Transform Yourself, Inspire Others

The first time I saw this [Transform Yourself, Inspire Others] motto of the Yogaprasad Teacher Training I’d signed up for, I knew I was in for it. My dear friend who’d invited me to the training did her best to explain the depth of this course, the legitimacy of the teacher and the incredible gift she was now offering, but how could I ever have known the turn my life was taking? 

On the first morning of the training during our introductions we were asked to share why we were there. I can recall telling the group and teacher how I’d long since felt this calling to make a lasting and positive difference in the world, but knew that first I had some real work to do on myself. Yes, I was in the right place. Terrified and with nowhere to hide, in exactly the right place. I had been avoiding my Self for some time up to this point and had created quite the mess of my surroundings.

See, I have a compassionate heart, if someone is suffering I will want to fix it. The deeper the pain, the greater my intrigue it would seem. And sometimes I can’t quite distinguish the suffering of another to the feelings which are my own. Of course this has created problems; being taken advantage of, getting stuck in depressive states for far too long, giving all of my energy away, thinking surely if I fixed another they’d return the favour and then take care of me. It never happened like this. Trying to help someone out of pure compassion is one thing, but doing it without boundaries or with some expectation of return is call for severe disappointment. Some people haven’t even heard of the concept of helping themselves before considering offering to another. In our modern era everything seems to come from outside of ourselves and happens so fast. But helping ourselves, the return to loving ourselves, is not like this. 

We have to do the real work on our own, but the beauty in this is that once we commit to the work, the helpers and guides appear. On my own path, once I sincerely committed to facing myself without fear, incredible guidance has been with me every step of the way.  It can only be described as magic and could come by way of a dream, as a new and empowering friend, a work opportunity which genuinely supports, a perfectly timed message by book or song, experiences that cannot be put into words or maybe, if you are among the most lucky, a real teacher who is always, always there. And I met mine, when I showed up for this course which promised to help me transform myself to better be of inspiration. My teacher, my Guru, Prasad, he was living this example and to be honest, at first it confused the hell out of me. Why was he giving so freely? How did he seem to have this never ending supply of energy and knowledge and patience and kindness for any who crossed his path? What was he getting out of this? What did he want from me? I’m not sure if we’re born untrusting, but I know we become this way and I was skeptical. He seemed to operate totally outside of the paradigm within which I’d been raised. One where helping others fulfills some lack within ourselves, it makes us feel purposeful or like better people, it distracts us from the void within, it gives us something to boast in social circles or post on the internet, or barter with God to say see, we did do good and I think we meant it! Not to totally belittle those who are giving back and not entirely clear on why, of course it’s nice, I just want to share what I realized; That if we aren’t giving to ourselves what we offer to another, it is empty. How can you take away from a source that is already running dry? Who wants that dirty water anyway? And then you’re left running to the well of another and begging for a sip. It creates so much drama unnecessarily.

So I asked my teacher in earnest, where the motivation to give comes from if not from some twisted selfish gain. He explained to me that through sadhana (self practice), you ultimately reach a place where there is so much welling up inside of your own heart, that the overflow spills out into the lives of those nearest you. It’s a natural outpouring of the divinity within. We all have this seed of divinity within our hearts, but we don’t all tend to it. Imagine what it would feel like to have a heart near bursting at the seams, so much peace and love to contain that it needs to find outlet. And what better outlet than those we love who are lacking in themselves. The love can now pour upon them from a strong and steady spout, one they can rely on and trust in it’s source. When he told me this, it sounded nice and shook me a bit as it was so far off from how I’d been operating and achieving such a state seemed totally far out. I had always craved so badly to be needed, to be given some value by another, to not have to confront any of the darkness within on way to the light. But I did trust him and I saw him in action- someone who had transformed and fast became my greatest inspiration. So I did as I was taught, I continued to work on myself consistently and sincerely. I’ve been pulled off course many times in many ways, tempted to fill my well with cup of another, but it never lasts and I always come back to my sadhana and my determination to be my own best friend, my own greatest caregiver.

