Tiffany Wood Yoga

Love is my Religion

It's been 12 years since placing a four-foot seated Buddha at the entrance to my home. He has been welcoming all who enter with love and compassion. Or so I thought. Known as the one who brings enlightenment and wisdom, it made sense to me that Buddha at my front door would symbolize all are welcome here. I recently discovered that what I intended as an expression of universal loving kindness has had the opposite effect, leaving some feeling awkward in the presence of something unfamiliar to our western culture or forbidden in the eyes of the Christian God.

It seems I have been drinking the Kool Aid a bit more than I thought. Doesn't everyone know what the Buddha stands for? Can't everyone embrace the symbolism of The Awakened One? The "NO" to these questions opened my heart to understanding that the philosophies that inform the practice of yoga and or spirituality, is not only uninteresting to some of those closest to me, it makes them uncomfortable.

This insight brought me back in time to when I first started practicing yoga. I remembered how I thought all the bronze murtis/statues of the Hindu deities were really gaudy and strange. Buddha statues were less intimidating simply because it was slightly more common to see a Buddha here in the West than a Shiva with four arms. Nonetheless, I remember feeling uncertain about what I was getting myself into and proceeded with great caution. I wasn't signing up for any religion, or worse some cult. I just wanted to stretch, breathe and find relief to the headaches I was having.

18 years into the study and practice of yoga, I now readily commune with what was once unfamiliar and gaudy to me. Just as each murti expresses a different attribute of the One energy of all that is, I understand that we each walk our own path and connect to the beauty of life in different ways. I have grown in my capacity to hold compassion for all, like Buddha taught. I have opened to the practice of honoring the different energies of life as they come into form whether live and in person, or in a statue.

The Buddha at my doorstep may evoke the uncomfortable in those who visit. I don't see this as reason to remove him, especially because his presence now has greater meaning for me. I have a deeper appreciation for the teaching—All paths lead to the same place. I more clearly see that especially when my path makes others uncomfortable, I can choose to open my heart and meet them where they feel safe. This happens in conversation, time well spent and forever aligning with my values while giving others permission to do the same.

In answer to my mom's questions, "Are you a Buddhist? No? Then, what religion are you?" Love is my religion and the first person I want to know that is YOU! Thank you for being my greatest teacher! I offer my heart as the doorway to greater love and compassion between us and all I encounter along the way.

Hugger Mugger Yoga Props