Sunday, July 15, 2012

Intention: A Dialogue with the Divine

It's been a solid month since my last post and I am excited to report that this hiatus was a consequence of some very exciting globe trotting! I spent the better part of June trekking around the great country of Israel - touring, learning, laughing, being in community and teaching yoga to new friends.

While there, I was privileged to experience the holiest day of the Judaic week, Shabaat, at the holiest site on the planet,  the Western Wall in Jerusalem. We arrived at sunset, walking across the city, through the great stone gates that led to the interior Old City of Jerusalem where I was met by an uproar of voices. As I descended a broad stone stairwell that led to the main floor where crowds congregated in modest clothing and head coverings. As I scanned the panorama of ancient architecture among sunset backdrop, I witnessed a few thousand people gathered in two seas split by a thin partition - men to the left and women to the right. There was so much movement! I stood in a kind of surreal awe at this mass of people in prayer of all kinds - dancing, singing, swaying, reading holy texts, repeating scripture, standing in silence, crying. (This remains an ineffable moment for me, but I'm doing my best to illustrate some sense of it for you here.)

Standing among thousands of people in their most sacred space, listening to the clamor of individual prayers coming together in waves of sound, I started to unravel the yogic idea of intention, and it's power. 

Without hesitation, I will tell you that I am not a religious person and I do not pray. That being said, I understand the desire to have a dialogue with something great and, albeit, divinely more "put together" than myself. I get that prayer is like intention, with a religious twist.

When I make an intention, I am creating a dialogue with myself in order to realize a more integrated version of who I am, my practice, or some other aspect of my life. Focusing awareness to draw up an idea or vision of what we want to see in our lives allows our quieter parts a chance to tune in to this idea, grasp it, and begin to create it.

Standing within the walls of a city that's been revered for it's holy antiquity and fought over for centuries, I felt at home with this sense of reverie and conviction. Often, I am beside myself as I learn how the body works as an integrated system, and that I am consciously aware of this inner working. The kotel symbolizes for the Jewish people the last tangible structure of their most significant house of god, their temple. They stand before it in honor, in worship and on Shabaat, in prayer.

It is commonplace for a person to come to the kotel  with a small piece of paper inked with a prayer. They press these notes inside cracks in the wall as a way to communicate directly with god. People come to this place from all over the planet, to dialogue with their holiest and most sacred.

As I walked through the stone corridors that led the way to my hostel, the echoes of mass prayer trailed behind in a blurry kind of bass. During very quiet moments, I feel this kind of reverberation in my own body, in the chambers of my throat as I chant and within the walls of my lungs as I breath. Inside of me their is a city whose people are reverent and history, antiquated -like Jerusalem.

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