What if I turn into a blob? I’ve had people ask me this in all seriousness as both concern and inquiry. This question comes from people who are beginning to be touched by their practice, but not necessarily touched deeply. So often our depths have risen so high they’ve become an entity to consciously run away from. We’ve let the dam rise. So the choice to run becomes conscious, instead of that vague gnawing of an unidentified discomfort that we roam around with.
I think what people are really asking is: “What if I lose control? What if all that hurt comes up and it lasts forever? What if I can’t rein it back in again?”. Unknown territory of any kind can feel like we’re standing on the shore of the Atlantic. We’ll pace that shore, asking friends and family, strangers even, “But what if?”, and “What will happen to me if I let go and feel this?”. Unfortunately, the only way to truly find out that you can trust your process is by letting it happen, letting what you’re trying to suppress actually surface. There is no other way to learn for ourselves that emotion comes and goes, and its intelligence is trying to tell us something. We can be told a thousand times, but we’ll never trust it until we’ve done it for ourselves. The reality is, we’ll land safely on another shore, even if we can’t see it.
When given the freedom to move, emotions never last forever, they rise and fall to varying heights, they stop and start, and they can even come as more than one at a time. How many times have you laughed and cried at the same time, then wondered, “How did I just laugh when I was so swept up in how terrible I felt?”
We feel the hurts of anything and everything, ranging in severity from things like the loss of a child, to a partner having been unfaithful, to the sadness of a lonely life, and on the stories go that are as numerous as there are humans on the planet. These aren’t easy things to feel when we sense a hurling of ourselves into a pool of the unknown; and unfortunately, we wait to test our trust when we’re faced with an extreme situation.
But given the level of pain that can exist within a human being, wouldn’t it be normal to hurt for a while, to hurt in a way that no one else has in quite the same way, to hurt for a time that might not be the same length of time that another “got over it”? We can never look at ourselves then look to another as a gauge or comparison. We’ll know what we can get through and we’ll know what we can’t, and what we can’t, we will seek help. These things come naturally to us when we’re in the flow of the feelings we fear.
Yes, you might be a blob for a while, and you might be a lone blob, but if we don’t willingly let it, that blob will rise and it will find its own way out. So why not trust ourselves before the blob does it for us? It’s the fear that dwells at the shore of anticipation that’s really the worst part. Once we start flowing, the relief of letting go and trusting where we’re taken, is a life and a freedom we can’t know when we’re living an existence of clamping down our humanity. We find ways of moving through art, through music, through laughter and exercise, we access our creativity…the giver of new life, new joys, new ways of seeing things…and yes, a new tolerance of undesirable emotions. We’re reborn through the death of what we could no longer hold on to. And then the empathy, ahh the empathy that arises….that’s another story. --with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: indulgy & a-contresens
The word “pandemic” used to be one of those eye-popping, mouth-gaping jingles, limited to 1960’s Sci-fi movies and books like 1984, or Brave New World. Always stimulating delightful horrors of physical illnesses causing mass hysteria and zombies, aliens and popcorn. But as I write this, the word “pandemic” has twisted its way through 6 o’clock news broadcasts…rarely, but as if networks are testing out the possible reality of our times. I have a further question about “pandemic” though: Does it need to be limited only to mass physical illness? Are there levels in which we’re currently existing, that a pandemic could already be spreading? My thoughts: Possibly. I am beginning to consider society’s broadening disinterest in “something greater than ourselves” as a moral and psychological break in our humanity. Not only muddling up our understanding of how to relate to others, but how to relate to, and understand, our own selves. This, to me, is as valid as any global physical illness, stemming from green reptilian sea-monsters.
To lose this connection within our personal nature is like cutting off our right arm. It makes us sick with diseases like self-centeredness, elevated pride, depression, isolation, anxiety, etc. To lose that understanding of, and experience of something greater, is giving up our life force, our passions, our dreams…and all of the emotions that make those real. We’re slowly giving up what is integral to our survival in any kind of thriving, autonomous way. We lose the gifts of humility, forgiveness, patience, faith and trust.
