03 September 2010

The Yoga of Friendship


My DC deity garden
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming
gardeners who make our souls blossom.” - Marcel Proust


In addition to nurturing me with deep spiritual awakening, my journey on the path of yoga has blessed me with an overflowing wealth of friendships that I am immensely grateful for. It was through the study and practice of yoga that I came to create a space within myself for more meaningful and supportive friendships. When I left Florida for DC I was leaving behind a community of friends that I had become extremely close with over a period of 3 years and it was difficult no longer having the warmth of regular, face-to-face connection and interaction that defined our bonds. On arriving to DC, I had no expectations about what my “circle” of friends would look like or if there would even be a circle. Naturally, I knew I would make new friends but certainly didn’t anticipate what I had in store. I received the gift of a roommate and comrade who welcomed me in my new beginning with wide open arms, a contagious laughter and who I am now convinced was my sister in a past life. Then there’s the best friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in over 7 years who allowed me to appreciate the present growth within myself and the past greatness of my tortured 16 year-old-self. And then there was the college friend who I had traveled abroad with in the south of Mexico over 10 years ago who reminded me that the past sometimes comes back in the form of a big smile with bright red lipstick. Not to mention the regulars who have graciously made the road trips and airplane rides to shamelessly stand by me and affirm my strong belief in not taking life so seriously all the time and having some fun.

Whether we are cultivating divine connections, nourishing old ones or rebuilding those that have been broken we are participating in a pure form of bhakti practice. This means loving your friends as they are in the present moment, everyday and forever regardless of changed circumstances or unexpected events. It means devotion to the spiritual significance of human relationships and recognizing the inherent light within each person in our lives. When I look back and think about the exact moments that gave birth to the strong and meaningful friendships in my life I can remember it was exactly that - a light, an illuminating energy they reflected which drew me to them. There is so much comfort in knowing that when these connections are created and watered with a deep-rooted dedication to their sustenance there is nothing in the world that can destroy them. There is no dispute, distance or length of time that can break the bonds of true friendship. When we see and acknowledge the goodness and beauty in our friends we are performing the genuine action of metta (loving-kindness). Each of our friends is us and we are them. We take collective breaths. We must place an unconditional faith in their process by witnessing them collapse, make mistakes, evolve, experience fear and joy and perhaps even say goodbye to them in order to fully rest in the divinity of the union that created the friendship. Anything that obscures this basic premise such as a struggle or a fight is ego-based and not a part of our spirit nature.

It is through friendship and recognizing the guru in each of my friends that I have learned some of life’s most valuable lessons. For example, without my friend Cine I wouldn’t know how to give a proper toast or realize that it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate birthdays year round. Without my friend Rachel, I would have gone through law school without knowing what its like to make cupcakes with a 4 year old in spider-man pajamas telling me there is no such thing as too much sprinkles and icing. And it was my buddies Javi and Yvee who taught me that there is never a bad time to bust out in dirty south hip-hop song and dance. There are many more I wish I could mention but I will say that I cherish all of my gurus out there in the world and the beauty they’ve shared with me.