It’s been over two years since I joined that course and met my Guru and embarked on the real journey, and I have changed a lot. I still attract people in desperate need, people in who I see such potential and want nothing more than to pull it forth. At times I am still tempted to sacrifice my health in order to show them their worth. But these days I am not so easily pulled apart and given out to the needy in exchange for a little misguided self satisfaction before sleep. I am not so empty that the passing thanks of another is worth more than my own truth. I still want to give and I am relearning to do just that. It does require some apparently ‘selfish’ action on my part in protecting my own sensitive nature. But I swear I am stronger now, growing more so by the day, and if you ever need something please don’t hesitate to ask.  

Sadhana > Suffering 

You can say the same words one thousand times and give them all different meaning. You can go back to the most familiar place and not find anything you were looking for. You may one day see your best lover with entirely different eyes. Yesterday, the park was sunny and sweet and today there are too many flies. When you were young you wanted to be an astronaut and now you hardly have interest in planet Earth.

 Circumstances change, we evolve and life is in a constant state of flux. Nothing is really able to last to match that deep craving in your heart. Nothing is built so strong as the desire we all have within to satisfy our longing.  So then you wonder, what is consistent in this mixed up place? If there is nothing out in the world to hold onto…then…? We must totally switch the flip! The one thing that remains steady is the indwelling You. We all have it, that aspect within that is forever watching this transient world unfold. That constant observer and best listener to all our changing ways. They are waiting for you to grow tired of spinning around and around, waiting for your external desires to quiet just enough so you might hear them whisper, calling you deeper within. 

This all sounds so magical, don’t doubt that it is. Then how to take this magic and apply it to a better way of being in this world we are so wrapped up in? Because let’s face it, our relationship with the world is the one we are most invested in. The one we ponder our role within more often than any other. Practicality is our relationship to the world. Spirituality is our relationship with our Selves. We spend our lives trying to increase status within our position in the outside world, yet how much time goes into cultivating relationship with our own true Selves? If there really are 24 hours in a day, shouldn’t we devote at least a fraction of them in connecting to the one thing we now understand as permanent? The one aspect in this ever-flowing universe that isn’t actually designed to elude us?

In the science and philosophy of Yoga, we refer to spiritual practice as sadhana. This can include infinite things…breathing as you twist and bend and hold steady on a mat, sitting in meditation, repeating positive affirmation again and again and again. It could be writing, dancing, singing or crying. One day it may be walking amongst the trees, and the next, sitting quietly with only your breath. Who is to tell you what most connects you, with You? What matters is that you find out, that the idea of connecting and growing with your own steadiness motivates you daily. Because the outside world is not slowing down, not in the least, and more and more people are getting tripped up by stuff that isn’t even real. The significance of a daily sadhana is more important now that ever. Wouldn’t you feel more equipped to navigate the twists and turns of this planet if you were rooted in truth and permanence? Wouldn’t you be a better friend/parent/person/employee if you had something to hold you sure as times got tough? And they will get tough, it’s a part of the game. Sadhana is like a shield from the suffering of the illusory world. We’re going to battle together and I want my friends as fellows soldiers. 

Commit to a daily practice that suites your lifestyle and watch as the entire world shifts, from the unshakeable seat within. 

 

Women Yogis of India and Today

There are different ways to build things. Look around at the furniture and walls, road repairs and the structures of the city. Our modern world has evolved so technically that without proper reflection, we might miss what has been woven between buildings, that which truly holds up the walls of ours homes and drives the humanity forward. 

Last night I had the blessing of listening to my teacher share wisdom regarding women Yogis whose inspirations and writings have survived the journey from medieval India and travelled straight into the place that is my wide open heart. These were my friends and my sisters and today they inspire me still. Is this not creation, igniting a spark in your fellow soul’s heart? To build here you must clear out old beliefs and ways of being, you must build a strong foundation and you must be driven by faith in something which you cannot yet see. True invention…My sisters did this. Despite their complete lack of encouragement or education and without even being included in the ways of an outside world, some found way to explore the world that is within. Into the world of mind which ultimately leads to the heart. Every heart has platform from which we might build truth and the most lasting of hopes. I prefer this type of creation…the unseen and subtle unfolding, drawn up as diagrams of the heart. 

