What a crazy couple of weeks! Was it just me, or in fact has this month been a whirlwind?! We refer to this word Shakti or 'energy' a lot and so I contextualise it for you that in this blog I refer to energy as meaning power. Shear power of shining a light on ourselves, that with it, brings radical change.
The last 7 days in particular for me felt super strong in terms of emotions, events, and it seemed that everyone that I came in to contact with had it going on for them too, in one way or another but then.... it arrived. The FULL MOON. And what a beauty it was! I quite possibily think it was the brightest shining moon I have seen in a very long time, if not ever! I had the pleasure of being down in Glastonbury at the time, yoga training by day and by night dining with friends old and new, bathing in the spring and then climbing the Glastonbury Tor Hill to soak up its light of the moon. It felt like I was in a time warp and was so charged I could have turned my whole world upside down, in a way that I can not explain my personal experience in my own words. But I will attempt to explain what realisations have remained since. I drove back to Bristol the following evening and as I left Glastonbury behind, I began to feel both the exhaustion and the inspiration that it brought. A change had occurred and a something had remained.
It was a moon that was considered to wash away fear and doubt, centred around Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, Good fortune and Prosperity.
Lakshmi’s divine feminine influence, or shakti (energy), will infuse the moon’s bright rays, detoxifying our bodies and increasing the flow of wealth in our lives. If the universe has seemed to be holding back, or it’s felt like you’re running in place, this month’s Full Moon will provide just the remedy.
I'm uncertain whether any of her charms have actually begun to manifest, but what I am certain about is that something shifted and what remains is how blessed I felt for this openess to life we have and by living in a way that removed fear and projected love and compassion, we can share the most wonderful moments with people, in places and at the most unexpected times. What I love most is how then, you create a memory that even when those moments end, last with you a lifetime. What I also found sanctuary in, was being removed from technology, being back out within nature and dedicating some full days to being in my body, philosophising about the mind and listening to the tales of others, so incredibly nurturing and real, pure and utterly blissfully ordinary. It too is my hometown, and they say that home is where the heart is. This was my experience however and for you, maybe you did or did not share the moon in the same way, if at all, but that doesn't mean that we do not share a state of being in the world together here and now, as well as on the night of the full moon - we both lived. We, as individuals, live in the year 2016 together and we share commonalities that dictate our movements in life.
Being in your day to day reality can sometimes feel so challenging, it can become routine, it can even create fatigue and negative habits, however when you simply pause and reverse this flow to something much more simplified, how it can make the entering back in to reality much clearer, positive and bring new perspectives, surprises me everytime and there are things that we collectively may all do to share in the bliss and make movements towards positive and radical change.
If we wish to analyse this in a less etheral way, we could say that neurobiology, it's why we are here..... and what word we can use to pull it all together is CONNECTION!!!!
BUT - What is meant by connection?
This weekend I studied 3 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. We have discussed his work before in this blog, yet there are many sutras and the books of wisdom for which they are contained, we as Yogis will revisit throughout our lifetime. It is incredible how simply picking up this textbook, each time offers new insights to life and perspective of it and with our yoga practice on the mat, offers a firm foundation to beginning to live more freely. Book One, Sutra 30-31 focuses on obstacles and their accompaniments, that we have in our minds and bodies, that hinder the one-pointed concentration that helps to make the mind steady and clear so you can transcend it. These obstacles, using english translations as opposed to the sanskrit, are disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground, slipping down from the ground gained - these are the distractions of the mind-stuff. Accompaniments to the mental distractions include distress, despair, trembling of the body and disturbed breathing. Alongside the study of these sutras, we may consider the practice of non-attachment. We call this Abhyasa and Vairagya. Abhyasa involves cultivating a strong conviction, a persistent effort to choose practice with actions, speech and thoughts that lead in the direction of a stable tranquility (sthitau). Vairagya involves learning to actively and systematically encounter, explore and let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears and false identities that cloud the true self. These work together by the practice leading the way and the non-attachment allowing you to continue the internal work without getting distracted with the pleasures and pains of life.
It is so powerful to read these Sutras, but I always like to welcome them in to looking at our lives in the context of where we are now, in todays world, season and self - The Art Of Living.
One of my wonderful yoga teachers directed me to look at the work of Brene Brown, a Researcher that has spent the last decade of her life researching Shame, Empathy and Courage, Joy, Authenticity, Love and Belonging. It was one Ted talk that she offered that I felt really began to contextualise the state of our connections now and make sense of the beauty, therefore that was held in glastonbury during the full moon for myself for example. You may watch it below and here I'll attempt to summarise it for you...
If we look at SHAME - The fear of disconnection. The fear that if someone sees something in you that is not good enough, we have the fear that we will not then have a connection. The findings however are that for connection to happen you HAVE TO allow yourself to be fully seen! The word VULNERABILITY underlies it all.
So be vulnerable! Can you?! Does the simple idea of that bring fear to your heart?
Good old wikipedia summarises vulnerabe as this:
exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
"we were in a vulnerable position"
(of a person) in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.
"the scheme will help charities working with vulnerable adults and young people"
(of a partnership) liable to higher penalties, either by convention or through having won one game towards a rubber.
