Foreword by Gotham Chopra
Does it surprise you that I first did yoga when I was in college? And that I only did it to impress a girl?
I mean let’s be real: you grow up the son of his holiness Deepak Chopra and there’s a certain expectation that you’re a born and bred yogi, that you’re vegan straight out of the womb, and that you’re an instinctive master of the seven spiritual laws from conception.
Even if I haven’t evolved that much in the last thirty years or so, Yoga has. I remember growing up in Boston, Massachusetts when my father first started talking about it as a practical way to reduce stress, lessen chronic fatigue, enhance strength and flexibility – even as way of treating indigestion and other health related issues. Most people smirked at these alien ideas, dismissing yoga as a fringe practice of eastern occultists. Oh how things have changed. Today, according to Google maps, there are over a dozen yoga studios within a three-mile radius of my house. And by the way, you can select from power yoga, hot yoga, dance yoga and all sorts of other trademarked forms of yoga. On the contrary, nowadays fringe groups of eastern occultists are enraged that they don’t get credit for yoga which is often regarded as just another trendy exercise regimen in a long line of Taibo, pilates, spinning and other assorted aerobic routines.
Yoga is just one of various eastern vernacular that has moved from the fringe to the mainstream. Karma, mantra, Guru, and dharma are some others that spring to mind. All of these words, these ideas, are rich in substance, tradition, ritual, and meaning. In the modern world – err popular western culture – they’ve become twitter terms and motivational monikers for a culture often mired in chaos and in desperate search for feel good moments. As a consequence, what gets lost in the lore of this self-help scene is the deeper resonance of these ideas and how they practically connect with us in our modern lives.
In other words, I want to live and work in the modern world, but I have questions about the deeper meaning and purpose of my life at the same time. I want to be successful at what I do, see that result in material abundance and prosperity, but learn how not to have my sense of self-worth be dependent on that materialism. I want to be engaged in the world and those closest to me, but be detached and spiritually liberated too.
We live in conflicting times. The world is getting flatter, smaller, and more connected at a pace more rapid than we can even conceive. We’re socially networked ad infinitem, and yet we’re more lost than ever. Why? Because modern culture tells us that you’re one or the other, sacred or profane, divine or diabolical, jacked in or zone out, even though in truth most of us are a bit of cut and paste of all of the above.
So how do we make sense of it all? We find teachers that have spent their lives studying and living the wisdom traditions of ancient cultures. These are people who take pride in their imperfection, teachers who don’t have spiritual prefixes or devoted posses. These are real people living in the real world dealing with real issues and finding real solutions. These are people like Lissa Coffey who have devoted their lives to the search for fulfillment and happiness, who say with pride that it’s not the secrets they’ve found that are their greatest revelation, but the gypsy-like search for them that comprises the secrets themselves.
How do I know? Because I just finished reading the galley copy of the book you’re holding in your hands right now. Because I feel smarter and happier and more equipped for the road ahead of me that will surely be full of potholes, unexpected twists and turns, and wild variable along the way. And because well, I happen to know my way around spiritual teachers.
And oh by the way, that yoga class to impress the girl? That girl is my wife now so I guess I have kind of evolved. A little bit, anyway.