Tag Archives: faith

Minding What Matters

I went into work today at Centre Luna Yoga to take advantage of the studio being closed till next week so I could close out the 2011 accounting year, and just being in the space, slugging away at the computer, brought me a sense of peace and clarity. When all the numbers were taken care of and I had turned off the computer, I found myself staring into the calm of the studio with a real sense of vision as to what I wanted to continue doing with my life and throughout the year ahead, and how to really go about that.

I’ve spoken often about choosing something to believe in and then doing exactly that, but I realized today (while zoning out staring into the studio) that  my advice was incomplete, so I wanted to expound on the subject and see if I could offer any more insight or assistance to you readers…I still firmly believe that we all need to find something that we are passionate about, something in which we believe without a shadow of a doubt, but what I had never conveyed before was the need to believe unconditionally in it. Believing unconditionally means that we feel we have been given proof that leads us to a place of firm belief, trust, and identification. Proof of ANYTHING will only occur through direct perception, and so it’s our responsibility to understand and be witness to that which we define as reality or truth. We need to seek out that which attract us, that which contains the energy that most resembles the energy we attribute to ourselves. There are people we gravitate towards and those we don’t, geographical points on Earth where we feel most connected, and places we don’t, and situations we find ourselves in where we feel the most comfortable and those where we don’t. Our first step towards living in a place of truth is to find the people and places whose energies are the most relatable in relation to how we see ourselves and what we find appealing. Once we get there, once those vital discoveries start being made, it’s from there that we start to find that which we can hold up as truth, from which we learn more about ourselves as we see what is reflected back to us. Without direct perception or experience, everything is questionable. When we know something to be true for ourselves, there is no question.

One of the greatest disservices one can do for oneself and for the world around us is to pretend to believe in something and to spout the applicable doctrines and informative details relating to the subject while not having a great enough understanding of it. I believe that it’s better to admit to not believing in anything than to hypocritically project a belief or opinion that comes from a place of fear or ignorance. So what does all this mean?

It means that as we begin another year in our calendar, as we take advantage of the energies around us provoking and insisting for change, then let’s simply focus on what matters. What matters to you? Focus on that, seek out all the information and resources available that pertain to it, experience and understand them, and then FORGET about the rest. Forget about what other people think about you, about your beliefs, about how you spend your time and energy. What they think has NOTHING to do with you. This life is yours to live, and the longer you spend worrying about how something will be received, the more stifled you will become, and the more you operate at the mercy of that which exists outside of you, the less you understand about who you really are and what really matters.

So go on…ask yourselves what matters to you? Where do you want to place your time, energy and intention? And are you placing them in something that matters to you? Understand that we have many options in this life, some of which will carry us forward, some backward. Where do you want to go?

When the Smallest Truths Effect The Greatest Changes

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a post, mainly because I’ve been busier than ever with co-managing the studio, workshops, traveling, classes, and the ongoing Luna Yoga Teacher Training. I’ve noticed how my tendency when I get busy is to get things taken care of or executed one by one, while mentally taking note of everything else that is in store for me during the weeks and months to come. More often than not, this allows me to pace myself and make sure I’m ready, rested, and prepared for whatever project is lined up, but sometimes, this approach backfires on me.

If I spend too much time thinking about what’s ahead of me, what I need to do to prepare for it, and what needs getting done in the interim, I sometimes feel stifled, overwhelmed…and it’s through this process that I lose sight of why I’m doing it all to begin with! I have a tendency to be hard on myself…which is why yoga speaks so loudly and clearly to me…it reminds me that I can take a step back, and put my faith in the knowledge that everything will go smoothly, that I will get everything done, and that there’s an omniscient & underlying current of reassurance and peace that is waiting for me to tap back into.

This weekend I’m giving the teacher trainees a lecture on one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Sutra 1.23 – Ishwara Pranidhanad Va. This sutra speaks to the ability to move closer to a place of truth, peace & light by putting our faith, and the fruits of our labours, towards a higher energy, towards what each and every one of us, in our own way, interprets God as being. Putting God/light/energy into the forefront. From my purely non-denominational point of view, that energy is exactly that – an energy that has taken shape in the form of light in my reality, an energy that is always within me and that I find myself tapping into and falling back on when I most need it. I’ve spoken before about God in yoga (God Talk), and how the practice is often mistaken as a religion, and I’ve also written about how I firmly understand that we all need to believe in something, we just need to figure out what that something is, and then believe in it, wholly and unapologetically (Up to You). Both these points are key in interpreting Sutra 1.23.

Most of us get tested in our belief systems, especially when we come up against an event which (or person who) challenges what we perceive to be truth. It is during these moments of conflict when we struggle to remember why we have placed our faith where it is, and whether we need to reconsider alternate opinions. Taking an opposing point of view is always advisable, if only to be able to put one’s self in another’s reality. When researching Ishwara Pranidhanad Va, I was struck by a moment of brilliance that ever since, has really affected the way I see the world around me, and my place in it.

