Making the Shift

by Ashley Inguanta

Once a wise friend of mine said, “When you heal yourself, you help heal the world.” Yes, it all starts from within. When we transform individually, so does the world. We are parts of a whole, and that’s beautiful. Everyone has an individual life narrative, a life story, and this narrative can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Sometimes our stories can hold us back, can cause us to be stuck; but other times, our narratives can help us feel empowered. It all depends upon your perspective. The good news? Your heart—that deep place inside of you that longs to be understood and heard and loved—wants you to make that shift towards empowerment and authenticity.

When we study the ancient practice of yoga—union—we do not only study asana, but we study other elements of yoga philosophy: the guṇas, for example. When we lead with the guṇa of sattva, or beingness and wisdom, we learn to spend time with that deep place inside of ourselves. Some people call this place the soul, or puruṣa; others call it “the true self.” By practicing yoga, we learn that accessing this space does not have to be a struggle.

When we write our narratives with sattva, we learn to love our stories, to feel compassion towards our stories. The more we express compassion towards ourselves, the deeper we will heal.

May the concluding lines of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey” rest within your heart, inspiring you to dive into a profound writing and yoga practice.

 

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do--

determined to save

the only life you could save.

 

 

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Child Development Through Yoga

Why Yoga for Children?

I began teaching Yoga to kids in the summer of 2009.  Earlier in the year I had a breakthrough moment on my mat.  It was as if everything I had experienced from childhood to that moment came together.  Almost immediately I wished that I could have learned at an earlier point in my life, as a kid even, what Yoga clearly mapped out about the human being. In an instant, I imagined how the years prior to this breakthrough moment could have been easier and more joyful, inspiring me to become a Kid’s Yoga Teacher.

The rich, powerful wisdom of the classic Yogic philosophy can easily be applied to children’s Yoga in a fun way.  We use imaginative games, songs, and stories to get moving and to deeply relax.  This play-based approach incorporates all of the essential parts of Yoga: proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, positive thinking and meditation.  Development of motor skills, increased body awareness, empathy and ability to express feelings, and the peacefulness that comes from the practice of Yoga are all available to children!

 What is Yoga?

The word Yoga means to yoke, or tether together.  Through the practice of Yoga you integrate the physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual elements of your life.  To me, Yoga is like a life map to awareness of the connectedness of those elements in yourself, which in turn fosters the consciousness of the unity of everything in the universe. 

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the most well known ancient Yogic text, maps out the 8 Limbed Path of Yoga.  We use the Sutras as a basis for our classes.  It begins by explaining that keeping the mind undisturbed is Yoga. How?
  • The first limb, Yama, teaches five abstentions, or “bad habits” that we as Yogis abstain from: violence, lying, theft, gluttony, and greed.
  • The second limb, Niyama, teaches the five precepts.  These are our natural state when we abstain from bad habits.  They are five good habits: purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-directed learning, and devotion.
  • The third limb, Asana, is how Yoga begins to improve and develop the physical body.  Asana are the poses and they are just 1/8 of Yoga!
  • Once you are in touch with your body and gain awareness of and control over your limbs, the fourth limb, Pranayama, is introduced.  Breathing exercises help with gaining awareness and eventual control of your energy for more vitality.
  • The fifth limb, Pratyahara, is the practice of internal focus.  The purpose is emotional rest.
  • The sixth limb, Dharana, is concentrating the mind on one thing such as an image or word, in order to increase spiritual strength.
  • The seventh limb is Dhyana, or meditation.  Practicing mediation will help prevent disruptive thoughts, which upset concentration.
  • The eighth limb, Samadhi, culminates in true knowledge or enlightenment… an awakening of sorts to your unity with the universe and God.
As you see, the science of Yoga acknowledges and supports development at all levels of the child.  As a child, I had that innate drive to search for the truth of what I’d heard about oneness, which I suppose is what led me to Yoga to begin with.  I have a feeling that potentially all kids have that little spark of desire to find the freedom that comes from realizing your true nature.

During Kid’s Yoga classes we come together in a non-competitive environment and enjoy our time as we build a solid foundation for life.  The classes give the kids the vocabulary to discover and describe new things about themselves.  They feel more calm and able to move gracefully and skillfully along life’s ups and downs.  They are able to practice knowing that they are much more than what they have or don’t have, and that there is always a peaceful place inside themselves where they can retreat when life gets intense.   Yoga teaches how to be well and enjoy the gift of life.  I would love to have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned through Yoga with your child.