Consider Rights of Passage: the main ingredients are courage and bravery, for the very reason that they require faith and trust….in what? In something greater. The very nature of the Right commands our own faith and trust forward. And it’s parents and grandparents who toss the kids into these situations! They’re not worried about being the child’s “buddy”; instead, they have the wisdom to know that it’s more important to walk through life having faith in something greater, and having an understanding of where we fit in to the larger scheme of things, than it is to be friends with your child. By needing to be liked by our children, we’re depriving them of living life with an inner sense of themselves. Rights of Passage are marked experiences within our own personal life cycle that set us up for the journey ahead. This Right of Passage in itself, seeds that relationship with something greater. They’re moments of endurance that cultivate courage and independence to face the challenges that lie ahead. They ignite the faith that something greater than ourselves is walking with us. They teach the humility that keeps us in our place. This is the only way we understand the purpose of a challenge, and the meaning it’s trying to bring to us. This is essential…for everything.
Rights of Passage are marked vows, commitments to something greater. Without them we lose that urgency to be accountable to it. Without this, we no longer need to be accountable to ourselves or each other. There is a great sadness in this, a devastation, which we can see in places where humans have impacted the Earth. We lose our sense of place, our sense of home, the anchoring that’s brought by comfort, and the wild innocence of wonder and awe. We rarely find things truly special because we’ve lost that intrigue of where it all came from.
We’re at a point of needing to re-inspire ourselves. To hold ourselves up to the courage to love….to truly love….an other. Few people know what this is. Being courageous enough to give your heart and soul is a power that gives return in ways we can’t predict…because of the very fact that it’s responded to from that something greater. We only have the courage to truly love when we know where we fit in to the larger scheme of things and when we know where we came from. This awareness will help us land a solid foot on that threshold into the future, a threshold we approach each and every day. Placing that foot there is a decision, and in that decision do we have the resources we need to step through? We never know until we’ve done it, so when we’re about to do it, all we can do is trust, trust that we’re not alone and that the path is much more adventurous when we surrender, when we stop toiling around in a self oriented indifference thinking we’re at the helm.
"If we fill our lives with things and again with things, if we consider ourselves so unimportant, that we must fill every moment of our lives, with action, when will we have the time to make the long slow journey across the desert, or sit and watch the stars, or brood over the coming of a child. For each one of us there is a desert to travel, a star to discover and a being within ourselves to bring to life." Anonymous
--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
*image credit: poster-merchan.myshopify and flickr
Let the colours fly! It’s India’s Holi festival! Aside from Diwali, Holi is one of my favourite Hindu festivals….but, I’m a “foreigner”, so what do I really know…they’re probably all wonderful. Holi always arrives with the fullness of the March moon which tonight, is hanging like a silver dollar in the sky….a clear sky, so black it’s the colour of Midnight Blue. And a light so soft and full, everything stands out as if on the Moon itself.
Holi, like other Indian festivals, symbolises the triumph of good over evil, or light over dark. Its significance is shared in a couple of ways, I learned of one on my friend’s front porch in India. He freely shares the beliefs of Hinduism with me when I have a well-full of questions. So, one day after his rooftop yoga class, we sat on his front porch and he told me the story of Holi. He told me of the sister who lured her brother to play, as a means for him to die in a fire. Story goes, their father who was king, was jealous of his son’s love of Lord Vishnu. The daughter had been blessed with the boon of being immune to fire. But, in the end the tables turned and her deception led the daughter to ash, yet the brother remained unscathed.
To fill out this legend, we could equate the lessons we learn from the Yamas, and their prompt toward overcoming our lower selves. Yama means “restraint”, and Holi stems from the word which means “sacrifice”. Though it’s a total mind flip for most people, freedom is gained through restraint, and it does this through refinement of our awareness, which comes through knowledge of self. In this case, the father, if he’d had the restraint of his jealousy, his beloved (and beautiful) daughter wouldn’t have turned to ash. The lesson he would have learned, had he chosen instead to overcoming his jealousy, wouldn’t have felt so good (as none of our lower tendencies do), but the self-restraint would have led him to the freedom gained through self- understanding. This self-knowledge would have liberated him in a way he never could have known…nor would he ever find out, having acted on it rather than restraining it. He assumed that wielding his power to do what he wanted when he wanted, meant he would get what he wanted…but alas, he found out that Life plays the final hand.
