I once had a friend tell me that teaching yoga was not a “real job.” I was, at the time, working 40+ hours a week managing a yoga studio and teaching full-time, so it sure felt like real job to me. When she said this to me, I had been contemplating going back to the stability and steadiness a corporate job provides. Money was tight and I had bills to pay. She thought “my break” in the yoga world would keep me from building a resume employers were seeking.
I really love this photo. For me it is the perfect representation of the practice of gratitude. If you can imagine your Self as this bowl, or sacred vessel, then you can visualize filling it up with sentiments of gratitude until your bowl is overflowing. In this way, you’re able to experience the abundance of life all around you.
I recently posted about the overwhelming daily messages of need more, want more in our society. Yoga practice gives us the tools to fill up on all the good stuff the universe has to offer and by so doing, we become more present, aware, and enriched. Filling up is more than just an exercise. When done consistently it becomes a way of life.
Look at this picture and see the bowl as your Self. As it is right now, it’s an empty vessel. But when you get to the bottom of it, it asks “what are you grateful for?”…
|Om Namah Shivaya|
A few months ago I had this crazy dream where I was in a field with a bunch of people that were carrying on with all kinds of antics and shenanigans, hooligans I think I called them. All of a sudden I sat down in sukhasana (easy seated pose) and started meditating and chanting this month’s mantra of the month–Om Namah Shivaya. As I did, everything around me started to change color and sparkle. And as the chanting got louder, the colors got more vibrant; the whole dream world was vibrating!
I’ve had some crazy dreams before, but this one topped the charts! Curious, I asked a good yogi friend what she thought of my dream. She wasn’t quite sure but thought perhaps that’s what I needed to be; the calm amidst all the chaos and the craziness.
Whether the dream meant anything at all is another story, but in the meantime, it’s worth discussing this powerful mantra. Om Namah Shivaya is a five syllable mantra or Panchakshara Mantra, with each of the five syllables relating to earth, water, fire, air and space. Roughly, it means “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self and the name of your true identity. Chanting this mantra is said to take you back to the source–your Self.
Listen and sing!
There are a ton of great resources for this mantra. What are some of your favorites?
-H.H. Dalai Lama
His Holiness is right. No matter how much we talk about living a compassionate and loving life, we must first learn to be compassionate and loving to ourselves. How can we practice non-violence towards other beings, without learning to quiet the negative discourse that runs through our minds. How can we possibly know what it means to give love when we are not open and ready to receive love? How can we understand what it means to accept others, even (and most importantly) for their faults if we cannot accept ourselves? Simply put, we can’t…not in the sort of way his Holiness means anyway.
As my practice has developed, I have found great strength in learning to accept myself as I am, without apologies. No, I’m not the most beautiful or talented or whatever, but I’m uniquely me and there’s no one else like me in the world. I no longer weigh myself every morning, feel bad if I have an extra dessert or beat myself up nearly as much as I used to about petty little things. Sure, I have my moments, but hey…I’m human after all. That’s why the practice is so important. We learn through practice that to experience, we must first start with ours[S]elves, both big and small so that gradually, as your practice deepens, your circle of compassion expands beyond yourself.
Learn to love and accept yourself and you will learn what it means to love and accept others.
[photo: Camdiluv ♥ AmmyLynn]
Woohoo! I just got home an adventurous weekend in Las Vegas! It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision. Don’t worry! I did not run away and get married, but I will say that two other people (who shall remained nameless) did! 🙂
This was not my first visit to Vegas. In fact, I have been there a few times before and both were fantastic. I loved the lights, the people, the food, the fun! So this time around, I was really looking forward to having fun and living it up! And while most of that held true, there were a few exceptions.
Maybe it was the group of people I was with, or perhaps I’m getting a little too old for Vegas shenanigans (although, I’d like to think that’s not entirely true), but I didn’t leave feeling quite the love I had in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of being out of town, on vacation, and away from work, but more often than not, instead of relishing in the happenings all around me, I longed for silence and peace.
Case in point, I did not stay out past midnight (save for the first evening). I longed for (and often kicked myself for not bringing) my neti pot–I forgot how smoky those casinos are! My favorite parts of the vacation did not include taking shots, clubbing, playing slots, and/or any other Hangover movie-esque type moments. Instead, I relished in eating fresh fruit crepes and pastries at the Bellagio, reading books in the morning before heading out on day long excursions, lounging by the pool, catching up with my good friend, and going to see Ka. In fact, most of the pictures I took included flowers and some fish from the Shark Reef exhibit. No crazy party nights here!
Vegas is over-stimulation and escapism at it’s finest. Anything you want, any time of day you want it, it’s there. It’s a fantasy land in the middle of nowhere. And while that’s perfect for some, it wasn’t really for me this time around.
As yogis, we aim to focus the attention inward, withdraw the senses through pratyahara, and cultivate awareness and connection with the True Self. What with all the blinking lights, people, noises, and carrying-s on around me it was nearly impossible to be peaceful. Being stuck in a place that is based on over-consumption emphasized for me that I do not need to consume (visually, physically, energetically, etc.) everything around me to be happy and have fun. What I did and needed to do was listen to myself, enjoy each moment, not attach to any want or desire (i.e. winning it big at the penny slots!), and relax. In the end, this trip became less of an escape and more of a practice in patience, tolerance, compassion, and release.
I am happy to be home. I will say, coming back, I feel much more grounded in my day-to-day activities. I would even go as far as saying that I feel more committed to my practice, my writing, my health, and my time. I don’t imagine I’ll be heading back to Vegas in the near future, but maybe the next time I go, I’ll be better prepared for how this Capricious Yogi will handle it.