HAPPY HALLOWEEN YOGI AND YOGINIS! I wish to celebrate YOU!
YES YOU!!! Your Spirit. On the weekend I have been so grateful for my yoga off the mat and that living Yoga brings connection. That off the mat Yoga has been in the form of making time and space to nurture the friendships I have in my life, to nurture the beauty of Bristol, to love and to be loved. This song completely just sums up the feeling that I have awoken with this week. There is this feeling in me to make change so powerfully, always, yet there is also this complete gratitude for this life, the people and the place I choose to live in.
Last weeks practice was a powerful one, one that may have brought up a lot of resistance and emotion of varying kinds for some of you, either while on your mat in class or when you exited. I saw it and I held it and I was really awakened once again and as always by the power of Yoga to do that and watch it in my beautiful students. And why does it do that? Well, it is as you dive in to the true nature of the Self.
If we look at 'Redemption' what does it mean?
Redemption - the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.
We could say that another word for saving is freeing!!!!
So we don't need saving from all that arises, we could say we just need to find the freedom?!
It's all you ever have. It is your song. Set your spirit free.
There is a wonderful story of a Monk that is called 'Ah so' ... the summary of it is how whatever occurs you learn to just go with it and accept it. Let it become an addition to your life.... where you just learn to accept whatever occurs. That is beautiful. You learn to have options yet to hold them for yourself at times and be open enough to see and appreciate the views of others, the actions of others, the non judgement of others - that is freedom.
Lets celebrate your freedom! You have it!!!!!
So we return to asking ourselves - when are we free? How do we experience freedom?
It is said in Yoga that the study of the self involves 'determining where need ends and greed begins'. We can make that determination only by experimenting with our body and mind until we figure out how to remove clutter and confusion. This is known as the Chitta-vritti, or mind fluctuations.
At the weekend, I had the absolute honour to spend several very poignant minutes standing on the harbourside in Bristol and engaging in conversation with a man that was very clearly on drugs of some kind and potentially had some mental health issues and yet was speaking nothing but the truth, through the chaos of his mind on the drugs, he was articulating his thoughts and these were so wise. He was so passionate and focused in many ways. He had the clarity of knowing the ability we have to understand the mind, he knew how to engage, he was aware of the inseparability of he and I and those others of us around, yet it was almost as if this in itself was slightly bewildering for him. It was as if he didnt know how to experience it, reality, as we see it, without moving away from it by getting totally off his head and out of his mind. This is speculation of course, as I don't know why he made the choice to get high, or if it was no longer a choice but an addiction - but that's the point - it is an option always at some stage, but where that moves to after, who knows. It is an action.
Without space, creation can not take place. If there is no space you can think of nothing and receive nothing. If you are not allowing space, how can you expect to find clarity. It is the space that invites the wisdom and allows you to understand the 'I-am' or the God in you! The higher Self in you and all around.
So is this Avidya - is this 'Ignorance of the Self', being the thing of what you think you know, being actually false, that becomes the obstacle- A Klesha!
So to take action and make change we begin to connect and look often to a training of the mind, a spiritual practice of some kind. Ask yourself, why did you begin Yoga?
Deep rooted, was it to remove this ignorance and to become more connected?
This beautiful, yet very challenged man (which just autocorrected to 'angel' just then, which made me humbly smile - as that is what we all are!!!), human too! Underneath everything, what he was saying and doing was rooted in the need for connection and to remove the struggle. And he even stated it many times, inviting us to connect, asking to connect. Wishing to hang out and be more a part of a community!!! It is simple really what many of us Need as opposed to Greed.
But!!! In order to do that, he needed to potentially (i suggest only) remove some of the obstacles, Avidya being the first. But how do we do that????
It requires discipline, study and devotion!!! This is Kriya!
Because essentially as Stevie Wonder sings in Higher Ground... 'the world keeps on turning - til ya reach your higher ground'. But to reach it - you must take action and find the freedom.
We perform the Kriyas to reach a higher place, a deeper connection with god (which is not religious but a word used to describe something higher than you) or the realisation of the Self. Patanjali repeats how this is so simple! He created the simple 3 step plan...
1. discipline 2. study 3. devotion!!!
Practicing these three things leads to the attainment of enlightenment - Kriya Yoga.
Kriya comes from the same Sanskrit word as Karma. However the meaning of Kriya is specifically meaning action that is taken specifically for purification purposes.
We need to purify ourselves through cleansing practices, that are Kriyas in Yoga, to purify our lives towards this realisation. This is the action of Yoga!
There are 3 criteria that Patanjali states which must be met in order to begin:
1. Tapah - to burn
2. Svadhyaya: study of the higher self
3. Ishvara pranidhana: to devote or give up all the actions - thought, word, and deed of your life to God.
As we know, this as Westerners can not look in a specific way when we lead very normal and active lives. But it can be done in your own way. This is YOUR Sadana (spiritual practice). This can be done by making a fire. The flames you feel inside are the difficulties and the light burns away our selfishness - we burn away the impurities we all create. The fire element in the body is internalised. This main impurity is Avidya - ignorance - so we offer the fire our Ego - our lower self.
If we stay the same - if we don't allow those resistances or emotions that arose from last week to rise up, how can we begin to burn them away, how can we begin to generate transformative heat within ourselves. Do you wish to become complacent and stay the same?????
The psychotherapeutic power of the yoga practices have the ability to bring unconscious feelings to the surface. If we direct these to realisation of self and something higher, as opposed to expressing these as selfish emotions/ actions - these can become liberating rather than binding!
This becomes a Yoga practice that amplifies and directs pranic flow - life force (as emotions are simply a flow of energy moving within the body).
So as we practice yoga - we might sweat! This is purifying yes, and we may feel good and like we created heat - yes. But simply moving and sweating isn't Kriya. Where is the devotion aspect that is selfless? The Ishvara Pranidhana - the relinquishing of selfish motives?
I went to hot yoga for the first time over the weekend to see what it was that I was missing. Yes it was great - I felt good but I myself had to remind myself to devote my practice as I moved through all the 3 aspects, as without that knowing wisdom, there was no reminder. This of course may not matter or be of any interest to some Yogis or teachers, but is it then Yoga? Is it simply a very well formulated movement practice? In svadhyaya you are at the mercy of the obsessions of the smaller self.
NEED AND GREED!!!! (Trick or Treat)
Truth is relative in the realm of the senses - tis true. The senses do not lead us to truth. No matter how much we pursue the pleasure aspect of the senses - we can never get enough. That man will never have enough drugs. We can never run away from pain either - no matter how hard we try, the drugs will not let us escape forever! We won't run fast enough.
So we could say that the 2 things that this creates, 'attachment' and 'aversion' bring nothing but disappointment!!!!
"Giving up attachment to the ego and the world of the senses is tapasic, and thus purifying." - Jiva
So as others are greedily running around Trick or Treating and death is upon us in this eve of Halloween....
Can you begin Kriya? Can you find space and freedom. Can you begin to remove Avidya and welcome life?
See you on the mat to explore - oooooooooooooohohhhohoohoohoohhhhhoooooo!!!!!!
I guarantee this isn't a trick and will definitely be a treat!!!! Come set your spirit free.
TUESDAY PM - 19:30-21:00 Matter Wholefoods, BS5
WEDNESDAY AM - 10:00-11:30 Yogasara, BS6