Tag Archives: Rakhi Kumar

Wordplay Wednesday: Don’t Go Gently Into That Good Night

"The LORD is my Light..."Shining light into dark places is going to bring to light what was not seeable otherwise.
Illumination may well show you the true nature of things as they are, not as you had imagined or wanted.
Beware.
It can be unsettling. Shadows will dance.

Because you are going to see the true nature of the relationships you hold most dear to you, and the perception of you within them.

Careful.

The light of awareness may just show you that you are ultimately alone – more alone than you had ever known or imagined.

But as the searing light falls upon those dancing shadows, know that if met with equanimity and acceptance, you will see ultimately that every black detail of this revelation is a deeply beautiful gift.

Finally, and with undoable knowledge – you now know the Truth. You will not, again, look for something where it is not. The Truth will have been spoken. And it will be heard in all its terrible glory:  you are not wanted, understood or supported.
And in this message there is the fiercest kind of  beauty.

Because in this message, there is liberation. And the deepest healing.
You may finally- at last – stop running.
You finally see. You finally know.
Never again will you delude yourself into thinking something is what it is not.
And this is beautiful.

‘Do not go gently in to that good night..’

Be prepared to see your image shine back at you standing all alone – as others cut loose from you, insisting your difference, screaming a shrill and loud rejection of you.

Know that in this too, when met with internal stillness, there is beauty.
There is cleansing.
The old is falling away.

Clean Sense.
This is the gift of shining lights in the dark.
This is the gift of diwali and eclipses.
The festival of light and shadows.
Ultimately the work of the light is for healing.

Illumination will remove shadows.
And relieved of chasing shadows – you are finally, forever free.
The Truth Is Beautiful.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram

Welcome the Light

Originally posted on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

The Whale Song: Ancient Healing for Primal Pain

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Sometimes your pain is primal.

Like a a spectrum of dark light that wants to fall on every aspect your being. Wordless turmoil churning inside you, threatening to explode into your life if you can’t contain it, or don’t escape it, or if you fail at keeping it far, far away. At times like this there’s a need for healing. But who can heal a darkness like this?

Who can reach into a darkness so intense that it is winning in those moments – holding you in a space impenetrable to light? In ancient wisdom traditions, for this there is whale song.

Not all saviors of the human condition come in human form. A darkness as primal and as ancient as ours can be met only with a force equally as primal and ancient. For this, there is whale song.

Listen.

They are communicators. Their song is a song of healing. It will dissolve darkness with its perfect frequencies of ancient knowing. You will cry. You will feel a gentle light washing over you. You will feel a restoration happening in your cells.

Gradually, you will feel saved. They are our ancient safe keepers. They are our primal guardians. They come to heal us. They sing for us to remember. For us to rest. For our love to be restored.

They hold the light in the most ancient of dark places. They will release you back to the light.

* * *

Resources:

1. Modern researchers have successfully recorded whale song the world over.

The whale song is constant. We sometimes record song samples twenty four hours a day. The song rarely ceases. Do the whales create this soundscape to give solace to the newborn in the hours of darkness? In the dark of night, in the deep ocean, only the stars and the song bring hope for the dawn.The Ocean Project

2. Click here to play a recording of whale song shared by Sacred Swims & Communication with Humpback Whales on Soundcloud.

3. Try playing whalesong when anxiety surfaces in you. Have a hot shower or bath. Put on relaxing clothes. Light a candle. And lay still. Let the whale song play. Let it wash over you. If you can, let it play as you fall asleep overnight.

Repeat at least 3-4 times a week.

 

Photo credit: Facebook

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

A is for Alignment: NASA, Spirituality, and Our Evolving Universe

heic1316aAn Alignment is the synchronization of apparently separate events and elements into one singular harmonic convergence. In all spiritual traditions, the phenomenon of Alignment is both a prerequisite to and a signifier that things are unfolding with an underlying intelligence and order to them.

It’s both highly desirable and highly auspicious because it’s a marker that dissonance and chaos have been collapsed and that coherence has become the prevailing vibration.

