Thursday, October 29, 2009

Controlling Suffering

To react is to suffer. To react is often to become frustrated and irritated. I know these things and yet I find myself coiled to react. Why am I coiled? Perhaps it is my modus operandi, and old pattern and set of conditioning I find it difficult to break. Why am I so frustrated? Frankly, I am frustrated for ridiculous reasons. I am frustrated by the excuses. I am frustrated by the failure of others to take responsibility. I am frustrated by a bunch of whining and complaining with no active attempts at solutions but the bottom line is; why am I even letting this affect me?

Why do the actions of others even bother me? Why must I always be in control?

To practice yoga completely is to let go. Let go of outcome. Let go of expectation. Let go of ego and self. Just be. Just be. Live and let live. Keep your inner light alive. Keep shining still and pure. Keep your personal integrity and center, that you might truly know peace, love and compassion. See others with the soft light of empathy. You are not perfect, so don’t expect others to be. Love and accept others even with all their flaws. Seek your own peace that you might lend it to the world in peace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ahimsa and Love for Self

One meaning associated with the sanskrit word "Ahimsa" is the word "Love." Love can mean so many things. We can love our families. We can love our friends. We can even love our pets.

When we hear the word love, we often think of romance but there is also love for humanity. This can manifest as a goodwill toward our fellow man, or in a deeper sense when we are moved by the desire to give our love to others in service. This is called "Karma yoga." Ultimately we cannot truly practice love for anyone else until we can learn to successfully love ourselves.

Loving oneself can also mean many things. It means compassion for yourself, forgiving our own weaknesses or errors. It means finding those things about ourselves that are loveable and then cherishing those things.

Today I want you to look inside and think of at least one thing about yourself that is beautiful and loveable. Sometimes this is hard. We are conditioned that there is grace in humility and that it is not positive to applaud ourselves but the truth is; sometimes we need to applaud ourselves. So find that beautiful thing inside of you, place your hands over your heart and be with it. Then take a moment to love yourself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ahimsa and Compassion for Self

At the heart of yoga, is the idea of Ahimsa. While this sanskrit word has many connotations, it is commonly associated with the ideas of non-harming and non-violence. At its core, Ahimsa signifies love and compassion. In order to truly practice Ahimsa, one must first learn to love oneself.

Central to the hatha or physical practice, is the notion of compassion for self. You must learn to love and take care of yourself before you can offer your love to the world. It is only through the practice of loving oneself, that we can become whole enough to practice ahimsa in our interactions with others. Today I encourage you to have compassion on yourself when you practice, to back off and to give yourself the love you deserve. You are your own best teacher!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beyond Suffering

I was reminded the other day of the important teachings regarding suffering. We need not suffer. Suffering comes from our reactions to external stimuli. When we do not allow ourselves to become reactive, we do not suffer. Pain comes from allowing things outside ourselves to stir our internal flame.

I like to imagine that at my core is a candle. The fire is forever steady and calm until some wind is allowed to stir it. If I do not allow the wind to blow in my sanctuary, then my candle burns steadily and without fail. The candle fills me with warmth and light. It gives me all the glow and strength I need to feel peaceful and happy.

When I notice my flame being swayed by a breeze, I need to take control of my mind and my reactions. The best way I have found to do this is to focus on my breath. When I feel myself becoming agitated or wound up, I just need to stop and slow my breathing. It helps to close my eyes and to focus only on the breath for a time. Eventually, I feel my heart rate decrease and my mind begins to slow. The breath takes me back to a state of equilibrium. Since I began this practice to overcome suffering, I have only become minimally agitated. Even those feelings pass quickly with each breath.

Remember, you alone can control your suffering so turn inward, breath and watch your reactions.