- Each of us are really the Great Self
- We deny this because we don’t “feel it”
- We are frightened of feeling it
- We develop a method of practice of putting off feeling it
- We think we need to suffer and be worthy of being our Great Self
- All of this is just postponement, because we are afraid to see it in the here and now
- Suffering is something we (falsely) think we need to do to achieve enlightenment
- Suffering has nothing to do with realization of the Self
- Realization of the Self is just about “coming off it” (it being our own perceived model of the world)
- A guru/teacher is always saying to you “what are you doing? what is your game?”
- A guru/teacher has many methods of helping you see the reality of who you are
- If you have a thin shell, it can be easy for a guru/teacher to help you
- If you have a thick shell, it can be tougher
Another great video by Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park – featuring an audio clip from spiritual teacher and philosopher Alan Watts. Prickles and goo, which are you? I’m gooey-prickles.
You have the answer.
It is not in a book. It is not in a TV show. It is not in the DVD you just got through the mail from NetFlix. It is not in the lecture you are going to hear from your favorite teacher. It is not in the conversation you might be having with your friends at dinner tomorrow. It is not in the Wall Street Journal or The New Yorker. It is definitely not in this blog.
Whatever you are really seeking. Whatever you really need to know. Whatever you think you need to learn and understand by taking in outside information, it is all within you right now.
Deep down you have all the insights you need. The knower, the silent witness – is present in all of us. Our challenge is to quiet the thinking mind to the point where our deep-rooted and all-knowing self can really shine through. This is where meditation and the practice of present moment awareness can be such powerful tools.
Next time you have a big problem, something that has been puzzling you for a long time, something that causes you some level of anxiety or worry. Instead of trying to talk to people about it, read books to find the answer or turning to the Internet; try just quieting your mind.
Go for a walk. Sit in meditation. Go for a jog (no iPod please!). Take a relaxed bike ride. Do something to still your mind. Chances are you will either discover the answer, or realize that the problem isn’t even a problem to begin with and isn’t worth any further attention.
Either way, the solution is a process of discovery, not one of learning. Find the answer within yourself.
Earlier this week, as part of the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program, I did a 3-day fruit fast. As I love to eat fruits, I was really looking forward to this. I considered it more of a fruit feast than a fruit fast!
The picture above shows the entire array of fruits that I picked up for these 3 days. In fact, there was more than enough fruit here to last me over a week! I still have a few mangoes and oranges left in fact.
You might be wondering what I broke my fast with? After teaching a yoga class in the morning, I enjoyed some Idli that my mom made before going to work!
So how did I do on the fruit fast? Here is the scoop. Keep in mind that I entered this 3-day fast after having gone without caffeine or any processed sugar for over 3 weeks. I also have been practicing yoga 6-7 days a week for quite a while and have been following a 100% plant-based diet for many years. As a result of this, I think my detoxing symptoms were a little less severe than others. Your mileage will vary!
This weekend I finished a teacher training intensive at my yoga studio. This intensive was 12 hours of yoga over the weekend (Friday night and 2 practices a day on Saturday and Sunday), with 25 other teachers and soon-to-be teachers from the Seattle area (though 1 person came in from Montana!).
My studio, Shakti Vinyasa, is a Baptiste Affiliate Studio, and this style of Power Vinyasa Yoga is quite popular nowadays. The training pushed us all to discover our own inner voice, our reasons for teaching and some of the key building blocks to leading an outstanding class.
Perhaps the most unnerving part of class was leading other students through small 3-5 minutes routines! In fact, at one point during yesterday evening’s class, while all of us were hanging out in downward dog waiting for the teacher to lead us to the next pose, we were asked to raise our leg if we wanted to teach the class.
Of course I did.
And of course I was then called on, and led the class through a little Sun Salutation B (with Crow thrown and a few Lion’s for good measure!). This was my first attempt at teaching a class this size at an actual yoga studio (in front of a bunch of other teacher’s no less!). It was a lot of fun.
Throughout the rest of the intensive, we had several practice rounds of teaching amongst smaller groups, with feedback (intense feedback I might add!) on what we did well and what we could improve on.
Feedback was a critical aspect of the training, and we were pushed to give feedback that focused both on “gems” (things we do well) and “opportunities” (things we could improve on). We were also repeatedly coached to not react to the feedback, and to just accept it.
I must say, that if you have never had to sit and listen to someone praise or critique you and SAY NOTHING…..you would not realize just how tough it is. No nodding the head or laughing or telling your story about why did such a thing…just sitting and accepting it quietly.
