March 26, 2012
This radiant teaching of Ishvarapranidhana, is allowing yourself to let go of control and to go with the flow of life. If we let go of expecting life to go the way we desire, we can experience true appreciation for all of the opportunities that surround us. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama states; “Not getting what you want in a wonderful stroke of luck.”
When you can have faith that there is a Divine force in your life, and trust in the Universe completely, you are practicing Ishvarapranidhana. Surrender.
Deborah Adele explains, “Ultimately this guideline invites us to surrender our egos, open out hearts and accept the higher purpose of our being. The yogis tell us that we can live this way all the time, unless we are getting in our own way.”
Savasana, or corpse pose is the ultimate posture of letting go…and is the most challenging posture to “master”. Here, we learn to let go of control, to cease rigidity and to stop fighting with life. It’s truly a powerful gift we offer ourselves.
Ponder these fine words from Swami Chetanananda,
“Ultimately there is nothing I can tell you
about surrender except
Having nothing and wanting nothing;
Not keeping score,
Not trying to be richer,
Not being afraid of losing;
Not being particularly interested
in our own personalities;
Choosing to be happy,
no matter what happens to us.
These are some of the clues.
The rest we learn with practice and grace.”
March 19, 2012
Let’s explore Svadhyaya more closely. Like all Yamas and Niyamas, at first they seem pretty self-explanatory, but with a more intimate exploration we discover that these ethical teachings of Yoga are quite complex. Self-Study is no exception.
We can study through engaging our intellect gaining knowledge through reading books, scriptures, inspirational quotes and they will surely give us information about ourselves.
Through this aspect of Svadhyaya, we are understanding that our perceptions, and how we believe what we see, is actually the world reflecting back to us what we are seeing. Our perceptions about the world are telling us about ourselves, not necessarily about the world.
Self-study means not hiding from, or shutting out the uncomfortable, hidden, unpleasant parts of ourselves. It teaches us to carry these feelings with kindness, compassion and acceptance, knowing that Divinity lives there too.
When we maintain having a beginner’s mind, establishing the knowledge that we don’t really know…we learn more about our inner Self. We can allow time and space simply for observation, with no agenda, no expectations, no judgments and suddenly we are shown reality. This is a practice for every moment of our lives.
When we see reality, we understand that our true nature is pure, Divine, perhaps you call it your God-Self, or Ultimate Truth. The ego falls away, no longer asking for recognition as “I” or “me”. Being with and observing this inner Self, is practicing Svadhyaya.
March 11, 2012
Tapas translates into “heat” from sanskrit. We have a tendency to assume that it just means building your body temperature, or level of intensity. Like all Yamas and Niyamas, it too, is multifaceted. Tapas can also be translated as self-discipline, resilience, change, spiritual effort, transformation, tolerance, drive, and ambition.
Our practice focus this week has been heat-building, and experiencing a level of intensity by actually slowing down, instead of increasing speed. We can open our inner strength, our personal power by moving so slowly, that we are forced to see what’s deep inside and then to find a level of peace within this depth. This teaching is opening our “I can” energy center within the body.
So finely stated by Deborah Adele; “Tapas is the day to day choice to burn non-supportive habits of the body and mind, choosing to forsake momentary pleasures for future rewards.
Tapas can take us to the place where all of our resources are used up, where there is nothing left but weakness, where all of our so-called ‘props’ have been taken away. It is in this barren place, where we have exhausted all that we have and all that we are, that new strength is shaped and character is born if we choose to fearlessly open ourselves to the experience. It is perhaps the greatest gift life could offer us.
There is a bumper sticker which states, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’
Tapas is growing our ability to stay in the unknown and the unpleasantness, rather than run in fear. It is the willingness to be both burned and blessed.”
March 5, 2012
I mentioned in classes last week that the teaching of Santosa, or contentment is one of the easiest yogic teachings to remember, and at the same time, one of the most difficult to master.
Truly being content with every thing, event, situation, person or experience in life takes daily practice. We need to learn to feel gratitude for every thing that has ever been presented to us. We need to feel gratitude for what we do have, instead of seeking for what’s next, or what we may be able to have.
There is a Chinese Proverb which states “People in the West are always getting ready to live.” We are always looking forward to what the next stage of life is, to where the future will bring us, to what’s next. We forget to live now! This continual looking outward for something that will fulfill us always keeps contentment out of reach.
Let’s live in this very moment, be grateful for every event or action that has led you here. Let’s truly be grateful for where we are in our lives, and all of the abundance that we are blessed with. Let’s recognize that people, things and experiences are not good or bad, right or wrong, but rather they are neutral. We choose to label them, or categorize them as something to make things easier for us to understand. We can practice Santosha, by getting out of our own way and seeing reality as neutral…as just simply being. Understand that nothing can be different in this moment, but rather it is complete, as it is.
Remember the wisdom of a 116 year old man, who, when asked the secret to his longevity, replied, “When it rains, I let it.” We can learn that when we hear noise, it does not disturb us, but rather we disturb the noise. It will be there regardless, but we have the personal power to decide how we will perceive it.
When we learn to let things be as they are, neutral, we also learn how to let others be as they are, and to let experiences be as they are. We resist the urge to try to manipulate them to our preferences. From this practice of Santosha, we allow freedom in our lives.
As Deborah Adele finely states; “Being content with our discontentment is itself a gateway to the calm depths within.”