Welcome the Wildness: or, Uncovering the True Heart of Yoga and Meditation

Every day, we have to do the impossible. We have to submit to the magic reboot of sleep and then get up and line up all our selves into a unified being and get on with it. Nearly every day, new qualities of our selves come online to join in with all the others. 

This is a creative act. When you get up from whatever you were dreaming and go about your day—walking the dogs, feeding the kids, facing whatever catastrophes your teenagers have created—you are engaging in an act of creation. In each moment, we have to summon whatever inner resources we can find, “join together” in ourselves as best we can, and get on with it.

If we look at this visually, this is as creative an action as creating a sacred mandala. It’s just that you have to do it in a minute, and sometimes in a second or two.

As we move through life, different and often unknown forms of our own inner life energy–intelligence show up to help us. To help us get through that gate, climb that wall, navigate that forest, cope with our teenage daughter, find someone to love, learn to be loved in return. This inner energy can be hard to recognize sometimes. It can show up as monsters, dirty ragged beggars, creepy sensations in the body, really any form. It’s Halloween in here sometimes. 

This is what yoga has always been saying: welcome the wildness of it all and breathe harmony. Get to know each of your life energies as if it is a wild animal and learn what it likes to eat, how it likes to be touched, how it loves to run, fly, or sing out.

This creative act of getting ourselves together and facing whatever the day brings is the inner spark of yoga; it’s what it’s all about. The word yoga means “joining, connecting.” It refers to all the skills involved in creating an alliance out of all our instincts and feelings so we can adapt to the continual changes in the outer world. It’s fundamentally about getting together with yourself, all your internal allies, forming a team, and, as an at-least-temporarily-unified being, jumping into action.

This view of yoga impacts how we meditate. Let me elaborate.

Meditation is not about emptying the mind; it is about creating this inner alliance so we are better prepared for whatever comes. 

It can be visual—an open-eyed gazing, delighting in imagery and colors and shapes. Experiencing a flow of visual and kinesthetic and all the senses together, much like when we paint. When we paint, there is also the dance of moving the hands and arms from the palette to the canvas, then gazing at the work-in-progress and feeling into what wants to happen next. Meditation is about feeling into an experience, too.

Meditation is not about sitting in discomfort until your legs cramp. In fact, it can be dancing, moving your whole body to the rhythm of music or to your inner music. Always have in your toolkit that you may want to physically dance for a while and then dance into meditation, and as you sit there, savor the subtle internal dance of energies, feelings, thoughts, and flows.

Meditation can be loving, giving yourself a chance to really feel the intensity of what is going on in your heart, feel your perplexity and confusion, really just be with your inner sense of “WTF, GOD?” 

One secret name of this understanding of meditation is “The Yoga of Bewilderment.” We summon all our skills of serenity and let the utter wildness of what it means to be here in these bodies totally astonish us.

Meditation can be savoring, with the senses of smell and taste leading the way. As food becomes part of our body, we experience our oneness with its creation.

Any given moment of meditation can be all of these simultaneously. I invite you to expand (or begin) your practice of meditation as a welcoming of the wildness, a practice of opening up to allow your senses to delight in the over-the-top wealth of what’s going on right here, right now. Allow it to be an experience of joining together with yourself—and then getting on with life. 

About the Author 

Lorin Roche was lucky enough to begin practicing asana, pranayama, and meditation in 1968. He has been practicing, researching, and teaching meditation for more than fifty years—and he still feels like a beginner every day. Lorin is a pioneer in developing personalized meditation practices, designing the techniques around an individual’s inner nature. He is the founder of two related meditation systems: The Radiance Sutras®, which utilizes the richness of the Sanskrit language and is oriented toward the yoga community, and Instinctive Meditation™, an approach that uses common sense language and is designed to match one’s individual nature. Lorin has a PhD from the University of California, Irvine, where he has done extensive research on meditation and meditative experiences. His books on meditation are treasured by meditation practitioners across the globe and have been widely recognized as “must read.” He leads international meditation retreats and workshops and trains meditation teachers in a two-year meditation teacher training. Lorin lives in Marina del Rey, California, with his yogini shaktini wife, Camille Maurine. He also teaches and consults worldwide with individuals (private coaching), businesses, and universities to create custom meditation programs that suit their needs and cultures.