You can travel the world to visit holy sites. Many of my friends have shared profound experiences of touching the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, gazing up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or walking the 500-mile El Camino trail through Spain. My husband hiked down into the Grand Canyon this summer and felt he’d never be the same again.
Expansive, spiritual settings expand us back into the Self, the vastness of our own inner Being. Yet Yoga says that the most sacred site of all is your own body, here in the present moment, in each breath you take, and on the very ground upon which you now stand.
Tadasana teaches you how to stand firmly, with precise alignment and total ease. While often-called “Mountain Pose,” it is more importantly the “pose of That” (the Supreme Reality). Being grounded in your body is more than a physical feeling of strength and stamina, but a quality of quiet mind and surrender.
We are accustomed to looking outside ourselves for the holy. Yet, whenever I stop what I am doing and allow myself to feel that shift back inside my body, I feel more my “Self.” Standing in stillness opens up your breath, and releases your spinal tension. Your eyes become clear and you gain a new perspective.
Consider the power of standing still. Not rushing off to the next thing you have to do. Not squirming in discomfort, or checking your smart phone. Not worrying about your next move. Instead, settle into an upright stillness that is both internally quiet and immovable. You might even feel gravity’s gentle pull through your muscles and bones, while you feel taller and lighter. It’s amazing! A seven-year named Zachery once described this to me as, “I know what God is! God is gravity!”
It’s true that standing in my bones connects me to God’s presence within me, as me. By standing still, you trust that where you are, right now, is just where you are supposed to be, and can let go.
This is a radically different view of the world: there is nothing you have to attain, no one you have to be, for everything is already perfect, already Divine. The ultimate Reality that pervades all of existence, Shiva, is being every thought, every breath and every experience you are having. The mundane and the divine are inextricably interwoven. This is called Tantric living, and it comes from Kashmiri Shaivism, the yoga philosophy I practice. It has taken me years to slow down, to stand still, to become more aware. But as I continue to surrender to meditation and my Guru’s Grace, the easier it becomes.
Later this year, I am going on pilgrimage to Ganeshpuri, India, a sleepy little village that is the home of my Guru’s lineage. I’ve been there before. I already know that every inch of soil beneath my feet will feel sacred to me. Everywhere I’ll look I’ll see the face of God.
Yet as special as this is, I don’t have to go to India to find it. I know the temple is within me. Right here and now, the ground I am standing upon is sacred; as is the body I live in. Perhaps you too have a special place of pilgrimage, one that will reliably make you feel quiet inside and filled with grace. You need look no further: stand here, now.