Family Matters

Ram Dass quoted ‘If you want to know how enlightened you are, visit your family’ and this certainly rings true for me.


I love my family dearly but wow we are just all so different and I often wonder how I am to reconcile all these conflicting inherited elements along with my own personal traits.  My father is a very simple man who after having the same job his entire life retired to volunteer on the land.  He built a green home (environmental) which is plain, simple and minimal leaving it feel a little cool and aloof much like his nature, this though is transformed into cosy warmth when you are inside in company.

Conversely my mother is a glamorous powerhouse who was professionally ambitious and capable reaching great heights with a social and aesthetic bent that is inclusive, excessive and generous.  As a result her home is beautiful, rambling, always filled with movement, people and warmth yet a subtle pressure to keep up order and appearances.  My mother jokes that she only camps ‘in the five stars not under them darling’ to which I have fits of giggles.

I appreciate both of these approaches and settle in wherever I land however I am feeling a little stretched and moved away from my centre while here in England with Mum.  She has been nothing but supportive of my quest to move into the ashram which is so far removed from her normal as she loves me and wants me to be happy however their underlying fears when in their presence are leaving me frozen and unsure of how to relate or engage in conversation with their friends.

I am revolving around her universe at the moment as I want to spend time with her before I leave for the ashram and not lots of money which is so easy to do when in her company.  Her taste is impeccable and it is easy for me to tune into that aspect of my nature and get carried away with consumption.  It has been said in this household – ‘You want to move into the ashram but what about your Jimmy Choos (Shoes)’ and this is a true and accurate reflection of this aspect of my nature which I am choosing to sublimate.

We had dinner with a couple of my mums friends whom I had only met that day and we were talking about general things over dinner when India came up.  It came out that I was moving into an ashram as a full renunciate which is obviously quite unusual and so will often illicit a lot of further interest and questions. 

I perceive this to actually be a discussion about our mortality and morality which people want to talk about however often the subject cannot be broached easily within social conversation and so it remains untouched.  However given I am outwardly journeying in, others have a chance to tell me their feelings, experiences, fascination and fears which I love.  I get to speak about yoga (but do this in a measured way and try not to get too passionate which I am inclined to do) as a science with various practices to facilitate this process which is fascinating and technical.

I noticed my family withdraw and these other people were firing up and so pulled back and asked about it the following day.  It turned out that my family was getting more concerned about me (joining a cult as one of their friends had suggested months earlier) and now that I know how they feel I don’t want to really talk about it with their friends for fear of upsetting them.

So what to do when my whole life has been revolving into this point for the last few years?  My job and interests centre around yoga and those ‘other’ parts are taboo and not suitable for dinner table discussion in this environment.  Another dinner party was held last night where I was asked what I do and said that I teach Yoga and wanted to leave it their however his experience was that his business partner (they are in concert production, promotion and touring) has a daughter who became a Buddhist nun which was ‘unusual’ given the background she came from.   I think this quest that I am on is not so unusual and quite a few people journey along the renuciates path while many more just have questions that they would like space to explore.

It also makes me wonder why if someone becomes a nun or renunciate in the Catholic Church or Buddhist traditions it doesn’t seem to raise any ‘cult’ concerns while Yoga does.  Choosing to let go of the outside world in preference for developing the inner one and to be of service rather than to receive seems to rattle people on a deep level which feels so confusing at this point.

I don’t know how to take the next step. I want to be me and I won’t change due to outer pressures to conform but I also don’t want to disturb the world of those that I love the most.  And so this state of enlightenment is indeed very far away and my family are that wonderful blessed mirror which shows me just how much work is ahead of me.

Hari Om

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