Had the father been willing to restrain himself, he would have known more deeply what was appropriate and what wasn’t, through discerning one thing from another. He would have gained the confidence to be a stronger king, which again brings another mind flip: Once he would have gained that confidence, he wouldn’t need to take himself so seriously anymore….his discipline would have led him to know that his “right” isn’t necessarily a universal, all encompassing “right”…he’d have a lot of elbow room to laugh at himself then…to soften those edges around “my way or the highway”, to know he’s done his best, so when “the chips fall where they may” they might not land so hard…he would be better equipped to discern the situation and what it required. It’s a more pleasant life experience all round.
The carefree colours of Holi represent that tuning in to the joy of life, the free expression of the unexpected moments it brings, and living those moments for all they’re worth. We can’t have an awareness of these moments when we’re so caught up in control that we do whatever it takes, at all cost, to be in control. The mirror gets flipped in Holi…having our faces and bodies smeared in colours brings our beauty to a new form…one of freedom. From that particular situation, that first choice of restraint, our freedom grows, it expands into a way of approaching life, which means we meet our life from our own decisions…and this is freedom.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: demotivateur and design.junkie
Is everything really wonderful, exciting, and amazing? These words have become daily expressions for describing the way everyone is always feeling, apparently. If I can test the waters here, I would say that these expressions falsely elevate our experience. We get lost in making sure that we inject one of those words into our speech, securing ourselves in the approval rating of the listener…who in turn is mentally preparing to use one of those words in response. When we elevate our experience, our feet are left dangling above the ground, we’ve got nothing to stand on; ironically, this elevation debases our reality.
In this culture of being “nice” and “excited” all the time, we undermine trust and we whittle away any kind of real purpose. And the lack of alignment is exhausting. To be true to anything, we need to know why we’re doing it. Without defining it, we’re lost in murkiness that allows our intention to shift and change according to what we think in the moment. This removes the truth from any purpose in our intention because we’ve become misaligned. We need to know and to define, the intention of our practice, through being aligned in thought, speech, and action.
The practice of Satya brings that clarity of our purpose, and becomes the definition for everything.
Satya (truthfulness) is tied very closely to Sankalpa. In fact, the two words within Sankalpa are: “Sat” being truth, and “Kalpa” being a long period of time. So, a Sankalpa is like making a vow toward that which keeps us on our path (our defined purpose). We cannot do this without the clarity of Satya. When we can deeply feel our Sankalpa, we’re tied to the unchanging truth of it…its unchanging nature is due to its connection to our Dharmic path. Once we can feel that aim, we sense that we must stay true to it, we know that we cannot waiver, and Satya then becomes a natural part of our lives.
We raise our quality of purpose and we raise our quality of life, when we can clearly perceive our Sankalpa, because we make choices that are aligned. We begin to live by reality as is meant for us, and what we want deeply in our lives becomes known to us. The desire to fulfill that means that Satya really becomes quite effortless. We lose that sense of our approval rating and we just stay true to being true…because we know what’s right. This doesn’t mean we are careless in our choices that might impact others; in fact, it’s the opposite. When we make choices aligned by our intention, we gain a sensitivity toward creating as little harm as possible, toward self and others. It is not a carelessness.
And so you see, even though Satya is the second of the Yamas, this external restraint really brings about internal transformation, it links us to our personal path, and it touches an internal depth and awareness. Satya is far deeper than “I cannot tell a lie”, Satya reaches into, “I cannot be misaligned”. It is through Satya that we learn to trust ourselves; and it demonstrates to others that we are trustworthy, that we’re capable of sustaining and holding an authentic space…not only within ourselves but in receiving other people in the same way. Others then know where they stand with us. This is a huge gift to give another. When we gain this confidence of trusting ourselves to be ourselves, we become more generous with who we are…because we don’t fear who we are. That vow to our Dharmic path becomes something we lean in to.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
*image credits: top: famedubai; bottom: blackswan
All of us can relate to having a cycle of thought that has become so settled in, that it sounds more to us, like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon than any logical expression of words. For some reason or other, we each have an area of our life where our mini-me tags along, dressed in a black cape and eye mask, leaping in and out of our thought patterns as if it’s welcome. This tiny mini-me packs a punch; bringing with it, a shame that can feel debilitating and overwhelming. This mini-me seems to think it’s welcome to stride along side us whenever we put our best efforts forward. It waits patiently by our side, ready to whisper degrading words when our best efforts are met with silence, disapproval, or rejection from an Other. The one thing this mini-me knows how to do, is undermine us. Some of us are stubborn enough to pick ourselves up again, only to wait again for approval from an Other, then feel the shame again. It’s a cycle that we can really get caught up in: “This is what I have to offer, do you approve of me, do you accept me, will I be secure?”, It’s a terrible cycle to be trapped in and no one deserves to be there.
