\This weekend, I celebrated my birthday. And of course, birthdays being what they are, it gave me an opportunity to reflect. As I wound down from a bespoke day that was like the hand crafted, artisan version of birthdays made super special just for me, I was comparing and contrasting the festivities of this year to those of my twenties and even some thirties. I know I must be the same person, because I have all of her memories, drunken and blurry though they may be. But beyond these hazy recollections, I can’t relate to much about that person.
In my twenties, a birthday was not worth having if it didn’t involve copious amounts of alcohol, some sort of cringe-worthy dirty dancing (if it was a really good party, this would often take place a-top a bar) and a return home only when it was well into the wee hours of the next day.
In contrast, 43 began with asana, moved into karma yoga and ended with an amazing satsang. I got to spend the day in the presence of my beloved teacher and surrounded by beautiful souls who have a similar world view (in other words, people who don’t look at me sideways when I tell them that my activity of choice for the evening is chanting Sanskrit with my eyes closed coupled with a discussion about living my yoga off the mat).
I know most people look back at their younger years and think, “Was that really me?” But in my case, it’s more than just not having the interest or energy to go out drinking and dancing. I honestly feel that had I not first stepped into a yoga studio in New York lo those many years ago—and fell madly, passionately, life changing-ly in love—I would be an entirely different person today. And, like any good relationship, my love of yoga grows each year. In turn, it continues to bring out the best in me. I only wish I’d come to it a bit earlier and maybe experienced a few less hangovers on past November 16ths.
Today, as I bask in the afterglow of a lovely birthday weekend, I feel most grateful for the gifts yoga has given me and, greedily, look forward to years more of the same (and better). I am also extremely grateful for the community of incredible people to whom yoga has introduced me. It was this community that left me feeling very loved, supported and, dare I say, even celebrated yesterday.
In Tantric philosophy, there exists the idea of “Brahman” or universal intelligence. From that universal intelligence emerges the “Atman” or individual intelligence (which ultimately becomes a human being). One of my early teachers suggested thinking of our “selves,” our Atman, as a drop of water and Brahman as the vast ocean of the universe. Each individual drop comes from the same, one-ness of the ocean. And it is to this one, vast ocean that each drop will return. In other words, we are all one and the same. For a variety of reasons, yesterday left me feeling very much one small part of a far greater universe, and very much at peace with that knowledge. It is for that, I think, that I am the most grateful.