When Alignments occur, there’s an opportunity for a quantum shift: to take not just the next step, but to move through dimensions and find yourself in a space where you’re ready to take the 10,008th step as if you had already made all of the ones in between.

It can happen in careers:

When after years of trying to get your scientific research funded and noticed by the relevant players in your field, you find out that all the players who you want to work with are coming to your department for a 3 day review and you have been selected to organize their welcome and farewell reception; this is an Alignment.

It can happen in families:

When you unite with your mother and two brothers for a Christmas holiday, putting you all in the same place at the same time for the first time in 9 years due to you all living in different countries now – and within 24hrs of your all being together, you receive a phone call telling you that your estranged father, who abandoned his family 20 years earlier, has died and you should all come together now to arrange his passing ceremonies; This is an Alignment.

It can happen in relationships:

When the first man you have said yes to in six years for a date, is driving you to a kirtan on your first date together, and you both find out that the closest female friend you’ve made in the SoCal town you have just moved to all the way from Europe, happens be his best friend of the last 10 years. This is an Alignment.

***

All Alignments have the effect of triggering irreversible healing and transformation.

When the Alignment is over,  you find yourself in a different position from where you were before – as if you stepped through a Stargate that transported you to a different place than the one you were in before it ever happened.

Mostly, when an Alignment is over, you may feel like you have evolved.

No Alignment is ever accidental, although why it is happening may not always be understood as it happens.

Just like it is hard to make observations about evolution when we watch it in real time, what is happening during an Alignment may not be understood in real time as it happens.

And just like evolution, or history, it is when we look retrospectively that we can begin to understand the lasting changes, the transformations that emerged and changed our reality in palpable ways from any given Alignment in a particular period of time.

***

Today, Nasa’s Hubble Telescope ran a story called ‘Bizarre Alignment of Planetary Nebulae’ in which it reported that over 100 nebulae are unexpectedly, to the deep surprise of scientists, showing an alignment with our galaxy.

All these nebulae formed in different places and have different characteristics. Neither the individual nebulae, nor the stars that formed them, interact with other planetary nebulae. However… Many of these…appear to have their long axes aligned along the plane of our galaxy…While any alignment at all is a surprise, to have it in the crowded central region of the galaxy is even more unexpected…

From a spiritual perspective, an Alignment is marker of evolution in progress. Change is happening.

Exactly what and how is being transformed, can be properly understood only after the Alignment is over.

Until then, we can put our faith in the only thing we can all trust: the knowledge that evolution can not be stopped.

 

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality.

Photo credit: NASA Hubble

Why Edward Snowden Represents the Triumph Over Ignorance

Mahabharat05ramauoft_1064A long long time ago, when demons stole the sacred texts of ancient India, Vishnu took the form of Hayagriva, and fought the great fight with the demons until he slayed them and won back the sacred knowledge – Truth –  and returned the Vedas to Brahma.

The battle was enormous because everything was at stake. Without Truth there could only be darkness, ignorance, fear and manipulation. The future of mortals and of gods rested on the Truth being found and restored and shared – for the benefit of all sentient beings in all dimensions.

I like to believe in Hayagriva: an incarnation of Vishnu, seated on a white lotus with the body of a man and the head of a horse – representing the triumph of illuminating intelligence and pure knowledge over ignorance and darkness. I like to believe in a world like that with a being like that.

Because fast forward to planet earth 2013: Amnesty International UK reported this week that the British government oversaw the destruction of the Guardian’s and the Observer’s hard drives on British soil because they refused to stop reporting on Edward Snowden’s disclosure about NSA surveillance.

In the world we live in, reporters can no longer email each other and are flying to different parts of the world to deliver stories and exchange information in person. Their electronic correspondence is being intercepted – as is all of ours. But those who are paid to tell the story may no longer speak freely. Sharing the truth with the wider world is no longer a freedom given in the free world.