Margo Tafuri Champion teaches yoga to children at Orlando area elementary schools, churches and Red Sun Yoga. In addition she teaches many adult classes and workshops.She is currently teaching four classes each week at Red Sun Yoga.



 



 

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Burn Baby Burn


by Allison Andersen, E-RTY 500

Midway through the Niyamas we encounter Tapas. In this context it is not a small portion or appetizer as you may have hoped, but a Sanskrit word with several translations depending on the source you consult.
  • To burn: This is considered the literal translation and refers to burning off impurities during your physical practice at its most basic; and burning off karmic seeds at its most esoteric. Either way the act is a purification. The Bhagavad-Gita refers to it as the purifying flame that is ignited to help burn off what is necessary in body, mind and speech.
  • Discipline: Perhaps the most accessible description, it refers to disciplining the mind, the body and the many aspects of life.
  • Living with zeal and sincerity: This interpretation by Nischala Joy Devi leads us back to discipline in gentler way.
For many, this one seems easy. Just do yoga every day. Come to your mat, move through the postures and check it off your list. But, as you may have guessed, its more than that. Yes, come to your mat, but bring with you clear and constant attention to each movement, each breath and each decision to go deeper or back off.

For others, discipline is something to be fought; structure the ultimate jailer of freedom.

But it is that very structure that provides the ultimate liberation. It sounds counterintuitive, but consider how much time you spend planning, hoping, dreaming, thinking about all you want to do, have or be. You know, procrastinating. Or, if you prefer, wasting time, which is really the opposite of freedom.

Cultivating discipline – and it is an art to be worked – ironically takes, well, discipline. It can begin half-hearted and with baby steps. You can drag your feet and whine, huffing and puffing all the way to your mat. But you’re going. Your practice can begin completely without sincerity or an ounce of earnestness. You are being made to go. It wasn’t your idea, after all.

And then you go the next day and the next. And it’s not so bad. So you keep going. Then oddly enough you begin to look forward to it. And then you skip a day – you deserve it. And then another day. Before you know it your mat is stuffed deep in your psychic closet buried behind all the more important things you have to do first. Like plan stuff.

This is the process. Habits are strong and somehow the habits that benefit us the least often win. Go back to your mat. Create a new habit.

And so you return. It is in the returning that the true practice is established. You have learned something about yourself that warrants a closer look and often that can be found on your mat.

But it is not the physical practice alone that creates the burgeoning sense of peace, nor is it just the postures that require discipline. It is setting it first in the mind, making the decision – maybe even fighting the decision – but doing it anyway. You are creating a new habit of self-care.

And ultimately of liberation.

Helpful Hint: For those who don’t naturally bound out of bed at first light and run to their mat: practice with others, go to a studio and be led by a professional. It’s easy to phone in a home practice, less so in a group whose intention is shared.

“Living life with zeal and sincerity, the purifying flame is ignited, revealing the inner light.” – Nischala Joy Devi


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Yoga Nidra is Magic

 
by Allison Andersen

How else can you explain a process that involves nothing more than lying down, closing your eyes and remaining still for 20-40 minutes and coming out the other side a completely changed person? Someone is talking to you and saying nice things, like relax this part of the body or that part, maybe taking you on a pleasant journey or maybe just giving you that tiny bit of silence you need. Then after it all, when they let you know you can begin to move a little, when it feels like it’s been 5 minutes? You somehow come out of it still, relaxed and energized all at once. There’s a sense of clarity and calmness. There’s no urgency to get back to anything. You feel grounded yet connected to something so much bigger than yourself, you know stuff now. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

I came to Yoga Nidra through the practice of yoga. After taking my first official yoga class at Omega in New York, I was hooked. We stretched and rolled around and did a few postures, but the icing on the cake? Savasana. What was that? And why did lying still for a few minutes then seem so profoundly different than say, a little cat nap on the couch?

Fast forward a few years and I’m in Yoga Teacher Training. The instructor is calling that time spent in savasana, yoga nidra. It has an official name, so naturally it’s important. She didn’t explain much about it, but now that I knew the name I could investigate on my own.

