"When the mind no longer darts
from one object to another,
one thought to another,
a bird alighting on one branch,
then the next,
then it is free to turn within,
like a turtle withdrawing into its shell.
This is pratyahara."
Yoga Sutra II: 54 Yoga, Power, and Spirit: Patanjali the Shaman by Alberto Villoldo
"When purity goes below the skin and
penetrates to the essence of your being,
you will no longer be in the grip of your passions.
Your heart becomes pure,
your mind innocent,
your concentration effortless,
your inner vision clear."
Yoga Sutra II:41 Yoga, Power, and Spirit: Patanjali the Shaman by Alberto Villoldo
I've been pondering the link between simplifying and yoga recently. Where in the Yoga Sutras does it support purposefully withdrawing from the overstimulating world to find the Divine True Self?
Interestingly enough, I spent yesterday living as closely as possible to the Amish community ways as a homeschooling project with my children. No electricity, no vehicle transport, and plain clothing. Although I did a LOT of work on my land and in my home, my mind was quieter. I found myself not talking as much. I was resting in my own quietude. I felt more at peace as I went through my day without electricity's hum, the rev of my car's engine, or the phone's rings and beeps.
Although not directly related, I've purposefully given up most media within my daily life. I noticed the addictive and distracted nature that TV, videos, Facebook, and Instagram fostered in me. The information that comes at me (in the form of entertainment, news, or other people's lives) took up mental space. I call it "Mental Clutter". I'd think about that news, friend's story, or plot line for days. The cumulative effect of so much information was too much for me to sort through and still hear my own voice. It's been six days without Facebook and I feel a mental spaciousness that I haven't never experienced before to my recollection.
Another change I have made to simplify is that I stopped eating dairy, grains, sugar, and legumes seven days ago as part of a 30-day challenge I'm attempting with my husband. I had given up alcohol several months ago due to the effects it had on my body and mind. (Think instant headache and hungover feeling with a few sips...not fun!) Minus a taste of my homemade bread and pie I worked so hard on yesterday, I surprisingly haven't craved these food items I've let go of. "Tastes do not fascinate me or make me wince" is how Georg Feurstein describes it in his translation of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I'm consciously removing impurities from my diet so that my body has more vitality and my mind has more clarity. And I've already begun to notice positive changes.
So, how does this all relate to yoga? It comes back to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Specifically, it relates to Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal) and one of the Niyamas: Saucha (Purity). By purifying what comes into the body and mind - food, media, or even what is seen in the environment in the form of clutter vs. minimalist decor- one can purify their thoughts, words, and actions.
Feurstein describes Saucha as,
"...being on one's guard with respect to the body, of having a detached attitude towards our mortal frame. At the same time, the yogin is concerned that there should not be renewed contamination (i.e. distraction) by others, and he accordingly opts for a solitary life in the forest or high up in the mountains. This may seem like vapid snobbery on his part, but the yogin's attitude is not one of scorn or disparagement, merely one of wariness. As long as he has not attained perfect self-control, he understandably does not wish to run even the slightest risk of being diverted from his anyhow difficult and precarious project."
I can relate to this through Facebook and food addictions. I'm distracted by them and by shunning them, I'm definitely not looking down on others who use them... I'm just wary of their effect on me and I know my own lack of self-control with social media, wheat, and sugar!
Through this purification process, I'm not living on a mountain top alone. My husband and children would miss me. However, I have purposefully limited (i.e. simplified) what comes into my sensory awareness. I've created a retreat, a sanctuary, in my own home. In some ways, it's extended into my mind and heart. My "hOMe".
Feurstein says this about Pratyahara: "So long as there is sensory input, consciousness is not at rest. However, when attention is focused on an internal object sensory activity is first partially, then totally eliminated." He relates this concept to a metaphor by Vyasa, "As when a queen bee flies up and the bees swarm after her and when she settles down and they also settle. So the senses are restricted when the consciousness is restricted."
I'm seeing glimpses of this. Without media overload to my system, there is more spaces in between my thoughts. I feel a spaciousness that gives me rest. A feeling of contentment (Santosha) and peace is emerging. I'm able to settle into myself. And there, I find the Divine Nature which permeates and connects all things. I find Yoga.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Sunday, October 4, 2015
An old church song game into my mind yesterday and I shifted the words to the Divine Feminine because it spoke to me so deeply in that form. These words are meaningful to me as I let go of the false image that I sometimes portray of myself on social media. The idea of being humble also relates to the realization that I hold onto a false sense of obligation in order to make others happy or accomplish the 'next thing' to feel valued or that I'm 'enough'.
I am humbled as I feel gratitude and responsibility for what I offer...what the Divine offers through me...in my classes that I teach and the words that I write. I feel humbled as I see with more clarity what is mine and what isn't, where I am to lead and where I am to follow.
I am humbled as I seek to create a beautiful retreat within our home - a place where it is safe, comfortable, nurturing, creative, and holy. I am humbled as I invite my Divine Light to shine forth and create such a space within me. May my life, my words, my actions and thoughts be a place that are nurturing, creative, authentic, and holy. A prayer.
Within these space, my home and my life, I find rest. I rest in the knowing that the Divine flows through me and through all that I meet. I rest in the knowing that there is Divine timing and there's a spark working in me. I just have to do the Next Right Thing. I rest in the belief that Good Things Are Coming My Way. Ishvara Pranadhana - Surrender to God. Let Go and Let God. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and she will give you rest.
I feel these things manifest with contentment - Santosha. Connection. Purpose. No need for striving, but allowing things to unfold in Divine Order by paying attention and acting when my intuition says to do so. Trusting. Not needing to force or control. Seeing that which is beautiful and holy in this world and in myself. Offering my life as a prayer.
