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"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

- Eleanor Roosevelt, Prominent human rights activist

The butterfly effect of Karma Yoga: A climb into the new year

By Anouk Prop on 15 July 2015

P-e-a-c-o-c-k. Peacock! Big smile missing one tooth is looking up towards me. My heart melts. With his tiny little finger Kishor follows the spelling of the letters of his favourite bird. The book on our lap, sitting on the dusty Indian earth, we’re enjoying our last moments of 2014 together. Meanwhile I’m flying away on the wings of time.

Another year has almost come to an end. My mind takes off and looks back on a flight over last years’ landscapes. Waves of unexpected movements and hidden treasures at the bottom of new oceans in which I’ve let myself flooding. Anchors lifted and sailing towards the open water. I lost side of the shore, for sure. Andre Gide could be proud.

At the end of the horizon and beyond became my dristhi. My point of reference. I saw the sun coming up and going down again. Time came and went, like the waves of the ocean. Day became night and dark became light. Unification of the sense of duality. Boldly I dived into the depths and stayed at the surface when needed to catch some breath again. I learned to let go. I learned to breath deeply and sank down into the unknown.
Inside out. Upside down. Somewhere halfway I found my inner anchor at open sea.
At that point I suddenly became aware of the marvellous mountain rising at the horizon. No fata morgana. This was real.
sunriseIn the Gulf of Thailand the universal sound called me repeatedly. I listened. Finding myself in stillness drowned out by tones that tuned right into my heart. The innocent voice of a singing child made my heart beat faster and released an overwhelming tsunami of deliberation. I shook off all the conventional chains that made me unconsciously swimming against the stream. The time had come to turn some tides. The turbulent gulfstream led me towards the south of India. With my focus and a clear vision I climbed out of the water, pulling me up on stones of red clay. Here I was. Ready to help a child to reach the sky, with mountain Kilimanjaro at my feet. I started my expedition to make my way to the top, knowing that at that point other tops will appear. Climbing in love for India. Driven by my inner mission of giving back to the source with a deep gratefulness for yoga as part of my life.

anouk prop kilimanjaro“Akka? Anouk akka, this is peacock! You see?” He took my face in his hand and made me look at a beautiful print of Krishna, gracefully dressed up as India’s national bird. “Watch peacock!” With the clacking of his tongue he brought me back in this moment. Now. My lap as his future destination. Looking for shelter. A place to breathe. “Akka, you know peacock? Mayura in Kannada language.”

Mayura swims underwater, flowing with the tides of the ocean. It carries an orphan at its back, the arms firmly put around its chest. Mayura, the mythical bird of freedom and eternal life, replaces its feathers annually. With the power of resurrection this healing bird flies us towards the integrity and beauty that can be achieved when we endeavour to better ourselves and better our lives, killing all the snakes symbolizing time underway.

While I’m observing little Kishor lying on my lap, Swami Vivekananda is watching us from his portrait that hangs above the door. I look up and try to catch his eyes, but he’s gazing very straightforward into the endless space. A glimpse of resolution falls down on the earth at the opening towards the world of a new year.

The problem with New Years resolutions is, that it often stays with making them, without taking them into action. So, not a single word of resolutions for me. The road is already paved and will unfold itself anyway. I rather take the path of resolute action and just go. Walk the walk. Up. Climb.

Somewhere on the road Mayura is sitting on a giant stone, busy to renew its beautiful coloured feathers. Kishor calls me. “Peacock akka! Peacock!” We sit, watch and see how everything seems so small all of a sudden. Seeing the world from a distance that is far away and yet so close. The busyness. The mass is moving, like groups of gazelles running over the steppes. Going nowhere. Christmas lights are still shining bright at this time of the year, wherever I look. Coca Cola trucks are enlightening the roads. The houses are filled with food, laughter and joy. Christmas trees are growing, nurtured by the overkill of presents. Gifts filled with the air of the intention to fill the deep holes inside of us.
I see the children playing around me and the lights in their eyes reflect the star of Bethlehem. Showing me the way home.

Kishor takes a feather of Mayura. His little hands are playing hide and seek with its all seeing eye.
peacock with feathersI look back and I see myself, wandering through these streets on Christmas Eve experiencing the same feelings. I was thirteen and ran away from home. What I knew then, still is present now. A deep belief that I’m doing this for the right cause. A strong sense of being on a path, although it’s going upwards and has many obstacles underway, the top of the mountain is glittering in sunshine. Trust, faith and go for it. Putting 100 percent effort, no matter what the outcome is. Taking the time to stand still, look around and see how far I’ve come. Undoing myself from unnecessary baggage. The higher, the lighter. Just leaving it, knowing it’s still there.

“Akka? For you!” Big smile missing one tooth places the peacock feather in my hair. My gift of the year.
peacock feather Mayura flies with me way back in time. Anne Frank crawls inside my mind as an awakened serpent at the root of all essence. Mature wisdom from a Jewish little girl in awful circumstances. She had a belief and kept on going on the path of Karma Yoga, without having probably any clue of what it’s all about, except from being stuck in painful positions for a very long time in het Achterhuis or the camps. Her words whisper softly in my ear, while Kishor is tickling my face with the top of the feather. 

“Give and you shall receive, much more than you would have ever thought possible. Give, give again and again, don’t lose courage, keep it up and go on giving! No one has ever become poor from giving! If you do this, then in a few generations no one will need to pity the beggar children any more, because they will not exist!”

My view becomes kind of fluid. The smile around my mouth catches the teardrops that are slowly rolling down. This is what its all about. Yoga is unification. Giving back unifies me even more and gives so much back in return. The world would be a better place if we all gave a little bit more. We don’t need a brand new year to start. Every day is a new beginning.

Kishor is sleeping on my lap. The book has fallen on the floor. I’m looking up at Swami Vivekananda, still hanging above the door. I take a deep breath and while carrying Kishor in my arms, I gently push the door open and step into another year.

About the author

Anouk Prop

Psychologist and registered Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher

Anouk Prop is a psychologist and registered Yoga Alliance yoga teacher (500RYT) originally from the Netherlands.  She combines yoga and psychology through their very compatible aspects and stresses…  Read full bio