In a previous episode of The Examined Life with Bram Levinson Podcast I read out a list of musings I had written down and compiled years ago, musings that I felt were helpful to keep in mind when navigating life. For lack of a better title, I quickly (and flippantly) names the list the Brama Sutras, not really expecting it to ever find its way to the general public. That obviously happened when I decided to read it for an episode of the podcast, and since I did, many of you have asked for the list written out, so voilà!
I have retitled the list Η Σοφία Sutras, as Η Σοφία (The Sofia) translates to “The Wisdom” from Greek to English, and it was in Greece where I felt compelled to share that piece of writing. The word “Sutra” means “thread” in Sanskrit, and so these are the threads of wisdom that, when woven together, can form a fabric of wisdom to keep in mind when navigating life.
Here they are, exactly as they were read for the podcast. Enjoy!
Η Σοφία (The Wisdom) Sutras
1) These words are your call to presence, to attention, to this moment.
2) Transformation is the only constant. Everything will change, from the greatest blessings bestowed upon us to the darkest moments we will survive. If it arises within your awareness, it is already in a state of transformation.
3a) This moment is more important than the ones that preceded it and the ones that will follow it, in this moment. This is true for each moment, as with each passing second, a new moment is.
3b) The present moment is your priority. What came before and what come after must be secondary to the present moment, in all moments.
4) Concentration on the present moment is a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is the practice of working with our thoughts. It is the ability to hone one’s attention in one specific direction, onto one thing specifically, for longer and longer periods of time. It is also the ability to be present enough to notice when the thoughts are focused on something and then redirecting the thoughts to something else.
5) Mindfulness is the art of awakening. Accessing this art requires paying attention. By paying attention, we begin to tune into a different frequency, and the more often we get into the habit of tuning into that different frequency the more we work at changing our experience of life.
6) This experience of life will be wholly and entirely dependent on our perspective and our ability to reframe a situation so that perspective is changeable and fluid.
7) Our unique understanding of “reality” is almost entirely based on our perspective, which informs the understanding we have of our environment and scenarios, of everything that arises within our awareness.
8a) Conflict may arise when one person disregards another’s understanding of “reality” in favour of his or her own, and then attempts to impose it.
8b) Harmony may arise when one person acknowledges and validates another’s understanding of “reality” while allowing it to coexist with his or her own, with no need to suppress the other’s in order to validate his or her own.
9a) Self-conflict may arise when one person adheres to his or her understanding of “reality” instead of welcoming alternate perspectives.
9b) Self-harmony may arise when one person welcomes alternate perspectives that reveal the relativity of “reality.”
10a) The experience of life will be greatly influenced by the honesty and transparency with which we assess whether we naturally gravitate to conflict or harmony.
10b) We have a choice as to whether our time is spent in conflict or in harmony.
11) The human brain, untethered and undisciplined, leans towards the negative aspects of our understanding of events.
12) We ruminate over the fear we have of the negative outweighing the positive in our understanding of events, which takes us out of the present moment and propels us into the abstract, into what is not.
13) Mindfulness is the discipline that allows us to focus on the opposite of the negative, the opposite of what scares us, the opposite of conflict.
14) Mindfulness practices are most useful in moments of turmoil, of chaos, of emotional triggering.
15a) One key mindfulness practice is setting an intention to prioritize harmony over conflict, negative over positive. This is Attention to Intention.
15b) Intention must be prioritized over reaction in moments of turmoil, of chaos, of emotional triggering.
15c) Intention is a commitment.
15d) Intention sets the direction that we commit to move in, the path we commit to follow, the behaviours we agree to override those that only serve to contribute to our suffering.
15e) Time spent without intention is time spent at the mercy of the meanderings of the mind.
15f) Time spent with intention is time spent closer to the energies of that which we wish to be in alignment with throughout this lifetime.
16) Setting an intention effectively and efficiently requires acceptance of what is.
17) Acceptance is the precursor for change.
18) One cannot efficiently move in the most meaningful direction without acceptance of what is and of what life has brought to our table.
19) Acceptance may involves grieving for what was once hoped for, but what was never meant to be.
20) The mind that practices meaningfulness is the mind that seeks to see beyond the literal, beyond the obvious, beyond the appearance of any given moment, person or object.
21) The practice of meaningfulness contributes to our ability to reframe our situation so that our perspective of it is altered. It aids in seeing past the seemingly random so that we find connections where, on a superficial level, none would appear to exist.