Then a few months after I graduated, as a newly minted teacher, I was talking to a student about my affection for yoga nidra. She said, “There’s a guy in the Ocala National Forest – kind of a big deal – that does Yoga Nidra weekends.” Who? What’s the name of the place? Where in the forest? There’s a whole weekend dedicated to yoga nidra?

All praise to Google search. Yoga Nidra + Ocala National Forest netted me the result I wanted on the first page. There was a 10-day immersion and certification coming up in just about a month. I signed up. Sometimes that happens, it’s as if it can be no other way, you just know it’s the right time to do it.

In those 10 days I spent in the presence of Yogi Amrit Desai at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Salt Springs, Florida I morphed from someone who needed answers to someone who found them all inside once I stopped looking. Crazy, right?

Turns out I was asking all the wrong questions.

Throughout this 10-day transformation we were given no less than two yoga nidras per day. About 30 minutes of guided meditation. There is an energetic elegance that begins to unravel fear and doubt with each nidra. Without even knowing or realizing what is happening, old beliefs and patterns that were unproductive and unnecessary simply went away.

After 10 days in the magical forest I drove myself home – I am still unsure how. I remember chanting with the radio off and scanning the forest for critters. I got home picked up my doggies and took the most productive nap of my lifetime. Later at the studio more than two people told me I looked younger and clearer. I had NO stress. If someone needed something I took care of it while they waited. The old me would have internally seized up as I added it to an ever growing to do list. I was scrubbed clean.

In the years since this thorough washing I have let go of the practice from time to time. Life and all that. But it always comes back, because the slipping away of peace is tangible to me now. I feel all the stuff begin to stick to me again. The to-dos and urgency and old habit patterns sneaking back in. I see it. Then I reconnect to my practice and I feel lighter.

How does this happen? The relaxation is so profound that the body begins to right itself, energetically and often physically coming back into alignment. With stress released, the brain is no longer in fight or flight, tension drops and calmness takes over. There’s so much more. And it’s all fascinating, but the bottom line is, it is a non-doing practice. It couldn’t be more simple to release stress. Never in my life have I accomplished so much by doing nothing.

Yoga Nidra is the magic, but somewhere deep inside of you is the magician.

Allison Andersen is one of three owners of Red Sun Yoga. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for over seven years and credits yoga nidra as a game changer. You can read more of her work at AllisonsWanderland.com and Elephant Journal.
 


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Head Space

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” Buddha

How does one ‘practice’ contentment? Contentment, or Santosha - the second Niyama, seems to be the result of other actions.

It is both the way and the result.

The practice of contentment begins with presence.

Simplified, presence means being aware of where you are, how you feel, what you see, hear, smell, taste, right now, in this moment, without distraction. No monologue about it, no judgment of good or bad, no need to explain it. You are just here. Right now. And all is well. Pure Joy.

Conceptually, it seems easy. In practice, however, the mind inserts itself and opinions into that precious present moment. If we think of thoughts as children just needing a little attention, they can be easier to manage. Just as you may say to a child, “I see you, I’ll be right there, please give me a moment,” you can employ mindfulness techniques to achieve the same result with your thoughts.

Most of us have felt this sense of complete joy. It’s that knowing, that in this moment, all is as it is supposed to be. It may wash over you for no discernable reason, at the strangest time, but you recognize it.

This is contentment by default. You have relaxed enough, let go of preferences and prejudices just long enough, for the doorway to consciousness to open a crack and allow the light to slip through and tap you on the shoulder. “This is the way it always is. This is your true nature,” it is telling you. You believe otherwise.

You think you must do something – work - to create contentment. But contentment cannot be manufactured. Seeking contentment by avoiding anything that feels like its opposite is not the answer. Indeed, striving for what we believe will make us happy and avoiding what we believe will make us unhappy, polarizes us and moves us away from the center where contentment lives – the present moment.

There is nothing to work toward, nothing more to acquire. It is about subtraction. Contentment cannot be found in our things, but it is not necessarily found in letting go of things, either. It is not the things at all, but our attachment to those things. We can give away every single possession we own and still find contentment elusive. But, when we let go of our need to have these things, rather than the physical objects, themselves, we are getting somewhere.

“Contentment consists not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire.” Thomas Fuller.

Contentment can be cultivated, however. It can grow to become more than a random moment of peace that happens to us. It becomes a practice we carry with us, an abiding calm always accessible to us.

