Jonathan Patriarca

Heart Beats Complete: The Greatest Gift

“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.” Bhagavad Gita 17:20

I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly “heart-centered” individual. Quite often I have questioned if was even capable of love. “What does that even mean anyway?” Living in a selfie-centered society that breeds fixation and co-dependency, I never understood what it meant to truly love without condition, without some weight of debt or to surrender to dharma- Not until my teacher died.

Jonathan, meditating.

Jonathan, meditating.

It’s been just a year now and I remember the striking effect the news of his passing had on my heart. It felt raw. I was confused. Prior to this point my yoga practice tended to be intellectual and practical. The thought of Bhakti made me nervous and I was skeptical of blissed-out hippies (still sort of am). But something magical happened on the day of Jonathan’s death. When I asked his wife, Angela, “what do you need?” and she replied, “I need you to come back to San Diego and teach all of (his) classes,” a strength and confidence emerged from within me that I can only describe as unconditional love. It was a bravery I had never before experienced. For the first time in my life I felt an absolute sense of duty.

The maneuvering which was required to leave San Francisco on such short notice, to face trying to rebuild my life once again in San Diego was massive. But somehow I wasn’t afraid. The deep respect and admiration I have for Jonathan, and the desire to be there for his family, for his students was the fuel to forge ahead with no questions asked.

Since this transition, life has begun to blossom in ways I could have never imagined. It seems that all aspects of my being have grown, evolved, matured. I’ve resigned a part of my own identity to play the instrumental role of carrying out Jonathan’s work with the Bheemashakti Yoga School and it feels great. This devotion to serving my teacher connects me the essence of God that threads through the entirety of existence. Surrendering to this is absolute freedom.

Jonathan assisting Troy

Jonathan assisting Troy

The discussions Jonathan and I had over the years really shaped the way I saw yoga, spirituality and life. He never told me what to think or believe, but instead pointed me in the direction of the answers I was looking for. He truly felt that a student should have their own experiences in order to gain insight and develop wisdom. This is a concept that has been proven valuable in my experience. And in looking back at how much has changed since the day I received the call, I realize that my heart was due for a major tune-up.

The greatest gift my teacher ever gave me was the spark of devotion. Now I understand what it means to be selfless and to serve with love. And through this concentrated energy emerging from my heart, the world around me continues to transform. No path of yoga is complete without knowledge, service, self-control and divine love.



GPS for the Soul

Jonathan Patriarca, Bheemashakti Yoga

Jonathan Patriarca (1970-2014), Bheemashakti Yoga

This has been a week of remembrance as I honor and make peace with the passing of my friend and teacher Jonathan Patriarca. He was the first man I met on my journey into the world of yoga who actually taught me about yoga. He introduced me to Bheemashakti Yoga, a unique approach to yoga that has shaped much of how I practice and teach to this day. As a devoted student it has been difficult to come to terms that Jonathan is no longer around to share his insights. At times it has been terrifying.

Accepting the loss of a teacher feels a lot like being lost inside of a department store when I was a kid. I don’t know who to ask for help and I wonder if I will ever find my way. But as the reality of Jonathan’s departure settles in I find myself turning inward, touching the impressions he made on my heart and mind. These imprints are a deep, corrugated network of memories, wisdom, and guidance. And as I trace my awareness along the veiny channels of my subconscious, in that place where Jonathan’s influence lives on, what I find is a beautiful recording of his teachings that I can play over and over again. So although the physical embodiment of a master is absent, what remains is a complex map drawn by the years we spent learning from and teaching one another. With this map, this music, I feel comforted in knowing that Jonathan left behind a rich resource in each and every one of his students.

Perhaps we can never recreate his laugh or his stories about his time with his Master in India, but we have something of our very own. What we have is the opportunity to nurture the seeds he planted within us, to grow our very own gardens in tribute to this man we all called teacher. Inside all of those seeds everything we need continue our work. And if we listen, if we pay attention, Jonathan continues to guide us from the seat of our inner teacher- the ultimate guide on this path to freedom.

In Loving Memory.