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
Once imprisoned, Joan of Arc is said to have felt shattered within herself, that she had backed down on what she knew most deeply. That she hadn’t carried through on what only she could hear. After all of her bravery, her courage and her might, in the end, she felt she had betrayed her most sacred knowing.
The Scottish Pipers of the World Wars ran out into vast open fields, unprotected, armed only with their instruments of war, their sole purpose being to lead armed soldiers into battle. No one was ahead of them to lead…from where did they draw their courage? They had to take it themselves. These men were the front line of battle, because it was from them that the soldiers drew their courage.
Are we capable in today’s world of finding courage within…when so much supports a lazy, uninspired, effortless lifestyle? Is there even a need for courage in our daily lives anymore? Yes! Just as ever before. Can we examine this within our own selves…our behaviours and reactions when courage taps us on the shoulder…because it’s usually a fleeting experience when we are accustomed to denying it.
The yogic asana of Warrior 2 is designed to fuel courage, by sustaining the pose through the discomfort. Anyone who has ever practiced this pose knows how uncomfortable it can be.
Alas, the majority of people wriggle their way out of it…or better yet, never rest fully into it. But can we use this pose instead, as a way of becoming familiar with our response to courage within ourselves? Do we really want to back out in the end, and betray what we know most deeply.
If the men and women of war had the courage to face fear day in and day out, do we have the courage to sustain a yoga practice, or do we slack out of it because it’s so uncomfortable…or even before it becomes uncomfortable? Imagine, if we could find courage within discomfort for even a few moments longer, what we could develop…the courage to be kind, the courage to love and to find answers, the courage to take ownership of ourselves as individuals, the courage to be gentle. The courage to make this a better world.
So let’s sustain Warrior 2, through the tremors of that burning courage that often becomes squelched in tension. Instead allowing the ancient rise of prana, of our calling…too often avoided by a simple habitual strangle of tensed neck and shoulder muscles. Even the jaw begins to clench. Do we have the courage to settle into that tremoring burn as it rises. With trust, with breath, with prayer even. This isn’t insurmountable. Yet sweat begins to blister from our pores, and maybe the veins begin to throb in the temples, but we will make it, we will survive this reactive panic, because we’re not dying…instead, we’re feeling, we’re growing, we’re being human…and we’re meant to feel it, release it, and ease into it. The settling in to the pose is what actually draws us upward into the confident stance that Warrior 2 is.
Warrior 2 is such a grounding pose for this type of anxious energy. We are meant to rest solid in the support of our legs, establishing our footing with full stability so that we CAN ground. Without a foothold we float and hover in the pose, making all improper use of it. We would really rather straighten that front leg, we really want to, with everything we have we want to straighten it, scrambling to find relief. Instead, sink down, face the pose head on, hover more deeply, reach in to that central fire in the belly, draw the outer edge of that back foot even more onto the mat…stabilize. Trust. Establish the feet…the lengthening of the body will come from that…this is the authentic “relief” from the pose. It’s here that the warrior’s courage can rise, having faced defeat. Defeat from wanting to rise before it’s time…and using all (wrong) muscles to do so.
As we sustain, the spine will want to reach upward because that lifeforce has been given freedom again to flow upward. The prana then, begins to pool at the heart, which gives that softness to the shoulders, the dynamic ease of the outstretched arms, so the heart can beam right through your fingertips. From here, through open palms and spread fingers we find the freedom of courage…to follow through on our own heart’s calling toward a better world.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com