She said our lives aren't as small, heavy, or boxed in as we think they are. What happens to us in our work lives, home, relationships, and politics becomes our entire world view. So when these areas have conflict or difficulty, we feel like our whole world is falling apart. Yoga gives us an expansion around that. It doesn't change our circumstances but creates expansion around them.
She said, imagine a rock being dropped into a glass of water (and how disruptive that would be). (Think of the rock representing difficulties or challenges). Now imagine that same rock dropping into a bathtub of water. Now imagine that same rock dropping into a lake. And next imagine that same rock dropping into an ocean. (See if you can feel what that feels like viscerally in your own being. Maybe even close your eyes and imagine it for a moment.) The ocean represents the expansion of your consciousness. Yoga can take us there.
The problem isn't the rock, it's that we're living like a glass of water instead of an ocean. We can't change our circumstances, what we can change is our perspective, what we know about who we truly are, as expansive as an ocean. Capable of holding all the conflicts in our lives without complete destruction as well as holding the glory and blessings in our lives from our great capacity of space, light, and love.
Pema Chodron uses another image to remind us of our true nature. She says, "You are the sky. Everything else is the weather." Again we are reminded of the expansiveness of our true being, the part of us that isn't identified by our name, occupation, family role, hair color, habit energies (good or bad), just our purity and essence of being. So expansive are we, capable of holding it all, the good glorious, beautiful weather as well as the worst storms imaginable.
This holding is within us and around us. Think of nature, Mother Earth, Divine Spirit, God. Yoga gives us the experience of this when we do our asana practice, sit in meditation, create a mudra with our hands, chant mantra of sacred sound. So many tools at our fingertips to tap into this energy that is within and around us.
Currently, I have been practicing and using some beautiful mantras that remind us of this teaching at the beginning of class, throughout my day, and as I prepare a beautiful array of mantras and dharma for my next kirtan this fall (keep your eyes out for a September date):
Ang Sang Wahe Guru (shared in a recent blog)
"the dynamic loving energy of the infinite is dancing in every limb and every cell of our being." This mantra "eliminates loneliness from our hearts and fills every cell of our bodies up with the awareness and the presence of Love."
Om Hreem Ham Sah So Hum Swaha, There is a Light, It never goes out, There is a Light
Hreem as the seed sound and light of the heart. Ham sah So Hum: I am that, that I am. I am divine consciousness, the expansiveness of the ocean, the expansiveness of the sky, the light of God.
Purnat Purnam Udachyate
Purnam Eva Vashishyate
That invisible absolute, origin of all things is complete, whole, perfect, and infinite.
This entire creation (including me) is made from that which means all of this phenomenal world (including me) is complete, whole, perfect, and infinite.
Both the absolute and the entire creation remain complete, whole, perfect, and infinite even though This was created, taken from That.
I've been asked what helps us come out when we get caught in a moment of stuckness, difficulty, darkness. We need a lifeline. Our breath is the simplest most direct one. Many teachers in the Yoga Day Summit referenced it as the one tool they would offer to listeners.
A four part breath (pranayama) was mentioned by two different teachers as a practice to use.
Breathe in for a count of 4,
Hold the in breath for a count of 4,
Breathe out for a count of 4, and
Hold the out breath for a count of 4.
Try it for a few rounds and see how you feel.
Try it for 2, 5, or 10 minutes a day, Maybe twice a day, Maybe even during a glorious or difficult moment of the day and see how you feel. A repetitive practice like this accumulates over time and days and months and years to create a stronger wider pathway to return to our ocean or sky nature a bit more quickly when we need to.
Using the above mantras is a beautiful and helpful lifeline to me. To be reminded and awaken the energy of each or any of the above three is so helpful. Listen to a recording of it or say it to yourself quietly, or sing along with the recording, or learn it so well and let your heart sing and sing it out loud to change your vibration.
We are here together to help with the holding and the reminding. We can be each others life lines by living with authenticity as we feel safe enough to be with those in our lives who are doing the work right along with us. Anand Mehrotra (in one of his amazing Yoga Summit Talks) said, We are all walking each other to self-realization. I've heard Ram Dass cited as saying, We are all here just walking each other back home. It may not always be that sweet in our relationships. However, going to self-realization and going back home to Living as and Ocean and Remembering we are the Sky is not always a comfortable process. It is often our difficulties and challenges that break us open and drive us to the necessity of these practices and expand us even further because of the discomfort into our expansiveness. And, sometimes it is that sweet and it is a loving moment, a beautiful serene moment in nature that brings us to immediate realization. Stay open to the process. Written with and sending along to you so much love and wishes for freedom and joy for you!
Join me for a yoga class, workshop, or private session to go deeper into these practices with support and community. Click the "follow" button on my blogsite to stay informed with dharma sharing and workshop, yoga class, and subbing schedules. My WEEKLY classes are at Naturally Yoga in Glen Rock on Wednesdays at 1pm; Highland Yoga in Butler on Tuesdays at 9am and Saturdays at 9:45; CRUNCH in Midland Park on Wednesdays at 6am. I will be SUBBING at Naturally Yoga THIS Sunday, July 15th, 8am and NEXT Thursday, July 19th, 9:30am.