"the authors advise a variable no-trump opening bid which means weak non-vulnerable and strong vulnerable"
The meaning of the word sounds terrifying, so why would we wish to live in a vulnerable and exposed way?>>>
Well, because this is THE WAY THE WHOLEHEARTED LIVE.
If we break that down to two words being 'Whole' and 'Hearted', do they bring fear in you? No. A sense of worthiness, a strong sense of love and belonging and believing they are worthy of receiving it, are what has been discovered to be the nature of wholehearted individuals. When you love in a 'vulnerable' state, you are kept out of connection, because there is a belief in you that you are not worthy of it.
COURAGE is what 'whole' and 'hearted' have in common. You have the courage to be imperfect, you have the compassion to be kind to yourself and others, you make connections as a result of authenticity and you release what is thought you should be and become authentically who you are.
The embraced vulnerability and belief is necessary and the willingness to say 'I love you' first and to do something when there are no guarantees, invest in a relationship that may not work out, are all actions you may take in living with courage.
You stop controlling and predicting.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of JOY, LOVE, COMPASSION and LIVING FREELY.
We numb vulnerability. We live in a vulnerable world. You can not selectively numb certain emotions, in doing so, you numb them all. How and why do we numb ourselves?
We make everything uncertain, certain.
We perfect everything, including ourselves.
We pretend that what we do doesn't have an affect on people around us.
So it comes down to MAKING A CHOICE. What are the wholehearted choices?
Let ourselves be seen.
Love with whole hearts even when there is no guarantee.
Practice gratitude and joy.
BELIEVE THAT WE ARE ENOUGH.
WE ARE THEN KINDER AND GENTLER TO PEOPLE AND OURSELVES.
It is a tragedy that as a culture we have lost the capacity to be vulnerable. Disappointment as a lifestyle is created, than to feel disappointed. We side step being excited about something because we are afraid it might not happen. We make sure that everything is perfect so we have one guarantee. It is a tool to perfect oursleves.
Faith minus vulnerabiluty is Extremism. Spirituality itself is vulnerable. The world we live in is not firm ground and relationships are impermanent by nature. What part of you, however, is it that does not change?
In todays world, what is driving this intolerance for vulnerability? Brene identifies it as Scarcity. We live in a culture where we are made to believe that we dont have enough and there is never enough. We are missing what is important as we are striving for the extraordinary. Where in our ordinary life is where WE CAN find the most joy. We are unconscuoisly collecting these messages, images or scarcity everyday. With Facebook, ads, TV, film, things that take us out of our reality or where you see things far removed from your own normality, feeds us.
We then unconsciously learn to numb vulnerability and have as a result become a society of addicted, medicated, in debt and busy individuals, and the truth of our lives can't catch up.
Let yourself soften in to loving someone and caring about something passionately. Practice gratitude. Honour what is ordinary about our lives, that is extraordinary. PLAY, KIDS, FAMILY, COMMUNITY AND NATURE! We want more guarantees, but we can't guarantee that everything will work out just how we wish for. BUT, one guarantee is that if we don't allow ourselves to experience joy and love and fill ourselves up, then you will be empty and have nothing there for when the guaranteed bad stuff will come and you will spend the rest of your life in a state of darkness and disappointment as your art of living.
So let the moon shine a light on this darkness and offer you the choices to be vulnerable, embracing what life offers you, without guarantees, but in the knowing that you will then at least be free of shame and you will have the courage to enjoy the ordinary and be kind.
Even Cinderella lives by the mantra, 'Have courage and be kind". Hope is what is represented in fairytales and you may never find you prince or princess, ride that pumpkin carriage or dance with a collective of loving mice, but we could all do with a little hope and maybe, just maybe you will.
All I can say is that my experiment on the weekend to remove the vulnerable and just embrace being myself, saying yes to opportunities that arised, brought nothing but pure joy. The people I met were wholehearted, without a shadow of a doubt and that light of the moon having shone its light on the dark, only exposed the imperfections that in fact, are not that bad and as a matter of fact, are pretty darn amazing.
If we return to the knowledge of Patanjali, we could say that we need to develop powers of discrimination and this life is a dance, not a journey, but a goal towards freedom and endless joyful experiences, as you will step one way and another, never in the perfect direction, yet knowing you are always where you are meant to be, just as you are.
Maybe we all need a little confirmation of that now and then, so here goes.... YOU, YES YOU! ARE AMAZING. AND IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE YOGIS THAT COME TO MY CLASS THAT I CAN TELL YOU THAT FIRST HAND, WE ARE LUCKY TO HAVE SUCH AN INCREDIBLE TRIBE OF WONDERFUL INDIVIDUALS HERE IN BRISTOL AND AT YOGA I-D CLASSES WE MAY TAKE THE TIME TO CONNECT WITH EACHOTHER AND HONOUR THAT.
IN HONOUR OF THE FULL MOON THAT TOOK PLACE AT THE WEEKEND, we will move through some moon salutations and postures that make connection to creating freedom and light, using our breath as its guide.
At the end of class will follow some delicious milky Chai by the wonderful Mr Teas Tea, so come and enjoy sipping and bathing in this changing perspective and shining light in each other.
Radical change is happening now!
Treats of wisdom this month are for you to wear amber, the scent of rose and bring nature and candles in to the home.
To watch the full talk by Brene Brown, get it here.
See you in class.