"Acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm... these are the three modalities of awakening. Any doing that comes from any of these three modalities will be awakened doing. But, if it does not come from any of these then quality will not be present and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others. If you are doing something you don't enjoy but you do it with acceptance, however, it is is awakened doing.
On the surface acceptance may look passive, however, acceptance is actually active and creative... it brings something new into this world. It brings peace... a subtle energy vibration that is active consciousness. If you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you are doing... STOP."
- Eckhart Tolle
All life is yoga.
When we try to define the depths of all yoga teaches us, we inadvertently negate all it encompasses. Yet, by broadening the scope so that we can reach more people, we then lessen the impact. When we are not living in our right mind, these words feel careless. How do you reach someone who may not be in their right mind? One way is through the physical body, specifically hatha yoga. Many non-self-studiers still think yoga is just stretching. Anyone who has had the courage to self-exlore and taken a yoga class knows that more is going on than just simple stretching. Let me explain.
After Bikram, have you ever felt run over by a truck? Have you ever felt emotional, whether it be happy, sad, excited, exhausted, bored, etc? There is so much more going on than just stretching in a hot room! If yoga was just stretching, emotions wouldn’t be triggered. You wouldn’t just get bored and want to run out of the room or scream at the teacher. I have sat through the most mind numbing financial meetings a person can ever experience. I have never once had the extreme urges to run screaming out of the room like I have when I face myself on my yoga mat. It is MUCH MORE than just stretching. Yoga is the undoing, it is exposing unknown territory for most every novice practitioner. Your body is your mirror as to what is going on internally. How you stand, how you breathe, how you walk – this will all translate into your yoga practice. Therefore, your yoga mat is your personal laboratory.
Let’s consider for a moment, the average person who doesn’t have any yoga knowledge or background. This person will avoid their feelings, they will avoid thinking about something that happened earlier in the day or week that caused a negative feeling. They think yoga is a waste of time, yet when they think of the morning meeting where they were made to feel bad by a co-worker, their breath shortens in an involuntary manner. When you do hatha yoga, you learn to lessen your grip on the past by focusing the mind on the body and breath. You apply breath and thus become calm and you subsequently begin to learn through regular practice that your emotional body is tied to your physical body – that you can indeed stop reacting and live intentionally. That the only way out of the negative loop in the head or the negative self chatter is 1. To become aware of it and 2. Discover your power to change your mind.
Most people depend on momentum. Without momentum these people lose their balance because basically, most of us are living our lives in a controlled fall. We don’t stop – ever. We’re going 90 miles an hour with our hair on fire. We plow through our days using words like weapons. We call ourselves beasts, we say things like "I won't quit because I have more people to prove wrong", women call themselves tough bitches because they think it’s funny or cute and that we have something to prove, we say, “this is who I am and who I’ve always been.” We label ourselves and everyone else. We watch movies and TV, because it’s in front of us and we just want to ultimately be accepted by our peers. Rarely, if ever, do we stop to self study, we just keep plowing through.
Then something inevitably happens, as it will because that’s life. We are forced to stop. And then we fall… When we live this way, with no knowledge of the self, no earthly idea how our individual minds work, no clue who we really are - just living to impress and prove to people something that they don't even care about, and when there is a storm that rocks the boat, we will inevitably fall because when we slow down, there is no balance.
You can’t think your way out of life! The problem solving mind is engaged day in and day out. We must rest our minds. Meditation will allow you to rest your mind but first you must learn HOW to meditate. Begin at the beginning. Step 1. Go to hatha yoga and learn to focus your mind. 2. When you learn to focus, you will learn to concentrate. 3. When you learn to concentrate, you will learn to meditate. 4. When you learn to meditate, you will then be able to rest your mind.
Rest here for a moment. Here is the calm and peace you’ve been searching for. This is who you really are.
Love is attracted only to Love.
So… when we send out fear's messengers, we attract more fear, more guilt, more pain. We essentially block out peace. The Course in Miracles explains, "Fear's messengers are trained through terror, they are frantic with pain and guilt."
