Non-attachment does not mean that we don’t care, in fact it means we care more deeply. It’s our concept of what “caring” is that needs review. We often associate “caring” from an attached frame of reference, whereas the ideal “caring” is freedom. Non-attachment leads us to truly value what is presently in our lives and experience, letting go of the need to acquire more…this is where freedom lies. Non-attachment means that we have the capacity to let things go from our lives when the time is right…if and when that time comes.
Everything in life is given from God and it will go back to God when it’s time. What is given, we are to care for, appreciate, love and nourish while it’s with us, yet have the capacity to let it go when it is no longer required in our life. And it’s not up to us to determine when this is. When the time comes to let go, we will know in our inner most being, but it’s the struggle with the thinking mind that turns it into agony. Holding on to anything beyond its time, or to something that was never meant to be ours in the first place, is toxic, and we do feel that when we listen deeply. So you see, it’s not that our inner intelligence isn’t there, it’s that we pin that against our egoic desires and create struggle for ourselves.
What is wonderful about this (agonizing) non-attachment, is that our discernment evolves from such a practice, we begin to prioritize what is of value, and it’s this that means we care more deeply…because we value what remains. We become less consumed in the maintenance that is required in a lifestyle of grasping…grasping at things that really only become distraction. Refining our focus toward what we value means we will nourish it and tend to it, with the added respect of knowing when it’s time to give it back to Life. We begin to hear when Life is asking for it back for the fulfillment of its purpose, but also for the fulfillment of yours. The practice of Brahmacharya begins to define our practice of Aparigraha, likewise Vairagya; which in turn deepens our commitment to Brahmacharya. This is where the deep capacity for caring and love is found.
We’re then left facing Trust, and how do we deal with Trust within ourselves and in our concept of the life we’re living? Are we willing to let go of what we think our life should be yet live it from our best selves? There is a phenomenal amount of Trust involved in this which really comes down to our willingness to let go of Control. You see how we break it down here, don’t you? When we feel it’s more important to grasp at things and hold on to those things, being distracted by those things, then we’re letting our ego run the show, we’re telling it that it’s in command over our deeper intelligence. And when we begin to shift that dynamic toward listening to and trusting our inner wisdom, the relationship with the ego will kick back, and do we have the willingness to ride that out? Determination even? We deserve to not be maintaining a life (of grasping) that wasn’t meant for us….we deserve to experience those people and things that are truly meant for us in this lifetime. This is then, a life of value, a life on purpose, and a life worth cherishing. It flips our experience from a life of “mine” to a life of “what is meant for my purpose to be fulfilled”? So, we practice Aparigraha without expectation of what the outcome will be. The discernment of the practice develops the ability to let go.---www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: "woman to woman" Trizworld Gallery
“We’re all in this together” is a phrase that keeps repeating itself to me in recent weeks. I’ve always been a believer in community, but the world seems so strikingly different today, than it did even just three or four weeks ago. “Community” suddenly feels a bit Woodstock-ish, in its rapid, and sudden, evolution to “we’re all in this together”.
The tremendous number of good people in the world can grasp this notion, but it seemingly remains an intellectual concept. Do we really understand in our living experience, what it means? My social media is a “community” and my website was built for the purpose of supporting teachers and students as a community, yet both have been the most isolating experience I’ve ever had. The sad reality is, that each of us is caught up in our own life and the challenges it brings.
In my own conundrum around this, my jaw often drops in confusion around how it is, that we’re not coming together as a collective, in a time that is commanding it from us. If we’re not going to practice empowerment now, then when will we? We’re living through a culmination of diseased behaviour that has been permeating our planet for centuries, and none of us seem to know what to do about it. Good honest educated people, well intentioned people, those who live well and with respect, who agree we need to come together, are challenged to do just that, in the way that is necessary for a better world. It makes me wonder, is it not happening because we don’t fully understand the concept? Our intelligence declares “of course I know what it means” but I question whether we’ve had the living experience of it in a way that we grasp it into our systems. It seems like we’re trying to apply an archaic system (the cause of the destruction), to a concept which is turning out to be, revolutionary…”we’re all in this together”. This phrase is its own entity separate from our old school system, so it can’t be understood or expressed from that framework. The old system is built on a framework of: “it’s all about me”, “I”ve got to get what I can”. This is a corporate mentality and experience of existence. Yet the corporate structure is so strong and prevails everything, that we don’t know that we’re not seeing.
