Don't stop bouncing! (She likes it so much that sometimes, we bounce for two whole hours together. She gets to chill and I get to practice patience, presence, and strength.)
My practice right now is to see this face on everything that challenges me, and watch it turn into love. After all, it's all yoga.
I had major eyebrow gratitude this morning during my yoga practice. The room was packed full of people, mat to mat, all sweating through their Mysore practice. It’s beautiful and inspiring when this happens; the breathing in the room begins to sound like ocean waves. I close my eyes to imagine standing next to the ocean only to have my fantasy interrupted by… rain?!
I saw drips slinking down the walls and hanging from the ceiling. It was condensation and…sweat. It drives me nuts when a few stray drips make their way into my eyes seriously challenging my practice of drishti. My focus turns to all the potential eye drops waiting in my hairline and on my forehead. But then it happens. I notice my eyebrows working overtime and I was overwhelmed with… eyebrow gratitude?!
“You guys are saving me from so much stinging. Look at the way you guide those drops to the side so effortlessly. Brilliant you are. Just brilliant.”
I went on like this in my head for awhile - and I felt great while it was happening amidst gruelling poses. But in all honesty, it wasn’t my eyebrows that were making me feel great. It was a spontaneous practice of gratitude.
Is a Sanskrit word for a soft, yet focused gaze.
It could be interpreted as the direction the eyes are pointing, but it means so much more.
There’s outer and inner drishti. My eyes can be focused somewhere (outer drishti) while I’m thinking of something completely different (inner drishti).
Holding both inner and outer drishti simultaneously is hard. Focusing your eyes isn’t all that hard, but keeping your mind focused is on par with walking a tight rope…at least for me.
I can assure you there’s times when my gaze appears focused but all I’m thinking about is the hair on my mat, the noisy breather next to me, and the whimperer behind me (the studio dog of course). My outer focus is nothing unless my inner focus is, well… focused.
My focus in each moment is my practice for the next moment.
I don’t want to be practicing being annoyed (that damn noise next to me!!) - I’m already pretty good at that. I want my practice to be about love.
True focus, true drishti, will break age old patterns of mind. Once you recognize them, you’re on the path to breaking them. To get past these patterns, I come back to drishti.
I breathe deep. I focus my eyes and my mind. I remember to love. The more I focus on love, the more I remember love, the more I feel the love. And eventually, I won’t even have to remember. Ahhh…
“All of the forms disappear into the lake of emptiness, and yet they are not lost. It’s at the edge of the lake that someone whose path is the path of the heart will say, “I am experiencing the presence of God,” for one more step into the lake and the experiencer and the experience have merged, and we have become God, and the concept of God is long gone.”
I’ve recently been asked to describe my beliefs in a nutshell (if that were possible) and totally enjoyed the process. I choose to share them as an exercise in facing my fear to be exactly who I am, regardless of judgement from others.
“Because our beliefs are so important to our survival, we have a tendency to hold those beliefs very strongly, even when presented with opposing opinions or facts. Yet the brain is also capable of changing beliefs if we are open to new ideas and respect the beliefs of others.” - Andrew Newberg
- I believe we are all all forms of energy and therefore, all connected at the most basic and complex levels. In fact, I believe we are one and the same.
- I believe in awakenings.
- I believe in reincarnation.
- I believe in entities/spirits existing in different realms.
- I believe mermaids, unicorns and fairies are real.
- I believe in animal guides and messages from them.
- I believe Mama Earth is alive and conscious.
- I believe the Universe and this world is a reflection of our collective consciousness and therefore,
- I believe, if enough people were to envision love, we would change the world and
- I believe if we as a race get lost enough, there could be a natural disaster as a reflection of that.
- I believe that when it thunders, my brother with Down Syndrome really does talk to God.
- I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe I am exactly where I should be.
- I believe time is a concept, not a reality.
- I believe Jesus, God, Krishna, Allah, Shiva are the same - just different strokes for different folks. I believe that seeing them as different creates a large amount of suffering in the world.
- I believe we choose our life before we enter this world for some soul purpose that is not totally clear to our human mind.
- I believe fear of death is a cultural issue - not a human issue.
- I believe the way someone is brought into this world wholly effects their life.
- I believe there is a plan. I also believe there is no plan.
Care to share yours?
This saying echoed throughout my trip to SE Asia a few years ago. It started with a 2 year old in Bali; She was examining essential oils and after much sniffing said “same same”. Her Mom added “but different.“ The next day our taxi driver used it to describe his way of life in Bali vs. ours in Canada. This expression continued throughout the trip; a monk in Thailand said it while comparing lifestyles, a villager North of Chiang Mai used it, it was written all over t-shirts in Cambodia.
"Same same, but different.”
One of my teacher’s says that the next Buddha is the Sangha. Meaning, the next enlightened one isn’t one, but instead a community of ones. I love that idea.
“We all need community, because to realize our potential as human beings we need the love, the support, and the evolution of valuable conversation. As yogis we mean to engage deeply, to yoke ourselves. To what? To each other, to the things we understand to be of worth and value, to the possibilities a universe so vast offers. … We become better, greater when we realize that we can accomplish more together, far more, than we could ever achieve alone. Enlightenment is a collective experience.“ Douglas Brooks
“It is far more important to listen with the depth of one’s whole being, than to indulge in merely superficial explanations. If we can listen in that way, with the totality of one’s being, that very listening is an act of meditation”
This past week there was a death in my family. My Grandfather, at the age of 98, passed in his sleep. I’m grateful for so many reasons: 98 was a beautiful, long life. 98 made it easier to understand that death was near. And 98 years gave us ample time together - which made his passing hard. No matter the age, it’s hard to loose someone you love.
While Gramps passing was much easier than my own Father’s, it did kick up memories of sadness from that time…and fear. Deep seated fear for my own inevitable passing.
The great sages refer to every aspect of life as practice; practice for the peak of life. Cue the reason I get on my yoga mat.
My mat is a mirror to my life. It’s a reflection of how I react to everything, including challenges. Through practice, I’ve learned my first reaction to stress is fear and through practice, I’ve given myself tools to deal with this fear - all in preparation for the greatest moment of life, the pinnacle of it, the greatest ecstacy:
“One who has become capable of witnessing life has become capable of witnessing death because death is not the end of life; it is the very culmination of it. It is the very pinnacle of it. Life comes to its peak in death. Because you are afraid, you miss. Otherwise, death is the greatest ecstasy, the greatest orgasm there is.” Osho
“The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
I’m proud to say that this year marks my 2nd year serving the community solely through yoga classes and Reiki offerings.
I’ve never been happier. Listening to your heart and following your passion is absolutely key for your health. Imagine a world where everyone was doing what they love!
Supressing what you were born to do is the most dangerous risk of all. There’s no time for later. The time is now.
What are you waiting for?