It has been a moving and life affirming experience to be in the journey to the peak community this month. It’s been particularly potent because this month’s peak pose is savasana, corpse pose.
With this pose we can sometimes immediately think of death. And with death, many people feel many different things around this topic.
Savasana is opposed that can be one of the most difficult postures. Sometimes it’s because our body needs some support or needs to move in order to be able to lie flat on the earth. Traditionally, the legs are extended about hip distance, the arms lay down and out by the sides of the body with the palms facing up, and the back of the neck long with the head resting on the floor.
Corpse pose can also be one of the most difficult postures for many people because it requires us to stop. It invites our mind to stop. It invites a way of settling and surrender. And this leaves us present with ourself.
Being with ourselves can sometimes elicit fear and resistance because of the places in our lives that we don’t want to take a look at. And, at other times, being with ourselves becomes the one place in which we can experience true freedom, away from all societal and cultural expectations and constructs. We get to be our True Self.
In savasana, we begin to realize that who we are is not dependent on what we do, what we say, or how much we produce or complete in this world. In corpse pose, we let go of all of that, and return to the home of our heart.
Corpse pose is not only significant to yoga, there are many spiritual practices and cultures in which the practice of death happens so that we can release attachment to all of life and experience freedom. I remember my shaman, Don Oscar Miro-Quesada, telling us of his story when he was younger and being taught by his teacher that he was buried in the earth with only a straw at the mouth leading up to receive air from above the ground.
And there are cultures and practices in which the ritual and ceremony of death is deeply symbolic of releasing and letting go of that which does not service. It becomes symbolic of a death of parts of ourselves so that we can be reborn and grow from a place of transformation! I have been an observer in ritual of ceremonial beheadings that were incredibly cathartic and beautiful. And, yes, seemingly scary from the outside, but completely heart opening from the inside. I had such tears streaming down my eyes. I felt honored to be present in the others transformation, in their cycle of a death and a rebirth.
Even though this may seem pretty extreme or harsh to some, I’d like to also put it into what you might consider as a more gentler context. A way of inviting yourself to ask:
“Where are you holding on in life in rigid and unhealthy ways, and where can you be a companion to life, letting it flow, flowing with acceptance and non-attachment in order to experience ease, connection, and love?”
Non-attachment is one of the yogic philosophies. It is something that we try to observe. A way of living that is not attached to any outcome, and not attached to life itself.
In yoga this philosophy is very much tied to being in alignment with that which we believe in. That which we know is greater than ourselves and yet we know we are made of. Call It love, providence, the divine, universe, we attempt to align with it time and time again so that we are equally a participant in life as we are surrendering to It’s flow. This is Ishvara Pranidhana. I wrote about it here: https://shawnaemerick.com/the-jewel-of-surrender-ishvara-pranidhana/
* That blog about the jewel of surrender, Ishvara Pranidhana, will also give you two other blogs at the bottom around patience and trust.
Yoda said, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” I’ve been pondering this incredible quote for some time now.
In one respect, it causes me sadness. I think of those things I don’t want to lose. And on the flip side of the same coin, I have also found that it opens me up and invites me into more appreciation for those things I don’t want to lose. It causes me to think about how much more mindful, connected, and present I want to be with those people that I love and whom I don’t want to lose. How I want to be even more present for life. As I shared in my blog from last week, wanting to be present to all of life. You can read it here: https://shawnaemerick.com/training-our-mind/
In savasana, we train ourselves to let go of everything. Even life.
*And this is when the transformation and transmutation happens!
We actually align with the Light. Having released it all, we can experience love. Being unattached to fear, outcome, expectation, we experience freedom from the chains that bind us. We are here, home, one with the divine.
I had this thought, walking down the sidewalk in New York City two weeks ago. The thought was:
“What if death is the ultimate freedom!” And instead of fearing it, celebrating it. Seeing it as yet, another transformation in my soul’s journey. Letting go of what I fear to lose, which is the life I’m experiencing right now. This life that I am deeply grateful for and love.
Savasana can also be a rebirth and a new dawn!
Rabbi Richard N. Levy wrote the poem ‘To Awake’:
To awake from sleep each morning
recalls Your mystifying promise
that death is not the end,
but when this world awakens to the messianic dawn
souls and bodies will somehow join together once again
in one grand reunion of the human race.
When I awoke this morning
it was as though that mystery was rehearsed
for as I gradually emerged from sleep
my soul became aware of my body once again
in a small but wonderous reunion of my own humanity.
I invite you to take a savasana right now. Even for two minutes. And then emerge slowly!
I closed classes with this mantra:
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityor ma amritam gamaya
Om, Shanti Shanti Shantihi
Lead us from unreal to real,
Lead us from darkness to light,
Lead us from fear of death to the knowledge of immortality.
Om, peace peace perfect peace
All my love,
Breathe and Believe.