To really consider its meaning, we need to feel into this statement on another level, an engaged and interactive level. “We’re all in this together” means we need to resolve this together, we need to come together in a form of humbleness, openness to new understanding and to each other, and support of one another in a way we’ve not seen collectively in a very long time, if ever. It means that we actually need to engage with each other. It’s an entirely different way of framing our perception from what we’re used to….and that’s the block. We come up against that feeling of knowing something needs to be different and then we’re stumped.
So, what is community? Well I’m still learning, but this is what I do know (and I’m sure the list is much longer with a great ability to evolve): understanding of one’s own self helps greatly in our willingness to being open to the perspectives of others. Through brainstorming and valuing different perspectives we can bring a meeting of concepts and ideas in a way that can work together; humility stems from understanding. We need to be humble enough to admit that we don’t know everything, and everyone has something of value to contribute. This is a letting go of control, and gearing toward education and growth; and, through it all, this is where we dig in, we lean into the traditional teachings and wisdoms of those who knew better. In comparison to all of humanity, there have only been a handful of such people, considering we’re able fit them on a list. It’s not the norm to live by such teachings, and yet they are the very essence of what we need to embrace in today’s collective. These teachings are really the only way through what we’re currently living in. The old system mindset (which is corporate based) is seeing current circumstance as the end of the world, a higher mindset (spiritually based) is seeing it as transition that we can get through….but it is through (spiritually based), not over, or avoiding (corporate based). And ‘through” means we need to rely on one another….on one another’s intelligence, one another’s support, inspiration and vitality we bring, to really gain the concept of community and lean in to it as far as we have to.
We can’t approach “community” from an “I” standpoint, and, without realizing it, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re baffled by what’s happening without knowing how to change it, simply because we haven’t ever learned what “community” is, it hasn’t been taught to us because it hasn’t been mainstream. It’s time now to want to learn.-- Vanessa, Letters In Yoga
image credit: (top) arnold friberg (bottom) peter turnley
There seems to be an all-too-common ease in being critical toward sensitive souls. I don’t know if this has been human behaviour since the dark ages, or whether it’s developed only in recent history. But this criticism seems to come down to the fact that people are often critical of what we don’t understand and therefore, feel threatened by. When used for this purpose, criticism becomes an aversion tactic (for the critic), an insular mode of protection, maybe. So does this mean that we don’t understand sensitivity?
We’ve come to equate sensitivity with imbalanced behaviour, and mainstream society blindly accepts this loose definition. Sensitivity is viewed as an overcharged nervous system that leaves a person taking everything personally or having a hyper-reactivity to outside stimulation, or circumstances. This type of reactiveness is a system out of balance, this isn’t sensitivity. But those who are sensitive often get lumped in with imbalanced behaviour because the traits can appear similar at times. But they are vastly different. Sensitivity is a groundedness in who we are; and being confident in an understanding of ourselves is the most empowering trait there is. It’s far from flying-off-the-handle at superfluous events.
People who are sensitive are called-out for being “too soft”, being criticized because maybe they cry more easily or more often than other people; they’re often a quieter character, reflective, slower to verbalize a response because it is actually well thought out beforehand. Sensitive people are “tsked” at, or disregarded and patronized as “Oh, Sally’s just sensitive”, many are called “losers” in schools, and, otherwise left out of the mainstream. I’ll never forget the first time I was picked last for a team in gym class, I was seven years old and was chosen only because I was the last one left. I remember feeling shame in that moment, of myself. And recently, I was told by a mainstream yoga teacher, that she can “appreciate” that I’m “trying to have a voice in the yoga world”. People feel quite entitled to say whatever they like toward anything they don’t understand.
