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.  

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Piece of Peace of Mind

This holiday season, things aligned for me to experience my first ever real retreat into silence. Shut up, in my apartment for two days with a plan to focus entirely on my yoga practice and meditation, spiritual literature and recordings, my only hope was to recharge and learn…something new.

See, I am no stranger to myself. Always having possessed a deeply introspective & sensitive mind, I spend quite enough time alone. This time however, would be different in that there would be no distractions to put up between us. No texting or social media, no music to transport or influence me and no fictitious novels to immerse myself in. Purely my Self and the mirror that is the mind. Of course I was a little nervous, as we often become when faced with the unknown, but I am becoming deeply rooted in my faith and was eager to see what would transpire.

Anxiety began the night before beginning, when it came time to turn off my phone, my life line, my right hand man! Knowing that I have become far more attached to this weird little device than I would ever have liked to believe possible, I knew that detaching from it for some time would be very valuable. While I could likely write page upon page in regards to the epidemic that is cellphone/social media dependency, let me simply address what I believe to be the root of this issue; our deep and most true desire for Union. We clutch and stare at these little screens all day long, messaging those we are apart from, stalking the lives of those we envy and ultimately, putting up huge barrier between us and our real natures. We were born to connect and cooperate and the illusions created by modern technology that make us feel connected and included in an instant, are actually growing the divide between what it is  we must work to come more closely towards; Our Selves. On the first morning of my silence, my True Self was elated! So eager to profess her love and thanks to me, to assert our bond, now that I was truly listening. See, this is my best friend- always there, forever encouraging and completely loving. We owe it to one another to cultivate this relationship and I can proudly say to anyone who asks and means to listen, my best friend is the ideal companion and she lives in me. We decided to fully enjoy our days together…

The first day started out smoothly, too smoothly…morning prayers & pranayama & meditation, followed by a most nourishing breakfast with no limit to the hot tea and cacaos I sipped while listening to and taking notes on the recorded teachings of my dear Guru. I went on to experience such a blissful asana practice, realizing that by limiting my distractions I was able to be so thoroughly in the moment. My asanas were taken so much deeper as there was no clinging in the mind to hold them back. Just as I was concluding this sadhana and about to enter the practice of japa, I could hear sirens in the distance. While aware, there was no disturbance created in the mind. I still was not removed from my blissed out state as they grew nearer and ultimately stopped outside of my apartment. It was Christmas in Bowness after all, no big deal. Only when I heard a neighbor outside in the hallway shouting that, ‘we’re all going to blow up’, did my peace of mind quickly fade away. I went right back into that scared little girl who cannot deal with crisis. Thoughts jumped between ideas of running out into the hall for answers, to gathering all of my valuable things, maybe even calling my Mom or my Guru or perhaps simply freezing and letting the panic gather around my heart, taking me down slowly. But come on, I was literally just about to start the repetition of my beautiful affirmation, which is the practice of japa, so this was what I did while listening from inside my doorway and experiencing the unpleasant smell of gasoline. Something had happened in the basement and the smell had alerted someone to call the fire department. I am still not sure what happened outside of my door that afternoon. Yet inside, I was gifted with the opportunity to address my fears and insecurity. Most all of us are deeply insecure and this will manifest in various ways. We cling to whatever is available, hoping for some permanence and stability, struggling to remember that We are permanent and We are stable. Eventually we will all die a physical death and have no need to carry these current bodies around with us, let alone the unopened Christmas gifts I was considering gathering before making my quick dash to freedom! So I sat and connected with my eternal nature, repeating my affirmation, as the open window pulled the fresh air in, and out, the lingering hints of exhaust from the surroundings and fears from the mind.

The rest of the time passed peacefully, beautifully. I mean, it was only two days and yet, they were full and they were valuable. On the second night, the last night, Christmas Eve, I had a beautiful meditation and ceremony. I am so grateful for this life that I am leading. I said prayers for those I love and connected with them so deeply as you see, this is what happens as we deepen our connection to our Selves- we generate increased capacity for connection with those we desire it from. At the end of my mini celebration, I received beautiful instruction and support in carrying forward. I had reached this place of serenity, security and love with self in such a short time, but had I become solid enough in it to reenter the dramas of life so soon? Surely the mind is strong and the mind is fearful and it is protective and I did not want to let it go back to having it’s way so soon. The message I received was to give my mind the task of creativity and creation. I love to write and express, and it is here that the mind is happiest and most align with my heart, my True Self, my BFF, Kimaya.

So I will keep writing for my own sake, for my own liberation…I long for it deeply and each word seems to take me just that much closer. And if I can write and connect with the truth in others, proving to them it’s real and it’s OK, then that is beyond beautiful. After all we are here together, to connect and inspire and I must play my part.

 

Illusions

A broad topic, no doubt, but the greatest of all illusions must be that of separation. Consider the friend you have been missing, when at last reunited, it is as if not a thing has changed. Or how about those connections so strong that you may be kept apart physically by miles, maybe even planes, and yet you can sense their touch and hear their thoughts. We might also feel complete detachment from our own truest nature, but what a misconception. How can we be separate from that which we are? Regardless of how many ways in which the voice may have been silenced or in how many layers built between your mind and this light, it shines and cries for you always.

I belong to something, kind of like a group, that represents all of this to me and more. It proves that where love is concerned, there is no illusion of separation. We support the Truth in one another in a purely magical way. Be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual hands that need holding, I find many extended my way. And still life can be overwhelming and one might try and hide, from themselves for a while, building a barrier as strong as they might. But this is no obstacle for the truth of love. The hands can always reach you and pull you back up, enveloped in their love while you recall your own. Gratitude for such strength of support is not really possible to express and is maybe only intended to be felt.

My wish is that we all might find a sangha and have our own inner light reflected back to us through such shining of souls.

Sights

I used to imagine that being unpredictable made me seem interesting and somehow more desirable. Never mind how it made me feel inside. And now I wonder if this was the basis for all former trains of thought: How my actions might be defined by others with neglect in how they resonated with my own truth. It seems a distant memory, but is this girl so long since past?

Sometimes I desire not to ever wear my glasses again and that maybe the whole world might have blurred vision for a day. I can still tell that the snow is falling and it feels beautiful. The flavours of my lunch are warm and rich and nourishing. Like this, I can more easily turn inwards and know what actually lies ahead. Rather than being pulled by these things external, I am led from within. We were all born blind and perhaps still qualify as so, imagining the sight that is one day to come…I know on earth we all see differently, and that must be the point.

For now, in the middle of the day light, I might just close my eyes. The music is moving and I can sit for a while, by my Self.