Fear and other obstacles to peace extend deep within us. It is up to each of us to be aware of the fear we share with others. We may think, "This is my fear, my pain and has nothing to do with this person across from me, I punish only myself." But by punishing ourselves, we punish everyone around us. Any attack on ourselves (i.e.: letting fear dictate our actions) is an attack on our friends, family, colleagues, co-workers, strangers, the world itself.
Fear, in a nutshell, is an attack on love so we each must take responsibility to work to overcome our own fears. EVERY DAY.
From Psychology Today: "Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger - if we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them."
Yoga is not rocket science, the work of Yoga is everywhere, including Western Medicine. These are ideas we all have been exposed to, yet so few of us practice them. Because these ideas are all around us, we often see many blogs or articles where experienced yogi's say "Yoga should not be hard." The word "should" in and of itself is judgement - there simply is no judgement in yoga so this statement is baseless. If you are having a hard time, please don't discredit or stop practicing Yoga.
Remember this: When we begin removing the obstacles to peace by living more presently, much resistance will present itself. Be gentle with yourself, but work gingerly. All life is Yoga and Yoga is work. Practice, practice, practice.
"The ego may be clever but it is NOT intelligent. Cleverness is motivated by self interest and it is extremely short-sited. Most politicians and business people are clever... very few are intelligent. What ever is obtained through cleverness is short-lived and always ends up to be self-defeating. Cleverness divides, intelligence includes.
There is nothing you can do to become aware of the ego... it's not an action but rather an alert seeing. Emotions and thoughts become impersonalized with alert seeing - there is no longer a "self" in them. They are just human thoughts and human emotions.
Disidentify with your thoughts and fully experience and acknowledge your emotions. If you are disconnected from your emotions they will manifest on a physical level. If you have difficulty feeling your emotions start by feeling the body from within. Emotion is a mind's reflection of the body... if you really want to know your mind the body will always give you a truthful reflection. So feel the emotion... if there is a conflict between thought and emotion the thought will always be a lie."
- Eckhart Tolle
"Forgiveness happens naturally... don't try to forgive, simply notice the grievance and how you feel and let forgiveness happen as you start to become aware of why you are feeling the way you feel. The past has now power to stop you from being present now... whatever you fight you strengthen. Unconsciousness can never be defeated by attaching it. Even if you defeat your opponent the unconsciousness will move into you or the opponent will reappear in a new disguise.
Happiness is ever elusive but freedom from unhappiness is available NOW. Unhappiness covers up your natural state of well-being and inner peace... the source of true happiness."
- Eckhart Tolle
When we are working for ourselves, we feel driven and we burn out.
When we are working for prestige and power, we get tense and even sick.
Not being anxious about results means that when fortune smiles on you, when success comes, you don't get excited, per say, you just say thank you. Then, when fortune frowns on you and friends desert you and everything seems to fly in your face (as is bound to happen because that's the nature of life), you don't get depressed or lose heart. Nothing can shake you; you are at your best whatever comes. That is living in freedom.
If we practice meditation and allied spiritual disciplines, private, personal and selfish motives will gradually become less and less.
WHY? Why, we often ask...
We are where we are doing what we are doing because we have something to learn from that particular context. What and who we are - what we've thought, done and desired has brought us to that job and that situation and that makes it just the situation we need to grow. With growth comes a new context to work in, new people, new challenges and greater opportunity for service.
Are you a part of a work that benefits others?
All life is yoga. Our food, work, relationships, recreation, even sleep. These are all activities which, when practiced in the spirit of love and service, help us to the supreme goal.
- Eknath Easwaran
A few bits and pieces on ignorance from How To Know God, the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
"We all long desperately to be happy. But ignorance misdirects us… And so we start to search for this dimly conceived eternal happiness amidst the finite and transient phenomena of the external world… we stumble, we hurt ourselves, we endure endless hardships - but we never look in the right place.
Ignorance, says Patanjali, creates all the other obstacles to enlightenment… and so the obstacles grow automatically, through the power of desire, pride, rage and fear.