It seems we don’t understand anything that falls outside that tunnel vision of force-fed information. I say it this way because, anything that falls outside the mainstream isn’t considered acceptable, and where does “mainstream” come from? It comes from propaganda…force fed media and news, and generational perspectives handed down from a hundred years ago. All those who manage to keep themselves flowing in the river of propaganda remain approved of, without any finger-pointing or any other uncomfortable spotlighting.
But, what is so wonderful about sensitivity and the closeness this brings to our inner experience, is that we know ourselves in a way that the “normal” people don’t, or can’t know about themselves. We’re not fully capable of learning who we are when we never experience the intensities and the boredoms of life. We’re not able to grow in our capacity when we never require from ourselves, something to resolve that has arisen from inside. In this way sensitivity is an inside responsiveness, which is far from the “reactivity” that sensitivity gets a bad-rap for. Insensitivity is actually a reactive way of living life, because we need events to happen before we can respond. Whereas sensitivity means we’ve grown the awareness of perceiving events that are on their way, and therefore possibly mitigating outcomes. Being able to recognize when that river’s flow is beginning to erode its outer banks is a gift, and so is having the stamina not only to perceive that, but to respect its teachings….to balance surrender with inquiry. We may even realize that this time might actually be the time that the river’s flow breaks its own banks, creating a new stream entirely.
Being sensitive isn’t about being alien, it’s about experiencing life tangibly, it’s about recognizing power in places that the mainstream easily overlooks or guffaws at. Being sensitive means we’ll be tackled regularly by those who are “normal”, until we’re able to see what it is that we are….we’re sensitive…there is power in knowing that, and that alone begins to change our experience from one of being tackled to one of exploration and inquiry.--Vanessa, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: 1) abdullah envidar 2) jose gieskes
“Pigeon” was the pose mentioned, but I see it happening in a tonne of Yoga poses. This is what was said: “Most people just arrive in it (the pose) collapsed, and hanging off muscles—which generally doesn’t do anything particularly useful…”. To be frank, this way of being in an asana reflects a mindset. It reflects that there is an expectation from the pose, an assumption that it will do the work for us. It’s a lazy way of practicing. Not all, but many, many “flexible” people approach their asana practice in this way. Somehow, it hasn’t been translated in our classes, that we have an accountability to our practice, we need to show up for it, and to be present with it. This is having respect for our practice. Yet for the most part, being accountable to the pose is completely overlooked.
Accountability to the pose means sustaining awareness, holding our presence with the pose and engaging where is necessary. Presence in the pose means knowing when we’ve pushed too far, and therefore, having initiated a level of force; or, knowing when and where it’s appropriate to engage physically because we find ourselves "slumping" or, just hanging out. This active presence with the asana allows freedom of movement in the tissues. In this way we’re reflective, we're learning from the pose and we’re participating in our freedom.
Being able to initially get ourselves into the shape of an asana doesn’t mean the pose comes easily to us, and it definitely doesn’t mean we’ve “mastered” it. You’ll notice this once you start activating those poses that seem easy for you, the ones when your ego encourages you just to slump into it. All that ends up happening is that those points of "ease" for the body are being exploited rather than strengthened; instead, curiosity for what is needed in order to feel activity, is love for the body, and an aliveness for the practice.
Additionally, we need to be willing to carry our own weight, because no one is going to do that for us, not even the pose itself. When we move our body into a certain position and then just hang out there, we bring no intelligence to what we’re doing, we offer no respect for the practice nor are we upholding our responsibility in the practice. We’re not respecting our body because we’re not responding to it. We’re not giving ourselves the opportunity to learn from ourselves; and, not that it really matters to anyone else, but we’re showing a level of disrespect for the class as well as the instructor…and respect is a significant part of the practice, if not THE practice.
