I grew up believing in nothing. I didn’t grow up in a church. My parents weren’t church folk. My parents weren’t hippies. They didn’t wear tye dye and chant, they didn’t dance naked under the full moon. They did swim fully clothed in Lake Michigan once, but I think that was more alcohol induced than rapturous.
Once I was in church with family friends-the second, and last time in my adolescent life. The priest said all the gay people and children hunting Easter eggs instead of praising God were going to hell. I was 13. I had a purple Easter dress with a cream straw hat. And I thought, Well that’s that. I never need to come back here again. And it would be a long time before I walked into a church again. Even for a wedding, it would be a long time.
So how did I become a tye dye wearing college student who went on to teach a spiritaul practice? How is that I chant, meditate, attend a regular church service and pray daily? Sometimes more than once a day?
When I started practicing yoga I learned that the life force energy that runs through all of us is called prana. Okay. I wasn’t into anything called life force so I just accepted that my yoga teacher believed it and moved on. I was more interested in the poses. I didn’t want to think about life force energy.
Two years later I’d gone through a lot. I’d had a child, suffered through post-partum depression and was medicated. I stood on the mat in my new town hundreds of miles from my hometown and on a Wednesday morning stretched, open and spiraled into trikonasana. Into triangle. And as I straightened out of it, I felt a tingle in my fingers. And I smiled. And back then smiling was hard. And then I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what I felt, but it was new and it was different. It was love and it was peaceful and it felt great.
And then it happened again. Another Wednesday morning with the sun streaming through my new yoga studio I felt a tingle in my fingers as I straightened out of trikonasana. And it felt more like someone brushed my fingers, just grasped them for a moment, a split second. Just gave me a squeeze of reassurance. And I smiled. And I thought, this is God.
And then everytime I did trikonasana I looked for God. And I felt God moving through my body, I felt protected and loved and open and okay.
Now, I didn’t know anything about God. I didn’t grow up reading the bible or learning anything in any Sunday school. I didn’t know anything, but I knew what I felt.
A year or so later I started studying how to teach. I learned about Prana. Prana is the life force energy that runs through everything. It is the same as Qi, Ki or Chi. It is what makes a chair a chair, a bird a bird and me feel more like Melissa in trikonasana than I ever did any other time in my life.
I didn’t learn that Prana was God. No one has ever said that to me.
Prana runs through all of us. Connects all of us. It is what is in my heart and that which is in your heart. It’s the same in my heart as in my foot. It is what gets blocked, It’s what flows in little trickles and in great rushes. It is what connects me to you and you to me.
A few weeks ago I was asked to meditate on life force energy for a year long study that I’m doing. I like to meditate laying down. I always have. As I lay on my mat I took deep relaxing breaths. I felt my body sink down and open up. The long slow breaths helped my mind to clear and closing my eyes I began to see colors swirl behind my eyelids. Mostly through the three weeks the colors were blues and greens. Sometimes an occasional wild blue indigo and a violet. Once or twice I would get a bright orange swirl. I don’t know what that’s about.
But when I listen to my body I know exactly what’s happening. When I focus on prana and wait for that feeling, that feeling of being centered and aware I sink down into a place of ultimate comfort and peace. My mouth gets slack, my shoulders sink back into the firm floor and I feel myself just surrender into a thick, comfy nest of peace and love. It literally feels like I’m was lying on something warm and fluffy, light and thick. It’s the place where I feel like me and like everyone I’ve met and know and I feel vulnerable and powerful and relaxed and heightened all at the same time.
In this place, focusing on the energy of the universe I feel small and humungous. I feel safe. I feel that my tiny problems were so tiny. So teeny and so managable and so inconsequential. I feel like I can overcome anything and everything.
As I lay in a state that can most be compared to an aware dozing I feel alive. I feel like I’m not really here, but I’m solidly right here. I am removed from the sounds of the fans in the Breathe practice room, I sink away from the street sounds of Mass Street. I am comforted, but unafflicted by the living noises of our upstairs neighbors. And at the same time I am almost the one making all those noises, they are a part of me and my awareness.
It is a feeling that I strive to repeat over and over in my life. It is why I practice yoga, meditate, go to a touchy-feel-good-non-traditional-church. It’s why I got to the chiropractor and energy healer and acupuncturist. Being in the flow of prana is so important to me I would do almost anything to stay open and connected to that flow. And it so easy to get out of the flow. It’s so easy for me to focus on the long list of things that I need to accomplish and the workshops I want to teach and so I forget and I get sick and I get irritable and I get into fights with my honey and I believe all the crap that’s been said to me in my life and I forget. I forget that I am pure life force energy and so are you and so are they.
Being in the flow feels good. So I do a lot to be there. I do a lot with this human body to keep it in a place where I feel the energy every day. Or as many days as I can, if even for just a little bit. It’s why I don’t eat gluten and I don’t eat a lot of sugar. It’s why I love giggling with my six year old and having coffee with my 15 year old. It’s why I write. It’s why I pray.
Now, let me explain about praying. For me praying isn’t about asking a man in the sky to grant me my wishes. For me praying is about remembering who I am and trying to get back into the flow of the universe. It’s a quiet reminder that when I am in the flow, my life works and I feel good and I love being me.
So, I pray. And because it’s easier I often pray in a traditional form. I ask Goddess to help me be productive and feel better and not scream at my 15 year old. I ask Goddess for what I need.
And because I have felt that life force energy, because it is so tangible I know that what I need will be provided. Now, if that’s not God I don’t know what is.