This Sunday I was at a kirtan workshop with David Newman
Above is a video of a Kirtan with David Newman and his wife Mira. This is not the kirtan I was at, but it can give you an idea of what a kirtan is if you don’t know.
Our practices, he said, though I do not remember if those were his exact words, can be precisely the thing that most traps us in our ego.
This made me think…
For some of us, we practice and we practice. we get up early, sit on our meditation cushion, get on our yoga mat… but who in us is doing these practices and who and what are we serving ?
Any practice that takes you out of the present moment can only reinforce the ego, if we see the ego as the meandering, judging, calculating mind that we are precisely trying to free ourselves from by practicing (aren’t we ??) And if our practice seems compulsory to us or if we are doing it for someone else, if there is in fact no enjoyment, how can we be with it, be fully in the present moment ?
As I see it, practice is the only place to start. If you feel miserable and confused, you cannot just keep repeating to yourself « nothing to change. you are already there. you have arrived. there is bliss behind this unhapiness.bliss, bliss, bliss! »
This is also more generally part of the paradox of self realization. Our mind is all we have to progress towards realization of our true Self, even though it is by relinquishing the ego that we can realize our true self.
Moreover, as David Newman added, our practices, provided that they bring us joy, cultivate our being in the present moment and can give us a taste of what it is to relinquish the mind. As we chant mantras, we can sometimes finally let go of our thoughts, disconnect from our mind which we normally identify with. As we practice asanas and sometimes feel completely in harmony with the whole body, there is truly joy.
« Enjoy. Always » were the concluding words of the workshop. and why not ? I think some of my resistance to enjoyment comes from the fact that such a phrase sounds like an advertisement for coca cola… it sounds like we are cultivating attachment to pleasant experiences. I personnaly feel resistance : « what do you mean, enjoy ?? i’m doing something important here !! » but then when I think of it, I realize enjoying does not necessarily mean getting attached to the pleasant-ness of the experience, nor does it mean there can never be discipline- but discipline should come from a place of deep understanding – understanding that, for example, going to bed and getting up early to practice will actually bring me far more deep and true joy than staying up watching tv, or partying with friends, or drinking, or eating cake…
So I would say, Do practice, AND enjoy.