Every individual contributes to the class, so how do you want to show up for that? Do you want to take part by involving yourself in your own practice, or do you want to slide in and slither out of class without any accountability, to yourself or anyone else? It is really up to you, but If you don’t have the desire to participate in your practice, then maybe it’s not the right practice for you. Lastly, it harkens to the familiar phrase: “How we do anything is how we do everything”.--www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: Thomas L. Kelly "Sadhus: The Great Renouncers" on asianart.com
Over the years, I have regularly been asked by clients and students how it is, that I can zone in on the real nuts and bolts of what they’re communicating to me, when even they feel lost in what they’re saying. The more I read about the increasing popularity of Compassionate Based Yoga, and Ethical Yoga, I decided to tell you my secret. Because understanding another is founded on a level of compassion. Aside from the fact that I genuinely care about people, I recognize that I am a human being who is connecting with another human being, and at the heart of it, there is nothing more real than that. This shared human experience means, all that is left to do, is for me to open my level of willingness to learn about their perspective. This position of being “the learner” is of course, the basics to comprehension. And this is done in three easy steps. Of course I’m not perfect at this, it’s an ongoing active practice, but here’s my secret:
Listen without judgement:
This is an active listening process, and it includes removal of judgement not only from the mind, but from wherever you might be holding it in your body. Our judgements are held not only in our facial expressions, but in our body language. We’ll hold tension wherever we hold that judgement (an aversion really) and the other person will read this tension. But remember that shared human to human experience mentioned earlier? Why should we have an aversion to another’s experience if it’s not harming our own or anyone elses? An open mind includes a relaxed body. Having an open mind doesn’t mean that our own thoughts won’t drift through, it means that when they do, we don’t listen to them or give them any credit or significance, because what is more important in that moment is what the other person is saying. So if my thoughts are not important, they move to the backseat so to speak. This allows my perception to be more inquisitive, and it’s being genuinely inquisitive that frees-up the space between two people. In this space is the freedom for the person to be understood, by another, and more importantly, by his own self.
Don’t make them fit the yoga that you want them to fit:
This includes step one, so if you haven’t practiced step one, this step will be a bit more challenging. Too often when we’re uncomfortable with our own selves as an instructor, or feel a lack of confidence in what we know, we’ll impose that insecurity on our students, by trying to make them do the yoga we want them to be doing. Everyone’s body and experience in life is different, and there is too much propaganda telling us all to fit into “hip openers” and “inversions”, and the list goes on. There is a time and a place for everything, for every body, and for stages in life. It’s the instructor’s knowledge that can read what is appropriate and what is not. What works well for a pregnant woman who has been a lifetime athlete will be different for a pregnant woman who has never been interested in physical movement before; which is different for a man in his 40’s and a woman in her 80’s. We would never have such a mix in one class, but we will most likely have the opportunity to work with each student at some point in time. This applies to all Yogic practices.
Admit that you don’t know everything:
Respect that you have limits, and grow to love that there is still so much more to learn. Know what you know, and have the self-confidence to be honest about what you don’t yet know (and that what you already know might change over time). When students hear you admit this, they will never judge you. In fact, it increases their trust in you. You’re showing them that Yoga continues to be a practice for you too, which is the path. It demonstrates that what you’re sharing is what you’ve learned from the path so far, and this is authenticity. In admitting this, you’re giving them the freedom and the understanding, that what they learn from the Path might be different from your own, but it will be theirs, and it will be valuable. Acknowledging that we don’t know things is what makes us good at everything, because we’re willing to learn ourselves.
So you see, listening to a student isn’t only about what they say or what I think, it’s a multi-layered experience. And it’s this that brings innate compassion and ethical behaviour. So it seems a bit funny that studios are hoping to profit from workshops on Ethical or Compassionate based Yoga, because isn’t that what Yoga already is? Empathy and compassion can’t be bought and paid for in a workshop. These qualities can only be cultivated through understanding our own humanity, through our own practice and desire to know them. These workshops are just further monetizing yoga. And though we may dive deeply into our practice through participating in meditation groups, and other Yogic practices, these unfold through time and experience; we don’t walk in to a workshop on a Friday and walk out on a Sunday, certificate in hand, filled with Compassion, ethics and empathy.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: #1 Dennis Thern on flickr; #2 Caleb Woods
“The same road that connects two souls together when stretched, becomes a path to God”…written by Muhammad Ali in the 1970’s. There is no doubt in my mind that Muhammad Ali was a yogi. He was connecting with something deep inside, and he was listening to it and paying attention to it, he was acting on it and living from it. He had faith in it and spoke from it. He brought this life forward…emanating it. A person can only do this when connected to his inner lifeforce, in alignment, and in relationship with all that is.