Our deepest feelings and our insecurities are like two sides of a coin, this cycle either destroys us or brings us to our greatest dreams. We equate not only our own value as a human being in this “acceptance” we seek, but also our very sense of security. It really comes down to the question of: “Will this make me secure?” (whether realistic or not). Then, if we’re not accepted, our security feels threatened.
Though I don’t believe there is one pat answer for everyone on how to overcome this, I do believe that a consistent pursuit of a new self belief means we’re far likelier to gain freedom from it’s snare. The culprit keeping us from change is really about unwillingness. Other than maintaining resolve, “unwillingness” is the biggest hurdle to not only overcome, but to identify. Panic is usually how we address the unknown that change puts in front of us. How do we turn panic into courage?
But before Compassion, is the Breath.
Once we know that we’re willing to break this cycle, we usually need to find a tool that will help us when things get tough (meaning, we get uncomfortable). The following may seem trite, but usually Life’s answers are far simpler than we give them credit for:
Breath. Not only does it effectively calm us, it gives us that sense of control when we’re moving into unknown experiences (even if they’re internal emotional ones). Breathing is essential for grounding us into the now. Don’t underestimate this step of breaking the cycle. Choosing to breathe through an automatic response, rather than act from it is change in itself. It can be enough, it can be all we ever need to do when the nerves of change kick in. So, hoping to rush through the breathing part so you can move to next steps to overcome the cycle is ineffective.
Breathing brings us from neurosis and anxiety to the firmer footing of the here and now. That footing creates a sense of security. And it’s our job to gradually give more credit to that security within our own thinking (this is where the seed of Compassion is beginning to grow, whether the mini-me likes it or not). Breathing doesn’t change circumstances like magic, but it changes our moment from being one of overwhelm, to one of calm, and this is what matters. Being calmed by our use of the breath brings us back to our own reality and away from the clinging fantasy of, “pretty please?”. Breath grounds us in to realizing that we are ok, and into a rational understanding of what really matters, whether anything outside of our own self ever changes. It brings us back to proper assessment of our next steps. This indicates that when we’re jumping off the horrific fantasy wagon of “will you accept me?”, it’s our own reality that really matters.
The breath reminds us of where we are, and attunes us to the intelligence of hearing our own heart and our own voice. The still and the calm of the moment shows us what really matters. Once we recognize the value of stillness, we’ll value the breath. Our inner senses let us know that we are secure. Our inner senses let us know that an Other won’t provide that. This is the foundation of breaking the cycle. Mini-me won’t have his tiny legs to stand on and he might actually need to begin whispering words worth listening to.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think.”~Harper Lee
Similarly (to my chagrin), a teacher of mine once said, in reference to the Soulful realm, “They’re not here to lead you by the nose, if you’re an old soul, they’ll want you to figure it out”. Argh, who wants to hear that when you just want the instruction manual for figuring out life’s problems. But, realistically, I would agree. I think, that if you teach, and it is in a way that a person can access their own innate knowing of truth, that is the only teaching of value.
In my experience, if we want the “instruction manual” for life, we’re better off to allow those “problem” aspects of ourselves, to be alive. That way they don’t act out a kicking screaming rebellion, and we come to learn that they really aren’t so problematic. If this aspect is there, why not give it space, give it the time it needs for us to hear it and understand it. In this way, our inner battles can cohabitate. Instead of going crazy trying to avoid it, deciding to know it, gives this “problem” aspect room to breathe and move toward functioning healthily.
It’s by Grace that we know anything of our deeper existence. But that tide that makes us float on the whims of free will is something we can learn to cherish. Learning to read and understand that tide will refine our free will to work for us rather than against us. But we need to provide the environment for our understanding to come, simply through our willingness. There is no guidebook for that, no compass to pull from our pocket, to lead the way. What is more likely is that we have a candle. Often, we need to light that candle in the dark of night, seeing only within the sphere of light that lands on the map that we were born with. It’s us who holds that map, and we move the candle to illuminate more of the map. That candle, which may have dripped down to a nub from having been lit so many times before.