Here’s my take: in choosing what to believe in, I allow for a certain surrender to take place…to open myself up to my beliefs and where they lead me. Let me be clear here: surrender doesn’t mean giving in to anything or anyone, it means letting go. It means allowing the doubt and skepticism to melt away, so that all that’s left is a connection to what serves me. This surrender leads to something even greater: acceptance. If I allow myself to put my faith in the knowledge that the energy and light is, essentially, the source of all being, then I understand that no matter what happens to or around me, regardless of how incredible or horrible it is, it is all part of my evolution, spiritual and otherwise. Every minor detail, and every major event, all have something within them that offers me information…information to learn from, information to move forwards, information to evolve into who I’m ultimately supposed to be. This allows me to keep doing everything I’m doing, no matter how busy I find myself, with a certain degree of peace that provides a solid foundation for me to keep going. And what makes this acceptance even more incredible is that I know that with it comes the certainty that when I come to a moment of conflict or doubt, my faith in my beliefs remove the need to place my own expectations or demands on anyone or anything else to conform to what I believe should be. I know that whatever happens, it’s all good. It’s all part of my transformation, of my evolution.

Ask yourselves this: if you put your faith in the understanding that all events, conflicts, and encounters are part of your evolution, spiritual and otherwise, then how would your life change? How much anticipatory stress would you carry around with you? How would the way you react to conflict change? How would you change?

Let me know…I’m curious 🙂

Universally Speaking

Living my life in Yoga has brought me many things including an overall sense of peace coupled with the desire to know and be able to pass on all insightful information, but one of the greatest things I’ve found myself enriched by is the need and ability to process and deconstruct said information and be able to contest what I find questionable. My first couple of hours in teacher training in 2009 found me ready to abandon my plans as a teacher simply because some of what I was hearing from those leading the course conflicted greatly with what I then felt strongly about. I brought my concerns to friends, who reminded me that regardless of my eagerness to start a new chapter of my life and wanting to absorb as much information as possible, I always had the right to take what information I deemed relevant and leave that which I felt didn’t serve me. It was with that ambitious reserve that I threw myself back into my training with abandon and into my career to date.

There is a lot of information to process from the Yogic teachings, all of which can discombobulate the most grounded of people. Filtering through and processing it all may indeed prove to be exhausting, but allowing yourself to challenge what you consider true is always enlightening and more often than not, illuminating. One aspect of Yoga continues to this day to challenge my beliefs, and I believe that it poses some of the same questions for others as it does me. The Yogic scriptures and teachings bring everything back to one thing: union. The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word yuj, which means to unite or to yolk. We refer most often to the union of the mind, body and breath…the aim of which is to return or reunite with the source of all life, which is most often referred to as God in the teachings. This poses somewhat of a problem for me.

I am not a religious person. At all. I was raised in a Jewish environment, being brought to synagogue for all the High Holidays throughout my youth until I absolutely refused to continue participating in what I felt was a ridiculous farce to mask superficiality and ego in the shroud of tradition. My experience with synagogue was being surrounded by men and women dressing up to the nines boasting about their possessions and accomplishments, all the while gossiping about each other and then “humbly” returning to their seats to mumble through the prayers. I played the game myself, bringing my own reading material to hide behind the prayer-book so that I wouldn’t go out of my mind with boredom listening to what I felt was an incredibly archaic system of demonstrating one’s faith. I have since heard similar experiences being recounted my friends from other faiths, which reinforced my aversion to religion. All of that combined with the knowledge that mostly all religions across the spectrum are exclusive, telling us that we are the chosen people, that others are somehow “less than” we are, completed my break from organized religion. Yoga teaches that we are all connected, that there are no levels of worth and that the ego is our greatest enemy, something I have believed from the time that I first learned to think for myself.

With all that said, I do believe in a higher power from which we all derive and from where the essence that we all possess resides. I understand that it is this power and essence that is referred to in the Yogic teachings, but I still have a problem with that word which has been appropriated to many of the world’s greatest organized religions…that word God. It is with this aversion that I find myself passing on my teachings carefully and with full awareness of my words. Yoga is often mistaken for a religion by those who have dipped a toe or two in the teachings, and who have subsequently ran away from the unbelievable possibilities that yoga can bring us. I firmly believe that before the word God is brought into a class, a workshop, an article or a teacher training, it needs to be redefined and clarified as having nothing to do with religion.

I believe that despite there being many common teachings throughout Yoga and religion (restrictions as to lying, stealing, coveting, etc…), I have found that Yoga endorses laws of the Universe, those that apply to all, as opposed to those that apply to some which are proselytized through religious laws. The notion that Karma guides us all, that everything you do has a consequence, that your words and deeds carry immeasurable weight…this all falls under universal law. Yoga encourages love and gratitude…for oneself, for all others, and for everything around us. It allows us to be as spiritual as we want to be with absolutely no association of fear or guilt attached, and allows us to become more than we ever thought possible as opposed to feeling suppressed and repressed. Again, this is what I believe based on my life experience, and I would never insinuate that those who are finding light and love through religion are misguided. Whatever works, as far as I’m concerned.

For those of you who find yourselves sharing a yoga class with me, please keep all this in mind when I relay the Yogic teachings. Understand that the word god can be replaced with light, or love, or energy, or a million other all-encompassing beauty-laden words. Understand that if it separates us, it can’t be good. Understand that we are one. We always have been and we always have been. These are the teachings that we’re born with under the guise of intuition and that get smothered by conditioning and conformity. Allow yourselves to tap back into the source of all things…back into light, back into love…back into God.