I’ve been going to Jivamukti Yoga at Yoga+ Makati since early this year, and I’m drawn to the spiritual aspect of this type of yoga. While I don’t necessarily believe in a Hindu god, it has given me more insight into my own relationship with both my higher self and a higher intelligence (God, according to Catholic doctrine). At the same time this type of yoga has made me more mindful of my connection to the world around me—albeit I haven’t gone vegan yet (nor do I want to just yet). Jivamukti is one arm of the physical practice of yoga that touches several deeper points in a person’s life. Balance this with a regular practice of Yin Yoga (or Daoist/Taoist yoga), another type that I enjoy learning, and you’ll see, feel, and be the difference.
One important activity in Jivamukti is reflecting on the “Focus of the Month,” usually handed to Jiva teachers by Sharon Ganon or David Life, the pioneers of this type of yoga. This month we shall be reflecting on “The Guru Mantra,” which, essentially, is a Sanskrit prayer to the guru nearby, the guru farther off, and the guru within.
The word guru is two Sanskrit words rolled into one: gu means darkness, and ru means remover. Your teacher/mentor is one who removes the darkness out of your mind. Darkness can be all sorts of negative energies, but chiefly it is ignorance that we strive to deal with. This ignorance is often the reason why we think we are when we actually aren’t, and it then leads to violence surfacing from within, spreading darkness and instilling fear. Without the guru, we cannot flush out the darkness so that light can enter. Without the guru, we cannot walk our path to spiritual awakening.
Throughout my life, as a student and as a young professional, I’ve had my share of gurus, and who I thought were gurus. Some were authentic, others were just smart. But there was never one who had stayed with me for a long time. Although I’m friends with most of them, I feel like the mentor/mentee relationship has simply ended and a new cycle will begin. Or it has begun. Or, the relationship has transformed into something better.
In whatever way I see it, I think everyone needs a guru, one who removes darkness away from our being. And it doesn’t have to be a human forever.
My guru today, as it has been for a long time, is water. It flows and stays stagnant, but it floods when needed. It takes away what is unnecessary, and fills up what is empty. It dowses fire, and inspires air. It softens the earth to make it more nutritious for plants to grow. Water is gentle as it is mighty. Water, a great remover of ignorance, has taught me the valuable lesson of nourishing what is needed, controlling excess, and cutting down on what does not serve me. It is patient, but quite forceful sometimes, and it requires me to listen well.
As I reflect on the guru mantra, I can’t help but listen as well to waves, the rain, and ripples on the pond. The water tells me to be still, but to have subtle movement in me, so that I may have life, so that I may be well-grounded. So that I can be.