A Light in the Darkness
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
This quote, by the lauded Persian poet Rumi, has held a special place in my heart since the day I first heard it. As I walk the wonderfully complex path of becoming a yoga teacher, this poignant statement continues to develop a richer meaning with each step I take.
What this quote doesn’t explicitly tell you is that, in order for the Light to enter the wound, you must first deal with the Darkness that has slipped inside, attempting to quickly cauterize the injury and protect your sense of self. This means that you have to leave the wound open for a while - examine it, study it from all angles, and figure out how its presence changes you.
If you’re anything like me, you will gradually begin to notice the negative energy of the Darkness manifesting in ways that impact your relationships with others and your relationship with yourself. In order to purge the Darkness and replace it with the Light, one must make use of two of yoga’s most powerful ethical principles, the Niyamas of Tapas and Svadhyaya.
Tapas, as described by Deborah Adele in her book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, “has the sense of ‘cooking’ ourselves in the fire of discipline to transform ourselves into something else. It is our determined effort to become someone of character and strength.” Adele also says, “Svadhyaya, or self-study, is about knowing our true identity as Divine and understanding the boxes we are wrapped in.” These “boxes” form the basis of our identity and are shaped by our experiences and our culture.
As yogis, we must have the fiery discipline to consistently engage in self-study, to examine our wounds and the “boxes” they have stuffed us in. If we can do this, then we can burn away the Darkness and allow the Light to fill us. And if we are filled with the Light, then we can light the way for others.