I was told not to go.
I was warned that I could be robbed or even kidnapped.
But, something was calling me to the ancient ruins of Palenque.
Perhaps mystery, adventure, or celebration of the spiritual in the dense jungle, surrounded by life.
Exploring the spectacular ruins was exhilarating, and the jungle was calling me.
Our guide led us along a vaguely marked path to see hidden ruins covered in overgrowth. There was no one else around.
Suddenly he claimed that he needed to go get his car and he would meet us in about fifteen minutes at the end of the trail. We were supposed to follow the path to the waterfall.
I felt confused and uncertain. This wasn’t part of the plan.
Why is he leaving us now? Is this a set up?
The noises that followed stopped me in my tracks.
At that very moment, roars filled the sky.
We must be surrounded by jaguars. I’ve never heard such a frightening sound...
I kept looking around, keeping all of my sense alert. I finally spotted a monkey and Kevin assured me that the sounds we were hearing were only howler monkeys.
I finally believed him as I realized that jaguars hunt alone and they don’t actually howl or roar.
The jaguar was the most feared and respected beast in the Meso-American world.
Admired for its hunting prowess and strength, feared for the same reasons, the elusive jaguar came to represent beauty, power, cunning, and mystery entwined in rituals and stories.
Jaguars are at home in the dark with their excellent night vision. They move fearlessly, whether night or day, teaching us how to trust our personal instincts.
The Jaguar mindset includes seeing the roads within chaos and understanding the patterns of chaos, moving without fear in the darkness, moving in unknown places, empowering oneself, reclaiming power.
Legend states that the Jaguar Sun, rose each day in the east and prowled west, aging along the course, until finally plunging into the darkness of the west. Then Jaguar Sun fights the Lords of Xibalba (the Underworld) all night. Through his strength and cunning, Jaguar Sun wins the right to rise each day in the East.
Both black (Star Jaguar) and light jaguar (Sun Jaguar) gods were regarded as necessary beings, without as much value judgment or labeling as to their aspects of good or evil.
When the jaguar bounds into your reality it is asking you to go within, to release your fears, to heal your emotions and to awaken your inner sight, awareness.
Only human beings kill jaguars, which may explain why Mayans regard humans and jaguars as spiritual equals.
Carvings, paintings or statues of humans wearing jaguar clothing or appearing to be half-human, half-jaguar, are more than simple artistic images. They represent fundamental ideas and beliefs, about becoming one with the jaguar.
Duality is the dynamic of what we see and what we think and is also manifestation of what we do.
When we desire food, or feel threatened, we automatically respond from Dualism, the conditioned response of the stuff of our mind, to like or not like something.
Jaguars are also associated with vision, which means both their ability to see during the night and to look into the dark parts of the human heart.
Yet if we do not see clearly the nature of the apparent relationship between all opposites we will be left torn by deep and irreconcilable conflicts. We need to distinguish between and separate front from back, left from right, up from down. We need to be able to distinguish between new and old, early and late, hard and soft. If we can’t or don’t we are unable to cope with life.
We may, consciously or unconsciously, seek to totally erase difficulty and pain, and the closer we get to doing so the less we become able to enjoy ease and pleasure. We cannot eliminate one pole of a dynamic singularity without eliminating the other. To want to do so, even to think as if it were possible to do so, is to be caught in the tyranny of dualism.
Non-dualism is when matter and spirit are one. In Hatha yoga, we try to find and keep the balance, like Yin and yang.
The jaguar represents the power to face one’s fears.
Non-Dualistic Yoga is about embracing the whole process, not clinging to one part of it. This is an interconnectedness with nature, a perfect harmony and awareness with nature. It is about being mindful of what is happening in our sensations.
“There is no room for fear as everything will come and go and connect as it was meant to; there is nothing created or destroyed, but instead, energies are constantly changing and transforming. The flow of water represents this action. Enjoying the present moment and not fighting change.” -Godfrey Devereux
What are you afraid of?
How can you become one with your fears, noticing, accepting the reality of the present, and with confidence, looking forward to the light returning again soon, to create balance?
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
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See the page, Park Yoga, for more information!
Lessons from Abroad