Bram Levinson

It’s been a while since my last post. 2013 has been a year of incredible highs and shockingly raw lows, and we’re only halfway through March, but with that said, I have a very strong feeling that this year will be a watershed one for me. I’ve felt a low rumbling in my gut over the last few months (no, it’s not diet-related); an ever-growing vibration that is always present, and that intensifies without my noticing it. I have seen myself blessed in 2013 by the network of beautiful, empathetic people around me, have agreed to teach all over the country for the first time ever (including a 4-day stint realizing a dream by being included in the faculty of the 2013 Wanderlust Whistler Yoga Festival), and have found solace from the tests that the universe has presented me with through my classes and mentoring. After 5 years of teaching, I have discovered that my most connected moments, to my students and the source of my inspiration and dharma, occur when I completely let go of any semblance of control.

The exercise that I have been forced to practice this year has been one that I encourage others to practice in every single class or lecture I give: to let go. I realized this year that I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to shape events and plans to be whatever it is that I think they should be. Call it planning, call it controlling, call it manipulating…regardless of whatever labels we choose to affix to our habits, we nonetheless find ourselves forgetting the limitations of the words and terminology in the precise moment when we stand face to face with the stark truth of our existence. I have always considered myself to be down to earth, someone who prefers to speak to people on an even playing field. I don’t appreciate being spoken to condescendingly or in language that sounds false and disingenuous, and so I make sure that my interactions with others are devoid of any of that energy. With all that steeping in the realms of my self-awareness, I nonetheless found myself this year being forced to look starkingly and without filters at who I am, what I want, and how I want the rest of my life to be. I was forced to detach from the stories I had created for myself and how I saw my journey ahead panning out, and was forced to stop labeling, manipulating, and moulding scenarios and events under the guise of protecting others and myself from a future that I considered to be threatening to the greater good. What I never took into consideration was that I had created my own impression of what the greater good looked like. I had built my own story, and then assumed it would be the same one that others around me would follow. It was fully subjective, from my own point of view and frame of reference. I believed the story that I knew better than others what the path to happiness was, that my way was the right way. Man, was I ever wrong.

I know I’m being somewhat vague here, but that’s because the details of the past few months are irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make, which is this: I offer tools daily on how to connect to the present moment, how to let go of the intangibility of the past and the future, to focus on what is. I thought I had mastered being able to see things in their own true state of being, without meaningless words reducing them to mere concepts. I found out that I know nothing. I found out that to truly let go and focus on what is is the most challenging and frightening exercise that exists. It’s an ongoing exercise, a lifelong commitment to my Self and to living in a state of pure awareness, one with an ever-unfolding evolution throughout which there is always more to learn and see and absorb and let go of and unlearn.

Throughout the first 3 months of this year I struggled to find the peace necessary to quell the incertitude and struggle I found myself dealing with, and even with countless and incessant “inspirational” quotes being thrown around social media outlets like a random Frisbee rebounding off of invisible walls, I found no answer to my questions. I put my shorts on before teaching a class a few days ago, and when I slipped my hand into my pocket, I found a bunch of crumpled up pieces of paper with notes jotted down on them detailing my class focuses for the last few months. Indisputably, the teachings that I had been blessed to be exposed to and pass on were brilliant, yet even with all that wisdom available to me for guidance, I still found nothing that brought me clarity. Ultimately, I had to let go of trying to control things to find my peace once again, reluctantly giving it up to a higher energy despite having the full knowledge that I would land on my feet, regardless of where that would be. Sometimes the only thing that can truly bring one peace is to live what needs to be lived by letting go of the reins and giving up the control that we’ve spent our entire lives kidding ourselves into believing we had. With full faith in something bigger than us…something timeless and unnameable, subtle and dependable.

I am finally back to a place of peace. This process has been exactly that: a process. One that had its own beginning, middle and ending, all of which I acknowledged and respected by invoking the essence of the holy trimurti from Hindu mythology and their female aspects: Brahma & Saraswati, Vishnu & Lakshmi, and Shiva & Shakti. I have let the process run its course, and by the grace of a higher power, had the strength and support of my friends and beautiful family to lean on when the going got tough. And so with all that said, with the greatest year of opportunities and “firsts” lying in wait just around the corner, I feel more prepared than ever to go forward and inspire people by drawing on my own experiences and incorporating the brilliance and simplicity of the yoga teachings. I have never felt stronger or more connected to my soul and my own path than I do now, and that has only happened by barreling forwards through the face of fear, doubt and uncertainty. I believe that this time in my life has not been for naught – it has occurred to increase my compassion and ability to empathize with others, and to be the light at the end of the tunnel for those facing dark passages. I am not responsible for that light – I am a vessel for it, as is each and every one of you reading this. Despite feeling like the light went through a dimming phase of late, it now burns brighter than ever, and so I now reflect its warmth and glow onto you all. Take it in, and pass it on. Let’s go forward together and be there for each other with silence when necessary and words of encouragement when appropriate. Most importantly, understand that everything is happening at the right time and for the greater good. Write THAT down and put it in your pocket, and it will hopefully be there to inspire you when you need it.

Onwards and upwards 🙂

Addendum: Immediately after writing this blog post, I found this post from Swami Satchidananda, a constant source of wisdom and light for me and millions of others..once again, he has managed to put his words together flawlessly, and essentially sums up the intention behind my post:

Ultimately the Higher Will is the final authority. In the case of human beings, free will has been given with certain limitations. You are not free to do everything you want. You can’t fly like a bird. There are many other such limitations. Your will is limited, but within those limitations you are allowed to do certain things freely. Those things are: to be helpful to other beings, to be serviceful to other beings, and to live a harmonious and useful life. You are free to do that. At the same time, you are also free not to live that way. By your own free will, you will face the result of whatever you do. You are even told what is right and what is wrong, but nobody interferes with your free will.

 It’s been that way since the very first person. According to the Bible Adam was asked not to eat the fruit. But God had given him free will, and Adam chose to eat the fruit. Did God stop him? No. That is where your free will comes in. You are free even to do wrong things, but you cannot escape from the guilt of having done something like that. That’s why Adam felt guilty.

 Was it God’s intent to make him feel guilty? No. Through that guilt, God wanted him to learn a lesson. Learning a lesson is more important, so you are allowed to commit the mistake, feel guilty, and from that learn the lesson. Experience is the best teacher. That’s why free will is given.

 Those who really want to use free will in the right way would choose by their own free will to give themselves into the hands of the Higher Will. With your free will you say, “Lord, You have given me free will. I know it has limitations. I can only do certain things, and if I try to go beyond those limitations Your will comes and stops me. So what is the idea of having my free will? To have fun? It’s better not to use my free will because ultimately You are the boss. Your Will is the final one, so I give my free will into Your hands. You gave it to me; now please take it back and do whatever You want.” With your own free will you give yourself into the hands of God. We never lose by giving ourselves into, those hands. By giving ourselves completely, we gain more of God. We get all of God, if we give our all. Then there is no destiny, and there are no problems.

 Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi

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