Compassion and acceptance of yourself and others is a yogi’s core value – actually we could consider it part of the first core value, or yama, called ahimsa – which is non-violence to yourself or others and includes not judging yourself or others. When we live in a place of judgment, we tear out a part of our human heart. We can even witness the ill effects through the energy shift that takes place. Think about it the next time you judge yourself or another person and pause for a moment to feel the energy that takes place. If you stay there and witness it, there is a level of toxicity and contraction and restriction. Then also witness and hold onto the understanding of what happens when we shift into compassion and non-judgment of self or others – everything opens, flows – positive radiant energy flows and is beautiful. The message of every yoga asana could be a grounded and compassionate and curious: “I love you.” As a teacher I try to always be in this place – but as a student I also try to be in this place – where I am building love, acceptance, compassion – for myself and for all others in the room. Try it out, and see if it changes your experience.
Tag Archives: energy alignment
(Inspiration comes from: “The Heart of Yoga”)
Yoga is a practice of observing yourself without judgement. Asana translates as “posture.” The word is derived from the Sanskrit root as which means “to stay,” “to be,” ‘to sit,” or “to be established in a particular position.” An asana has two important qualities – steadiness/alertness and the ability to remain comfortable in a posture. You could take this concept off the yoga mat and into your daily life. Ask, “am I being steady, alert, and comfortable within the position I am in?”
When we practice asanas there is a natural starting point where we begin, just the same as for anything else in life. The starting point for our practice is the condition of our entire being at that present moment. Because we are all changing constantly – our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our energies – even the exact same sequence of postures done in the same way will be a different experience every single time we do them. It is helpful for us to know – be aware – of our whole self so that we can advance step by step, developing our practice in accordance with our abilities.
Developing a yoga practice (life practice) according to this idea is referred to as vinyasa krama. Krama is the step, nyasa means to place, and the prefix vi- translates as “in a special way.” This concept tells us that it is not enough to simply take a step; that step needs to take us in the right direction and be made in the right way.
Inspired by passages within: “Yoga Mind, Body, and Spirit: A Return to Wholeness” by Donna Fahri
Take time to pause frequently and ask “Who am I becoming through this practice? Am I becoming the kind of person I would like to have as a friend?”
Our whole day offers us the opportunity to practice yoga. What we learn on our mat can be a reflection of where we are – our asana can be a powerful mirror for us. During asana, rather than focusing on the external form of your posture, learn to perceive progress through “invisible” signs. While your asana unfolds, it may be helpful to ask, “Am I moving towards greater kindness, patience, or tolerance? Am I calm and centered even when other people around me are fidgeting or distracted? Is the energy I am creating within my whole entire posture grounded, attentive, and at ease?” Check in with your breath to see if it is easily and fluidly moving through your body. When I find myself pushing my body to its limits just to feel the pose more intensely, I honor where I am and without judgement, and bring myself back into a pose that feels more like a compassionate offering.
I realize that what I create on my mat is going to be carried with me for the rest of the day. If I let go of the external form, and create a focused, calm, attentive, beautiful asana practice (a dance with my body following my breath) – that’s what carries me through my day. On the other hand, if I create pressure, pushing, resistance, holding of my breath (bottling) – then that is what unfolds throughout my day. Yoga is a disciplined practice – where we take care of and tend to each moment without judgement. We are all human – we fall and we will never be perfect (and that’s not the point anyway!!) – but we pick ourselves back up – look honestly at where we are at – and start walking the path again.
Inspired from Rick Hanson, P.H.D and Budda’s Brain – The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, & wisdom.
Let’s be mindful of the automatic mental processes that cause us to identify with a particular group (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, political party, nation), and then regard members of different groups as others. Focus on similarities between “us” and “them,” not differences. Recognize that everything is connected to everything else, that “us” is the whole wide world – that, in a deep sense, the entire planet is our home and the people on it are our extended family. Deliberately create mental categories that include us along with people we usually regard as not-us. For example, when we see someone in a wheelchair, consider the fact that we are all disabled in one way or another.
Be particularly mindful of the default processes of valuing our own group while devaluing others. Notice how often that valuing actually has no rational basis. Be aware of the little ways that our minds regard others as less of a person than our individual selves. Focus on the good things about people in other groups. Regard people more as individuals than as representatives of a group, which reduces prejudice.
Meditation on Loving Kindness
Find a posture that helps you remain relaxed and alert. Settle into your breath, establish some equanimity, some mental spaciousness and balance.
Be aware of the sensations of the breath in the region of your heart. Bring to mind the feeling of being with someone you love. Keep that feeling of love. Sense that love flowing through your heart, perhaps in a rhythm with your breath. Feel how that love has a life of its own, flowing through your heart, not specific to any one person.
Sense the love toward people you know, your friends and family. Feel that loving-kindness extending further out, to people you know who are neutral to you. With them the best, wish that they suffer less, and that they truly be happy.
You may feel loving-kindness like warmth or light or like a spreading pool, with gentle waves that extend further out to include more people. Feel this loving-kindness including even difficult people and people who may have harmed you. Wish that even they suffer less and be truly happy.
The peacefulness and strength of this loving-kindness flows outward even to people who you don’t know, whether you agree with them or not, whether you like them or not.
