we keep peeling

We keep peeling

Nadi Nadi

In the last blog post, we talked about the Sanskrit mantra nadi nadi, which means “Not this. Not that.” Peeling the layers of the onion until we get to the core, which is, according to the yoga philosophy, purusa, or consciousness itself.  

Bringing it down to earth

Acknowledging that the ultimate spiritual understanding is not necessarily everyone’s goal with their practice, at least not at first and possibly not in this lifetime, let’s talk about how nadi nadi could help us more, shall we say, psychologically.  

Let’s consider that everything we experience has layers. There’s the surface level, what’s “actually” happening. I put that in quotes, because what’s visibly happening from one person’s perspective is almost certainly different from what’s visibly happening from another person’s. But let’s say there’s an objectively observable thing. It could be videotaped and we could rewatch it, collecting more details.

Beneath that, however, are subtle cues, like facial expressions and body language that signal emotions. And beneath that are motivations behind the behavior. A lifetime’s worth of experiences that flipped the neural switches that resulted in the observable thing.

Beneath that still are the fundamental memories, the deep emotional expectations, the stuff that is familiar from childhood that has never been quite shaken off. Expectations about how the world works. Layer upon layer, we continue to peel. Nadi nadi. Not this, not that. Not this, not that. Through every layer, nadi nadi.  

A gentle warning

Not that this kind of introspection is always helpful. Sometimes it can border on obsessive and whip up a frenzy of anxiety, but sometimes it can help us understand a root cause. Especially with the help of focus, or the support of someone that’s keeping you on track. Then you might find a pattern or a theme. A deeper understanding of your actions, emotions, motivations, experiences, memories, expectations, and unresolved past pain. A core wound, if you will, that’s been unconsciously affecting your present life. Unconscious, anyway, until now. Nadi nadi.  

What comes next?

Just bringing something into awareness is powerful, but it’s not the end. And although the pain of not knowing might dissipate, what you’ve found is still there. What does healing look like?  

This, I believe, is different for everyone. In my experience, it looks like years of therapy which I couldn’t describe logically or even with any certainty. Only that I was once in a place I’d call traumatized and now I’m not. Something has changed. I’m more comfortable in the world; there’s less of a burden I carry. I imagine I’ve got more layers (nadi, nadi), and I rest now assured that there will always be a path to the other side. A living, breathing, creative path to subtly new life, still my own but made lighter.  

In my experience, it also looks like yoga. The spiritual practice, which regardless of focus seems to be ultimately what’s going on with yoga. That is, even when I don’t think of my yoga as very spiritual, it brings me into an integration that I don’t know how to otherwise describe. Yoga creates unification, within the self and within relational context. Something greater than oneself…is this not something spiritual?  

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