Tag Archives: spiritual path

Stumbling Onto The Path of Awakening

meditation2
My path to awakening began in 2005, when during a time of major transition and deep personal sadness, my mother suggested I might find relief with yoga. She put me in touch with her friend, Grace, a yoga instructor at a fitness center in Indianapolis where I wound up taking my first yoga class. Five years later, on an afternoon lunch break, a co-worker introduced me to meditation for the first time. Yoga and meditation would continue to flow in and out of my life like waves in the ocean. I would dabble here and there and then get distracted and return to the way things had always been. These practices were nothing more than nice things to do sometimes if I was in the mood, but I didn’t feel connected to them in any meaningful way. They were more like novelties.

Two years passed by and in April 2012 I sought a Jyotish (Vedic astrology) reading from Swati Jr*. Her words didn’t make sense to me logically back then, but something about what she shared did feel true on an emotional level. Like she was whispering to parts of me that were hidden away from myself.

Six months later, on October 1st, I was lured into Moksha Yoga LA by a $40 special membership rate advertised in bright paint across the huge windows of their studio. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the heat on that first day, but I didn’t stop. I pushed through all of the sensations that come along with participating in a hot yoga class and left the studio feeling a bit out of body.

My general perspective of everything felt lighter and more expansive. It seemed to me like I was in on a secret and the people walking and driving by me didn’t appear to know what I now knew. I just felt a strange happiness that’s hard to explain in words and I couldn’t wait to go back. By my second or third class, I distinctly remember getting the sense that I was being pulled towards something that would change my life.

Thirty-one days after that first class, my life appeared to implode. Within the span of one month, my live-in boyfriend of two years ended our relationship, I was forced to find a new place to live and before I’d even had time to unpack the boxes, I was given the news that I was being laid off from my job. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Fuck. My. Life.

The main thing that kept me sane during this time was my then brand new yoga practice. I felt something when I was in the studio everyday. Something that told me to keep coming back. I listened to that feeling and stuck with a near daily practice.

During the five months I was unemployed, I took off on a lot of hikes through Griffith Park, abused my library card and booked a last minute trip to Bali and The Gili Islands, where I traveled solo for three weeks and experienced a sense of mindfulness for the first time in my life.

I didn’t know at the time that what I was experiencing was mindfulness, but when I look back, I recognize that that’s what it was. Slipping under the surface of the water off the coast of Gili Trawangan, snorkeling for the first time in my life and feeling rolls of amazement take over my being as I laid eyes on a fantastical underwater world. Willing myself to stay present in the indescribable perfection I was feeling in those moments. Overcome with gratitude as I experienced the feeling of something new, something absolutely, mind-boggling new, for the first time that I could ever remember in my adult life.

Sleeping when I was tired, eating when I was hungry, listening to my instinct and sharing myself with the people around me without thought or reservation. I traveled with a backpack and my yoga mat, stopping to breathe in the air around me, talk with strangers, wander without purpose and just be. I wrote and cried and listened and laughed and swam and kissed and danced and rode bikes and practiced yoga, but most importantly, I let go of time and other people and expectations. I just was.

When I came home to Los Angeles I felt different. Really different. And really good.

Then at the end of June in 2013, I began meditating everyday. A few weeks later, I participated in a 21-day meditation challenge hosted by Deepak Chopra and that’s when things really started becoming more clear for me. I was transitioning into a new awareness of my life and I have never felt more certain that I am living exactly the life I’m supposed to be living right now.

Since this time, I’ve devoted almost every energy to exploring the possibilities with meditation because I’ve become fascinated by the universe living inside me. Also, I feel as if someone wiped a layer away from my heart and now I’m capable of feeling the world instead of just living through it.

I read books, watch videos, seek out people who practice regularly, ask questions, sign up for seminars and classes, and look for opportunities to learn more about higher consciousness at every moment of the day. Discovering and understanding myself and the energy field we all exist within, make up, and move through, feels like it’s my reason for being here. It feels like I’m supposed to be collecting this information so that I can share it and talk about it and live it fully.

