Gaiam TV

The Art of Transfiguration | Lisa M. Ash

| 10:39 am

“Spirituality is the art of transfiguration. We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape…. It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will.” –J. O’Donahue

Arches National ParkPeering up from the highway to the ridge of a jagged, red-rock horizon, I was awed by the evidence of creative transfiguration that is manifest in exquisite landscapes. Nature’s features express, simultaneously, time standing ascetically still and moving at the staggering speed of creation. I recently drove from Kansas City, Missouri to Orange, California: camping, hiking, and meditating along the way. The myriad of scapes racing past my window as I travelled across the country served as a humbling reminder that nature’s course was chosen millennia ago. What I saw was a blessing of the moment. It was just one momentary meeting of the immutable, and undeniably phenomenal, cooperation of wind, water, movement, change, and Nature in motion.

Gorgeous landscape—whose rock faces, sandstone formations, and courageous fauna are in the midst of constant tumultuous change—simply accept the change as perfectly normal. Continuous molding, drifting, forming, burning, growing, shrinking, living and dying are all unceasingly embraced. This embrace of transformation honors the natural Ritam, or rhythm, of life as constant transfiguration. This embrace honors Being.

An inspiring example of this is the magnificent sandstone formations that shelter the rugged, unforgiving terrain of southern Utah. The unique formations reveal millennia of rock layers shaped by the forces of erosion and weathering acting in concert. Made famous by the extreme sports and tourism industry of Moab, Utah, these tall, proud rocks are the face of a drastic desert-scape that inspires adventure. For the yogi, the constantly evolving desert formations inspire contemplation; they are visible evidence of Bhagavad Gita’s charge to embrace change as a necessary part of physical existence, understanding that the Essence of Life remains immutable even in the face of the storm. In my eyes, the absolute power of the Living God, of Atman, of Brahman, are all visible faces of this ever-weathering sandstone.

Grand Urdhva DhanurasanaThe cavernous formations not only inspire a sense of humility by their sheer enormity, but they lend testimony to the miracle of transformation through surrender to creative power. What if we, like the rocks, began to trust in the creative power of transformation through surrender, as opposed to personal will? What if we, like the rocks, sensed the Divine touch of wind and water shifting and moving little bits of our lives, not with resistance but with a welcoming of erosion?

I believe the challenge of a yogi is, in fact, to embrace the immense creative potential in each gust of wind and in each passing breath. There’s really nothing new in this: for centuries, humans have been humbled and awed by the role of wind in the crafting of nature. Just as each whisper of wind shapes the wild vastness of an epic rock-scape, one mindful breath can awaken creativity, change, and transfiguration in the lived experience of an individual. The testimony of the desert-scape is that creation is meant for transformation through breath. The challenge is to use our yoga practice as life practice. The challenge is to breathe into the forgotten spaces of our lives, trusting in the embrace of this breath will be an embrace of the transfiguration of our spirit. I challenge you to breathe with me.

The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for WesternersScripture translation taken from: Hawley, J. The Bhagavad Gita: A walkthrough for Westerners. New World Library: Novato, CA. 2001

About Lisa M. Ash

Lisa M. AshLisa Ash is an inspiring Yogini. Lisa is a yoga instructor, early childhood educator, and Community of Christ minister from Kansas City, Missouri. She currently works as an educational consultant for Health Ed Connect, a non-profit organization committed to empowering women and children through health and education. She serves as a Teacher Mentor to community school educators in Zambia. From Lisa,

“It is my hope to ignite a passion for equitable, quality, community values-based primary education by connecting communities across the globe. As you read and follow the implementation of the Health Ed Connect Teacher Mentor Pilot Program in Zambia, let it inspire you to step out in faith and pursue your own passions. Comment, like, read, share, and support in any way you can. The world is a better place when we allow our own light to shine brightly!”

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