His life was an expression of something deeply personal, and so many of us were inspired by his strength to bring this forward. If all of us knew about ourselves what Muhammad Ali knew about himself, what would the world be? The only thing that made him special was that he knew about the magic inside of him. Somehow he gained access to this, whether naturally, or via a few hard-knocked lessons. Regardless of how it came about, the only thing that made Ali stand out from the rest was his ability to behave from, and live life from, that place of knowing what he could be, and what he could bring to this world…and he brought it…full on! Leaving no one questioning.
We don’t know how much Muhammad Ali may or may not have struggled privately with this, in the way all of us do, or whether it came to him naturally and with ease. My hunch is the former, as rarely does a person who makes this kind of impact, have it easy. Being connected deeply to oneself creates greater awareness of the inner conflict between life’s expectations and heartfelt desires…which often run at odds with each other. I highly doubt this came to Ali with ease, he was faced with some substantial obstacles, but he didn’t seem to fall into their traps. He seemed to know how (or learned how) to use them for his benefit; meaning, he knew that an obstacle could be used as a personal education toward betterment of, and freedom of self. Neither of these being considered acceptable aims for an African American man, born at that time in history. In Ali's early years, no one would have linked “African American man” with "education" and "freedom". It seems as if he took these upon himself as his training, his internal boxing ring. He didn’t see himself the same way anyone else saw him. Somehow he emancipated himself from the labels he was stamped with, and what came into form was the full power of love. Because what he brought forward was love in many ways. His life was beauty because it was art. I think this is why people listened to what he said, not because of the volume with which he said it.
What stops us from being our fullest potential? Do we ask this or even require this of ourselves, or are we satisfied to sit back and admire someone else’s ability to do it? Have we stopped to consider how we might change the world (or even our little corner of it), and what wonderful things we might contribute, what beauty we might leave as our footprint? If we’re not willing to command forward this inner potential as he did, then the world continues on as it is, somewhat predictably. Someone once said to me, “we only have one kick at the can”…that’s ONE…so what will we do with that “one”? Even if we have to begin by wishing ourselves into such potential. If we do, it will naturally start to become us, because it’s who and what we are meant to be. Sure, we may not be as verbose about it or state it with such grandeur as Ali, but we would bring it into form, one way or another, and we would love it, and we would love ourselves (as he did himself)…because it would be our fullest, our grandest, our most free, because it stems from the intelligence of the heartspace.
No one shares the unique stamp of our creative potential; so no one else can taint it. If we can develop the confidence to believe in our deepest selves no matter what, as well as the faith to allow its flow through us, then no matter what anyone else says or thinks about it, we can do it…we can achieve our aim, if it’s coming from that inspired space.
We need to keep in mind how long Muhammad Ali worked at this, he decided and committed to it at the age of twelve, building the momentum into adulthood. If we think about the years and commitment of his practice, there is a lot of energy behind that! It didn’t just come to him easily like a gift handed to him. No, he brought his gift forward through the efforts of dedication and discipline, to self and to his heart. I would say some of the ingredients Ali may have used in his ongoing practice, were: faith, focus, commitment, unwavering discipline, momentum, follow through in action and in word, self-honesty, self-inquiry and self-mastery. All the power that creates has to tumble forward at some watershed moment…whatever that moment looks like within individual lives.