***

Aubrey is passionate about living life all the way and believes that a daily meditation practice can help anyone move into a totally engaged state of being alive. She published a book about her old life and is now busy living her new life so that she can write a follow-up about how awesome the world becomes when you’re finally able to slow down and feel into your body. She creates free guided meditations about once a week and you can connect with her on Twitter @MokshaDestiny

If you’re interested, I send out free guided meditations about once-a-week. Sign up here!

What to Do When You Fall Off Your Spiritual Path

It’s not always easy staying on a straight and narrow spiritual path, especially where there are so many distractions, doubts, and alternate routes out there to lead you astray. When you’re on a spiritual path it’s easy revert back to old patterns and destructive behavior. In this vlog I share some guidance on what to do when you fall off your spiritual path and some tips for getting back on track.

Has this ever happened to you? What have you done to stay or get back on your spiritual path?

More from Gabrielle:

Are You Overspiritualizing?

Find Yourself in Others

Mind Over Medicine – How to De-Stress

What to Do When Others Don’t Support Your Spiritual Path

When we embark on a spiritual journey, so many awesome shifts begin to happen. It’s easy to become overly enthusiastic about them and want to share every detail with your loved ones. But the new developments in your life may not be easy for people to understand, especially if they’re not on a spiritual path of their own. In this video I offer up tools for how to handle people who don’t support your spiritual path.

Related Articles:

Find Yourself in Others

Dive in Fully to Who You Want to Be

A Fool-Proof Tool to Help You Rise Above Negativity

Peace Like Never Before: Awakening to Joy with Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo Final Front Cover Reduced to JoyThe things we need arrive at the right time, and so it has been with Mark Nepo and his work. For those of us on a spiritual path, Mark’s writings possess the power to immediately move us into connection with a subtle and powerful awareness at the deepest, most soulful level. Though Mark Nepo‘s writing has been with us for a while, it wasn’t until Oprah received a copy of Mark’s Book of Awakening through one of her staff assistants that it came to the notice of millions. This all happened at a critical time.

I first interviewed Mark around the time he’d just lost his day job and faced some health problems. At what seemed like one of his darker hours, Oprah also discovered Mark’s work, and that darkness turned to light as his book, which he’d written some ten years earlier, became a New York Times bestselling book. Oprah recently did two more interviews with him for upcoming shows from her home in Hawaii. Regarding all the success, Mark remains grateful but unfazed by the recognition of his work, and he continues to teach and practice presence in much the same way as before. I asked him to share some his recent experiences, as well as tell us more about his latest book, Reduced to Joy. He’s also offered us one of the poems from his book at the end of this post.

Debra Moffitt: You have written about awakening, silence, and finally joy. Reduced to Joy, your latest book of poems, feels like a culmination of your many years of spiritual connection. Are joy and bliss the final experiences that arrive on the spiritual journey?

Mark Nepo: I’m not sure there is any final experience to this mysterious journey. I think we continue to be brought closer and closer to the aliveness we carry. For me, joy is different than happiness. While happiness is a fleeting mood, joy is larger and more lasting than any one feeling. If each feeling is a wave of emotion, then joy is the ocean that holds all feelings. As I get older, I’m coming to realize that joy is central to our knowing peace. It’s one deep way that we access Oneness. I’m also beginning to see that joy is the hum of Oneness. It’s the sensation of being connected to life itself. Another way to speak of joy is to say that it’s the reward for facing our experience. Often, what keeps us from joy is the menacing assumption that life is happening other than where we are. So we are always leaving, running from or running to. What keeps us from joy, then, is often not being where we are and not valuing what is before us.

 Debra Moffitt: How did Reduced to Joy come into being?

Mark Nepo: Poems come slowly. They break surface like dolphins after long stretches of going under. So writing a book of poems for me is different than writing my other books. I have to sit when I’m able and try to make heart-sense of what life has been doing to me and with me. Like wringing out a sponge, I squeeze what matters onto the page, let it dry, and see what’s there the next day. One by one, they gather into an instructive whole. All this is to say that by trying to make sense of my own experience, I’ve discovered a theme to the journey, that we are all reduced to joy, worn away of all excess. To survive this, we often need to hold each other up in order to discover and return to what matters. This book explores these essential relationships, which keep shaping me.