Does this sound too elusive to you? The rational mind is strong in some. But what is there to judge when it comes to the ways of the heart, the path to the Divine? We’ll all get there. 

The Yogi is attuned to the ever present play between the masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti, that which is stable and that which exists in all of the space inbetween. Femininity in form is elusive. It’s magic works to harmonize that space between discord, to nurture the downtrodden and to warm those who feel forgotten. Women, forever soft and subtle in battle, have birthed every warrior. And should it all come down, the creative principle exists solely with the Universal Mother.     

Trying to envision the lives of women in medieval India and express my thanks and wonder at the fact that some of their messages were preserved despite all odds splits right into my heart. I feel for all of the women who were, and still are, oppressed without even realizing it. My connection to the ones who have broken free and found way back to the real home is everything. For they are me and I fight still for them, for every woman who forgets that the nurturing principle we possess must first be directed towards our own beautiful natures if we are to create the change this world needs.

 

The Decision Maker

When your heart is exploding not much else matters. With the last attack, did you think yours was breaking? Or did you know it was growing? These hearts we have are so commonly referenced in regard to our health, our happiness, our…everything. We try to bond over this universal master and yet the words never seem to be enough. The heart is big, bold and entirely unmatched, while greatly unknown. 

Look at your body, designed with the sole protection of heart in mind; rib cages and mass of muscles covering what is no doubt the centre. And as if that were not enough, we stoop the shoulders and lean the head forward, forbidding the heart to ever lead way in such a messed up world. Left with the mind as master, tension builds physically and each subtle slight is an added twinge. Armour hardens and the spirit sinks. That little light that was meant to shine bright and connect us with the others is now sad and dim. So we look all around following flickers for anything that might ignite a spark bold enough to cause a stir. Maybe when we think we are looking for love, it is only our own dynamite we crave…that which may take down some layer around this precious and completely vulnerable space that we will return to. 

It would seem fair to say that the mind is not equipped to rule the world. It’s rationale and systems of classification have done some good and a whole lot of ridiculous. So lean your head back before keeping on reading, one deep breath into the chest for the brave. Lightly lift the heart, who from here on out we call the ‘Decision Maker’. Ask it how it feels…it may need a few more breaths and an OK to ease up on the armour. Remember, anything perceived as danger could be your dynamite in disguise. Life is only this totally magical string of experiences meant to crack and shatter all things which envelop the potential inside. Give the heart a little room and follow it forward. There will absolutely be resistance and lessons and big time aches. But the key is that now you will so quickly find the others, those with their lights a little bit brighter as well. One heart with a little light and bravery finds their friends without effort, like some kind of law. And here the Decision Maker’s power is doubled, tripled and entirely encouraged by the Truth. Little by little we go on, shedding defences and burdens every day. Eventually with enough support and ease to take leaps into the heart light without care for what awaits and absolutely none for that which is left behind. 

Just ask your heart where it wants to go and I will see you there.

Trying To Get Home

I have been seeking balance since before I could walk. I was born uneasy into this physical world. My preferences changed according to my surroundings. I was always just looking for something to hold onto. Some people are steady and sure and I could never figure out how and so regardless what they represented, I used to follow them. I could go from happy to sad in no time flat so there was no wonder why I just needed something to hold me still. Even if untrue and only for a moment…

