By Jason Patrick
It was a hot summer day in Canada - 2011. I was in a rehabilitation facility, which had once been utilized as a convent, in the middle of nowhere. Prairie grasses hugged this sanctuary from all sides. I was a drug addict in recovery.
Not only was I in recovery, I was grappling with a diagnosis that would change my life forever. Just days before, I had learned I was infected with HIV.
I had suspected my infection for months prior - but blind optimism had enveloped me, and rehabilitation and recovery from a drug addiction was my priority. But at the core of my being - there was a pit. A nagging pit that I could possibly have HIV. I was driven to a nearby doctor for the results of a blood test - and while looking out the window, I gave credence to this pit, and blurted out “I need to learn how to love myself.” It just came out.
At the doctor’s office, I remember being led into a bare room that resembled what I would best describe as a double-wide trailer, a short drive away from the rehab center. It was quiet, except for the doctor - a man from South Africa. Everything was still. He then informed me that I had HIV. The pit that had been in my stomach for months was confirmed. This was the moment.
The moment of my diagnosis was filled, as you might expect, with anxiety, uncertainty, and terror. But the calm of that room, the dignity and grace I received from the doctor and attendant did something to me.
The pit, in essence, had become a seed. And I was determined that seed was going to bear wonderful and healing fruit. The moment of terror had passed, and I was going to live with this disease in the most abundant way possible. I was going to flower and bloom - and bear fruit for others.
I transformed myself - became a devotee to Karma Yoga - or being of service to others. I became humble, letting others care for me - and thus, learning how to receive.
I had to let go of what I thought yoga was - which at the time, I believed was a beautiful practice of asanas. I had to dig more into the spiritual side, which encompassed stillness and acceptance.
As for my diagnosis, I let yoga work to my benefit. My practice became about using chairs, pillows, a deep pranayama practice to reserve and build strength. And through it all, I let go. I let all of it go.
Being diagnosed was one moment in my life - but I knew it also presented the opportunity to create many more moments. And I wanted more moments to be full of purpose.
Karma Yoga has allowed me to live in every moment since my diagnosis - giving to others, doing for the greater good, volunteering for important causes. It is my moral compass.
Because even though I have this disease, it has purified my heart. And it is part of my journey - to accept and love myself - and more importantly, to shine the light in someone else’s life.
For me, a big “someone else” in my life recently has been my community. I am proud to witness the impact God’s Love We Deliver makes to people suffering with chronic illnesses daily. The organization prepares daily, tailor-made meals for people who are too sick to shop or cook. People living with diseases like MS, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. For the third year in a row, I am holding a fundraiser called “Big Love Weekend” - where all proceeds go to God’s Love We Deliver. It is where my moral compass has led me. And it has invited me to ask - Where is your compass leading you?
Big Love Weekend is Saturday Feb 28 & Sunday March 1.
Sweat Life readers are invited to take 50% off the Wellness Day using discount code “beardedyogi” at the end of checkout.
To Purchase Tickets & Donate - www.crowdrise.com/biglovewknd
Detailed Information about the weekend - www.beardedyogi.com/big-love
Big Love video campaign: www.vimeo.com/beardedyogi
Jason Patrick believes that there are moments in life when we must take a risk and follow our hearts. He spent years in a meaningful yet unfulfilling and demanding career as a project manager in a high stress corporate environment. His path to yoga was an attempt to allow peace and calmness in, amidst the calamity of NYC; a haven full of quietude where he could find the perspective necessary to attain a greater purpose in his life. He was finally able to feel more grounded and embrace the stillness of each moment while moving through his practice.
After practicing for more than ten years, he took the risk and left his life in NYC behind to live in the Bahamas where he spent his first year devoted to the Sivanada Ashram. This new and starkly different lifestyle from the city life he was accustomed to consisted of daily meditation, asana practice, and philosophical studies. In a word, it was transformative. He went a step further and completed his first 200hr teacher training with The International Sivanada Yoga Vedanta Centre; meanwhile, continuing to further immerse himself in the community at Sivanada Ashram. During a retreat at the ashram, Jason met a group of Moksha yogis (teachers and founders alike). He was struck by a certain synthesis, given his urban background, with their modern approach to delivering the message of these ancient traditions. This modern approach allowed the yoga practice to be more accessible to a broader audience and hence carried the message farther. After this eye-opening retreat with his new Moksha friends, Jason took yet another leap of faith and left for Canada where he earned his 500hr teacher training certification with Moksha Yoga International. This teacher training, coupled with a mentorship he undertook in Montreal, were both such powerful experiences that he garnered a strong foundation both in his own practice and as a teacher, as well as the desire to share the message.
Jason’s main purpose in teaching yoga back in NYC is to help people fully actualize the potential that we all carry within ourselves, and to help cultivate our ever-expanding culture of acceptance. He is humbly, first and foremost, a student; he continues to study with gifted teachers around the world taking their workshops and trainings, knowing that it all leads to a deeper understanding of one’s self, i.e., to be of service.
He is infinitely grateful to his teachers Jessica Robertson, Deena Robertson, Janet Robertson, Dina Tsouluhas, Ryan Leier, Sara Gallagher, and Krishnan Namboodiri.