“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter…” –Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back)
This is one of my absolute favorite quotes. There is so much goodness packed into those few sentences.
Since the first of this new year, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about light. A term I love that describes the beginning of another year is “another trip around the sun.” As we came into 2017, those words were kicking around my mind. Another trip around the sun, moving along in our journeys, a circular and progressing image of time. As I was contemplating this thought, and incorporating it into my yoga practice and teachings, another teaching entered my mind. Once, in discussing Sun Salutations, my teacher, Christina Sell, offered that the act of practicing Sun Salutations could be viewed as honoring the light within ourselves versus the external light of the celestial sun. This idea resonated deeply with me when I first heard it a couple of years ago, and it still does.
“Luminous beings are we…”
This idea of our physical body housing a luminous being, or a brilliant light within, reminds me, again and again, of the expansive beings that we are. We often forget and get caught up in our limiting thought patterns and limiting beliefs—the voices that tell us we are not enough, the fears that tell us we are going to look stupid or that we are going to fail if we attempt something new, pride, arrogance, and envy—all the things that keep us from really stepping into our full selves and that also keep us feeling isolated and alone. Not only does this image of light remind us of the great, expansive beings that we are, but also of our connectedness with each other, and, too, with all that is.
The Sanskrit word Namaste, which is said by the teacher and repeated back by the students in most yoga classes, and has found its way, it seems, into the pop culture vernacular, can be translated in a number of ways. One common translation that I love is “the light in me bows to the light in you.” Again, it is the acknowledgement of a more subtle and expansive Self, not only of one person, but within each one of us. It is saying, “that great, expansive, luminous being in me recognizes and sees that great, expansive, luminous being in you.” It is a recognition and seeing of each other not only on a physical level but on a deeper plane, as well. Recognizing the light and luminosity that resides in each one of us, can lead to a recognition of our connectedness. That although we are individuals, we are not isolated beings, but rather all connected at some level with each other and with everything else. In Yoda’s words, “(The Force) energy surrounds us and binds us.”
In one of the yogic myths about the great eagle Garuda, it is said that when he broke out of his egg he shone like a million suns. His great energy and brilliance frightened the gods, and they asked him to rein it in. How I have learned the stories through my teacher Sianna Sherman, is that we are all the characters. In this case, then, we all, like Garuda, hold within us the radiance and energy of a millions suns, a great luminous being. Simply through life, culture, and society, we forget this great brilliance that we are, but we have the opportunity to remember, over and over again, and to step more fully into ourSelves.
As we move forward in this new year, I wish you all abundance, peace, and joy. To each and every one of you and the great light that resides within, I bow.