Have you ever bought artichoke hearts? I have, and I love them
England is the first country where I've seen artichoke hearts ready to go
It is quite convenient, as buying the whole artichoke takes way more time but we miss out on an experience. Yes! There can be an experience !
Firstly, when you get the whole artichoke, it needs to be cooked for 20 to 40 minutes, when soft, the leaves need to be plucked and you can scoop the flesh along the leaf, (I personally take the leaf straight to my mouth to eat the flesh). Then you find a stack of inedible ‘hair’ hiding the heart below which needs to be removed bit by bit. So in this whole process, you get a taste of the heart in each bite; each leaf prepares you to savour the heart
Yoga to me is like this, it is the experience within the process, It is the step by step (the plucking of one leaf at a time) that endows us with the patience and perseverance needed to not only do yoga, but experience yoga (the heart of the artichoke).
Yoga is the daily plucking of the leaves while realising what we make those leaves mean. We may pluck of the leaf of judgement, ego, comparisons, resentments, mental patterns and more, carving the way into the heart.
Once the leaves have been removed, you're left with a sense of lightness and can savour what remains.
There's a story which says that Michelangelo was asked about the secret of what considered to be the greatest sculpting masterpiece of all time, the statue of David. His response was “It’s simple. I just remove everything that is not David.”
Similarly, life teaches us each and every day that there's a certain amount of effort needed of us, effort to choose healthier ways of thinking/living/Being. Normally the easiest options aren't the healthiest options and when we carve out what is not us, despair, anxiety, grudges, fear, hatred, jealousy, etc. which arise from past conditioning, we start to sculpt who we are meant to BEcome.
We need to un-become to become and this is no easy task, as there are deep attachments to who we believe ourselves to be, but just as in Michaelangelo story, we have to inevitably chip off what gets in the way of the light that shines from within, all that encumbers our divinity so that we allow the divine stand forth for itself
When the artichoke is stripped off of all of the leaves with its little thorns and stacks of filaments; it weighs less, it's less obscured by the external. This doesn't mean that the leaves are unwholesome or bad, they are there for a reason, and they serve a purpose for a period of time. On the other hand, the artichoke is not just what's on the surface, or even the yummy the heart, it is all of it, but the dharma of the artichoke is to ripen in order to be of service to life ~ To be savoured by animals, humans or the earth itself.
Similarly, we are not just the body, thoughts, emotions or the soul, we are all of it! And we are meant to experience all that we are, so we need the thoughts and emotions as they too are a doorway to experience ourselves in our totality, however, by releasing the loads and denseness we (might) carry from past burdens, we can be embraced by a sense of "okayness" amidst whatever happens, becoming free(r) from suffering and getting a bit closer to a spacious ground of Being we can all marvel at, our inner compass, the heart 💗
From the centre of my Being, with love and gratitude,