“I just want to be ok”…we can often think this about ourselves when we practice Yoga. It’s a harsh thought, no matter how quietly we might hear it. Yoga is about greater self awareness and the acceptance that comes from that; but sadly, we naturally apply our culturally developed thinking as a framework around it. Almost like we try to catch it in a net that is already familiar to us. Unfortunately, Yoga is advertised in the same way as everything else, as a commodity. It has become a product to sell. The glory of the perpetual industry drives us to believe that there is something to “Get”, to “Attain”, to “Have” from Yoga. The marketing of Yoga tells us that what we’re getting is the promise of “Happiness”. Wanting to “be Ok” is a harsh and aggressive self attitude because it usually comes from a desperation for happiness, and industry is financially fueled by a desperate society. We deceive ourselves by believing that this cultural framework will support the unformed newness of a deepening and authentic Yoga practice. So there can be a tendency to fall into the shadow and use Yoga to fuel our belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with us.
Sometimes, I think an aspect of ourselves which pops up in our practice, is an unanticipated relentlessness. The gift of increasing self insight can instead be turned into a drive for continual “betterment” of ourselves…suddenly it can seem that there is so much to look at and address personally. As if we’re realizing we’ve been doing something wrong all this time and now how are we going to fix it. Firstly, know you weren’t doing anything wrong…hopefully what you were doing was the best with what you knew about yourself. Have this compassion for self, ultimately it will help you recognize a connection with others. This feeling that “If we’re not careful…” can create a critical eye which stems from the competitive internal space which needs to get to an “other” than where we are. Take care with this, don’t lose the supportive purpose of Yoga through a thick blanket of market based perceptions.
But what if there is nothing to “Wrong”, nothing to “Attain” from Yoga? Humans generally aren’t ok with that. What if Yoga is just our pedestrian walk through Life? Daily life for the most part, is pretty uneventful and again, we’re trained to perceive that as boring or uninteresting. We usually rely on this passive perception when we’re not really getting the message. The message of Life is usually embedded within layers of understanding and perception. For example, we’ve all had those moments that come on like a light and we say, “Oh yeaaah”, smiling brightly, finger in the air, like pointing out layer upon layer of things that are suddenly understood, and were all embedded in that one moment. The gloriousness and magic of life is in this simplicity, but we’re trained to omit this experience for the obnoxious sounds and visuals that constantly override it. Egoic stimulation is exaggerated for the purpose of driving up our level of anxiety. The neediness that this anxiety creates forces us to run after and desperately chase whatever is being dangled in front of us. This leaves residing in the quiet simplicity of life as a big challenge. It grows to feel like simplicity is not enough, and so it doesn’t capture our attention. It usually captures our attention though, but in that underground gnawing kind of way. We really personally have to be the one to call our own self to attention on this. It has to be a personal choice to really discipline our own self, and to stand firm because no one else is going to do it for us. Culturally it’s not accepted or fostered. It has to be your choice.
Yoga is the last thing of a human developed ideal. It is the most natural independent flow of spontaneity. This can’t be controlled in itself, it can only arise. We tune our personality toward it through our practices, but Yoga isn’t necessary as a practice in itself, because it just arises. It’s that same spark that creates the heartbeat. It’s our attention to Yoga that is the practice. The practice is our refinement of what we’ve grown to perceive. By refining our own self, we give the freedom for the Yoga to arise; we’ve given it the space to move in and as our daily life. So you see, the cultural framework around Yoga won’t work, it won’t support the mystery of the Soul; if anything, the framework will suffocate our personal Yoga as it’s done all along. The real reality is, you’ll sort it out as you go.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
Cocktail Umbrellas are more important than we realize. Usually accompanied by a maraschino cherry and a slim slice of orange, those bright little, paper decorations are always found in a cheery coloured cocktail drink in yellow or pink. Innocently, and unbeknownst to them, these umbrellas hold a lot of power. And they are so important in fact, that there are countless images of them set in front of a sun bleached seascape, gliding us off into the Lala Land of our scintillating, romantic dreams of far-off sunsets and clear blue skies. These umbrellas are important because of their symbolic power; their ability to take us to our sense of imagining, which is our creative center.
