OM TAT SAT
by Janna Leyde
My dad loves Sanskrit. Yes, the yoga makes him feel smoother and think better, but he is fascinated by the ancient language that accompanies the practice. This comes as no surprise. So am I. Buffett, waterskiing, oranges, golden retrievers, Sanskrit—we tend to like the same things.
Sanskrit is a treasure trove to me. Hard as heck to write out, but breaking down each word to dig for its meaning was something I found calming during teacher training. Yoga is union, literally to yoke or to join. Hatha is the balance of solar and lunar energies (ha being sun and tha being moon). Vinyasa is movement (nyasa to put, or place and vi in a special way), which of course lends itself to the ‘flow’ nature of that discipline. And of course the poses, like Eka Pada Rajakapotasana—one-legged king pigeon pose, and the mantras. I came off of yoga teacher training enlightened; yet very much depleted by my old way of life. Lots of pigeon and forty days of Lakshmi and her blessings of abundance on both the physical and spiritual levels were what I needed most in those days. Om Shreem Mahalakshmiyei Namaha (you can listen to it here).
Eventually I hit my post-teacher training grove and it was time to dive back into my book. I had millions of themes and leitmotifs swimming around in my head, but I couldn’t seem to fit them into my story, much less the neat and tidy pages of a book proposal. Yoga had become my fulcrum for life, my discipline to write, my motivation to finish, but Lakshmi’s mantra wasn’t really working anymore. I’d manifested so much abundance and goodness for the book, but I had no way to organize it. I had writing that was all over the map.
Om tat sat. It wasn’t even a pretty mantra, not at all aesthetically flowing like so many others; however, I saw it in writing, tacked onto the bottom of some yoga teacher’s email (whoever you are, wherever you are… thank you for including that in your email), and pure curiosity had me Googling om tat sat.
The most widely recognized meaning is “Supreme Absolute Truth.” Or there is the more literal “all that is.” I resonate with the latter of the two, or as I like to say: “All that is truth.” And if that’s still hard to wrap your brain around, then think of it as all that happens—circumstances, relationships, tragedies, hardships, love, hate, loss, birth, death—is meant to happen.
Om tat sat became my mantra for the book, and truth became the fulcrum of my narrative. I’d spent seventeen years of my life asking why, living in the anger of a situation gone wrong, stuck ruminating in what I thought it was supposed to be like, but, now I was able to see it all in a new way. Not what I wanted to see or what I thought I should see, but simply what was. I was able to accept. I was able to embrace.
There is an awesome comfort in knowing that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing whatever it is your are meant to be doing. I can look backward and forward as much as I want to, but my father will have always gotten into that car accident, and his brain injury will have always made life a hell of lot more challenging for my mother (and for me and for our family) than any of us had planned on. We can fight it, yet the truth remains. There was simply no way that accident was not going to happen in this lifetime. It will build us and shape us. Its effects probably have tentacles that reach out to the far corners of the world, to places we may never know. And sure, the acceptance is hard. Emotions are tricky. We’re human. I can barely swallow when I so much as think I’m embracing that this accident happened because that is my truth. I’m just beginning to become okay with it, and I know I can’t drag other people—my mother, my family, my dad, his friends—into that okay-with-it notion. It is their truth to find.
I know that He Never Liked Cake is my supreme absolute truth.
Once upon a time I had thought He Never Liked Cake had so little to do with yoga, just a few mentions in later chapters. Oh how I was wrong. The week I finished it, I went with one of my best friends to East Side Ink and had a teddy bear of a bald man tattoo sat on my wrist. I should have known then that this book only exists because of yoga. I am who I am, doing what I’m meant to be doing. I am making mistakes, taking leaps and traveling on this journey. I am all that is. We are all that is. All that is truth.
Shameless promotion—now you can buy He Never Liked Cake on March 20th!! In the meantime, click here if you want to help me blow this book launch out of the water.
Janna Leyde is a yogi and writer living in Brooklyn and the author of He Never Liked Cake, a coming of age memoir that tells the story of growing up with her father’s traumatic brain injury. Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain offers her perspective on the practice through the lens of the complex human brain. When she’s not on her mat or at the front of the room teaching, she is working on her second book about yoga for brain injury. You can buy her first novel, He Never Liked Cake, here.