Ignorance, by Patanjali's definition, is false identification. It's a misunderstanding of one's real nature. Instead of true happiness, we clutch at what seems temporarily pleasant. But alas, our satisfaction is short-lived. The strongest tower falls, the most beautiful flower withers in our hands, the clearest water turns brackish and foul.
Ignorance has betrayed us, as it always must. Yet, as we turn sadly away, our eyes fall upon some new object of sense attachment and desire… and so the hopeless search goes on."
The Bhagavad Gita explains, "The Self-Realized man or woman is not motivated by personal desires - to any gratification of the ego or the senses that entangles us… Those established in Self-Realization control their senses instead of letting their senses control them. If the senses are not controlled, Krishna warns, the mind (or emotions) will follow wherever they lead. Eventually a person following the senses loses strength of will and unity of purpose; his choices are dictated by his desires. When the will is led astray by the desire for pleasure, the mind becomes confused and scattered." In essence, spiritual destruction. "When you keep thinking about sense objects, attachment comes. Attachment breeds desire, the lust of possession that burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement; you can no longer learn from past mistakes. Lost is the power to choose between what is wise and what is unwise." (P. 86)
Stop for a moment and catch your thought... What are you thinking right now? If it's true that your thoughts determine your reality, then is that thought you were thinking helpful? If it's negative in any way, how do you think it will benefit you? Or anyone for that matter... How do you think that negative thought will come back to you?
As Louise Hay eloquently states, "you are the only person who thinks in your mind!" So then it's up to you... Change your thoughts so that you can change your mind. When you change your mind, you can indeed change your life.
"Everything I did — the way I walked, talked, ate, and even slept — was rushed… What I thought was inspiration was really nothing but noise…" Russell Simmons
Without the expansion of our own awareness we are stuck on the hamster wheel made possible by programmed ignorance. One can't "change the world" until one changes themselves because the world is a collective expression of human totality. How do we do this? Step one: Meditation. Meditation restores balance to the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems), which by definition is responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes.
"The sympathetic nervous system stimulates production of stress hormones, increasing blood pressure and heart rate and preparing us for the "flight or fight" response. The parasympathetic nervous system has opposite effects of lowering the heart rate and blood pressure and stimulating the release of "feel good" hormones. The vagus nerve controls the PNS via production of acetylcholine, a potent anti-inflammatory agent which has been shown to stimulate regeneration of tissues, improve memory and creativity and promote well-being." - Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan
You are NOT your brain. Your brain is not your master, it is the conduit, the computer system that responds to stimuli and makes it conscious in term of our five sense perception. Once you open yourself up to all possibilities, you open your mind and subsequently the ignorance/insanity/madness of the world is gone. It's that simple. Open to a sense of possibility - ALL possibility.
"You can only truly learn by uncovering the unknown. Everything else is repeating." - Julian Websdale
Many people think all I do is stand on my head in my free time...
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy standing on my head. But yoga is not just "stretching" or acrobatics. In fact, yoga is the integration of the spirit, it's the process of becoming whole at the spiritual level… in essence, here is the best definition of yoga that I've found:
So therefore, a yogi is a person who practices spiritual traditions… A yogi is adept at meditation, among other things… not just twisting our arms and legs into pretzel like positions. You may have a preconceived notion on what meditation is as well… try these words on for size and see how they fit: Meditation is the direct means of becoming integrated with one's truest, deepest self. All of this information can be garnered from the best known of all yogic literature, the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita explores the war within, the "struggle for self-mastery that every human being must wage." If you practice yoga and you have not read the Gita, it's time to do so. Eknath Easwaran has, in my opinion, the most qualified and relatable translation. What it's not is a system of philosophy or religion. It offers something to every truth seeker and is in essence a practical handbook for self-realization and a guide to action. Easwaran explains, "The Gita places human destiny entirely in human hands. It's world is not deterministic, but neither is it an expression of blind chance: we shape ourselves and our world by what we believe and think and act on, whether for good or for ill."
Now… notice how reading these words makes you feel. Some folks will have already stopped reading. Are you having a strong emotional reaction? Reason and logic are loud, they want to be heard. What does the heart have to say about this? Maybe you don't know… maybe you could sit for a moment, listen and find out.
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