By Gurudevi Nirmalananda
I’ve been delighted to lead group meditations online for the last year. But it’s simply not the same as being together in person. It’s clear that it supports others. The energetic connection is tangible, providing a deeper meditation. But it’s not the same.
I’ve been teaching via technology since 2010. Back then, we were on phone conference calls, but we made it work. I really amped it up last year, with students zooming in from multiple continents. But it’s really not the same as when I can be in the room with them.
I’ve enjoyed staff lunches where we had food delivered to everyone. While we were all eating the same food and chatting onscreen, it wasn’t the same as when we’re all together. I’ve talked with people who have attended weddings and funerals online. Understandably, online was the only option, and how great to be able to connect at such an important time. Yet you already know what I’m going to say – it’s not the same.
What is it? What is the difference when we get together in person? Welcome hugs included, something else is happening. It is important. It touches your heart. It makes all of us more real somehow. Yoga calls it “embodied consciousness.” This is what is unique about the human being: that our being is both physical and mystical.
Yoga says Consciousness has manifested this universe, becoming everything that exists. But only the human being has the capacity to know both their physical reality as well as the Consciousness of which they are made. This is what mystical means, that there is a mystery hidden in the mundane reality. The mystical quest is an inner quest. This is yoga’s specialty.
However, something mystical happens when we get together. It’s intangible yet incredibly beneficial. Researchers proves that time spent together lowers anxiety and depression. It can help with emotions, leading to higher self-esteem and empathy. And a timely additional benefit is that it improves our immune systems.
This is a precious time right now. In Pennsylvania, we had a sweet time free from masks and social distancing. We didn’t know how long it would last, and here we are, masking again. Still, we can get together! Another variant or surge might put us back in isolation at any time.
A friend told me this morning that she’s going to visit her sister for the first time in more than 18 months. I was fortunate to spend the last 10 days with 28 other yogis in two back-to-back retreats. It was glorious! It’s time to get together. Isn’t there a song about this?