Debra Moffitt: I love the title of your book. As your poem, “Where is God?” expresses, it seems that once all is stripped away there’s nothing more to obscure joy. Can you speak more to what joy is and is not and how we might know the difference? 

Mark Nepo: After all these years, I’m beginning to see that tranquility is the depth of being that holds what we think and feel, not the still point after we’ve silenced what we think and feel. Serenity is the depth of being that holds difficulty, not the resting point after we’ve ended difficulty. And peace is the depth of being that holds suffering and doubt, not the raft we climb on to avoid suffering and doubt. This leads us to joy, which is much deeper and larger than any one feeling. Happiness, fear, anxiety, contentment, doubt, regret, unworthiness, anger, despair—all these and more are the waves that rise and fall in the sea of being.

 Debra Moffitt: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers? 

Mark Nepo: These poems have been retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years. They have been my teachers about the nature of working with what we’re given till it wears us through to joy. My hope is that the poems in this book will serve as a threshold to an underlying connection to the greater life we are all a part of. I hope the book will be a resource for you when faced with the difficulties of living. I hope the poems will confirm that, no matter the struggle you find yourself in, you are not alone. May these poems be honest companions on the journey to joy.

A Poem from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo reprinted with his permission.

Where is God? 

 It’s as if what is unbreakable—
the very pulse of life—waits for
everything else to be torn away,
and then in the bareness that
only silence and suffering and
great love can expose, it dares
to speak through us and to us.
It seems to say, if you want to last,
hold on to nothing. If you want
to know love, let in everything.
If you want to feel the presence
of everything, stop counting the
things that break along the way.
* * *
Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Urban Yogis: Russell Brand Dishes on Sex, Drugs, and Yoga

In the latest installment of “Urban Yogis” on The Chopra Well, Ashtanga instructor Eddie Stern interviews Russell Brand on yoga, addiction, and personal growth. Brand describes his journey from drug addiction, which began for him at an early age, to discovering the power of yoga. He describes the addiction as a “spiritual problem,” something he turned to as a way of looking for solutions to the existential dilemmas of existence. Now freed from his addiction, Brand strives to “see God in everything” and live moment to moment on a spiritual path. Check out part 1 of the interview:

Are you surprised to see this side of Russell Brand? What’s your favorite Brand movie or moment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of Russell Brand’s interview!

When Kindness Is a Mark of Success

 My family attended our son’s graduation over the weekend at the University of Vermont where the commencement speaker was Eric K. Shinseki, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Aside from delivering a short and rather entertaining speech, he got across a pretty simple message to the emerging graduates: the real mark of success is kindness, and sharing that with others.

We sat through 3,000 graduates receiving their diplomas (a four hour ceremony) and celebrated with brunch afterward. Toward the end of the day, my husband and I and our new graduate took a walk from the hotel to the small town of Burlington where we ran into a young boy asking if we had any paper towels. Handing him a few Kleenex we turned to walk away, when we all stopped and turned to follow him asking … do you need more? Is everything okay?

As we looked to him, around the corner came a mother carrying her small child with blood gushing from his head – obviously having fallen in some sort of accident – and a small brother crying and trailing close behind. The mother calmly asked us to drive them to the hospital as the child screamed in pain and fear, blood now covering the mother’s arm completely as she struggled to hold him and calm him while trying to get help. The three of us led the mother quickly to our car as we talked to the younger brother and helped calm him down. My son jumped into the driver’s seat and calmly but quickly drove us to the emergency room at the UVM hospital where the mom and child were met by an immediately responsive hospital staff. As the mom began to talk to the staff, we said goodbye and returned to our hotel to walk again to town for dinner.

