Does anybody really know what time it is ... If so, I can't imagine why ... - Robert Lamm, Chicago
There’s a song about a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap.
Turn, turn, turn, is the refrain of this song that gets its words from the bible.
But does time really turn over? Or is that just how we experience it?
My yoga practice is pretty athletic. It does not involve any deep thought about time or space, but afterwards it seems to put my mind in exactly that place.
For me, the practice makes a space where I can access some kind of spark that I think has been inside since the day I was born and that’s perhaps been in all of us since the beginning of time.
This might sound oh-so-philosophical, but it’s something I experience at a very base level.
I get home from yoga, have something to eat, put my clothes in the wash and draw a bath. I climb in and sit there and all I feel is gratitude. The water is warm and so is my heart.
I have even said some blessings aloud in the tub, and in this space and time, they include those with whom I've shared love and with whom I've shared hurt. In these expansive moments that follow my practice, I can see all the lessons that have come my way.
It might sound strange, but I think we all carry this inner spark. And if we expand enough to access it, our stories can start to make sense. It's almost as if this expansion illuminates the big picture that is our lives.
Some people think of this spark as the Divine, as the Light, as the energy source that is God. Whatever it is, I think I’ve discovered that I can access it through yoga.
I find the ignition of this spark to be bright and brief. So, to find it again, I have to keep going back to the mat.
My yoga practice has led to a lot of reading about Kabbalah, the study of Jewish mysticism. Kabbalah explains that this lifetime is one of many that our souls experience, and it teaches that before we are born, we reside with the Spark itself, in a place where there is no space and time. And it’s there where we can see the picture that is our lives, like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces fitting neatly together in a story that makes sense.
Kabbalah teaches that it’s the choice of our souls to journey back to earth, and that it's here where new chapters are written as we put together our pieces by correcting things within ourselves. Such are our soul corrections and such is the purpose of our lives.
Supposedly, we have to live many lifetimes to do this work. The ancient teachings of many religions speak to this, the reincarnation of past lives and the journeys of our souls.
All of this has made me reconsider the concept of time. Perhaps it’s not as linear as I once thought. Perhaps it’s not that every season turns; rather, it’s we who return to every season.
I once took a yoga class that was choreographed in the round. We set up our mats in a circle, and we ourselves moved in circles. No one faced front, and we never left our mats but instead journeyed ‘round and ‘round, returning again and again to where we started.
It was disconcerting to practice this way, but I was surprised that by the end of class, I felt somehow restored. Something about it put matters right, as if I had gotten some kind of chance to return and correct, even if not consciously so.
So maybe our lives are like that practice, and we’ve been ‘round on this journey before, putting matters right while even traveling alongside some of the people we now know.
This idea of time and space is captured in a touching performance of A Song For You by three famous friends, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles (view here). Willie is crying as he knows Ray is dying, moved by the lyrics, I’ve loved you in a place where there’s no space and time.
We are lucky if we have felt such love in this lifetime. If we have, then we’ve gotten a glimpse of that lit-up gift that is the spark inside, and we’ve experienced something seemingly eternal even if it’s not lasting.
This place where there’s no space and time seems to also be where I find myself when I paint and when I write. It’s where the colors flow and the words appear. When I look at the final product, I think, How did that get there? Where did the time go? How did I do that?
And right away I know I could never recreate what’s on the paper because I am back in real time.
Real time is where we learn our lessons. It’s where we have to be in order to get back to that place where there is no space and time. And if we are aware, we can recognize when we are graced with snippets of this timeless space, the place where our blessings reside.
Somehow, the practice of yoga takes me there. The hour plus class goes by in no time at all, and I am always grateful for whatever glimpse I get.