Clearly there is a struggle going on. There are forces that would bind us to ignorance, and keep us in darkness if only we would just comply. After news like today’s, when events take a turn as they have, I had gotten to wondering –  how will this end?

Who, I wondered, is going to bring Truth and pure, unfiltered intelligence back to us now?

If human rights agencies are reporting abuses happening in the free world on the order of the leaders of the most democratized, developed and advanced nations on this planet, who amongst us mortals will be strong or resilient enough to fight forces as dark and as invincible as those before us – and win?

A few hours later, I found out that today of all days, is Hayagriva’s birthday.

At the end of each age, when the demon Ajnana steals the Vedic knowledge, Lord Hayagriva appears and preserves it. Then He delivers it to Lord Brahma. At the end of the millennium, ignorance personified assumed the form of a demon, stole all the Vedas and took them down to the planet of Rasatala. The Supreme Lord, however, in His form of Hayagriva retrieved the Vedas and returned them to Lord Brahma.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 5:18 Summary

Hayagriva’s victory isn’t on any battlefield, political, ideological or electronic – out there. It’s on the battlefield of our individual soul. What he did when he wrestled the Vedas out of the hands of the asuras was to save the deepest truths about the real nature of things from being lost in the darkest depths of the ocean of ignorance and unconsciousness within us.

If we call on him, we should not expect a revolution out there, but instead a revolution in our hearts. True freedom is born from seeing the reality of a thing. And you can’t slay anything, especially not a demon, if you don’t have clear awareness of true, underlying nature of the thing.

So the calling of Hayagriva is a call to Self awareness. The greater the number of people who are aware of the Truth, the more illumined the world, and the more diminished the influence of darkness upon it.

The only way out is in.

The more enlightened we are, the more enlightened our choice of leaders will be. If it’s really time for a new paradigm, the shift has to begin within. And according to the Vedas, the most powerful way to begin that shift is to invoke the archetypes of the destroyers of ignorance throughout time and space.

No better time than the birthday of the archetypal being that wrestled the Truth out of the hands of demons to get it to us.

In Hindu mythology Hayagriva’s role as the defender of pure intelligence and pure knowledge earns him the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’.

So this evening, on a blue moon in August, in the middle of a world that is clearly entrenched in great battles, battles in which the Truth is at stake. On this evening, which happens to be Hayagriva’s birthday, I will follow the Vedic path and call on Hayagriva to illumine my heart and bring intelligence and pure knowledge to my being.

And invite you to too.

Keep the Faith.

 

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality.

Sadhana: Your Key to a Life Less Ordinary

i_love_octoberAtma Vidya means knowledge of the Soul.

The Vedas say there are technologies to achieve whatever you want to. Nothing is impossible to experience. The life you want is not beyond you.

They say that time and matter are limitations that can be transcended.

You are not someone who can not get better from your unwellness or someone destined to be alone, or someone without the money you need to make ends meet, or someone who will never be a successful artist, or someone who can not conceive (more?) children.

You are not a secretary, you are god!

You are the infinite potential of consciousness made manifest, and if you master the wisdom, that experience and that reality, you can experience and realize everything that you have ever wanted.

But you don’t do it on your own.

You need a guru – a teacher. Guru literally means dispeller of darkness. One who extinguishes dark simply because they are light. Darkness simply dissolves in a room if you turn on a light. Poof! It’s gone.

In this way, the guru dissolves our ignorant perception of our limited self by bringing us the Awareness we need to realize our true Self. The thing is, gurus ask for us to listen. Like any trainer they want our discipline. Like any trainer they set exercises and a routine and they expect for us to follow it. There are practices we must perform and repeat every day, and sometimes with additional intensity.

And like all trainers, they ask us to push ourselves outside our comfort zones. They teach things that kind of seem a bit out there to me and you in the modern world. Just like all trainers they want our commitment and surrender. Because, they will tell you, and as you can see, they have a method that most evidently works.

Sometimes on the spiritual path you find yourself awake at 3am BST chanting mantras and setting intentions, and you may realize that you’re living with a different set of practices and priorities from most of the rest of the world.