It was a perfect example of people helping one another – what we all do in a crisis – and what many of us do on a day to day basis: be kind to one another. I heard the other day that the Dalai Lama said we, as a people globally are becoming more compassionate, and the only reason we don’t all know it is that the media focuses so much on the negative: disasters, war, crime and horrors in the world. I am constantly reminded of the kindness of strangers, of our humanity, in the way people go out of their way to help one another – crisis or not. At the same time I know there are people acting cruelly to one another in areas where people have become hardened by war, violence and poverty. But then I think of the people I have met in my travels to India, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi and many other countries around the world, and I know that I see kindness far MORE than cruelty, and I see people working to stop the cruelty that exists. I know I am far luckier than many in the opportunities I have had in my life but I see the kindness of humans – our humanity – across economic, educational, religious and other socioeconomic differences. Perhaps the Dalai Lama is right and we are evolving into a kinder species with time, or perhaps that basic kindness has always been there it just becomes overshadowed by the rarer cruelties of humans that demand our attention to stop them and to assure they will not happen again.

As I see our three children grow into global citizens of the world, I see their kindness to one another, their friends, and strangers on a day to day basis. And I see the same in my friend’s friends, and the kids whose parents I do not know, and the kids I meet when traveling all around the world. Perhaps it is worth reminding us of our human kindness and to remind us to notice it every day; and as the commencement speaker suggested, to keep expanding it in all we do.

I share this Maya Angelou quote whenever I can, and in light of the commencement speaker’s message to new college graduates as they venture out into the world to gain ‘success.’

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

 

Who is in your Spiritual Orbit?

 The other day, I was shoping at the local store, when I ran into an old friend and colleague of mine. She and I always seem to run into one another at the same store or around town. We live in a small college town, and I know a great number of people, but yet I don’t see other acquintances around town as often as I see her. When I do see her, it is typically when she is experiencing a period of difficulty in her existence and just needs some moral support. 

 

We decided to grab some dinner and catch up on each other’s lives. While we were waiting for our food to arrive she asked me, "Why is it that we are always running into each other?" I took a sip from my bottle of beer and I said, "Because you and I are in each other’s Spiritual Orbits." Not being a spiritually connected person, she looked at me with a perplexed look.

 

To demonstrate and clarify, I took her bottle of beer and created a water ring on the table. I then took my bottle of beer and created a water ring that intersected hers. I pointed to the rings and said, "Just like the planets and comets have orbits, so do our spirits. Like these rings, sometimes our spiritual orbits intersect, collide/unite, and graze each other. People come in and out of our lives all the time. Some for the briefest of moments and others for extended periods of time. Each time our Spiritual Orbits connect, it is for a purpose. It is a guidepost moment. The other person has something to help us on our journey or Spiritual Path." I then explained to her how she and I always seem to run into each other when she needs a good laugh, a smile, or just some moral support. Recognizing the value in my statement, she nodded her head in agreement.

 

During this human existance their are two spiritual components to our human experience. Our Spiritual Path and our Spiritual Orbit. These are two distinct features and I will explain briefly. Our Spiritual Path is ever changing as we make decisions and new discoveries within our human existance. Our Spiritual Path is how we get from point A to Point B within this incarnation of the human existence. Since our spirit is everlasting, it has no beginning and no end. In essence it is a circle. Thus our spiritual Path creates a Spiritual Orbit. Our Spiritual Path is often defined or influenced by key moments that occur during this existence by others that cross into our Spiritual Orbits.

 

Each spiritual being has their own Spiritual Orbit. Just like a planet, our Spiritual Orbits can either attract other spirits into it, manipulate the paths/orbits of other spirits that travel through it, or simply have other spirits intersect or graze it. Those that are atrracted to our spirit will often share our orbit for an extended period of time. These spiritual connections are often family, friends, and significant others. When the attraction wears off, the other spirit will often leave our orbit and may then simply intersect our orbit from time to time. 

 

Just like the gravitational pull of the Sun can influence a comet, the pull of the Spiritual Orbit can influence another Spiritual Orbit and Spiritual Path. These interactions tend to be those guidepost moments. When two Spiritual Orbits meet, at what should have been a simple moment or brief interaction, can often turn into a life altering event that changes the course of one or both of the beings Spiritual Paths. 

