Nicaragua is a magical place, not because the place itself is magical but because magical things happened here for me. Nicaragua is where I found my centre and surrendered my personal will to the divine. Here my soul was awakened and my mystical journey began. Every time a person finds their centre and happiness, it benefits the whole of humanity. Everything that led me to Nicaragua was an endurance race of pain. I came here, not only for the physical practice but to combine the spiritual teachings of yoga with my own past beliefs in Christianity. Unaware that part of my pain could be due to a spiritual crisis I stepped on my yoga mat and said to the universe- to the divine, “here I am, I’m all yours,” and the divine took over. I was able to see through the physical illusions and recognized the lessons that had been offered to me.
Prior to coming to Nicaragua one pre-requisite was to read The Bhagavad Gita. The Gita’s backdrop opens dramatically as its played out on a battlefield, the heart of the Gita focuses on the war within, the struggle for self-mastery through spiritual development. In the Gita the main character Arjuna looks to Sri Krishna for the answers to the fundamental questions of life. Arjuna totally unaware that Krishna who is his best friend is essentially God. Searching to discover my life’s purpose I too was looking for these same answers and they were closer to me than I thought.
We all struggle to live a life that has purpose, one that is meaningful, fulfilling and worthwhile. The beauty of the Gita is that it is primarily aimed at people who “live in the world” desiring spiritual fulfillment. I read the Gita in University, in a World Religions class but I had to read a million other books as well not focusing on it as much. After reading it again I gained more of an appreciation of this amazing mystical masterpiece. As a child, without religious choice, I studied the Christian religion. As an adult, having the opportunity to read the Gita in University I was drawn to the idea of Karma as it truly spoke to my soul and touched my heart. Years ago I applied the rules of Karma in my life and formed a new belief system based on values from Christianity with Karma leading the way.
The answers I was in search of were found within. Yoga gave me an even mind. My own little Eat.Bike.Pray mission includes praying remember? Using the words “pray” and “God” are a bit preachy and when I say them I mean them in a more universal sense. That’s all I’ll say because God means something different to everyone. I may not go sit in church on Sundays or read the bible but I’m conscious and respectful of what God is to me. I have integrated my faith back into my daily life by tapping into the strongest emotion of the human heart even though most of society represses it. My mode of knowing “God” is more intuitive than factual.
For those of you who don’t believe in “God” or religion, let me say that the times I questioned my own faith, or lost faith when shit hit the fan so to speak, well, that’s when I needed it most. But I always made the mistake of loosing sight of it and it’s easy to do so when terrible tragedies happen to good people or communities like the Tsunami in Japan or like loosing my father in a drowning accident. When these tragedies happen, it’s hard to believe that there truly is a “God.” Many times my foundation came crumbling down without even knowing and before I knew it, I was in a spiritual crisis. Intuitively before setting out on my own Eat.Bike.Pray mission I soon discovered that the “Pray” portion was the essential ingredient to finding santosha. In case you don’t remember from my first blog, santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and I was in search of it, internal peace.
Coming to Nicaragua and letting the divine universe take over, I recaptured my faith. The Sanskrit word shraddha in English means faith but really, it means so much more. It is literally “that which is placed in the heart,” all the beliefs we hold so deeply and never think to question, during my training these came flooding back. Karma was a big one for me. The Gita says, “A person is what his shraddha is” (17:3). The Bible says “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Shraddha reflects everything we have made ourselves through our values and morals and points to what we have become. It is the set of our values and morals that determine our decisions, prejudices, shapes who we are and our lives without us even being aware that this has happened. Shraddha is our very substance.
Being spiritually poor I struggled many days wondering if their truly was a god and if there is, why god took my father away from me. During this time I reflected on my shraddha to make it through. The foundation that I had built for myself growing up proved to be sturdy during this trying time. (53.Gita -When your insight is in deep focus, and when it stands motionless, ignoring the revelation which had been heard, then you will reach yoga.) Many days, I referred to the simple teachings of the Gita and knew I was on the right path because I was able to keep an even mind through rough seas. (65. Gita - In calmness, there occurs the withdrawal, of all pain; for that person whose thought is placid, insight becomes steady right away.)
Many days my dry tears and focused thoughts appeared emotionless to others knowing the tragedy of my father’s death but my concentration and focus was backed by peace and the clarity to make the right decisions that lie ahead. (11.Gita- Wise men mourn neither those whose life-breath is gone nor whose breath remains.) The great religions and mystical traditions of this world share the same essential truths. I married my religious beliefs with energy anatomy, the Chakras, during my training and began to heal. I will be speaking more about this in a future blog.
The most profound spiritual experience might come to you at anytime, anywhere. Be open to it. We have all had spiritual experiences although we may not have always had the words for them. It may be that during times of spiritual experiences we are most truly ourselves. I owe a huge thank you to my Guru Julia. She provided a safe and open space to cultivate this healing. There is no fundamental difference among all the spiritual teachers and what they bring, however, just as some bulbs give more light, some teachers or gurus have illuminated more of humanity than others. My path was not clearly marked like a highway, it wasn’t even a visible road. I said before, “the universe drew a line in the sand,” in the trackless dessert. I needed a guide who was familiar with the local landmarks to show me the way and Julia did just that. She led me to the God within. I now listen closely to my own intuition when it comes to making decisions. I pay attention to the signs. Life is a journey. Nothing is random.
More about Nicaragua to come ...