A commitment to our heart is often feared only because it’s vulnerable, but nurturing that vulnerability turns it into great power. Even if only great power for oneself, it doesn’t necessarily need to be on the grand scale of Muhammad Ali…ultimately, the impact is the same. When we pay attention to what is said in the quote above, it’s multi-layered in its wisdom. This is my perception of the way Muhammad Ali communicated in so many ways, and that is being connected…it’s artistry, and it’s inspiring. Through the words that he said, the way that he said them, and how he demonstrated all of it, Ali was showing us not only the reward of being who we are, but also what it takes to be who we are, even in the face of all obstacle. He held that unwavering commitment to being who he was in his heart without compromise. No one else could tell him because no one else was him, which is the same for us all. There wasn’t ego behind this (maybe on the surface but not in truth) as more deeply, he seemed driven by truth of what we all are, and what it takes for each of us to stand up in the face of adversity. Ali gave us the gift of witnessing his internal boxing ring. He let us see that amongst all obstacle, maintaining and calling on faith steers us ever forward in the direction we're committed to. The outcome being more freedom of our souls than not.
So no matter what your style of yoga practice, let your heart be stretched…if not toward another then toward something.--with love Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
The Maple tree outside my window is huge and beautiful; but, this year, it has tiny leaves. What this might mean has worried me, because I love this tree. And yesterday it was confirmed. It was mentioned by an arborist, that many trees are producing small leaves this year…due to lack of rain, snow, and general moisture over recent years.
A couple of weeks ago I started watering it, in a futile attempt to do something. Considering the tree’s enormous root system, the watering I do is only a drop in the bucket. But still, I can’t sit idle; so, every morning and evening I go out with my bucket, and water what I can. My home isn’t my own, leaving me without much say in water scheduling...my landlord designates it as a city tree, so he leaves it alone. So I go out there, looking a bit crazy to my neighbours, but, that's the state of things.
This proud Maple spreads so much shade in the summers, and leaves me basking in that green hue from the sunlight that filters through. It has a resident squirrel who is always working! He bounces around from branch to branch, and shares the space with all the birds that visit in the Spring. There is something about Spring, that draws the birds to rummage around in the mossy bits of the tree, and no doubt they’re twittering away while they rummage. This tree is a system in itself….and this system will be gone if that tree dies.
This brings me to the topic of obsessive thinking. And how, through obsessive thinking, we can unintentionally neglect the larger system. We’ve recently been working a lot with obsessive thinking, in the yoga classes I instruct. We’ve been noticing how small our worlds become because of obsessive thinking. This kind of thinking is so self-involved (and therefore self-important, even if it’s self-deprecating), and it revolves completely around an unhealthy emotional belief. Obsessive thinking separates us in a way, that we don’t realize we’ve obliterated the outside world. This unhealthy self-belief then colours our mindset and mood, and we neglect the outer world without intending to do so. Every human has that point of weakness that sucks us in to obsession, before we realize one day, that we can’t give that obsession one more thought. It’s like we realize we can’t even physically think about that one thing anymore. When we reach this kind of breaking point, we’re on the verge of freedom…freedom from the obsession, and instead focused toward a larger, more thriving outlook. Suddenly we see the system again.
These obsessive self-beliefs are usually harmful, even if covered up with any arrogance and presumed entitlement. They’re harmful to the way we relate to ourselves, and therefore, in the outer world. So what can we do to open up our world? The antidote to obsessive thinking is giving…we can give what we have. Giving what we have is very different from giving of ourselves. The former is generosity, the latter can be martyrdom. Giving what we have encourages growth of gratitude within the giver, as well as engraining a deeper compassion. Giving what we have opens our world again, it opens us to the remembrance of connectedness. We connect more deeply to ourselves, toward what’s real and true, and we connect to the outer world. We see ourselves as part of a larger system and we want to be a part of contributing positively to that system. We start to see the consequences of our actions on the Whole, and we make choices toward positive connection with that Whole. We naturally want to be a part of a healthy, thriving, functioning system; but, for the most part, society is fostering an unnatural system of “keeping up with the Jones’s”. And we’re suffering from this, the whole planet is suffering from this separation.--Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: first image, unknown; second image ben giles
I don’t even know if it could be called a LIFE purpose. And a Purpose isn’t necessarily a money-making idea (that’s something commercialism has capitalized on). Purpose is really about having a meaningful life. Such an alive, dynamic, and changing aspect of an individual’s life, for some, might be one purpose which grows, with branches that subtly inhabit all aspects of one’s life. And then there are those people who land on a Life purpose, and that stays as the sole passion moving forward from that moment. Who knows. A person’s Purpose is so deeply personal and inexplicable to anyone else that, I believe it can come down to “what is my purpose right now?”.
