The last year and a half of my life has been wrought with almost paralyzing fear. In April of 2007 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It completely changed my life. Learning that you have a chronic, degenerative illness can be very disheartening and also very scary. At first I was completely terrified. Would I be able to teach and do yoga? Would I lose my primary career as a public school teacher? Would I lose my health insurance? Would I lose my home? In addition to my fears about what I would lose, there were the initial, serious health issues. The first symptoms I experienced included vertigo and double vision. I was so sick at first that I could not stop vomiting. With the help of a variety of medications, I managed to get balanced enough to continue working but every day was a living hell. I was so afraid. At the time, I didn’t even know what was wrong with me. Then, two weeks after the first symptoms of vertigo I started vomiting blood and was rushed to the ER. My best friend later told me I could have died. When I first faced the prospect of my own death I was filled with calm. All of my fear disappeared, and for the first time I looked out on the world without the veil of terror that clouded my life. I awoke every day, thankful for my life. Every day after that moment became a gift. After a few months of living with MS, my fears began to reemerge. In fact, they almost submerged me completely. The only thing that brought me back to myself was my breath. My breath and the idea that I must stay entirely present. I would tell myself, “Just get through the next ten minutes,” and then I would. I lived a minute at a time for a very long time. I kept doing yoga, meditation and breathe work and in time, I could look at my life more than ten minutes at a time. Why do I tell you this? Yoga has the power to heal even our worst wounds. Breath grounds us. Being present helps us focus only on the things right in front of us. It helps us shed past and future. I have found that by not focusing on these things, staying grounded in each precious moment, we can survive anything. So use your yoga to combat your fears and anxieties and in the release of fear, find your freedom!
Oh divine spirit within, Fill me with serenity. Show me the difference Between the real And the unreal, The contrast between darkness And light. Lead me from the shadow of death To an immortality of the soul.
Help me yield to my destiny Let me surrender self, That I might know peace Give me strength of conviction. Fill me with certainty About who I am So that I might know my purpose. Bolster me, So that I might best Serve my world in love.
Start your meditation by pulling the sit bones out from underneath you to create a solid foundation. Lengthen your spine and reach through the crown of your head, neck is long. Let your lids soften. Become aware of your breath. Notice the sensation of it in your body. Use the breath to anchor you in the present moment. Forget everything that came before this, any expectations you have about your practice and set the intention to be entirely present on your mat. Don't worry about what is coming after your practice.
Focus on your breath. Seal your lips and take a deep inhale through your nose. Exhale through your nose. Continue to breathe like this throughout your practice, returning to your breath any time you need to slow your heart. Use the breath to anchor you in the present moment.
Fill your mind with something beautiful. Take a moment to reflect on the beautiful image that comes to mind. Then, place your hands over your heart for a moment, focusing on that thought. Inhale your arms high to lotus mudra, letting the hands blosssom open. Offer something up as you come into your practice.
Yogic philosophy states that if you can just find your "true self," you will find peace and joy. Inside each of us is the spark of the divine, called Atman. Inside each of us is a pure self, a true teacher-- The Sadguru who always intuitively knows what's best for us.
Sometimes finding our true self is harder than expected. It can be like peeling an onion. Each layer must be carefully removed to reveal the purest self that lies beneath. So today, pull back those layers to discover your Sadguru, you might be surprised what you find.