Given practical access to a tropical getaway or not, this time to daydreaming that a Cocktail Umbrella provides, is so significant, that it is essential to our wellbeing. This meandering space of aimless mental wandering is our most precious resource, because it’s where we begin to sense what makes us tick in a very deep and personal way. Everything begins from the space of emptiness whether we realize it or not. Our imagination is the beginning of tapping in to what that vast silent space is telling us. Paying attention to what it reveals is productive, which is unlike finger-painting colours around in a fantasy. To take those hard earned hours of focused mind and allow it the free reign of creativity is the only way to produce our purpose, what we’re here on this Earth to do. It’s a beautiful, enriching, soul nourishing time, to be in this state of imagination.
While in the thick of it, when the seemingly ridiculous pops forward as some unexpected thought, instead of kicking it out, ask yourself some questions around it, with a practical purpose in mind. This will begin to harness the dream and bring it into logical form. Once the mind accepts it as manageable, you’ll see ways to act on this new idea within your own creativity. To immediately slough it off as ridiculous is a misunderstanding of the dream as a whole, it’s to be blind to all of what it is…once you start questioning it into form (not with doubt but with inquiry) then you will begin to see its practicality and its possibility. To immediately poo-poo this new insight and deny it, is a misfortune not only to your own life but to anyone else it might serve in the long run. Should you bring this daydream into form you have no idea how many people might benefit from its goodness. There is as much of a ripple effect of not doing something as there is in doing something. Think about this. What you withhold could be hindering another by the very withholding, but sharing it could be benefitting that someone. Many don’t understand what it means to give of yourself, of your love in this way.
So, the next inspiring dream you have, try what’s next:
First, Be at Peace with your Dream: Anxiety arises with anything new and unrecognized. It arises in many different forms (anger, jangled nerves, overwhelm, etc.) and it arises for many different reasons…but keep going because anxiety simmers down. Many of us deny and rail against our imagination because we judge it as unrealistic. So, we jump on it, trying to put it out in the same way we would throw a blanket to suffocate an unexpected fire. Of course a dream is unrealistic and impractical at this stage of the game, it’s never been done before! Nothing has yet been learned from it or by it, or how to do it. You need to focus now, hone in on it and refine your skill around it. The dream will show you how as you walk along with it. But be prepared because it will require you to be more of yourself…this leads to step two.
Step Two is, Bring It Back to Focus: Now that we’ve let go and given enough free rein for the imagination to kick in, we bring it back to focus (remember those focused hours you’re used to?). Focus and listen, listen deeply and with your whole heart. This is a refined listening, through the space of the heart, not the mental searching and grasping of the mind. Listening can come through sound definitely: through a snippet of what someone says to you at a seemingly odd time, or something unusually relevant in a song you’ve heard many times, or a confirming sound of a pindrop as you blink at the moment of a bright idea. But if our other senses are more dominant, then listening can also come visually, or as a deep knowing at the deepest heart sense, it can come as a symbol that simply uplifts you…you will recognize your own language because you experience it as set apart from other experiences. Give credence to all, in all senses it comes to you.
Now Step Three is, Take action: But this isn’t willy-nilly action of desperately doing SOMEthing, it’s the taking action according to how opportunity is presented. Now this takes a continued refinement of our senses. To continue to be watchful for opportunities is a new muscle being developed. There are indeed those moments when opportunity appears to come and you sit and question “is this the one?”. Usually the need to question shows that this is the one showing you that THE ONE is on its way…so continue as you are. When it IS the ONE there will be no doubt. Taking action will require habit adjustments, and you may need to give something up (most likely you will) and that can be uncomfortable…but you will do it when the IT you’ve been aiming toward arrives. And it all arose from your daydream on the beach or in the bookstore, your time dallying in the canoe on the lake or sewing a new quilt. It arrived in that time when you were meandering, wandering idly and free in your mind of creativity…that is when it arrived. By the time you’re at step three you’re seeing it but it was alive long before then.
You can do this. It might not be perfect, and it most likely won’t be, but maybe it will be, and maybe it will be beautiful in a way you never expected. In any case, it will be better than where you are now because you will be connected to your purpose, and this brings contentment and fulfillment like nothing else can. We can often rail against what we’re meant to do, thinking it’s not what we want to do…but what we’re meant to do is really what we want to do, Ego or no Ego. I think many don’t understand the luxury and necessity of healthy, dynamic dreaming.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com