The guru brought you here. What are you doing?

Sadhana. That’s what you’re doing. Sadhana is a discipline set with the intent of realizing a spiritual goal. Remember what you’re here for: this quest for a thing called ‘Atma -Vidya’ – the knowledge of the Soul.

And it tells you that what you are doing is both necessary and perfect for what you intend to experience. There’s an intelligence at a cosmic level that bypasses your intellectual understanding and it makes you believe there’s an overriding magic in the universe that you can hitch your dreams to.

But the magic doesn’t happen out there. It happens inside You. It happens essentially in you coming to experience your self as a Soul and then living and taking action as a conscious Soul. There is an art, they say, to creating the life that you want to live: a life that is more colorful and vivid and satisfying and rich; a life less ordinary – and just like you don’t doubt that working out is one way of realizing a physical goal, accept that the way toward revealing your Soul – is through Sadhana.

So carry on with your Sadhana. Practice. Absorb everything you can learn from the guru.

Meditate from 3am in the morning till 6. Say your mantra 1008 times a morning. Do 108 or 54 or 27 sun salutations a day for 108 days if that’s what your teacher says might help. Ask for your name to be placed in the fire lab/homa when the moon is full in Uttarashada. Spend 10 days in vipassana. Become celibate for a while. Or for a lifetime. Offer sweets to a cow in a field, or feed rice to fish in the ocean.

And when you find yourself laughing at how crazy it all seems, remember that no matter how you look at it, the every day world is a pretty upside down place too.

Remember that you want to make quantum leaps into a different space. And remember that logic and rationale are definitely not going to take you there. And remember that for 5000 years or more, there are teachers who have been telling us that we are able to create a different quality of experience by living with a conscious Soul.

Remember that what you are doing is being open to being taught something you did not know before.

And then when you’ve done your Sadhana, keep calm, keep quiet and carry on with life in the modern world. It’s not something you have to announce to anyone. It’s between you and your guru – and your quest for Atma Vidya.

And, if sometimes, in the middle of all of this you think really, why am I doing all this stuff – then let this be a mantra too: if you want to have something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.

 

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

I’m Not Your B****, Yo. (And Neither is Beyonce. Or Any Woman Ever)

beyonce-breastplate-nipple-costume-1This article references a previous blog I wrote, entitled: An Open Letter to Michelle Obama: Beyonce is Not a Role Model

Two months, an estimated 300,000+ readers, and over 30,000 actual Facebook likes after I wrote the Beyonce piece, I’ve gotten a piece – a piece of everyone and the world’s mind.

(As  precursor here I should say that in this article I am not singling out any one person who sent me messages in ‘conversation’ no matter how strong their position because I don’t think that’s fair. But, for those writers who published reply articles (that I know about) and who actually wanted readers, I am citing those here with links attached for people to visit and read.)

Through that lovely vehicle of social media, the #Beyhive came out, appropriately in droves: warm, fuzzy and stinging. They told me I should ‘watch my back’, that my ‘very life was in danger’, that I was ‘a ho’, that I had a ‘double chin’, and rather directly that I needed ‘more dick’ in my life. Aah. I see – #girlsruntheworld.

Others were less clever, if more labored in noting their contempt: In a departure from its title, a website called The Moderate Voice wrote a reply article with the clearly immoderate title ‘The Dumbest Thing I’ve Read This Week‘. Elsewhere someone studying for an MPhil in Linguistics at Oxford penned an essay in reply on ‘The Complexity of Beyonce“. One person in total commented on this essay, saying that they ‘think Beyonce and Jay-Z are poor role models based on their sick infatuation with wearing the murdered bodies of innocent animals as coats, garish shoes and other gruesome garments’. When I read this, I couldn’t help thinking that often times for many of us, it’s just not a very complex world at all.

