Tag Archives: aversion

From Unseeing to Undying

How much time throughout our lives do we spend focusing on, and occasionally agonizing over, trying to keep how we look, who we’re involved with, and where we are in our careers in a place of stability? How many minutes out of each of our lifetimes have we spent trying to avoid change, fearing that with the slightest release of what we deemed as being control, we would be moving closer and closer to some unidentified threat? As a species, and moreover, as Westerners, humans have more or less lost sight of the fact that we carry the divine within us, and it is through that connection to the omnipotent that we need to be living, always maintaining perspective on the daily dramas that habitually take over our lives, leading us into despair or into elation. Because we’ve lost sight of that fundamental touchstone, we have created massive aversions to any circumstances or series of events that bring about change. Change has grown to represent upheaval and stress, mainly because we have lost sight of its potential for growth and insight, instead choosing to believe that change will only bring us to a place where we will have to give more energy and attention than we’re prepared to give. When we spend our lives in jobs we tolerate, when we settle for the mediocre in how we accept to be treated by those around us, and when we lose sight of the energy that the food we consume infuses us with, it’s inevitable that we end up resenting the events that pop up in our lives that we haven’t in some way rehearsed for and mentally prepared ourselves for. We find these times in our lives to be tests…testing our faith, testing our patience, testing our will to carry on, trying to maintain the semblance of normalcy, regardless of the repercussions to our health, our bodies, and our relationships to those that care most for us.

The one thing that is a given, the one thing that is a guaranteed constant, something we can always bet on is this: everything that exists is in the process of transformation. Everything. From the buildings we live in, to the bodies our souls inhabit throughout this lifetime…from the relationships we do our best to treat with reverence, to the food that’s being preserved in our refrigerators…from the trees outside gradually adapting to the change in temperature, to the cells in our bodies that make up our beautiful forms…everything is transforming. If we were taught as children that the only thing we could successfully count on in this life was change, and that change was something we could embrace and welcome instead of avoiding, our lives would be drastically different…but, obviously, it’s never too late to change how we perceive things, to allow for that shift in consciousness.

This is what I’m putting on the table for all of you reading this: let’s start off by looking at what patterns we have of avoidance and aversion…what we shy away from because we’re afraid of where we’ll end up if we follow that option. That’s it. For starters…and then once we’ve identified at least one instance in which we have tried to stay away from something or someone for fear of where we might end up, let’s look at the situation again from the point of view of someone who embraces change. If we truly understand that change embodies possibility and opportunity, then what valid reason could we possibly have to resist that which brings us closer to a place of peace and truth? Looking at how we’ve approached life for years through new lenses often gives us the opportunity to break the patterns that never served us from the start, which, in turn, allows us to implement the changes that bring us closer to where we’d like to be, to our ideal selves. that is what this life is for: transformation. From ignorant to illuminated, from selfish to selfless, from unseeing to undying, embrace transformation. Love change. It will always be with us for a reason. Figure out what that reason is, and you’ve figured out the rest of your lives. Go on. The time is now.

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Instinctually Speaking

Our annual Centre Luna Yoga Spring yoga retreat has come to an end, and now that I’m back home, languishing in the drizzle of cold rain and misty fog (beach? did someone say beach?), I thought I’d share one of the most interesting insights I brought back with me from our time in gorgeous Tulum, Mexico.

I remember from my past career what inevitably happened every time I found myself on vacation or with time off – my body would somehow break down, usually to lesser degrees than are insinuated with that expression…a cold here, a flu there, etc…My trip to Tulum started off with a similar, albeit shorter, physical reaction: I passed a kidney stone within 2 hours of landing. The first inkling of trouble was detected as we made our way to the retreat centre in our shuttle bus. The pain was new to me, the worries of possibly having to spend time in a hospital stressful (to say the least), but once we got to Retiro Maya, it all resolved itself. I suppose I may be responsible for setting the tone for the other retreat members, because as the week progressed, some of the participants went through other physical tests including gall stones, an outbreak of eczema, an eye infection, and a plethora of mild digestive issues. My reaction to the kidney issue, the gradual onset of fear and worry, seemed to jump from person to person as each situation arose, and as it travelled onwards, I could stand back and objectively examine exactly what was going on.

I spoke to my class on the retreat about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and one evening I highlighted Sutras 7 & 8 from Book Two, the Portion on Practice that discusses attachment and aversion. Attachment is most commonly defined as identification to those experiences that we deem as being pleasurable, and aversion as identification to those experiences that we deem as being painful. The second each of us who felt our physical bodies offering up something less than ideal became aware of whatever “problem” we were dealt, the aversion kicked in…the irritation, the worry, the fear…all by-products of the greater fear, that of death. Our own mortality was offered up to us in the guise of our ailments, and as opposed to the concern we each felt in the moment, I have walked away from the experience with a deeper understanding of myself and ourselves as a collective unit. That fear of death is the underlying fear of all fears, the instinctive desire to grasp onto life and never let go, our survival mechanism. It is exactly that fear of death that is now under examination in my life. I believe that once this fear is delved into and deconstructed, it will have less of a hold on me and my life will be freer to have a clearer outlook on that which is temporary and fluctuating, regardless of how it may affect me on a physical plane.

With all that in mind, I once again found myself deep in the Sutras, a reference that has never failed me yet. Lo and behold, I found what I was seeking, the source of my information embodied in Book 2, Sutra 9 – Clinging to life, flowing by its own potency (due to past experiences), exists even in the wise. The interpretation of this Sutra (by Sri Swami Satchidananda) is excerpted as follows: Many Westerners don’t believe in reincarnation. They feel, “It’s all over when we die.” But the Yoga philosophy reminds us that all our knowledge comes through experience. Without experience we cannot understand or learn anything. Even books can only remind us of something we have experienced in the past. They help kindle a fire that is already in us. That fire must be there first for the kindling stick to kindle it. ..Yoga says instinct is a trace of an old experience that has been repeated many times and the impressions have sunk down to the bottom of the mental lake. Although they go down, they aren’t completely erased. Don’t think you ever forget anything. All experiences are stored in the chittam; and when the proper atmosphere is created, they come to the surface again. When we do something several times it forms a habit. Continue with that habit for a long time, and it becomes our character. Continue with that character and eventually, perhaps in another life, it comes up as instinct…In the same way, all of our instincts were once experiences. That’s why the fear of death exists. We have died hundreds and thousands of times. We know well the pang of death. And so, the moment we get into a body, we love it so much that we are afraid to leave it and go forward because we have a sentimental attachment to it…if your old body is taken away…you must get a new one. Many people do not know this and cling to the body even when it gets old and dilapidated. That constant clinging, breaking away, clinging again, breaking away is why we are mortally afraid of death.

Need I say more on the subject?

Despite the aforementioned tests, our retreat was a full week of joy, light, love, and bonding. A literal re-connection to the earth and all its elements was experienced by each and every one of us…the stars and planets close enough to touch, the ever present, constant roaring of the ocean, the mighty gusts of wind, the almost-magnetic energy of the Mayan ruins and all the surrounding land, and the non-stop laughter we were privy to made this retreat a series of perfect moments, a true reminder of everything we are blessed with in this life.

And so I emerge from this retreat with a deeper insight into life, hungrier than ever to continue learning and being able to share whatever I come across…all bringing me back to where I began, back to the source.