On Atha

What relevance does Atha have for you in your life in general or as you begin Yoga School?

If not now, when? So the famous question goes. As an expert procrastinator, the question tends to carry a bit of sting when I contemplate it. But moving past that, perhaps there’s a deeper relevance to Atha, to “now”, in the context of practicing the yogic way.

First, there’s an honoring of the journey that has brought me to this point. In practicing forgiveness of the self, it may be absolutely necessary to honor the failures as well as the perceived successes. It would seem that messy experience is the soil, the fertilizer, the earth in which the seed of something new can sprout. There seems to be a need to look back, to feel deeply into what may have been glossed over at the time, and to engage with whatever still carries a charge into the present. Perhaps honoring the past means that we gather up the broken pieces that haven’t re-integrated into the whole yet, and carry them into the present, the only place where we can gaze upon them with attention and offer what was rejected acceptance.

I can feel Atha as an exhalation, a deep sigh, a letting go and a sense of “finally, here we are, we can begin.”

On an even deeper arc, Atha seems to emphasize that now is all there is. The present moment is the only place to experience and engage with what appears as self and other. I become keenly aware that when I seek distraction, I am consciously running from the only place where I might find what I’m truly wanting. That bright, shiny objects are only a reflection. That mental forays into the past and future, while they may have utility, cannot ultimately touch what is.

It, is here. I am here. Now.

Perhaps implicit in Atha is the simple fact that we all wander. Of course we have left home, of course we have become distracted, and no doubt we shall again. But when we remember, when we feel disjointed, discontent, even desperate — well, now, the teachings of yoga.