May 17, 2014

Pursuing Pursa. ~ Michelle Handy


Facebook is currently plagued with post after post announcing the end of freshman year of college and how “I can’t believe it flew by so fast” and “Shout out to a year better than I could have imagined!”

Meanwhile, my page does not announce the end of a fabulous year at school.

Rather, there is no statement.

Part of me wishes to write about the troubles of my first semester and the courage it took for me to leave my course of study. But I don’t.

My first semester of college was unlike that of most others. Well, apart for my roommate who stood by my side through it all. Drowning in anxiety like a rock in water led me to one ER visit after another.

While other freshman learned the contours of a beer can, I memorized the halls of the hospital. I never really felt secure.

I can remember coming home for my fall break, a mere four days which made the trip from Vermont to Pennsylvania a long one, but much needed. I cried to a hometown friend about my struggles and sought support.

She listened, as any friend would, and offered the best advice she could: it’s a rough semester, but that doesn’t mean you should just drop out. Just give it time.

Yet as the days past, I meditated more and more on the possibility of leaving. Why did I hesitate? Would it be the end of the world if I left? I can always go back….What would people say?

To a girl with severe anxiety, these questions were no easy task to tackle. My roommate helped me sift through them but ultimately left me to meditate.

For only I know what my heart desires.

So I did it. I trusted my gut. The moment I turned in my papers for withdrawal, I felt comfort and peace consume me. I knew that I had made the right decision though the semester was far from over.

Turning in the paperwork and actually leaving college were two entirely different things. I struggled to think my friends would go on without me but sat satisfied knowing I was making the right move.

Purṣa is the pure inner light of awareness found in Patañjali’s yoga sutras. Nicolai Bachman writes about this in his book “The Path Of The Yoga Sutras: a practical guide to the core of yoga.” He says, “The greeting namaste literally means ‘salutations to you.’ On a deeper level, it connotes honoring the purṣa that resides inside another person.”

This means that we respect the inner truth or gut feeling of another. In the same way, we must honor the light of awareness inside of ourselves.

I meditate on this yoga sutra frequently. When I decided to withdraw from college, I listened to my purṣa and it made all the difference.

Seeing those posts on FaceBook doesn’t unsettle me or upset me. Rather, it serves as a reminder of the mindfulness I have tied into my life. It’s like the ring of Tibetan singing bowl calling me back to my practice, my life. By listening to my gut, I took the steps I needed to find happiness and peace.

I encourage you to do the same.

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Apprentice Editor: Sue Adair / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Rekha Singh via Pixoto

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Michelle Handy