 

There are also those spiritual beings that simply cross our Spiritual Orbits from time to time or that we meet once and never see again. These are either moments of intersection, to eventually cross paths again, or simply two orbits that meet at a singular point. These interactions occur mainly with casual acquaintances or complete strangers, but even these Orbital incursions can have a major impact on our Spiritual Paths. The spiritual interactions that occur on the Intent site are a great example of these Spiritual Orbit incursions. There are those members that will provide a much needed comment on an intent we post or maybe post a blog article that provides guidance. Some members will graze orbits, intersect multiple times, or even share orbits if the spiritual connection/attraction is great enough.

 

Understanding and being accepting of these Spiritual Orbits and how they effect my Spiritual Path has allowed me to better understand human relationships and interaction. I am not one to believe that all friendships last forever. I appreciate each moment I have with my friends and loved ones, but I know that at some point, our Orbits will no longer be connected. So, all I can do is hope that the next spiritual being that enters into my orbit will stay just a little longer than the last. 

 

We all have the power to do great things and will have moments in which we act as a guidepost for others. When our orbits interact, it is best that we be certain that those interactions are positive and lead to fruitful results. Since we all are spiritual beings, we all have Spiritual Paths. Since we all have Spiritual Paths, we all have Spiritual Orbits. Since we all have Spiritual Orbits, our orbits can and will intersect. Since our orbits intersect, each of us acts as a guidepost for those were intersect with. Since you will have a guidepost moment, be certain that they have positive impacts on the Spiritual Paths of others. To those on the intent site, thank you for intersecting with my orbit. I am blessed to have you as guideposts on my journey.

 

Blessings on your journey.

 

 

Spiritual Stagnation: What Is Missing In Your Life RIght Now?

If you approach life as a student matriculating through levels of spiritual growth, what most people call ruts are more like semester breaks. Or, to switch metaphors, if you’re on an ever-ascending spiritual path, the ruts are plateaus. In my own life, and when working with people who feel spiritually stagnant, I find that the feeling of a rut comes with a sense that something is missing.

Therefore, the usual question—“Should I stop doing what feels like a rut?”—is incomplete without also asking, “What else can I do?” We are fortunate nowadays to have a vast curriculum to choose from—although the number of choices can be paralyzing in itself. In that context, I find it helpful to think in terms of the four classical yogas, or pathways.

1. Jnana yoga, the path of the mind. Generally speaking, this is the road traveled by those inclined to study sacred texts and contemplate spiritual concepts. In its purest form, however, it trains the aspirant to distinguish the real from the unreal, the eternal from the perishable, the Self from the non-Self, the Truth from illusion. The ultimate goal is to transport the mind beyond itself, to the realm of absolute spirit. The approach of learning, however, can serve the interim purpose of giving us insight and fresh understanding.

2. Bhakti yoga, the path of the heart. Worship, devotion and love are the hallmarks of this road. It is favored by those who are driven more by feeling than by thought. The object of worship might be a god-like incarnation such as Jesus or Krishna, a revered figure from religious history such as Buddha or the prophet Muhammad, or a living personage such as a guru or a revered cleric—any of whom might be adored as a representative of the ultimate Reality. For some, the focal point of devotion is a spouse, a child or the unspoiled natural world.

3. Karma yoga, the path of action. Favored by individuals who are drawn to the pursuit of worthy goals, this approach demands ego-free detachment from the fruits of one’s efforts. One works selflessly, with no thought of personal gain and with complete absorption, as if every action were an offering to the Divine.

4. Raja yoga, psycho-physiological path. This pragmatic path emphasizes the disciplined use of mental and physical practices. Meditation, prayer, yoga postures, chanting, breathing exercises and the like are systematically used to open the mind to the Sacred and to cultivate within the nervous system the capacity to sustain higher states of awareness.

Those are the four broad pathways, and aspirants will favor one of them over the course of their lives, according to their personalities and preferences. But few of us confine our path to only one. We incorporate elements of all four, because they complement one another, and the proportions shift as our developmental needs change. That’s why the perspective is useful when ruts/semester breaks/plateaus come along. It can help you sort out the possibilities when you ask yourself, “What do I need at this stage of development?”