Regardless, our Purpose is not a one size fits all, so we should not be looking for something we recognize or presume it to be. It’s more subtle than that, and it’s such a part of us that we could probably trip over it right now. Its only hint is how it threads through everything that we do. Unfortunately, our society provides such little guidance on how to cultivate and nurture our Purpose, that we end up relating to it as an object, we end up desperate for it, reaching out for it in a time of begging and pleading, wishing for a sign. But you’re longing for your purpose for the very reason that it is already there. It’s not so much about needing to find Purpose, but instead, choosing it over the stuff that’s covering it. That’s the kicker. This unpredictability and intangibility is part of what life on purpose is like.
1) Quiet down: Quieting is essential. Quieting is a humble aspect of our nature. Approaching the altar of Life with this request for help with our Purpose, from a space of quiet, can be a challenge. When we’ve asked for help, we need to be humble enough to be Quiet…verbally, mentally, emotionally. From being a person who talks a lot, to a person who needs the last word, to a person who strives constantly, to shutting down the rambling mind, we need to stop Doing and Trying, and just be quiet. When we can quiet ourselves (and this does take discipline on our part), this Quiet state knows how to penetrate itself more deeply within us.
2) Ask: Even if you think you don’t know what to ask for. A genuine heart and pure intent holds the silent Ask that Life can hear. Life understands the language of a heart that is chock-full of pure intent, this is asking enough for whatever higher life form you believe in. What are you asking for? Life’s guidance on next steps. It’s the steps…those tiny, seemingly inconsequential steps, that reveal what might be an unknown Purpose.
3) Listen: With the openness of a child. A lot of listening is about surrender; and, it brings the vulnerability of a child. Listening means you might need to drop what you thought you needed, or pick up something you never considered. This is learning a new language. This comes from the Ask. Following the steps as they’re revealed means that you will suddenly realize, you’re walking what you’ve asked for, making more suitable decisions from where you’re at now (not where you used to be) in any given moment. I read a quote recently: “the reason children see magic is because they believe in it”.
I love to work with individuals through the Yamas and Niyamas, for the very purpose of helping others unite with their own Purpose. Discovering our Purpose is an exciting venture really, when given the perspective it deserves. Perspective takes the fear, desperateness, and overwhelm out of it, changing your Purpose from being something foreign to feeling like something quite natural.--with love, Vanessa www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: awakenedsoullove and ursulasweeklywanderings
Arguing, it doesn’t necessarily have to be unfortunate if we come from the right perspective…a perspective of listening. Sadly, we often enter argument to win, to prove our point, or to prove we’re right. We cut off listening. This predictably d-evolves the argument into a fight. There is skill in arguing, and if we don’t choose to use that skill, or even to develop it, we quickly turn events into damaging fights. Arguing requires intelligence, fighting demands none.
Arguing gets mixed up with fighting, and I think this is where disrespect has found its place within the exchange. Losing the art of arguing means fighting is all we know how to do, and it can get vicious in that boxing ring. People can say things that cannot be unsaid, no matter if there is forgiveness in the end. Trust will either need to be re-earned or, will never be quite the same between those two people.
In this sense, arguing is a valuable skill to develop for those relationships we truly care about; and, needless to say, for our own self-respect and dignity. People who argue to win, who don’t stop pelting their point until they’ve dominated the argument, are in it for a fight…and they want to bring you in to it with them. People won’t back down from a fight, thinking they’ll lose their dignity if they do; but in a fight, dignity can already be lost.
Arguing itself, really just comes down to differing (and usually passionate) points of view…that’s it. Having different opinions isn’t a bad thing. Opinions are just different ways of experiencing or perceiving an issue or event. There isn’t really a reason to make that difference a win/lose situation where one comes out on top. It’s when we stop listening that opinion turns into ignorance.
