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acceptance

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Journal Post

"We are here to love each other, serve each other,
and uplift each other" -Anonymous
It is with practice and self-inquiry that we come to understand how yoga is much more than a series of poses and breathing exercises. In fact, we see quite clearly that the practice is about relationships, to one another and most importantly to ourselves. With continued practice we learn to serve others, creating an atmosphere of compassion, acceptance, and tolerance, and a more peaceful way of living.
Happiness is, and always will be, a beautiful and unique human desire.  Yogi Bhajan stated that it is "our birthright to be happy" and H.H. Dalai Lama has artfully taught us what it means to be happy.  With every breath we take, every intention we make, happiness is the source that drives us.
Happiness can be so many things and what might make one person happy, could absolutely bore the next. It can be as simple as smile or as complex as a long-standing completed project.  Just like life, happiness is what you make it. I say, you must participate in order to understand what true happiness really is.
A yoga posture demonstrated by a master level practitioner is often the epitome of grace and ease. Yet when the novice student attempts to mirror these same movements the degree of difficulty is immediately evident. The real test of a yoga practitioner comes when the path ahead is laid out clearly and the student choose whether to commits to each step of the journey regardless of difficulty.
You will see in others what you see in yourself. All of the insecurities you see in others are really the ones you have within reflected back at you. A Course in Miracles states that you cannot give to another what you have not known yourself. But is this true with love? Or does love play by other rules? When we ask others for unconditional love does that mean we are capable of it ourselves? In the total acceptance of our imperfections we find a grace beyond measure and a joy in the otherwise confusing panorama of humanity. Yet if we are only able to love another person to the extent that we are able to love ourselves our capacity to give might find a dead end in the caverns of our self-loathing and the doldrums of low self-esteem.
When we begin practicing yoga the deepest part of our consciousness asks for clarity, awakening and truth. What is sometimes the first step in taking positive steps towards the peace that we all yearn for is a recognition of exactly how deeply we are entrenched within our ways of warfare. Yoga for example can sometimes be riddled with fierce competition. You might find yourself competing with a new yoga practitioner in your daily class who is naturally very flexible. Or you might find yourself competing with yourself and comparing your body in a negative light with the way it was last year, last week or yesterday. Yet still you might be competing with your friends and peers.
Emotional vulnerability seems to snowball at all the most inappropriate moments. When you're feeling down the most insignificant comment can send you deeper into the darkness. On days when you feel torn open by life, your heart is raw, exposed, and injured. In this space everything hurts. Is it just chance and coincidence that dishes up misery for no reason or is there some hidden cosmic force that answers to a pecking order higher than your melancholic feelings?
Food is not who you are. It is a way you communicate with the world. You express things through food, through eating, like you do through any art form, but it nevertheless is not who you are at your deepest essence. Your eating habits are merely habits, not your life or your vitality, though they may seriously enhance your life, your energy levels and your overall health.
If you're looking for a sense of ease, grace and effortlessness in your practice, the key lies in finding a sense of spaciousness in your mind. There is a way to practice and to be with your body to create the kind of neurological and structural foundations for a complete sense of openness. There is a way to literally get more flexible without collapsing the core stabilizing patterns of the body. In this way you may learn to practice all types of yoga with an inner awareness that has relaxation as its basis.
Do you ever find yourself holding on so tightly to a desired outcome that you are a filled with anxiety, tension or blind ambition? Have you ever wanted to do a yoga posture so badly so that you are literally obsessing about it and can talk of almost nothing else? This is perhaps the definition of unhealthy attachment at its core. Yet at the same time the driven mind directed at a task at hand is one of the most powerful tools we have to change our lives. So the question then becomes not how to rid ourselves of our desires or our drive but instead how to train our mind to work towards our desires without the unnecessary tension of attachment.
A couple of newsletters back I wrote about how the Unity Woods logo came into being and what my thinking was in creating it, and the significance of the various components. As there wasn't space then to talk about the three words that appear at the points of the triangle, I said I would do so in subsequent newsletters. In the last newsletter, I discussed the relevance of the first of the three words: health. Now we come to the second: serenity.
Aparigraha is the non acceptance of that which is not required for the maintenance of the body, and items that are considered luxurious and oftentimes binding due to the strings attached by he giver. The Sadhaka must be simple. Do not keep things that you do not need, and never take from life more than is needed for simple living. Lose any desire to have what belongs to others. Be always content and satisfied with whatever you have. Have Supreme faith in God.
Go ahead, light your candles and burn your incense and ring your bells and call out to God, but watch out, because God will come, and He will put you on His Anvil and fire up His Forge and beat you and beat you until He turns brass into Pure Gold.
- paraphrased from Saint Keshavadas
There are several characteristics about a good yoga class that produce the magical experience of yoga. The instructor facilitates a space for students to do three things in particular:
- to slow down
- to pay attention
- to listen in
Just walking into the yoga center begins the process of calming down. After a few visits walking through the doorway becomes an automatic trigger to take a deep breath and allow the spinning wheels of the mind to start slowing down. Ahh ... we're here! We've come to an oasis. We can give ourselves a respite from our hectic lives. We can finally relax and be totally present with ourselves.
In September I read a seminal book that I found transforming: Waking the Global Heart by Anodea Judith. I could hardly put it down! It spoke to me at a deep spiritual level and validated many ideas that I've been contemplating. We've chosen it for discussion at our next book club meeting on February 12 and I will be presenting a short overview of the book. If this resonates with you, please join us!
The second day of Judith's workshop was equally as informative as the first. The sutra study for the workshop was from Pada II v.16, "Heyam dukham anagatam" or "The suffering that is to come is to be avoided." It is a fascinating concept because everything we do in life is to put our anxiety at rest. We constantly try to control our circumstances to appease our anxiety and avoid suffering.
Like many Sanskrit words in the Yoga lexicon, the word guru has both a literal and symbolic meaning. Literally it means "heavy, weighty; heavy in the stomach (as food), difficult to digest; excessive, difficult, hard; important, serious, momentous; valuable, highly prized; venerable, respectable." The guru is the venerable "weighty one," heavy with wisdom, that's both highly prized but at times difficult to digest, often because teaching seems to contradict everything we hold true, or because we're told things about ourselves we don't especially want to hear.
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