But it’s in those times, that feel as still and black as standing in the dark of the Mongolian desert on a moonless night, that we’re open to hearing the strike of the match. It’s necessary to know the significance of the match that lights the candle. In our lives it can be anything, nature, the sight of an animal, a friend or parent….it’s only then, at these times of quiet, when we’re yearning for a roadmap the most, that we begin to respect the match that lights the candle. Once the candle is lit, the knowledge is our own. From here it’s our decision what to do with the light, and to apply what we’ve already come to understand and know of it. No one can do that for us. With that candle lit, we can look up from the map and into the darkness. It’s wild out there, but we’re given a new courage with the tiny light from our candle; we grow a willingness to search the darkness, eyes wide.
Suddenly, you know you can do this, you know it’s in you and you know it’s out there for you. Find it. Walk it. Become it. Have that wonder in your eyes, your face, your heart and let that be from where you listen, this will be what guides you. Then, when you tumble into the narrow confines of the darkness of “problems”, know again it is not about the actual darkness but about your willingness to hear the strike of the match that lights the candle.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." ~Roald Dahl
--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
A number of people took it upon themselves to let me know that I looked like a "bone rack". I felt extremely self-conscious from their input, and felt betrayed by the entitlement they felt, to offer their “concern” for my appearance, without being given an invitation to do so. I was 21 when I saw the movie Baraka, and I walked out of the theatre that night, a decided vegetarian. Having seen in that film, the treatment of chickens in the “food industry”, I just couldn’t pull myself to contribute to that kind of devastation and cruelty, now that my eyes had been opened to it. This was in the days before alternatives for “organic” and “free range” meats. So, with little choice for an option, I remained a vegetarian for ten years.
Vegetarianism, combined with a high metabolism, meant I couldn’t keep the pounds on. I was waif thin and I knew it, so I didn’t need everyone else telling me how unhealthy I looked. It wasn’t until I learned the reason why I remained so thin, that I began eating meat again. Luckily, by this time (as said, ten years later), there were a few butchers in town, selling organic, free range, meat options, from local farms. Otherwise I would have continued on with vegetarianism, unfortunately. I hadn’t known that the mechanics of my body require meat to thrive. So, I came to a juncture where I was met with Ahimsa, a concept I hadn’t been exposed to as a Yogic practice, but obviously I had an innate understanding of it, as all of us do. So, bigger than being faced with the question of Ahimsa, I was met with my own moral dilemma around my feelings of the killing and treatment of an animal, or inflicting further damage to myself. My “dilemma” was the challenge that I learned and grew from, more than if I had just followed the outline of Ahimsa as instructed.
Slowly finding my way through my dilemma taught me, that we do leave a footprint in this world; regardless of how much, with all our hearts, we might not want to. We can’t help making an impact, and we need to find compassion for ourselves within that understanding (Ahimsa in itself). I’m not studied in the Christian Bible, but my personal reflections through this learning process, led me to wonder if this is what it means in saying that we’re born “sinners”. If in fact, the Bible is indicating to have compassion around that as fact. This process taught me that we will do harm or do “the wrong thing”, because we’re human. That’s not to promote a “get out of jail free” card, in fact far from that. It’s part of our Dharma to make mistakes and to see how we correct them.
I always say that guilt in itself, isn’t productive; so a better practice is the self-reflection and the discipline, the personal accountability, of holding ourselves to the standard that we ultimately reveal to our own self. What is productive, is making a conscious choice around what we’re doing. Do we know why we’re doing what we’re doing? Have we considered the impact and consequence of our actions? Are we doing it in moderation (removing something completely can be just as harmful as doing something too much)? Who are we in what we’re doing, regardless of anyone else? Are we living to a moral and ethical code that we can live with?
What’s funny is, that I don’t judge the food choices of others, it’s the people around me, who look at me and judge themselves. Too often I hear, “Oh you practice yoga, you must not eat meat”, while they sheepishly hover over their steak.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
*image credit pp.vk.me
The literal translation of Yama is “restraint”. They are the restraints influencing our social conduct. Yet, in the practice of them, they influence us deeply as an individual as well. Living by them as a guideline, the Yamas alter our inner blueprint of perspective. In their simplicity, they cultivate personal insight that can be game changing. I say “simple” because, when unfamiliar with these codes of conduct, many people commonly bluster, “W-well I’m not violent”. And of coarse we’re not. Each Yama is a code of conduct that any logical adult can understand, it’s our emotions that need the updating. We don’t go about physically hurting others, nor do we carry the intent to do so. However, we are very aggressive (violent) internally, through our thoughts (to self or otherwise), most definitely in our speech to one another, and in our careless actions. All of these have a ripple effect which we never consider.