Through this experience, I have had a few realizations about making the transition from Yoga Student to Yoga Teacher:
It is far harder to teach a class (effectively) than I thought.
It is one thing to take class on a regular basis, and another thing altogether to remember the sequencing and cues for proper alignment that are needed when teaching. Remembering the proper breathing pace and cues also takes practice. From my own experience, it was as if there was a barrier between my brain and my mouth….and when I tried to teach, I smacked right into it! Already after just a few days of practice I can see that I’ve improved a lot. It’s also clear that I need to “study” more of the asana sequences and Sanskrit names more rigorously.
It is far more rewarding to teach a class than I thought.
It is a feeling that words cannot describe. On a practical note, teaching is an excellent way to really dial in your own practice. You also get to see many more people doing poses as an observer, which gives you insight into alignment issues you may be having in your own practice. It is also just so much fun. It’s like a runner’s high. I can also see how much you can contribute to society through effective teaching. You can help people remove stress from their lives and bring their bodies back into harmony. I’m so glad I’ve started out on this journey to become a yoga teacher.
For those of you who have read this far, are you a yoga teacher or student? If so, what is your motivation for practicing and/or teaching? Leave a note in the comments please!
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For every person you meet who has a clear goal and direction for some aspect of their life, there are another 9 who are going through life aimlessly.
This is not to say that they may not be successful, happy or fulfilled. It is just to point out that not everyone lives a purpose-driven life.
Life just happens, and people seem to make the best of it.
I see this often in my workplace, with very few having any sense of where they would like their careers to head, just taking it day by day and hoping for the best. I also see it in the gym and in the yoga studio, where people just go through the motions, making little progress.
If you were going on a grand voyage….the biggest and most massive adventure (as one might use as a metaphor for life which is the grandest adventure of all) would you not at least start with a purpose?
When I get in my car, no matter where I am going, I at least have some sense of why I am in the car and where I would like to end up. If I didn’t have any idea, I would not get in the car to begin with! On the occasion (rarely) when I just drive around aimlessly, even that is done on purpose.
Why then don’t people take the time to consider what the purpose for their own lives are? This could be a simple purpose for their job, their family-caring and home life, their fitness plan, yoga practice, etc.
If I ask a half dozen people on the street to clearly state at least 1 goal in their life right now, I doubt any would be able to do so.
A purpose can even change over time. It does not need to be “right.” The point is to just have one. Why? Well, here are five reasons why I feel it is critical to have a purpose driven life:
- If you are not growing you are dying. Without progress in some aspect of your life, you are not just staying still, but regressing. When you understand the reality of this world and that all living things are slowly evolving, you are either evolving yourself or falling behind.
- Harness the untapped potential of your brain. The brain is a deletion machine. Of the millions of pieces of information that your brain captures in each day, it doesn’t keep everything. As I wrote in my post about vision boards, having a goal helps you focus your brain to notice things that will serve you in the pursuit of your goals. There is massive power in this, and takes no conscious effort on your part.
- Inspire the people you care about most. Achievement isn’t just about you. As you focus and work towards a goal, you’ll see that your efforts will in turn inspire others to look inward and cultivate their own character and ambitions. They say actions speak louder than works and your own purpose-driven actions will indeed speak volumes and influence those you care about in a positive manner.
- It keeps negativity at bay. The more you work to towards a positive end, the more you will notice that you have far less negativity entering your life. It is simple accounting. If you are consuming your thoughts, feeling and actions with energy directed towards a positive intent, you will have fewer mental, physical and emotional cycles to spend on things that drain your body, mind and soul.
- It is incredibly fun. Yes, making progress is fun. With a clear goal and purpose that is a stretch yet achievable, you’ll notice that each day will become more fun. It’s a pleasant byproduct of a purpose-driven life.
I could go on for days writing about how important it is to have a purpose-driven life. Remember, it is not so critical to figure out your overall and grand purpose for being on this planet! What matter most is to just focus on one thing (or a few things) that you feel is a positive and motivating ambition. It can be related to your family, body, finances, career, etc.
Just pick something, focus on it daily, work towards it sincerely, and watch what happens.
Don’t worry so much about the end, that is to say, don’t worry about the outcome. Just keep working towards the goal with confidence and see what manifests in your life. You’ll be amazed at the results, even if they end being something that you didn’t quite expect.