Meditation, Yoga Nidra, mindfulness, breath work and gratitude are common ways to cultivate contentment. Each practice is a different door into the same room. It is less about which practice and more about commitment to a practice. They will all work.

So often, when we consider a new practice, we are concerned it will change us. And while we understand that is the point of beginning a new practice, the ego will protect itself – the personality will hold onto beliefs it has constructed to survive. With contentment, there is no need to change. Instead, it is a practice of allowing space and silence to remember your own divine nature. You cannot acquire anything to complete you; you are already complete. You already have everything you need.

As a result, the best aspects of your personality remain while the parts that were protecting perceived vulnerabilities drop away, leaving a shiny new, relaxed version of yourself. This is presence. This is contentment.

“There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” Swami Sivananda.

 

 

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Pure

The first of the Niyamas, Saucha, is not fooling around.

In a Yoga Sutra plot twist, this tenet asks us to purify, while at the same time telling us we can never be pure. On one hand, YOU are always pure. Your true nature is consciousness and so will always remain unsullied. On the other hand, YOU are cloaked in a body. The body produces waste creating impurity. Our thoughts are often unclean (or smudgy, at the very least), our environments, less than pristine.

What are we to do?

Saucha asks two things:

1. Remember you are an expression of Divinity – Consciousness – and as such, pure. Remember who YOU are. And if you can’t do that,

2. Cleanse what you can.

This Niyama is giving us the opportunity to live up to our pure divine potential by first recognizing areas of impurity, then addressing them. Before we could reason, spin, lie, cheat, coerce, convince or decide, we were unencumbered by the stickiness of life. We were pure.

Imagine all that has been energetically and physically accumulated up to now. The thoughts and ideas of righteousness that cloud decisions, perceptions and preferences that drive behavior and deeds that linger, waiting to be forgiven or reconciled, all create a barrier between us and divinity.

Or so it would seem.

As divine consciousness itself, none of these things matter. But as a human being, they create a perceived, murky, film that distorts the truth of who we are. This is where we can begin to cleanse.

In Buddhism, the lotus flower represents enlightenment and purity. It is born underwater, in the muck. As it begins to emerge, it is the same dirty water that cleanses the tightly folded petals of the lotus flower. When nothing but the stem remains under water, the flower opens. The interior of the lotus never gets dirty, it remains pure.

There is nothing to purge; there is only removal of external beliefs and ideas. Anything that doesn’t feel like love needs to be addressed. Feeling separate from others or nature is also a good clue. Unresolved issues create opportunities for clean up.

But this is our work.

As grown ups with thoughts and physical stuff, this is our good, solid work. Knowing we are pure beneath, and without, the detritus of a life lived fully, is really enough. But getting to that knowing can take some work.

We can begin now shifting our thoughts, our deeds and our words to support the divinity we know we are (or believe ourselves to be, if it’s not yet felt as truth). We can create good karma by living cleanly, making choices based on their support of our true nature. And failing that, we can work on whatever feels unresolved. Doing our best work without attachment to the end result. It is not that we need to fix things, we simply need to forgive and allow.

Even ourselves.

There is a depth to Saucha that can only be experienced if pursued with integrity. It is purity, yes, but to arrive there, it is also forgiveness, presence, accepting what is as it is. It is letting go of preconceived ideas, memories that become expectations and the need to be right. It is allowing the cloaks of mental, emotional and physical clutter to drop away, revealing the purity of the spirit that you are.

It is the unveiling of the divinity within.

 

 

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Done Not Doing

The first limb of yoga hands us a list of 5 things we ought not to be doing. They’re all pretty logical:   please don’t harm; don’t steal; don’t lie; don’t overindulge; and don’t hoard.

Hidden in the meanings of each is the fact that we must first not do these things to ourselves. Not in thought, word or deed. Do not think harmful thoughts toward yourself or another. Do not speak harmful words about, or to, yourself, or about, or to, another. And, certainly don’t commit any harmful acts to yourself or another. And so on.

If you can manage all of that on the first Yama alone – Ahimsa, non-harming – you probably don’t have to invest too much more energy. If we’re devoted to not harming, then it would follow that we’re not likely to commit the other four acts.

But there’s so much more richness to uncover.

As we move beyond the Yamas, we step fully into our second limb – Niyama. These are the 5 tenets we do practice. Purity, Contentment, Discipline, Self-study and Surrender to a higher power.

