Cultivating faith and devotion

by Jill Sockman

By the time you read this, I’ll be far from Raleigh, having just arrived to Varanasi — arguably one of the most chaotic cities I know. Hopefully by now I’m over the jet lag, and presumably I’m inundated and awestruck by the complete overwhelm and sensory overload that is India. This will be my third trip to the subcontinent, and I’m not yet sure if it’s three strikes you’re out or third time’s a charm. Mmmm. Neti Neti says the knowing Self — not this, and not that.

My preparations for this pilgrimage have been extensive — making the arrangements and gathering the things needed for a journey of this kind; trying to complete any and all undone tasks that they not clutter my mind or my desk while I am gone; loosening my grip on expectation and attachment; deepening and steadying my practice. I’ve been holding the intention of opening up to whatever gift or lesson this experience holds, without resistance. I’ve been working to soften around the somewhat daunting reality of intensive study with one of the great living masters of Yoga: letting go of my smallness, worry of inadequacy, desire to learn, know, remember everything and just settle into the safety of the spacious heart that is always ready and able to take it all in. I don’t feel nervous or anxious. This journey called to me, and I answered YES. What happens next is not for me to worry about. This is a sacred journey for which I have prepared everything — from my work to my bag to my mind and body — with faith and devotion.

It is this long-cultivated sense of faith and devotion that was the source of the YES answer when this journey called to me. And it was in India where I first came to truly understand these qualities. My experiences there have been ever fraught with great paradox: smallness and bigness, beauty and sorrow, richness and lack all in equal measure, not only side by side but impossibly intertwined. And all of these seeming contradictions are held in a container of vibrant connectivity: raw humanity and perfect divinity as One. And so as I write to you from my little yoga room in Raleigh, T-4 days to departure, I am ready. I am saturated, fully, in faith of this oneness. What comes to pass in this next month shall be exactly as it needs to be — which will not vaguely in any way resemble any of my pre-conceived ideas about it. That is for sure.

I’ll miss you while I am gone. I’ll be sending extra prayers and blessings to you. I’ll be so happy to see you when I return. Most of all, I invite you to come with me on this inner pilgrimage of faith and devotion — in whatever way you see it, seek it, find it, are surprised and blessed by in the weeks ahead. Notice the oneness when it touches your heart. And be reminded of why we are all here: to seek, to explore, and to love completely, wholly, with all that we are.