I bow with Love, a humble mind, and a grateful heart,
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Rest in the knowing that you are whole. You came to this Earth perfect in every way and somewhere along the way, confusion took over. You were told you needed to be MORE, do MORE, be DIFFERENT, do things DIFFERENTLY, be LESS, do LESS to be accepted...to be loved. But, what those people forgot was that you are ALREADY LOVE ITSELF! There's nothing you can do or say or buy that will change that innate fact. It's as true as gravity or E=MC2.
So, Love, your task now is to uncover your Light. To peel away the layers and layers of confusion. To turn over stone after stone in the creek bed of your psyche in your search for this Divine Truth. To be willing to let go of everything you thought you knew. To forgive yourself and others. To walk with shaking hands and sweaty palms into the vulnerable space of loving your true, tender, gentle heart with a fierceness of a Lioness. You are worth this journey. Your soul depends on it!
And when you catch glimpses of this True Nature, my Brave One, let your tears be the healing balm that caress you in your state of awe. Invite yourself to be immersed in the tide of gratitude. Allow yourself to truly feel Loved. Rest in the knowing that you are whole and you are Perfect, Divine Love.
In Truth and Beauty,
In Softness and Strength,
Sunday, September 20, 2015
|Photo credit: http://photo.net/pentax-camera-forum/00T2X5|
There's a soft coolness of air touching my skin, but the heaviness around me foreshadows a hot day ahead. The grasses are still. The trees are still. Other than a slight swaying of the topmost leaves, the branches are still.
I can hear the sounds of people driving on the highway and along the road, headed to work or to start their day. I'm less concerned with where they are going than I am with how they feel inside that car. Are they excited? Filled with purpose? Or are they dreading the next eight hours, counting down until they can numb their pain? Do they know that they are Light? Do they smile at themselves and know deeply that they are the Beloved?
I wonder, do the birds and crickets ask the same questions or is there no room for doubt? Even the clouds reflect the beauty of the Light. The leaves live out their cycles of birth, growth, and then death. So shall we.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to be a leaf or cloud or bird. But, who am I to say one is better than the other when we are all just living expressions of Divine Love?
Saturday, September 12, 2015
How did "Friends with Coal" appear as "Friends with God" initially in my mind? My hunch is because my mind was doing what minds do. It was trying to define and classify new information as Good or Bad. It was drawing from prior experiences to make sense of something new. I understand "Friends with God or Good" more than I can conceive of being "Friends with Coat or Coal". This is the nature of the mind. And this is also the process of Yoga. Letting go of preconceived notions or judgments to see each moment as it truly is.
Before my morning walk, I had spent the previous evening reading Wayne Dyer's book, I Can See Clearly Now. I had devoted my early morning hours to writing down my thoughts and past experiences which shaped how I am opening to seeing the Good and Divine (God) within me and in everything around me. Wayne Dyer said, "Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change." My morning walk and this seemingly random bumper sticker proved what he said as true. I literally saw "Friends with God" instead of "Friends with Coal".
How often in our lives do we classify, judge or determine we know all about something before we take the time to actually see it for what it truly is? For good or bad, the words "Friends with God" and "Friends with Coal" are two totally separate concepts, even though they were in reality the same bumper sticker. The difference was a matter of seven more steps and seven more seconds to see clearly.
Can we give other things in our lives seven more moments before placing a judgement or label? Can we let go of the judgement or label all together and just let it be as it is? A comment from a friend, a behavior of a child, a letter in the mail, or an unexpected turn of events can all be interpreted in many ways. I interpreted the same sticker five different ways in a matter of seconds! However, if we can cultivate the practice of allowing, noticing, and truly seeing without being attached to our thoughts about it, we can see more clearly not only the true nature of what is before us, but also the true nature of ourselves.
May we slow down, allow, and see more clearly~
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
May my eyes be open
and my heart be receptive to the truth.
My I live each moment, each day,
as a conscious prayer
of life, of love, of divine unity of word, thought, and deed
leading to the universal truth.
We are All One.
We are Divine Love.
And not just us humans,
but open my eyes and heart to the divinity of all!
Animals, rocks, plants, trees...
Vitality and prana which flows through everything.
May I hold wonder and loving kindness
in my heart as I hold sacred those things,
those beings, those moments
which remind me that I am whole.
May my light, the Divine Light,
that shines on and on and from within me
illuminate my path and may it's glow
remind others of their Divine Light
shining ever so bright.
Use my life as a vessel
me as a channel
for Divine Awakening and Self Love
within the hearts of others.
And allow me to step aside
and let go of the fruits of those actions.
Allow me to be humbled and grateful,
on my knees,
bowing before the mystery.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
If you are to know anything deeply, my Dear One, know that you are ENOUGH, just as you are.
All of the striving, acquiring, and achieving in the world will not make you "better".
There is no degree or job title that will make you "better".
You cannot "better yourself" through outward actions.
There is no need.
You are better than better already.
You are Divine Love.
Let the books you read, classes you take, and things you learn excite you.
Let the skills you learn, truths you discover, and realizations you make uncover your true greatness.
But know...without a doubt...that it was already there in the first place.
You are better than better already.
You are MORE than enough, just as you are.
You are Divine Love.
Let what you love,
what excites and interests you,
be what fuels your passion for living out your Dharma,
your path in this life.
This will set you free.
This will release you from trying to "get somewhere".
You will realize you've already arrived.
You are whole.
You are better than better already.
You are Divine Love.