When we hear the word “restraint”, we opt to run for the hills. We’re a species that wants to be able to do what we want as it suits us; and so, we consider “restraint” a deprivation of that. We think we’re losing our freedom, and that we’re being told what we can and cannot do. We think we’re being stripped of our freedom to make one decision which suits one emotion, followed by a completely different decision based on the emotion which arrives a few minutes later. We think we’re being torn from the ensuing confusion that arises from “liking” and “wanting” based on the highs and lows of what we think and feel. Somehow this is considered “freedom” in the modern world. What’s startling is that this is a form of enslavement. Living in this way is being weak to our whims. The Yamas make it very clear to us, how much of our lives we’re living based on our emotions.
The irony is, that we have freedom only when we learn restraint. The Yamas as restraints, help us to define ourselves, they help us understand who we are as deeper than the whims. The ocean has many waves, all manner of size, chopping along the surface; but within the belly of the ocean, lies the buoyant current that flows cohesively. That cohesive part of the ocean is where the species of the ocean live, they only come up to the surface for play.
To be interested in waking up in the morning and defining our day by that list of Yamas, brings us layer through layer into awareness around behaviours which could be cleaned up, so to speak. We grow to become more familiar with those times when we overstep our bounds into another’s experience, we identify when we want to manipulate the truth so we can make something easier for ourselves, we feel it when we let a door close behind us in the face of the next person coming through. This increased awareness is actually increased knowledge of who we are. This knowledge is what gives us our freedom. Because this knowledge is the deeper buoyancy of the ocean that influences stable choices, unlike the choices of our whimsy, which chop around based on what wave we’re riding in the moment.
The freedom we experience in our personal lives, through honouring the Yamas and seeking the personal information they reveal, is worth the moments of skin crawling discomfort that can arise from such revelations. But once we crawl through one personal discomfort and experience the groundedness on the other side, we never want to return to the careless whimsy of our weakness to a thought, which may never have been our own in the first place. We’re free because we’re holding ourselves to a higher standard, we expect more from ourselves than what is media fed, and we learn that life isn’t about arriving at a perfected point. We no longer need to admire others for their “je ne sais quoi”, because we’ve found that “je ne sais quoi” within ourselves. This is freedom.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
*photo credit: southernliving
From a moment of meditative reflection, to shared tears and laughter, time spent around a cup of tea is what makes the experience a world of its own. I read a post on social media recently, about a simple cup of tea….or, maybe it was penned as, the simplicity of a cup of tea, I don’t remember exactly. Regardless, my thoughts jumbled into thinking, “But a cup of tea isn’t simply just a cup of tea?! I mean, lives are built around cups of tea!” Whether we sit alone in silence pondering our thoughts with that cup of tea, or share a cup with friends and family (perhaps fumbling with etiquette around pinky up or pinky down), there is so much storytelling, wisdom and light shared around a cup of tea. These times fostering enough compassion and empathy, that frivolities of the pinky surely don’t matter. And maybe that’s it….maybe because tea is so simple, so pure and reliable, that everything opens up (or pours out) around that purity, as any kind of truthful moment provides. Truth just doesn’t require complexities, it has its own legs to stand on.
Cups of tea have heard absolutely everything, from the deepest secrets (taboo or otherwise), to the most mundane, yawn inspiring drivel. Cups of tea have sat with us as our only friend, have nursed us back to health, have gone cold waiting for our conversation to take pause long enough for a sip. A cup of tea has seen us through the loss of family members, the joy of greeting a new child, has blanketed us in the sleepy shadows of 2AM. I will forever remember my Grandmother’s way of asking, “would you like a cup of tea?”…no matter for healing tears, sitting for a bit (with a little biscuit), or just because it’s considered an essential part of the day…sharing the news even when there isn’t any to share.