Some people thought Beyonce’s costume was a celebration of the primal goddesses of ancient cultures. It was an emancipated return of the divine feminine rising, they wrote to me: ‘Can’t you see? You with your spirituality blog. Ha!’ I asked myself how could I have been blind to this? Where was my awareness of the divine feminine when it showed up and shimmied in my face? Inspired, I looked into it and found out the dress designers who produced the piece said their inspiration for the costume was to create ‘one of  the most glamorous and provocative looks she’s ever worn…(to) give the illusion of being covered in crystalized honey…’

Oh. Sweet.

They also said the costume was a collaboration between Beyonce and her mom. Such a nice mom and daughter project – perhaps all the women who wrote and said they had just had baby girls and would love to see their daughter grow into a Beyonce will want to try this for a first grade Halloween. Why wait till she’s a multi-million $ earner who has no material need to ‘earn’ her money like this. Ladies, you already know that I ‘just don’t get it.’ You’ve written to tell me so. But you know what – if it works for you – go ahead, make it happen: Objectify Her Now. Perhaps if you mobilize the power of the #Beyhive in support of this, Beyonce will issue a home-costume-design-kit for this one.

I’ll still be scratching my head at the hashtag, that’s all:

#honeygirlsruntheworldbysingingsongslookingliketheyarenakedcoveredinhoney

Elsewhere, others were impassioned to write that my feminism was not theirs (I agree completely) although they mistakenly decided I have zero education in the practices, and circumstances that lead to sex trafficking (especially urban USA), and also decided I conflated voluntary sex work with trafficking. They also confused an essay about the dangers of presenting the notion of feminine success as being dependent on sexualizing the self to very young girls, with the idea that I as its author wanted grown women to suppress their sexuality because it was shameful. They wrote about the rights of women to choose sex work, they wanted to ‘call me out’ for my own lack of liberation.

I never wrote it in my piece because it was so unrelated, but for what it’s worth let me say it here: women who are adults engaged in consensual, safe, sex or erotic work that you enjoy, and find personally fulfilling and that you do by your own independent choice: more power to you. What you do as adult women is your business. Literally. The question in the original piece was never about an adult woman’s freedom to make her own choices in an adult environment. The question was about the packaging to very young girls a message that ultimate feminine success for them comes with the necessity to sexualize themselves.

Lastly, sometimes I saw some things about some people talking – shouting mostly, actually – about ‘slut shaming’. I read my piece again when I got these comments just to check if I’d lost my mind and written something irresponsible but I hadn’t: I did NOT write a piece that supported the idea that women or young girls are ever responsible for the prejudices imposed on them by society. I did write a piece that said that women who present themselves as recording artists targeting young girls as their audience, who then present themselves to those young audiences in overtly sexualized terms – are not role models for our young girls.

Once that was set aside, the feelings of being unwilling to engage in a conversation about ‘slut shaming’ set in and here, after some reflection, I can finally articulate why:

When I was little, the part of the world where I come from, they called me a Paki. But you know what – I don’t care how ubiquitous the term, I never was and never will be anyone’s Paki. No British Asian ever was or ever will be anyone’s Paki. We are individuals of separate and sometimes collective origins: human beings commanding the same human right to live in peace, freedom, and dignity as anyone else on earth.

Re-appropriating an offensive slur is not a route I am prepared to go down in order to claim my empowerment – or to stand for the the empowerment of anyone else. I may not stand with popular culture in saying this, but I say no.

Beyonce – just like every woman on this planet – can never be called a ‘slut’.

Just like I am never going to be anyone’s – not Jay-Z’s nor even #QueenBey’s – ‘bitch’.

Just like Jay-Z – like every other black man on earth – can never be called anyone’s ‘nigga’.

The brutality of the language we choose in addressing the other is deliberate.

If we want to address issues about the inequality suffered by some of us because of social values that judge us, then – no matter what the mood, or how strong the sway of popular culture – let’s exercise some awareness in the words we use. Let’s not start the conversation by framing those whose interests we stand for in a language that is inherently demeaning. Let’s begin the conversation instead with a language that acknowledges each person’s innate right to equality, respect, and dignity. Let’s not close off our hearts in an effort to make a point.

