Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

On Arising and Passing Away - and a Lot of (attempted) Meditation

By Lucy May Constantini
Not so long before I started writing this blog, I was coming to the end of my two-year yoga teacher training. We were studying the Shiva Sutras, one of thecore texts of Kashmir Shaivism, and had been taught a meditation called Kaalaagni Rudra.   Essentially, this is a practice (as I understand it) of dissolving.  You sit and dissolve your body in a (cool) fire you envision consuming it, then whatever else may arise - thoughts, emotions, desires, aversions - also go into the fire. What's left at the end of all this dissolving is your enlightened Self. 
Of course there are no guarantees you'll be getting there any time soon. Kaalaa means both time and death. Rudra is one of the names of Shiva, the transcendental god of yoga and dissolution who carries the trident for which this blog is named. He sat meditating on his mountain for millennia to master the secrets of the universe, so I've a lot of catching up to do.
Within ten days of daily practice of this meditation, my partner of six years announced he wanted to be single. That was rather more dissolving than I had bargained for, but I accepted it with (I think) good grace. If I have anything close to religious belief, it's that people shouldn't stay with one another out of habit or gratitude or guilt or loyalty when the core essentials of spirit and connection are gone from a relationship. Part of that deal is that I have to accept it both ways.
Good grace notwithstanding, the timing of this announcement was a kick in the teeth from which I'm not sure I've yet quite recovered. My newly-ex had expressed no desire to be single when in the grip of a long illness, but no sooner was he back on his feet (literally - his illness had put him in a wheelchair for a while) and active in the world once more, that I was deemed surplus to requirement. I don't think it was intended in this way, and of course, there were other factors in the relationship, but the timing remains a kick in the teeth nonetheless.
This particular version of life's kickings pales into insignificance however in the face of the one that came my way last summer, on the occasion of my fortieth birthday. I've not had much luck with celebrations in my life, and this summer taught me once and for all that it's time to stop trying to make them what everyone else seems to make of them and just accept the fact that for whatever twisted karmas I carry, they are not for me.
They say that the gift of pain is that it pushes us to transcend it. That requires some serious work and I sometimes fear that the universe has decided that the only thing to propel me effectively on my spiritual path is a regular dose of agony.  (Please universe, if I promise not to slack off, do you think you might try a new tactic?)  
I have been hanging on to my meditation practice like the lifeline it is since last June, doing my poor best to deepen and strengthen it. There is something essentially comforting in touching the very distant reality that this "I" that feels so much - most of it deeply unpleasant - in essence does not exist.
Last November, I finally got to the Mandala Yoga Ashram I have been wanting to visit for a while. 

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