You are Wild and Free
Once upon a time there was a young tigress, and she lived in a great, wild forest. She spent her days lounging in the sun, hunting, and doing all the wonderful things that tigers do. One day, she was walking down a path, and a group of men threw a net over her, captured her, and put her in a dark box. She was terrified and confused. After a long trip, the men took her out of the box and put her into another box with bars, and left her there. She began to get hungry and thirsty, and she felt absolutely lost. After a few days, the men came to her with a huge piece of juicy looking meat and some cool, fresh water. But, before they offered it to her, they took her out of the cage , made some weird gestures, and yelled and screamed. At first, she didn’t understand what was going on, except that she was starving and she wanted that meat. So, she decided to do whatever the men wanted so that she could eat. She realized that they wanted her to stand up on her hind legs, so she did. Then, they wanted her to jump through big, round hoops, and she did. Over time, she became the most prized performing tiger in the circus.
For many years, she performed these tricks so that she would continue to receive the meat.
One day, some very kind people saw all of the beautiful animals in cages, and knew they didn’t belong there, so they set them free. They drove the tigress very far away, to a jungle where they knew the tiger would be free.
She was terrified, lost and confused. After some time, she began to get hungry and thirsty. She knew that if she performed her tricks, the men would come and bring her food. So, she began to do her circus dances.
The other tigers in the forest noticed something strange going on. There was this beautiful looking tigress doing the most ridiculous things.
One of the other tigers walked forward, and asked the tigress what in the world was she doing?
She explained that she was hungry and if she did this routine well, a man would come and bring her food and fresh water.
All of the tigers laughed.
The other tiger said, "Have you forgotten who you are, don’t you realize that you are tiger? You are one of us. We hunt for our food, and we drink water from the streams, and we lounge in the sun whenever we like. We do not need men to feed us, because we find our own food.”
At that moment, the tigress remembered, and became herself once again.
Over time, and with practice, she became the most powerful huntress in all of the wild forests.
Stories like this one speak the language of the heart, and the heart speaks the language of symbols. As a student of yoga, I have learned of the power of myth, as I have seen how it opens the lines of communication between the inner realms and the outer realms. Yoga is a practice of building bridges from the inside to the outside and the outside to the inside. Sharing stories like this, help us to do that.
I often tell stories to my students, to connect to interior spaces of the heart. The stories will reveal their teachings if we take them personally. We place ourselves inside of the characters, and we become them.
You are the tigress, you are the cage, you are the circus trainers, you are the forest, and so on.
So, this story invites us to the deeper truths of our lives. It asks questions such as these:
When did you capture your own wildness and innocence and put it in a cage?
When did you decide that it was necessary to perform for your life rather than speak your truth?
When did you forget who you truly are?
When will you set yourself free and come home?
When you read this questions and the story, notice if there’s a feeling that arises inside of you. Sit with that feeling and notice its flavor. Notice if there’s a color, an image, or a memory that arises inside of you as you sit with the feeling. These are all truths of your heart, and they are meant for you to discover. These are gateways that lead you to the little gems of beauty inside of you that are waiting to be revealed. And these gems of beauty are who you are meant be.
Yoga is the practice of becoming more of who we are. It is the practice of connecting to ourselves in the most tender and honest way, and offering that to each moment of our lives.
Like the Tigress in our story, you are here for greatness, you are here for freedom, and you are here to lose yourself sometimes so that you may once again find your way home.