Keep feeling that flowing love as you watch your breath enter and leave your body.
Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
We all have a phenomenal amount of energy inside of us. It doesn’t come from food and it doesn’t come from sleep. This energy is always available to us. At any moment we can draw upon it. It just wells up and fills us up from inside. When we are filled with energy, we feel like we can take on the world. When it is flowing strongly, we can actually feel it coursing through us in waves. It gushes up spontaneously from deep inside and restores, replenishes, and recharges us.
The only reason we don’t feel this energy all the time is because we block it. We block it by closing our heart, closing our minds, and by pulling ourselves into a restrictive space inside. This closes us off from all the energy. When we close our hearts or close our minds, we hide in the darkness within ourselves. There is no light. There is no energy. This is nothing flowing. The energy is still there, but cannot flow.
That is what it means to be “blocked.” That is why we have no energy when we are depressed. There are energy centers (Chakras) within us that channel our energy flow. When we close them, there is no energy. When we open them, there is energy. Although various energy centers exist within us, the one we intuitively know the most about opening and closing is our heart. Let’s say that you love somebody, and you feel very open in their presence. Because you trust them, your walls come down allowing you to feel lots of high energy. But if they do something you don’t like, the next time you see them you don’t feel so high. You don’t feel as much love. Instead, you feel a tightness in your chest. This happens because you closed your heart. The heart is an energy center and it can open or close just like any other energy center.
True spiritual teachings are about this energy and how to open it. The only thing you have to know is that opening allows access to infinite energy and closing blocks it out. How much enthusiasm do you want to have for the things you do? If enjoying a full life means experiencing high energy, love and enthusiasm all the time, then don’t ever close.
There’s a very simple method for staying open. You stay open by never closing. It’s really that simple. all you have to do is decide whether you are willing to stay open, or whether you think it’s worth closing. Closing is a habit, and just like any other habit, it can be broken. It’s ultimately our control. The problem is, we don’t exercise that control. The more we learn to stay open, the more the energy can flow into us. Anytime we start to close, ask whether it is worth cutting off the energy flow.
A very important think in life is our inner energy. If we are always tired and never enthused, then life is no fun. But if we’re always inspired and filled with energy, then every minute of every day is an exciting experience. Learn to work with the energy centers and keep them open and flowing.
On my morning walk, there was an incredible automobile accident that happened right in front of me. It was loud, two autos were completely inoperable, and several folks were injured. No one died, but certainly their day is different… and for one of the drivers, their whole world is going to be turned upside down for many months to come, as they rehabilitate and heal.
What’s interesting is that I didn’t even see it take place. I was observing a runner off in the distance, coming down a hill, across the street from me. While I was right there, there’d be no way for me to offer a police report, as I didn’t see anything leading up to the accident. My focus and attention and awareness was way across the street, up the hill.
This accident brought several things to mind. First, our ability to broaden out our awareness and our ability to get narrowly focused and ponder where we are with our focus – in our lives, in situations at work, with loved ones, etc. Am I narrowly focused, can I broaden, and should I? Or vice versus. Am I too broadly focused, and should I narrow… and would a narrowing allow me to see a situation more clearly?
This accident also reminded me that our life situation IS what it IS…. in that moment – but it can change at any time. In an instant – for the better or worse – but that too just IS what it IS! I find being flexible to change serves me well, because change is inevitable. I’m grateful for what is smooth, and try not to stress about things that seem to be rough.
I’ve been writing a lot about yoga benefits lately because I seek to complete all the links on my Yoga Benefits page! Hang in there with me, more blogs about inner healing, personal transformation, passion, and focus coming your way soon!
Share your inner light – Amy
I thought this prior post was worth reposting, especially as the beautiful spring mornings and evenings are upon us!
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meaningful but purposeful path.
Labyrinths have long been used as a tool for meditation and prayer. A labyrinth
is a metaphor for life’s journey. Walking the labyrinth affords us an opportunity to go inside of ourselves and commune in the solitude of our own heart, mind, and soul.
Many people use the terms labyrinth and maze interchangeably; but the two are not the same. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind
alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into and out of the maze. A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal (one way). The way in is the way out. You cannot get lost. A labyrinth is a right brain task, and involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made, and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made: that choice is whether to enter and walk the spiritual path. A receptive mind is all that is needed.
Representing the deepest part of ourselves, the journey toward the center offers many opportunities for contemplation. Once one reaches the center, they are in a
place to receive the answers to their questions. On the journey out, a person is sent back into the world energized and with a broader sense of who they are
and what they are to become.
Three stages of the walk:
Letting go – a releasing, letting go of the details of your life. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions, letting the mind become quiet and empty.
Illumination – the center of the labyrinth. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive. Stay there as long as you like.
Integration – joining your Higher Power or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work your soul seeks.
Guidelines for the walk:
- Clear your mind and become aware of your breath.
- Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go.
- Pass people or let others step around you as it seems appropriate.
- The path is two ways. Those going in will meet those coming out.
Worldwide Labyrinth Locator: http://labyrinthlocator.com
*Adapted from instructions by Rev Dr. Lauren Artress, Vereditas.