Maybe what you need to move into the next phase is something for your mind. Do you need to gather information? Learn something new? Find out what wise ones have to say about something that perplexes you?

Or do you need some bhakti? Maybe you’ve been in your head too much, and what seems like a rut is your heart calling out for some nourishment. What would crack open the love? Worship? Chanting? A silent walk in nature? Spending time with children?

Maybe the rut-like feeling comes from thinking about your problems too much. If so, maybe you need a dose of karma yoga. Serve a cause. Volunteer. Do something entirely selfless for someone.

Or maybe you need to shake up your nervous system with a new practice of some kind. A different type of yoga? A new form of meditation? A fast, or a different diet?

You get the picture. The point is, instead of focusing on what feels boring or dull—the rut itself—shift to what might be missing and how to fill the void.

I looked up the origin of the word rut. It shares a common ancestor with route and roar. Somehow, I find that inspiring. A rut is on the route to higher being, and we can burst through it with a roar.

Finding the Spiritual Path

Finding our true spiritual path is difficult if we only look at what society and others would ask of us, and we do not look within to the connection each one of us has with the Divine.  While it can take years of spiritual development to get in touch with the voice within, the best place to begin is with a willingness to listen to the inner voice: with an aspiration to become closer to the Divine.

This does not mean that we have to sit on a mountain top and contemplate, but simply be mindful as we go through our daily lives.  It means being mindful as we speak to others. How do we sound? What does our tone of voice sound like? What kind of energy are we extending to others with our tone of voice, words and body language? Are we being kind or irritable?

As we walk the spiritual path, we will find that many activities that used were appealing are no longer exciting.  We will find that some of the people in our lives do not belong with us any longer.   As we make changes in our lives, this does not mean that we have to leave our families or change our jobs unless we are feeling extreme discomfort. We can take our time to understand which life situations can be improved and which situations we need to leave.

I read many books by the Mother, one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry India.  I find great wisdom in her words, as I do in the words of the Sri Aurobindo.  Both of these great teachers are in spirit now, but they have left us many words to read and I believe they continue to work with us from the world of spirit.

Here is a quote by the Mother from "The Psychic Being" published by Lotus Press

"If we truly want to progress and acquire the capacity of knowing the truth of our being, that is to say, what we are truly created for, what we can call our mission upon earth, then we must, in a very regular and constant manner, reject from us or eliminate from us whatever contradicts the truth of our existence, whatever is opposed to it."

If you would like to know more about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother visit the Sri Aurobindo website at www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in

Psychic Medium and Inspirational Author Carole Lynne

www.carolelynne.com

www.carolelynnecosmicconnection.com

No Quick Fix on the Spiritual Path

We face ourselves when we walk the spiritual path.  This is hard work, not necessarily upsetting, but definitely work that requires patience, focus and endurance.

Spiritual work is not like instant oatmeal.  If we want to walk the spiritual path, we have to be in it for the long run.  Many of us become over inflated when we have spiritual experiences, and decide that we have "Arrived" with a capital "A."  We may have arrived at a rest stop on the path in order to take a moment to realize the progress we have made, but we cannot fool ourselves that this is the end of the hard work we have been doing.

The best teachers that I have had in my life, have been sure to tell me that they are not my true teachers, but that Spirit is my teacher. They are there to help me while on my spiritual journey, but they cannot tell me what to do and make all my decisions for me.  My best teachers have also made me aware that they are still on the spiritual path and still learning, just as I am.

The ego would love to grab all of us and say "Look you are enlightened!!!!"  And some seminar leaders who like to fill up the seats in the room, may make you feel that you are incredible and that within one weekend seminar you have Arrived," when you really have alot more work to do.

As both a seeker on the spiritual path and a teacher, my suggestion is that all of us look at the spiritual path as a way of life, and know that we will be learning and having new understandings about ourselves and our world everyday.  And in fact from my perspective as a psychic medium, I know that our learning will continue when we have left our physical bodies and transitioned to eternal life.

So the spiritual path never ends.  We will walk this path forever.

Psychic Medium and Inspirational Author Carole Lynne

www.carolelynne.com

www.carolelynnecosmicconnection.com

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