Over the summer I read a book called “The Night Circus”. It was required summer reading for my daughter, and I often like to read what she is reading. This book blew me away, and I want to share a quote with you that came towards the end:
“Magic” the man in the grey suit repeats, turning the word into a laugh “ This is not magic. This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it. Look around you” he says , waving a hand at the surrounding tables “not a one of them even has an inkling of the things that are possible in this world, and what’s worse it that none of them would listen if you attempted to enlighten them. They want to believe that magic is nothing but clever deception, because to think it real would keep them up at night, afraid of their own existence”
I will give a little bit of context (without ruining the story, I hope!). The book is about 2 magicians who were identified as having the potential for being magic at a very young age. Their mentors devised training programs for them that were very rigorous and completely consuming. They didn't just practice smoke and mirror magic, they were magic, and their task as youngsters was to harness their powers. The strain that these magicians were under to perform their amazing feats was illustrated throughout the story. Unlike Genie in the 1970’s series, it wasn't just a nod of the head that made these magic things happen. It was a result of many years of practice, incredible focus and a good dose of will power and inner strength. But as a result of their training, they were able to use their magic for the creation of great beauty and joy, initially for others, but eventually for themselves as well. It worked because they were so highly trained.
I thought of how this quote, and really the whole book, tied into my yoga practice. I have a nice-size internal list of what I would like from my yoga practice. Often I get frustrated that I am not seeing what I want come to fruition. What I know should come from a dedicated practice doesn’t always seem to be happening. Why is it not happening is a question I don’t usually ask myself for the simple reason that I already know the answer: I don’t practice enough. I know I fall short in time and dedication required to do the work that I know will fulfill my list. Just like if I wanted to be able to bench press 300 pounds, I need to get on the bench and work. If I don’t, it is never going to happen. It is true that the characters in the book were more or less forced into the time set aside for practices by their mentors. But shouldn't my desire for results I wish to see be my mentor? Fortunately the universe has once again conspired to me move toward this goal. This fall I began two trainings. One is an advanced training with my long-time teacher/mentor Parvathi, and the other is to become a TRE trainer (Trauma Reducing Exercises).
These trainings are avenues toward what I consider to be magic. That is, they will lead me closer to having “an inkling of the things that are possible in this world”. I consider it equally good fortune and misfortune to have already had glimpses into what the human mind and body are capable of. The good fortune is knowing the great potential for humans to go beyond the limited mind, and that it is possible to overcome our suffering. The misfortune is understanding it is at my fingertips and all I need to do is continue to extend my reach, but then finding I succumb to distractions, the lure of attachments, of cravings, and the biggest demon of all — comfort.
I am grateful that I have been invited into these structures that support my practice. I know it will be difficult. This level of practice will require time I do not have, and a focus I am not sure I can maintain. They will be revealing and challenging in ways that will not always be comfortable. Both will take several years to complete. (The universe thought it would be a good idea to have them run concurrently — what am I to do in the face of the universe’s ironic humor?). Often I think it would be easier to be sequestered in a room, like our young magicians were, without choice, without distractions. But the roll of the karmic dice puts me here — mother of two high schoolers, directors of two yoga studios, and student in two trainings. Distractions, obligations, and comfort — this is after all the tantric path — life is our training. I share all of this with you for a couple of reasons. One is very self serving, and that is if I forget something you told me, or to return your email
or phone call, please just kindly remind me, and forgive my lapse. I can say that my eyesight has been slowly improving with my practices, but not my memory. (That is on my wish list you can be sure!) The second is that perhaps my words may inspire you to follow the practices, whatever they are, that you know will lead you towards having an “inkling of the things that are possible in this world”.
Here is more from the book:
“But some people can be enlightened” Widget says.
“Indeed,[says the man in the grey suit] such things can be taught. It is easier with minds that are younger then these. There are tricks of course. None of this rabbit in hats nonsense, but ways of making the universe more accessible. Very very few people take the time to learn them nowadays…”
If you have had experiences with some kind of practice, ritual or discipline, or trust and have faith in someone who has told you these things work, do them. Why would you not? Because of lack of time, focus, money?
That is just self deception. The world needs real magic these days, does it not? Sometimes just immersing oneself in the discipline is the magic itself.