All points made with a closed heart are lost. Let’s keep our hearts open and meet one another, differences and all – especially differences and all – with respect, dignity, with Love.

And speaking of Love: someone tell me, where is it in the just released: ‘Turnt’ by The Dream featuring Beyonce and 2 Chainz?

Far more than the views I received above, tens of thousands of people weighed in on this subject with support for what I wrote. They’ve also messaged me, and I think in essence they’re asking the same questions I did in my piece.

For anyone still wondering why it’s time to move beyond rampant music industry misogyny that recruits female superstars as proponents of a toxic ideology, take a look at the video for this track featuring Beyonce’s vocals. Let me know if this is kind of partnership one should expect of our complex, feminist heroes of the twenty first century.

For my part, when I saw this video I stopped to think about what makes a person successful. And I came back to saying that the Buddha said:

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.
Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

10 Ways You Know You’ve Become the Ultimate Annoying (and Lovable) Transatlantic Yogi

Meditation RoomMost of us may find ourselves wondering sometimes if it’s an upside down world.

But maybe especially so when the journey you’re making means you have to first go bi-coastal across the USA and then carry on to make a transatlantic crossing all in one transit plan. 6000 miles in under 24hrs, multiple stops – with 300 passengers on each of your flights, tens of thousand of people going through airports with you, airline staff, baggage staff, hotel staff and transit drivers: in 24 hrs of less, you get to see the whole world.

It’s intense.

No one can say that yoga can’t help us when we’re involved in as much intensity as this. It’s relaxing, right? It’s stress relieving. It’s stretching. Everyone can use a little yoga on airport days.

But beware. There are signs that you’ve crossed the line from being someone who sometimes does yoga to being a yogi when you start doing things that are as natural to you as they are probably irritating to people around you – but you really can’t help it!

Because whilst everyone else is just trying to make the whole flight/layover/connection as ‘enjoyable’ an experience as it can be given the circumstances, you may instead be contemplating the extent to which we humans will go just to avoid the sensation of suffering: serving alcohol on airplanes to offer stress and boredom relief; offering continuous in-flight entertainment to provide distraction from long hours; enabling shopping from the air or in airports to give the feeling of pleasure when actually airplanes and airports are all about pressure.

And you might consciously decide not to seek pleasure as a response to pressure. You might choose to respond to the 6000 mile half-way-round-the-world 24 hour ride with the commitment to maintain as much stillness as you can for every single moment of the journey, so that when you get to your final destination you have all the energy, poise, and clarity you need to do whatever in the world you would go such a distance to do.

If you’re doing these 10 things, be warned: you’re a transatlantic traveling yogi, taking the journey at a pace all of your own, quite possibly irritating others with your daft and baffling ways, breathing in and breathing out as the world keeps turning, and things just keep moving – and maybe, you wouldn’t have it any other way…

