Dad photographing himself in the hubcap of his Porsche, c. 1965
Dad photographing himself in the hubcap of his Porsche, c. 1965

I recently had a conversation with my father about life. It stuck with me and surprised me, when very little truly does. He told me, in his words, that he had once flown very high.

My father was a fighter pilot; “Top Gun” in his squadron and accomplished at aerial stunts. He also raced Porsches in Europe. He lived a fairly exciting life. We Stocks seem to have going fast in our blood. I have it too but seldom admit it because I’ve chosen different things for myself. We like to feel wind blowing in our hair, and we’re not much afraid of falling, of failing. As a result Indian roads and airplane turbulence don’t trouble me too much!

CF Snowbirds in formation (
CF Snowbirds in formation (

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other fears however. I would guess this may be quite common among those that ‘fly’. Like the elephant afraid of the mouse.

What strikes me is that unless we take time in life to cultivate our inner world, we may in fact feel a great sense of loss, or failure, or lack of confidence in those moments where we aren’t moving fast and the wind is not blowing in our hair. I wonder whether we can feel as if we are flying very high, while never venturing outside of the “temple of the heart”. Of course, everything I study says ‘yes’. My own small experience and perceptions suggest that yes, we may fly faster and higher inside.

The world is large, but in us it is deep as the sea.

-R.M. Rilke


My first flight; an incredible feeling of freedom
My first flight; an incredible feeling of freedom

So why was I surprised by the conversation? I suppose it was the feeling of loss or regret implied, the sense of past tense. Accepting that flight was no longer possible, without looking deeper. The situations of life may conspire to limit our ability to ‘fly’ literally, with the body, but that is such a small part of the picture. There also seems to be an issue of identity wrapped up in it; as in “I am the one who flies. Who am I now if I am grounded?”

Today, on the occasion of the first International Day of Yoga  I am thinking about how I am finding other ways to ‘fly’ and am so very grateful for the very open, less conditioned, less attached mind that I have gained through so many years of practice and introspection. I have a long way to go, for certain, however I am so grateful to be on this path.

I’ve never spoken of this before, but I remember a specific moment in time, many years ago now, where there was a perfect alignment of the energetic, the mind and the physical in my practice. For a few glorious moments I felt my wings. That is, I felt where the cartilage  connected to the bone. I felt how they grew out of my back and extended beyond my physical body. Energy made flesh. And in that moment I knew that the wings were with me always, and that flight was possible, and within me. They were real. And so I practice to learn more, and to remember. And, over time that practice changes, in my experience always for the better.

I hope that you begin the practice, continue the sadhana, allow for change and to experience flight always, in whatever way that flight manifests.





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