Less often we enter argument with the intent to learn something about the other person. 1) Do you cut the other person off or talk over them? If yes, are you willing to stop yourself from doing that? 2) Do you listen to learn from the other person? In this way, we actually listen to what they’re saying because we want to understand why they’re angry or argumentative. What is it that they’re trying to communicate? 3) Are you willing to accommodate what you learn about them based on what they are saying? Notice how much “willingness” comes in to play here. This takes putting ourselves aside a little bit. We, ourselves have to be willing to do this. If willingness isn’t there, the fight stays strong. There is open-mindedness in arguing because of the listening aspect, this is what removes it from fighting.
Arguing could hopefully be a space where we stay quiet long enough to listen to the other person’s perspective; likewise, be given the space for our own to be heard. Whether the two ever meet isn’t the issue, it’s about perspectives being heard with a willingness to understand. Best case scenario is that a meeting of the minds comes from it, or, if not, a coming together as the argument diffuses and you carry on with something else in your day, knowing you each respected unshared views. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes from driving our dominance over another person, and when two (or more) people speak at the same time. This happens all the time in fights. It’s baffling that anyone could possibly think they’re hearing what the other person is saying, whilst simultaneously drilling their own point home. Is this style of relating really worth it? Or has enough past damage been done from it that the skill of arguing might offer a more respectful outcome?--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: carolbroome & simplefamilies
Modern yoga teachers are just regular people, it’s not too common to find true gurus these days. The teachers we admire and respect are not often enlightened Masters anymore, but they are the ones who honestly acknowledge and learn from their inner demons. They’ve bothered to work their own practice, to make it work for them, to come to realizations and understandings that inspire them to continue and to grow…they didn’t persist just on a weekly hit of inspiration.
It’s very popular to “name drop” in the yoga scene…and there seems to be a new name in recent months. I don’t know that she’s particular to yoga, or if she is more of an inspirational speaker. So, when I saw one of her clips in my facebook newsfeed recently, I decided to see what she spoke about. It wasn’t anything new to my ears, but I was intrigued by her audience who sat fully engaged and agog with inspiration.
Being our best selves is what the human heart wants. But when the reality of what lies between here (our current situation) and there (our imagined self) hits, it hits hard and our inspiration tends to wain, if not tumble into an abyss. While watching the video, I was suddenly aware that these type of speakers make a lot of money doing talks because of the inspiration….it’s that hit that the audience is so in need of. People are so intrigued with inspiration while they sit through the talk, that reality hasn’t set in yet….so these speakers continue to make money while nothing much changes in the end, for the majority of the audience.
The daily walk of becoming what that speaker is talking about is messy, it’s lonely, it’s isolating, it’s dark and it’s depressing…but what makes it worth it, is what comes from it (which is the part the speaker focused on). The speaker didn’t mention the mess between where we are now and where they’re talking about. So people from the audience set out, all gung-ho, when the breaks come on having found themselves in the middle. The middle is where we don’t like it, we don’t know what to do with ourselves because this part wasn’t included in what the speaker told us about.
Fumbling around in the middle, not liking it, slap our purged inner ugliness on to another, fueling a nice blame and shame cycle instead of becoming that person we envisioned ourselves to be when we were sitting in that audience. Most people don’t expect how painful the walk can feel, this isn’t what they signed up for when they were sitting in that audience with tears of inspiration and beauty welling up in their eyes, being called through such inspired motivation.
The point is, you cannot make your yoga teacher be that hit of inspiration. Like any addiction, there comes a point in your practice where that inspiration needs to touch you deeply enough that you’re the one doing your practice. The teacher can’t do that for you. If by some sad circumstance you do use your teacher as your source of inspiration, that same teacher will one day touch a raw nerve…then it’s a make or break relationship because you’ll be out that door, never to be seen or heard from again. You’ll find your next hit elsewhere. Inspiration is as addictive as anything. The glamour wears off when we dig in to the real thing and those who are willing to walk beside you will receive the ugly end of the stick, not the glamour speaker who started it all. It’s not so beautiful wading through the mess we’ve spent a lifetime building up, but if we have the courage to see it through, we will actually be what that speaker was talking about.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: imdb; shady-shypervertdeviantart; glumaceous-tent