  1. As soon as your transatlantic flight is in the air, you don’t even think about viewing the film choices because instead you have a short list of favorite mantras that you love silently chanting, and now you’re thinking about which ones you’ll repeat for each one of the hours that you’re in the air – and wondering what sequence it would be best to do them in…no, really.
  2. On a transatlantic flight you get up after a few hours in the air and start doing gentle ‘stretches’ in the aisle that happen to involve casually balancing on your left leg, whilst your right arm (that you’d casually stretched in to the air a few seconds ago) stoops down to pick up your right foot a few inches below the right toes from the inside, and you begin kicking the right leg out as far as you can without anyone really properly noticing, before bringing it back to the ground: acting again as if nothing really just happened and you were just having a regular little stretch…. like… ‘What?’
  3. You genuinely wonder at 3am in the morning on a transatlantic flight, when the cabin is in complete darkness, and everyone is either asleep, or wearing those eye masks or watching films that look like they’re glowing in the dark, if anyone would really notice or mind if you went for a full downward facing dog in the aisle, just to really stretch things out – and you find you’re asked by the flight attendants to not do that as they still need clear access to the aisles at all times.
  4. You ask the flight attendants for hot water every time they come by with the drinks cart and cheerfully hand them over your own reusable flask that you brought with you for the trip – and they say ‘Don’t you want me throw that tea bag out?’ And you reply ‘No, it’s rose and tulsi. It can take another round of hot water yet…’ Because it’s your favorite soothing thing in the world. And they oblige, but you can see they’re a little bit dismayed.
  5. The flight attendants feel so bad for you when they offer you ‘beef, chicken or pasta’ because you – with a sincerely sad face tell them you thought you ordered a vegan menu choice or a raw fruit platter when you made your reservation – that they come back 20 minutes later with small pots of fresh pineapple and melon and say ‘Your order just isn’t here, but we found some of these… could this work for you? Would this help?’ And then they smile because they see that you too are deeply smiling again.
  6. You call your family/friends/lover/life partner/colleagues from the airport when you land to let them know that you’ve arrived and and you say ‘My hips are so tight from just sitting in that air conditioned cylinder for so long. They really need to breathe…’ You notice there is silence at the other end of the phone.
  7. Your smiling, patient, unargumentative demeanour baffles all the airline staff who have to speak to you when your airline sent you to the wrong terminal for your connecting flight resulting in you missing the flight altogether, spending the night (at your expense) in a hotel and your airline trying to charge you $200 to book you on a next day flight – because you understand that your guru is giving you a chance to live your yoga under pressure: at once giving you the opportunity to burn karma and practice equanimity in all circumstances even though there’s a part of you that is so tired you could actually burst out crying.
  8. You see an orange robed Buddhist monk at the airport lounge whilst waiting for your connection and get kind of excited to think how maybe he’ll sit next to you and together you’ll talk about ‘Dharma’ – and you witness yourself feeling a little deflated when he walks right by you with great purpose and heads straight to the Costa Coffee instead. And whilst you notice (without any judgement) how assertive your ego is being, at the same time you seriously wonder if you should follow him to Costa and sit next to him in case he wants to talk…erm, ‘sangha’ – but, thankfully, your wisdom kicks in and instead you decide to go and get some more hot water and watch a video instead.
  9. You are delighted to get internet connection at the airport whilst waiting for your connection because you can finally catch up on some video entertainment – and you choose to watch videos of Himalayan babas teaching ancient yogic techniques to activate the pineal gland.
  10. You do your best to approach the hours and hours of your life that are being played out in airports in between flights with easiness – because after all, the more time there is in between ‘doing’, the more time there is for ‘being’ – and you find you can tune out the sound of warehouse trollies, baggage trollies, crowds coming out of elevators, and babies crying as you go deeper in your sadhana (be it asana, meditation, or chanting) under florescent strip lights.

But you always do open your eyes every 5 minutes or so in case said trollies, or crowds or children need to get past you – because somewhere inside you you have preserved enough sanity to remember that Yoga is not about escaping the world, but about showing up in it fully present, and of becoming aware of what, in this present moment, the next right action could be.

I made it to the other side today.

LAX-LHR done.
LGW-EDI: pending.
Nearly done. Two hours to go.
The florescent strips are shining bright. And I am breathing.
Om Shanti.

 

Originally published on my blog, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality.

V is for Vāsanā: Finding Your True Self Through Yoga

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 1.15.34 PM

See the sun?
See what it is telling you?
What did it say to you this morning when your eyes met it for the first time on this new day?
A hundred people can look at the same sun and see a hundred different stories written in it.

In Ancient Buddhism and Vedanta – and in Yoga – this is attributed to Vasana.
A Vasana is a an impression upon the mind that generates a conditioned response.
A memory of behavior that is threaded into the fabric of our being.
A tendency rooted in our consciousness that shapes our inclinations and behaviors.

We all have them.
Several of them.
Several hundreds of them.
Collectively within us they form the basis of our individual world view, our reactions to what we see in the world, our behavior in the world. Our vasanas will drive us to form the opinions we will, take the sides we will, push for the action that we want – be that positive or negative.

