourself right now?

Surrender control.desire&escape from pain.  And yet while all these voices are clamoring for attention, just relax into them, ending today right where you are.


tears & kindness August 18, 2012

Filed under: Islam/Sufism,poetry,spirituality — yogini786 @ 12:32 am

Sometime towards the end of this evening, while listening to the closing verses of the Quran, my mind took me to navigate a selection of hidden memories within.

Like sharp thorns I saw flashes– a filmstrip, breaking itself into my stream of attention.  And I remembered the face of one who showed me kindness in a time of great grief and loss.  Then I remembered another.  and another.

the list that opened my heart, led to a simple tear escaping my eyes.

i prayed that i would always remember the million kindnesses that helped me survive, and continue to help me move.  the kindness that I have been bestowed by the only One who can, multiplied through the incredible life that I have come into contact with.

Where previously I would have choked back my tears, or resisted the familiar deep pain in my jaw,  this time, I surrendered to this amazing feeling of being alive, of being so human, so vulnerable, and so lost only so that I could remember again, again and again.  I am home already. And my home is built on kindness, it has windows of light, and rooms to protect us.  It has joy in the smiles of those who live in it, and it has the deepest blessing of the Divine: to understand the Truth for what it is and to be ever grateful for it.






samskara August 12, 2012

I turned a new year, younger as my teacher says, as we return closer to the source of Life, the source of all that is.

A few years a go I had my first memorable solo vacation.  While staying at a yoga retreat a group of us decided to visit Anuradapura, the ancient city in Sri Lanka, for the day.  And it was there I first saw the impressions of a moonstone embedded into the ground at these old beautiful sites.

I asked our unforgettable 75 + year old tour guide, E.D (shortened for us foreigners), who called me Ms. Pakistan and told cricket jokes to me all day long, what did all this stuff mean?  He explained the cycles by which the Buddha says we transform on the spiritual path, and how the layers drawn on this moonstone represented this progression.

He said a word: samskara.  Funny, I thought, I had bought a beautiful purple leather purse in Toronto just months before with the company name seared into my mind: samskara.

The impressions left on our subconscious, unconscious, from our past lives Hindus and Buddhists would say, or as modern psychologists would call it:  the collection of mysterious connections we have to our pasts which creates our “conditioning”.

I have heard some describe samskara as grooves, visually seen in our naked brain, lines that have been carved and created.  The synapses that have connected through unconscious impressions so often that they have become embedded into our nature.

All this stuff reminded me of my training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and what Yoga was also teaching me to slowly unravel.  To discover that space, be aware of it, like the pause between our inhale and exhale, where our thought leads to emotion or behavior.  So that the process stops being automatic, and instead we begin to create this elusive space around it.

My mind.  The insanity with which it expresses itself.  The samskaras that are deeply rooted in self-defeating narratives, are not simply overcome by “positive” thinking.   But instead, today I realized, as I prayed while my mind continued its madness 22 days and nights into fasting my body, that the only route to be done with this samskara, is surrender, submit, wholly to a higher power by accepting the present moment in which I am just the way I am.  To accept fully that this heart of mine is full of un-anchored desires, and shrapnel wounds of love lost in an endless passage of events.

The burning sensation fills my chest, as I bring my attention over and over again to my heart, while moving rhythmically.  The pain travels to other parts of my body, like a sliding string of light and heat.  And I’m so easily there again, in my head, thinking, calculating, talking to imagined scenarios, creating, fixating, and leaving behind what is.  what is? what is right now.

I share with you the prayer I received today, as my heart repeated words that I did not understand.  I submit and surrender to you, please bring me wholeness, soundness, internally and externally.    Please bring sanity to my mind.  All that is, is of Allah’s decree.

I am awake.  and the more I wake, the less I can slumber in my spiraling samskaras.


Ramzan in Karachi August 3, 2012

As I look upon the view, from the balcony in an apartment I have spent the last 12 nights praying with a particular group of souls. the flat lines of Karachi, from Phase VII, with its long clean roads, and sparse palm trees, move with a dusty beat of life.

Karachi.  I have written about it forever it feels.  I discuss it endlessly on dinner tables and late night conversations.  Sometimes with old friends who have long gone but come back ever so often to share a beautiful only in Karachi type of night.

Sometimes with myself, as I gaze upon the beautiful mystery of its monsoon clouds, and the many shapes of the palm tree trunks and leaves.  It is my endless metaphor for seeking truth and understanding spirit.

Sometimes I am at a loss with its massiveness.  Its incredible capacity to cover and hide.  How we all live here amazes me, astounds my being and over and over again Karachi becomes my teacher.  Sometimes a cruel absent one.  Sometimes a loving, kind one.  Sometimes, most graciously, a forgiving one that has blessed me with treasures that millions in this city cannot afford, or dream to afford.

I don’t know how many Ramzan’s I’ve spent in this city.  How many years that the load shedding has started to get worse as the month goes by.  Somehow I missed all those years in between when Ramzan was in the winter, living far away in the snowbanks of Canada.  I arrived again as it journeys with the moon through the summer wind of Karachi.  Memories of my hot, dusty childhood.  Of barely any traffic on Tipu Sultan, and riding in a car with my parents, buying that special can of Vimto, secretly drinking it before the fast opens.

Years later, I’m officially in my 30’s, with growing nephews in the house, a puppy who is what words cannot describe to me, and aging parents.  I’m not a child anymore, yet somehow Ramzan always makes me feel like I’m meeting Karachi for the first time, with that same innocence and wonder.  Or maybe its that my soul gets washed and scrubbed by the process of fasting, with each year the water getting hotter and colder, stripping illusion away to make space for truth to arise.

And I wish, I pray for the peace of each soul that churns and burns in this city of no real description, while the dark, dusty, endless view of its scape dots my horizon.