I am still working at this same steadiness and the confidence that should come with. After much seeking and following, I have found something to grasp which goes to the bottom of the earth and beyond the end of time. It is too real to understand but I know it is valid so do not ask me why. It is as deep within me as anything could be and this is all that can ever really hold me. Now I have found myself in unchartered territory, in such a state I do not think I have ever been before. I am being pulled back by my limitations so fiercely and being coaxed forward so sweetly by all of the support in the material world one could dream of. I believe this is what happens to all of us when we start to really see that space within and the solidity of our Selves; it is tested. And I cry because I thought the world would see that I needed more time, that I absolutely was not ready to be of value in any real way. And then I rejoice and smile upwards because I am so very grateful for the blessings that have found me at last. Surely I am worthy because I never doubt the order, only myself. So here I am obviously evolving. Before I could change so many times in a day. Now I just feel it all at once…Fear, love, joy, despair, isolation, overwhelming connection…They happen just like that and I suppose only I can choose which to hang onto, which to hold in the mind and follow into action. I never knew I had these choices until now.

 It is not easy, getting deeper and deeper within yourself because you have to entirely let go of these phoney things you once held onto and begged for support. I know I was born brave so I should be able to do it. I also know that the deeper I get within my Self, the more steadily I will be able to navigate the push pull of this physical world until I can go home.  

Sometimes While Walking

 

Sometimes while walking, I whisper your name.

You’re calling me home…sun rays and I race.

To go where one must, with wind, all the same.

hjh

Upon a locked door, left soaking in shame.

Perhaps I am lost. Is this not my place? 

Only to keep going, breathing your name.

hjh

As sounds of you, create heart and sole frame.

Once shown how to walk, no choice but keep pace.

Held by the wind, we are one in the same.

hjh

Swirling in circles, no hold to be gained.

All things of beauty kept only in space.

And some times while spinning, I hear your name.

hjh

So free and floating, some think it insane.

Once with direction, we meant to misplace.

Now taken by storm, with no one to blame.

hjh

Let’s flow with it all, forever, my flame.

Of course, back to you, these steps will retrace.

Always while walking, I call out your name.

To go where one must, with wind, all the same.

Before You Go To Sleep

We can get used to any thing, any situation or environment. I have seen this and I have experienced it too. It is part of the human nature, to adapt. But what about when this adaptability is not serving our evolution but distracting from it? We watch the same lame shows every night, eat the same crappy food, have the same senseless arguments with loved ones and return to the same unfulfilling job each morning. This might sound extreme, of course some have it much worse but not us, we find real joy and inspiration in many things, or at least a few…right?

So why don’t we often step back to assess our situation? And if we do and are not satisfied by what we see, what stops us from creating change? By now we must have been told that we are the creators of our own lives. That we are the only ones who will truly complete and absolutely love our selves. If not, take a moment to consider this and please, let it sink in. This is the most compelling thing I have yet to learn and continue to work with. So why do we get so stuck in this pursuit of a truly worthwhile life? We can blame the outside world; the bills to pay, people to please, societal norms to live up to…And of course we have created a world so ripe with distraction that we are more than encouraged to carry out this thoughtless, lifeless ‘living’. Or maybe you care less about the world around you but lack the confidence within. There is a lot of fear on earth today. Maybe you are afraid of your own potential and what would happen should you leap towards it. Maybe we are satisfied or haunted by those few brief moments before sleep when we really wonder what it’s all about and where we are headed. And then the alarm goes and there are things to do, so the cycle continues.

This is not meant to be discouraging, but to connect us with a truth so often brushed over. To know that most all of us hunger for more than we are receiving and are simply not ready to ask for it, to go for it full on.

I spent years of my life so complacent. Seeking any and all distraction to keep myself from my self; drugs, drama, food, media, men and sleep worked sometimes too. At the same time, I always took chances and sought big changes, knowing intuitively that this life I had created could not be it. There was something great that I was intended for and that knowing would never leave.

Now, the more I work to understand my real nature, the undying self within, I am so much less afraid. I don’t mind trying things and I don’t expect so much from the material world. I am working to use this life, this place, as a type of playground or school for learning and playing. We’ll all fall and even fail but it doesn’t really matter. Those moments before sleep, no longer filled by hope and longing, can now be used for smiling.