Now that’s what I call work. Whatever you do, do it with love. If you’re not doing it with love then ask yourself ‘what is the main energy that is being shared with what I do?’ I went to art school and then yoga teacher trainings because I had to do what I love to do so that resentment wasn’t the main energy infused in my work, which it had been when I tried barista and host positions. Finding the service to offer that opens your heart to wanting to give more is the recipe for a meaningful and contented life. If you live for the weekend, of for 5PM to roll around, what energy is going into the work you’re doing?
Prashad! A new practice I am working on making habit: prashad is offering the food to the Divine and later enjoyed and eaten. Offering the food changes our relationship with it from feeling entitled to feeling so lucky to be receiving, digesting, and integrating the miraculous energy of God. Kheer with saffron, termuric, and cardomom.
Humans are conditioned to suffer; suffering seems normal and we just accept it as part of life. We continue destructive behaviors even after we’ve been shown the harm we are inflicting on ourselves and others. Once we see the harm we cause, we feel guilty and the cycle is complete, we’re suffering again.
Often the ego tricks us into believing we are the victim, when we’re perceiving from the center, it seems things are happening to us- watch out for this voice! In an early part of our journeys, victimhood holds some truth. We can fall victim to unconscious thinking and acting. Once we recognize that we are free to choose what we think and do, we free ourselves from suffering. Pain is there and will arise- how do we react? Do we complain, or with awareness realize it as a passing moment. It’s not immediate, but it’s a challenging process of recognizing thoughts and impulses as they arise and choosing – do I go with the impulse? Where does the impulse come from – my True Eternal Blissful Self or the false self? (Hint: the false self usually wants to keep us suffering – stuck in the illusion of self as center; the True Self wants to serve the center.)
There are three ingredients in the recipe for success for relieving suffering, according to Sri Prem Baba: svadhyaya, or self-study and the study of sacred texts, humility, and sadhana, or spiritual practice.
Svadhyaya allows us to discover ourselves – what is ego, or the false self, and what is our True Self? Notice your thoughts, daily patterns and choices this is your starting point. Sacred texts are helpful in describing the true self. Sat chit ananda, your true self is eternal, unchanging, blissful. My suggestions for useful texts: Light on Life by BKS Iyengar, Sri Swami Satchidanda’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Swami Vivekenanda’s Jnana Yoga. As you read these helpful texts, now observe yourself in light of the texts- what would Iyengar, Vivekenanda, or Satchidananda say?
Humility attracts wisdom, and pride or arrogance chases wisdom and divinity away. Humility also keeps us on our toes. When we’ve think we’ve gotten control of our senses and emotions, they can more easily sneak up on us. Pride also makes us feel like we know, so in a way it makes our cup full; humility is like an empty cup in which lessons from the divine can flow in and further fill us up.
Sadhana keeps stripping away the false self and brings us back to the present moment to check in with ourselves. Sadhana is like an internal cleanse, all day long we are collecting impressions, like a house gathering dust. Sadhana is our way of directing the impressions for a set amount of time in order to keep a cleaner house. Sadhana is making a conscious choice about what we’re doing and what we’re focusing on.
If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are. You are an instrument of the divine. Your voice, your actions, your deeds are all in service of the highest. What the highest is, or what is divine, that is up to your beliefs, only you know for yourself. All I can say is that you are powerful, especially if you recognize yourself as a channel or pathway of divinity.
In our time of feeling politically disenfranchised, in our time of feeling so small as individuals in face of climate disaster, in our time when we feel pitted against one another, as a yogi, as an instrument of divinity myself, as a teacher, a friend, a lover of you, I must say that you have the power of the universe, of nature, of God, of the divine on your side. We all do, it’s just that many forget. Even I can forget as I wallow in self pity over conflict.
What does the divine want? How can you serve this higher purpose? Well, you are divine. So what do you want? What are your goals? And then, what is your starting point? How can you connect where you are in this moment with where you want to be? What’s your first step? And then the second? Don’t worry about filling them all in, one step at a time.
Empower yourself and others by believing and seeing the highest in yourself and in them too. Finally, let yourself be used. It’s a lesson in humility for sure, so the ego will want to fight it. This is ishvara pranidhana, the last and most difficult of niyamas, or observances in our foundational yoga practices. Ishvara pranidhana is the surrendering of our small self to our highest Self, the Self that is in all other beings.
The Yogis have been saying this for a long time, and what do you know modern science is catching up these days. Modern scientific studies, to be found here: Breath Could Change Your Emotions, are proving that deep, slow breathing reduces the stress precedes a presentation, concert, performance, event, and mindful, deep, slow breathing reduces chronic anxiety and PTSD. If you want to work on it, come to a yoga class or Autumnal Equinox Nidra, to breathe and relax!
Sigh. It’s the body’s way of letting go. My yoga community came out to Kirtan last night and a yoga practice titled the Evolution of Change.
Pictured above is Ryan Hader and his fellow musician and friend Scott. Ryan was my first public yoga teacher in Milwaukee. He brought my practice to a level where I began to feel inspired to share it with others by bringing them to class or sharing a pose I thought would help them with whatever they had going on in their bodies.
The top two photos are the ceiling of the sacred vessel that has allowed me to grow into the person I am. This simple, elegant view from savasana has comforted me through life’s challenges that I worked through on my mat but also inspired awe at the beauty available to us if we simple know to look.
This view last night helped me remember to see the beauty in this challenging time of letting go of this sanctuary.
Ryan reminded us that everything is constantly changing, so can you be enough? Yoga helps us access the sanctuary within, because really the room , the studio, the temple is justabsorbing all of the great energy and contains it. Wherever you go, you can find sanctuary, for what is inside will manifest outside.