The conflicting nature of the lotus

The lotus flower: A symbol of rebirth

The lotus flower is an aquatic plant that lives in Asia, Australia, and the US. It is a sacred flower commonly associated with eastern religions. The flowers have several positive interconnected meanings that vary slightly depending on the culture. The flower can simply represent beauty and perfection or can have deeper meanings such as divine ideal and spiritual enlightenment. The lotus pose in yoga is often used for meditation and divine figures are often shown in the lotus position. The flowers are also a representation of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Sometimes the lotus flower is a literal symbol of reincarnation or but can also be a figurative symbol when one works toward rebirth through constant self-improvement.

The lotus seed pod: The prototype for trypophobia

Lotus seed pods and honeycombs are the most common stimuli that are associated with trypophobia, also known as the fear of holes.  Those afflicted with trypophobia report feeling fearful, uncomfortable, disturbed, shaky, and even nauseous from viewing images of object that contain multiple holes.  Research shows that a small percentage of people are strongly trypophobic, but holes also seem to make most people in the general population uncomfortable.  Studies which break down trypophobic stimuli, suggest that it is not the holes per say which trigger the fear, but viewing repetitive patterns that have a high visual contrast.  Therefore, the fear is triggered by not only holes but also bumps, bold artwork, and warning coloration and patterns found on poisonous animals. 

The meaning of the lotus depends on the time in the plant’s lifecycle

How can a plant have such a conflicting influence on our psychology depending on the part of the life cycle it resides in?  How can the flower influence such calmness and optimistic outlook at our connection with the natural world while the seed pod triggers so much horror and fear?  Is the plant a true representation of the nature of our lives as humans which is both enlightenment and uncomfortableness?  The conflicting nature of what the plant represents to us was echoed in my personal experiences with yoga.  Lotus plants have been associated with yoga for a long time, inspiring poses and a focus for visual meditation.

I have spent some time studying yoga philosophy and yoga movements. The time I spent most immersed in yoga was a time when both my mind and my body needed repair. It was a time in my life when my chronic pain was at some of its worst and my mental health had taken a nosedive. Yoga was the perfect solution to the mind body problem I was facing. I had concluded that the best solution to chronic pain and mental health woes was to treat the mind and body together. Which is why it was difficult for me grasp why my yoga instructor committed suicide. I tried hard to not speculate as to why he took his own life and tried hard not to let this event sway my reliance on yoga to treat mind/body problems. But I tried to add the practice of acceptance of the good as well as the bad in our lives. The benefit of darkness, fear, death, and pain is that it teaches us to fight for light, strength, life, and solace. And it teaches us to appreciate it when we have it. Maybe that is the true nature of the lotus.

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