A cup of tea finds itself being poured in the garden, the kitchen or family room, it’s even poured at the front stoop. It’s poured at the corner tea shop, bringing neighbours together for an impromptu social gathering; enabling a community to thrive as neighbours catch up with news and gossip, or endeavour to solve the matrix of a chess game. Most urgently a cup of tea is poured straight from kettle to cup…these ones are a crying shame but loyalty remains. A cup of tea develops and maintains bonds across generations…through its simple ritual and its heartwarming memories that could never be replaced. The heart hears these moments around the tea pot as clearly as the cup does. This is where we heal, even when nothing is wrong…we commune, we do what humans do best…we listen, we contribute, we work things out, but most of all, we engage. We learn that life is not all glitz and glam but nor is it all bad. They seem to be one, the heart and the tea…both knowing the same secrets and dreams without a sliver of betrayal to either. If a cup of tea could speak, I don’t know if it would want to..but what could it say? Like the heart, cups of tea have heard it all, having silently invoked our confidence and trust; gleaning threads of connection from the chatter it invites, yet leaving with no trace of judgement nor threat of exposure.
Tea, it stains our teacups it stains our teeth, from English tea to Assam tea, from Indian Chai to Moroccan mint, Turkish tea to Chinese tea leaves…they all tell a story, and some, even your fortune. A cup of tea is a ritual, it’s a blend. There is science around ritual that when performed brings any event to life. In the deepest teachings of Yoga, the Vedic Seers knew the science of sequence; they knew that, bringing life to a seed required a sequence of steps. The shared experience that unfolds around a cup of tea was preceded by a specific series of steps. As in the simplicity of pure awareness…a cup of tea comes with a series of steps, and these steps can’t be skipped. When something so simple touches the Soul, you sit with it…because somehow you just can’t help it.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
I know nothing about the black holes of outer space…but I think they are spaces that draw things into themselves? Regardless, I do know they are considered spaces in which light cannot escape. Recently, when reading a dialogue between Krishnamurti and one of his students, I got to thinking….about black holes and about light, and about our modern world.
I notice in our world today, that many people are “suffering”, even within daily life. We’re suffering in an attempt to keep up with a life which many can no longer comprehend, due to all of the global violence; suffering to keep up with financial burden; suffering to explain life to our children when we’re no longer recognizing the ways of the world ourselves; suffering to keep up with the speed of technology…basically, we’re suffering in our attempt to keep up with a life that has become so confusing in its daily, global overwhelm, because we’re trying to fit our very nature into this. Yet this is not possible. The outer world has become so out of alignment that our inner nature knows not to go there. Our inner nature knows not to try to keep up. Yet our minds and egos keep tracking this synthetic construct…as well as its speed. Hence, we suffer, we’re split…and the result is, we’re becoming unavailable…we dim our light, we’re not as accessible to friends and family, to the community and to the environment, because we’re chasing after what we’re told to chase….and we’re falling behind. We feel like we’re losing on a daily basis because the system isn’t designed to be caught, it’s designed to “need” it. So we each end up in our own inner worlds trying to fix what we think we’re doing wrong. We lose sight of the bigger perspective, which is inclusive of others. And this isn’t right.
Embedded within this, we’re fed inspiring catch phrases like “follow your heart”, “live your dreams”, or whatever it may be, but these positive statements remain out of reach because we’re chasing our light, rather than being our light.
Our light and our hearts grow quickly and abundantly through the giving of them. The more we give of our light the more it grows. This is the irony. The more we chase our light in the daily grind, the more we lose it, the more we withdraw into an isolated darkness. The more we offer our light in the true sense of it, the more our light grows and it buoys us. We’re no longer chasing our light then, instead, we’re giving it and therefore being it. We have an abundant Spirit, and the way we follow our heart’s desire is when we’re giving it to others. This is very different from chasing some media fashioned model of the heart. We’re currently in a monetized system of “follow your heart”, meant for the corporate world to profit from all you’ll need to (apparently) learn in order to “follow your heart” or “dream”. This is a self-serving system because it’s designed for profit. It will never work. The commercialism of “follow your heart” is modelled for a construct which is nailed down by the media, which furthers the tumble through the black hole. The heart is anything but self serving, so this commercialized model will never work.
To follow your heart, and to follow your dreams means to give of yourself…your very self and what you find in there….not your money, not a smattering of time to a cause at a designated time of year, not a new self-help book…but a daily, willing, offering of yourself; waking up to the morning and asking God “what can I give today…and to whom”? This draws from the wellspring of your best self, your willing self, your generous and beaming self. Everyone then becomes rich, everyone becomes fulfilled, and supported…the light and the love only grows from that place inside. From there you are living your dream.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com