22) To find connections where previously none were apparent is to find meaning in the innocuous, to find a deeper understanding that possibly informs events and our relationship to them.
23) The practice of meaningfulness is the practice of finding meaning that serves us to align with the intentions we set for the time and events which await us.
24) Initial stages of practicing meaningfulness include asking certain questions in pursuit of a deeper meaning, questions like, “What am I meant to learn from this?”, “What else is occurring right now in this moment that I may be distracted from due to my mind’s negative bias?”, and “How can my experience of this challenge or moment serve to connect me to others instead of leaving me feeling isolated and alone?” Our perspective is everything. The way we see the world is the way we experience it. It really is that simple.
25) Reframing a situation aids in shifting perspective.
26) Shifting perspective helps us move from the limits of our own personal history and experiences.
27) Shifting perspective helps us move away from the default egocentricity we feed when we stay stuck in our own self-interests and self-awareness.
28) Shifting perspective helps us move from the I and the me to the us and the we.
29) Shifting perspective helps us find the freedom to choose a different interpretation and understanding.
30) Shifting perspective may lead us to growth and transformation.
31) Shifting perspective may facilitate turning the negative into positive.
32) Shifting perspective contributes to practicing meaningfulness.
33) We must never forget the kindness bestowed upon us by another.
34) We must immediately forget the wrongdoing or hurt bestowed upon us by another.
35) The practice of gratitude is the practice of considering the blessings we are surrounded by.
36) The practice of gratitude is the practice of considering how fragile and temporal our blessings may be.
37) The practice of gratitude is the practice of considering how, in this moment, suffering could be considerably heightened, and appreciating that it is not.
38) The loss of gratitude is a key factor in the destruction of the affiliations and partnerships we have.
39) The practice of compassion involves the consideration that all beings operate in the midst of hardship.
40) The practice of compassion involves prayer and action for the end of all suffering, for ourselves and for others.
41) The practice of fearing less involves repointing the mind from the potential of the negative to manifest to the potential of the positive to manifest.
42) Communication is the foundation for the healthiest and most positive of affiliations and relationships.
43) Your story is worth telling.
44) Your story is worth observing.
45) Observing the narrative of your life without personalization will bring clarity.
46) Observing the emotions, sensations and thoughts elicited from observing your narrative will bring clarity.
47) Observing the emotions, sensations and thoughts that arise within you in any and all circumstances, contexts and environments will bring clarity.
48) You are the power of observation.
49) You are not what you observe.
50) There is just this, and it is perfect as it is
I’ve been working for over a year and a half on a book originally based on my blog, and then on the workshop I’ve been giving for years called The Examined Life. All the time and focus put into it, all the effort and vision, is now coming to fruition with the release of the final product, a book that I’m insanely proud to self publish and to put my name on.
The Examined Life is a work of love and dedication. It asks the questions that we all ask ourselves from time to time, but rarely answer completely before moving onto the next distraction. In addition to asking these questions, it offers tools to digest and process them so that we can let them steep and integrate into how we live so that their answers manifest organically. It allows us to assess where we are, where we want to be, and what lies in the space between the two. It begs us to find our voice, to find something to believe in, and to find the words necessary to speak our truth. This book is a call to the now, to the present moment, all in the hope that it will spark a fire in the mind of the reader to examine the quality of life being led. It offers route markers and pathways to making whatever changes are necessary to increase happiness, contentment and quality of life. It’s about living the lives we’ve always dreamed of, but potentially never thought possible.
I’ve spent more hours than I can count writing, re-writing, editing, editing, editing….ok, you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. The book was written in Canada, England, The Netherlands and Germany, and has taken form in its own time while giving me the opportunity to put down in words what I believe matters to us all. It’s been an incredibly illuminating, frustrating, challenging and rewarding process from beginning to end and it’s only because I’m surrounded by incredible people that I pushed (and was pushed) harder than I thought possible to produce this work. I believe that it succeeds in communicating exactly what I wanted it to in regards to the lives we lead and our roles in them, and it does so in keeping with my voice.
I will hold the book launch for The Examined Life at the studio I call home, Centre Luna Yoga, at 231 Saint-Paul West, suite 200 on Friday, November 8 from 19h30-20h30. I’ll introduce the book, do a short reading and then celebrate with you all with wine and vegan treats. I’d like to invite you all to be a part of this milestone event in my career and in my life. Come help me celebrate the culmination of so many hours of hard work and determination…after all, none of it means anything if I don’t have anyone around me to celebrate with 😉
Pre-registration via the Luna website here.
I hope to see you all there!