And yet, Yoga teaches that the vasanas are not a real representation of our true Self.
The vasanas are actually a disturbance to who we really are.
Yoga teaches us that the vasanas create modifications to our true consciousness that we need to undo to experience and manifest our true Self. Until they are released, those of us who are not enlightened souls, are all imperfect and ignorant, not knowing who or what we really are.

And this is the purpose of Yoga itself – as written by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

‘Yogaś citta-vritti- nirodhaḥ’  (Chapter 1. verse ii)
‘Yoga is the cessation of the turbulence of the mind’

The practice of yoga takes us back the true Self by weakening the vasanas until they fall away and the Self is revealed.
Yoga teaches us that when we know the true Self, we will be in a space of deep silence, a space of complete unity and a place of non action – because when we see the world from the true Self, we experience that suffering is itself an illusion; we will not see any other as separate from our Self; we will see that what we say of the Other we say of our Self. Because when we know the Self, we know that there is no separation between us and the world we live in: We are One part of One interconnected beating cosmos. We are One.

It is a process. And we will fail many times on the way.
We will fail, and fail and fail.
But with practice, eventually says Vedanta – the Self will shine forth.
I fail several times every day.
I live and breathe in the world. I react to it. I call for action in it. I believe in the need for change.
I try to keep my awareness with my Self.
Sometimes I feel that the the Self is closer.
Sometimes I feel I am far away from it.
Sometimes I see my vasanas get the better of me.
But I always to promise to try again – and let my failures fail at holding me back.
I make my yoga.
I practice.
I always practice.
And I will keep practicing until the Self shines forth.

And You?

 

Photo credit: lululemon athletica

Centering Ourselves in Challenging Times

I trust that this offering comes across as empathic, rather than didactic — because as a Type A personality, I know first-hand about the struggle to slow down.  And yet, especially lately, as the earth goes through momentous shifts, it feels vital for us to stay present.  To this "end" (or shall I say "beginning"), we all may benefit by remaining in – as much as is possible – what mystic Ron Roth calls a "be, do, have" paradigm.  He categorizes "being" as the most important mode, and "doing" following "being" in importance.  Counter to what is elaborately embraced in America, Roth ranks "having" as last in importance; this is because it’s not what one has, but rather "who
one knows:" self and Spirit, that matters most. 

But boy, is it tempting to prioritize otherwise.  For when the going gets tough, the survival impulse kicks in most.  The survival impulse screeches, "Speed Up!  And Keep Speeding!" And unless you’re an Ascended Master, you probably battle the knee-jerk tendency to act compulsively, out of fear, rather than to first consider your actions, out of love.  And yet, on the spiritual path (which it seems we’re all on, to varying degrees of awareness), if we listen to that inner guide, that free G.P.S. device – we’re often instructed otherwise.  Our true G.P.S., or "Godly Positioning System" whispers instead, "Slow down, tune in to your soul, breathe.  Now go ahead and act – consciously and deliberately."

It is not my intention, by any means, to degrade action here.  For many, acting – especially spontaneously, in a crisis situation – is a saving grace.  And yet, in most instances, acting can create more havoc than health.  This revelation, which I have experienced in accumulating bits, over the past decade, reminds me of a popular axiom, "Slow down to speed up!"

In other words, often the realest progress is made, not by rushing and scrambling to GET through life, but by fine-tuning our energies, prior to making choices, as we GO through life.  So, today I’ll join you in asking, "Will my actions be most fruitful when arising from a place of awareness?"  If the answer is "Yes," then let’s contemplate which baby steps we can take to increase awareness first, from which the best course of action organically emerges.  The answers might surprise you!

Peace to You,
Kat

katransformations.com

You may forward this blog to friends and colleagues, provided that you please provide the following information:  Kat Katsanis, M.A., is an Angel Therapist®, Reiki Master, Meditation Instructor, and Integrated Energy Therapy® Practitioner.  She enjoys seeing local and international clients through her successful, private healing practice.

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