Normal. It's a familiar word, and is one that gets used often. It seems, however, to be a word based completely on context and personal experience. Sitting here in wool slippers and a vest, looking out at a cloudless blue sky and a frozen lake is normal to someone living in the northern midwest on the first day of February. Not so for someone living in South Florida. Normal is subjective.When I started practicing yoga, harmoniums, mantras, and deep devotion were part of the experience from day one. As a result these aspects of the practice seem very normal. I have spent much of my yoga life living in a bubble; being part of a community with folks on a similar path, sharing common practices, and speaking the same (heart)language. In some ways, though we didn't live under the same roof, it was a bit like living an ashram life. Same teachers, same satsang, same practice day in and day out. The thing about normal-bubbles is when you step out of them what was normal might now be the opposite.
For the past three-and-a-half years this normal/opposite dichotomy has been my life, approaching my practices and teaching as I have for many years, having them slowly accepted – a student once told me that she enjoyed my classes but often thought some of what was offered was "a little out there", but still being a little too round for a triangular hole. On the other side of that coin, I return to San Francisco every few months to a space I can navigate blindfolded, teachers who have been guide since the 90s, and students with whom I've been sharing yoga for a decade or more in some cases. It shouldn't surprise me that there are times I return home feeling like I'm a bit rounder and the hole a bit more triangular. I've never, in those moments, decided to try to fit in because ultimately I don't really want to be normal, and I believe in this practice. But I have thought that maybe this practice I love so much might always be a little opposite where I am now, and that I might be the guy who shows up to teach asana with the strange little music box, who asks his students to sing the names of God.
Yesterday that scenario began to crumble. After a weekend discussing and sharing the roots and practices of the bhakti marga or the path of devotion with a wonderful group of teachers, we spent our last hours together playing harmonium and singing praises. At the end, half of the group was ready to buy their own harmonium, and to begin incorporating some of these practices into their life. I couldn't be more surprised or more thrilled. And I'm very excited to see what happens next now that there are a few more folks with love bites from the Lord of Love.
mama mana mandire raha nisi-din
krishna murari sri krishna murari
Please abide in the temple of my heart both day and night,
O Krishna Murari, Sri Krishna Murari!