Tag Archives: doubt

Why?

Why would you doubt your worth?

Why would you pretend to be someone else?

Why would you settle for mediocrity?

Why would you waste this precious time by doing what you’d prefer not to?

Why would you do what everyone else is doing?

Why wouldn’t you ask for help when you need it?

Why wouldn’t you reach for your dreams and wildest ambitions?

Why wouldn’t you assume that it will all work out?

Why wouldn’t you passionately respect yourself?

Why wouldn’t you finally just do it, your way, on your terms?

Musings On International Yoga Day

internationaldayofyogaOn Sunday, June 21 the world will have its first official International Yoga Day. And while I think that it is fantastic that yoga is getting the kind of recognition that it deserves, this milestone does run the risk of perpetuating certain myths about the superficialities of yoga. If you plan on observing International Yoga Day, consider that posting a photo of yourself on social media in some intricate asana may get you a slew of likes and comments, but potentially has little to do with the significance or essence of this day.

The physical practice of yoga has many benefits, one of which is that it allows the practitioner to move the body in order to shift whatever muscular tensions have landed and gotten stuck in the physical frame. The point to shifting these muscular tensions is so that we can be free of the physical manifestation of that which stresses us and keeps us stuck in the human experience, so that we can begin to experience the energetic aspects of this incarnation. Yoga frees us from the bondage of matter, allows us to stop identifying with the body and helps us come back to love, trust, faith, unity, peace and connection. Most of all, it represents the end of identification with pain and all that that umbrella term represents.

On International Yoga Day, practice yoga off your yoga mat. Embody and express love, trust, faith, unity, peace and connection. Notice how many times you find yourself motivated by fear, mistrust or the apprehension of pain. When this happens, change the record. Set your intention to operate from the opposite point of view that your inclination initially brings you to. If you would’ve operated from fear, operate from faith. If you would’ve operated from anger, operate from love and acceptance. If you would’ve operated from chaos, operate from peace. That’s how you practice yoga. And if you’re going to observe this new international holiday, do it right the first time.

I’ve said and written it before and I’ll do so again now: you could take one million photographs of yourself in beautiful yoga postures that Yoga Journal would rave about, but if you’re behaving like a shithead in your daily life, then you’re not practicing yoga. That’s just posturing. Let yoga change your life, not just the size of your clothes or your ego.

The Hypocrisy of Belief

I don’t believe in karma. I don’t believe that our actions in this life dictate the quality of the rest of our lives or what happens in the next life, and I don’t believe that what happened in a past life is responsible for what this life has in store for me. I believe that our thoughts, actions and words contribute to the world around us, and to not be mindful of the energy we emanate is irresponsible. I believe that we are meant to fuck up to then see the error on our ways and learn from it. I also believe that our responsibility in this life is to be as authentic as possible, especially when that authenticity’s expression is diametrically opposed to popular opinion.

I believe in a healthy dose of doubt. Doubt can be an absolute killer, or it can be the road to salvation, truth and knowledge. I believe that questioning is necessary, that to take what others present as being true is to totally and irrefutably give away your personal power and the opportunity to expand your knowledge of your own unique truth. Truth is subjective, and we all have different understandings of what is true based on our own sentient experiences. To adopt another’s concept of truth blindly is to abandon one’s own journey towards becoming an awakened soul, aware of itself by experiencing everything that is its specifically to live, learn from and which contributes to its expansion of awareness.

I only believe in what I know to be true on a level where words somehow minimize the knowing. There’s a difference between not knowing something and being unsure of it, and feeling a deep-rooted sense of doubt. I believe that visceral doubt is way more a pure expression of the energy that animates my body than the adoption of a concept like karma that keeps us adhering to laws that may not resonate entirely but to which we attach for fear of getting it wrong and suffering the consequences.

You know what lands well with you and what doesn’t. You know what lies in the space between what you say you believe and what lands in your body and your soul as being true. You may KNOW karma as reality because every fiber of your being tells you this is so, and so your truth is unwaveringly yours to live. But if you somehow don’t align with its principles but adhere to them anyways, you’re living outside of your truth, and I know, viscerally, that our purpose in life is to abide in that which resonates undeniably within us. It’s for this exact reason why certain principles from the Ashtanga Yoga System seem completely unrealistic and impractical to me, while certain principles from Tantra and Kashmir Shaivism ring true. On an energy level.

I use karma as an example, but we blindly ally our beliefs to ideas and regulations that ring absolutely untrue to us.

And so…ask yourself…how are you giving your personal power over to dogma and doctrines that you know you don’t agree with? What risk would you run of detaching from them and being inwardly and outwardly honest about what you truly believe?

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Giving Up The Ghost

tunnelIt’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

From Behind Our Own Shadows

We are surrounded by doubt and fear, from all directions, all around us. We are bombarded by images of who we should be, what we should wear, eat, and drive, and how our bodies should look. All these “standards” that we inevitably hold ourselves up to (in spite of ourselves and our better, innate judgement) succeed in driving, and sometimes even creating, that fear. Fear of not fitting in, of not belonging, of being outcast…and all the while, the only thing we are accomplishing is the complete and utter suppression of our true selves…of our innate light, of our inspiring individuality that stems from the source of all energy which we all come from and to which we all return.

Our minds tell us stories…incessantly feeding us judgements of ourselves and others that have not one shred of truth to them, but we rise to the bait regardless, making “agreements” with these tales and allowing our decisions and beliefs to be based on them. We allow ourselves to be guided by doubt, giving room, and therefore legitimacy, to said doubts, eliminating certainty and peace from our lives.

So how do we deal with the endless world of possibilities that present themselves once we awaken from this state of suspension and lethargy that has silently been holding us back from becoming our ideal selves?

The best place to start is at the beginning. Tapping into who we are when we’re alone, when we’re with our families (immediate and extended), who we were as children before we began being fed the steady stream of conformity-based propaganda that modern-day, urban society dishes out for no apparent reason (other than the obvious financially-based ones). And most of all, agreeing to stop listening to those stories that the mind creates. To quote Cat from Jivamukti London, “Stop paying attention to those stories. None of them are true. That which does not serve you, let go of.”

The perfect place to put all this into practice is exactly there…in your practice. Every yoga class/practice/session will present you with a challenge, an opportunity to face your fears. Do it. Face them. Nothing is ever as daunting in actuality as it seemed in theory. When that voice the mind conjures up as you’re preparing yourself for an especially challenging asana starts rattling off every reason why you’ll be unable to move fully into the posture, let your active voice be stronger. Remind yourself that you are indeed more capable than you could possibly imagine, and that the only person standing in your way is yourself. Let yourself soar to the heights that you always imagined possible but never dared to attain for fear of seeing just how capable you actually are.

Once you’ve gone there, once you’ve experienced what it feels like to jump beyond yourself, remember your essence. Let go of the ego and feel your connection to all things, and offer up that courage that it took to draw your magificence out into the open to everyone and everything around you. Understand that to shine as brightly as you can is to inspire those around you to do the same. The brighter we are as a collective whole dictates where we move towards as a community and a society…and the stronger our intentions, the more likely that destination will be back to that same light we’re drawing out of ourselves. Full circle.