Without first cleansing the mind with the five yamas, we would only be theorizing about the  five niyamas. How can we cultivate contentment, for instance, if we are still attached to our stuff? How can bring discipline into our lives without first moderating all our appetites? Everything fits neatly together.

All lasting traditions have guidelines to live a functional, kind, life. They are all essentially the same; most begin with abstaining from harming other living beings. It’s not really a lot to ask.

“Before you speak let your words pass through three gates;
At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”
At the second ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
-Sufi saying

 

 

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Nothing

While celibacy seemed extreme for the previous Yama,  our very last one, Aparigraha, may just seem impossible. Simply put, do not be attached to anything.

In its simplest form, it asks us to not be greedy. This sutra is sometimes translated as non-hoarding or non-greed, but perhaps its most common translation is non-attachment. In a more profound sense, it’s instructing us to let go of our attachment to everything. And be okay with it.

Your stuff, your pets, your children, your thoughts, your beliefs, even your body.

Let’s unpack these.
  • STUFF: Not being greedy with things seems quite doable and even noble. Take only what you need. Right Now. Not for someday. How many ‘things’ do you have that you just might need someday? At its core, Aparigraha is asking you to consider that those things you’re holding onto may be able to serve someone else right now. Do you really plan to wear your high school jeans again or take up origami?
  • PETS: Aren’t pets the best teachers for letting go? Their lifespans are so much shorter than ours and nearly everyone has experienced the heart-wrenching loss of a beloved pet. They teach us unconditional love and trust, making our bond with them even stronger and causing their loss to feel even more profound. Yet, we have to let go.
  • PEOPLE: This one feels ridiculous. Don’t get attached to my children? My parents? My spouse? Perhaps this is best viewed through the lens of allowing rather than letting go. We bring into our lives those who have the most to teach us about ourselves, which presents us with challenges almost daily. Allowing the other person to be who they are, quirks and all, is a form of non-attachment. We are not seeking to change them, or control them. We love them deeply, and we allow them to be who they are, thereby allowing them to grow into who they are meant to be.
  • THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS: We understand more and more how much our thoughts create our reality. Perhaps this would be the best place to begin practicing non-attachment. Not letting go of thoughts, necessarily, but watching them with curiosity and a little space. Wondering where that thought or belief came from. Considering the beliefs of others. And, perhaps the best work we can do here, is letting go of expectations. Yogi Amrit Desai is known to say, “The only problem we have is wanting things to be different than the way they are.” Plan, set goals, work toward those goals, but let go of the outcome. Allowing it to evolve organically will likely bring more rewards than forcing it to be what you imagined.
  • BODY: How does one not attach to their physical form, yet remain alive? This aspect of Aparigraha is the depth of non-attachment. Trust the process of birth, life, death, rebirth. The body already dies on a regular basis, organs replace themselves over time, wounds heal, the breath is life and death itself. Loving the body without attachment allows you, the passenger, to make sound decisions about its health and well-being. The body will decay and die. This is not news. You are consciousness and that can never be destroyed. Your energy is eternal. Know, on a soul level, that you are consciousness itself so YOU can never be destroyed. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., a cell biologist has a really beautiful analogy for consciousness and death in his book, The Biology of Belief. He compares the human body to a television set. And you to a program on television. When the TV ‘dies,’ the program does not.


Practicing Aparigraha is a life-long endeavor, much like yoga itself. Step by step, we can begin by letting go of some physical stuff, purging, donating objects that would better serve someone else. Then, we can let go of our attachments to certain ideas or beliefs, allowing for the ideas and opinions of others. Maybe we let go of expectation and anticipation, greatly reducing our personal stress. Then the bigger stuff won’t seem so overwhelming. Practicing non-attachment is truly liberating. When we let go of attachments, we lay ourselves wide open to receive the abundance that is always available to us.

 

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No Sex For You

 

Let’s say you’ve been doing yoga for a little while and you’re beginning to sense that there’s more to this than making some poses. You ask a few questions, do some investigating on your own and come across the Eight Limbs of Yoga. As you delve a little deeper you find, buried in the first limb, Yama, a funky word that starts with a ‘b’ and translates to celibacy.

What?

You could slam your laptop shut, drink a bottle of pinot and take your eco-friendly mat to nearest shredder. OR, you could dig a little deeper.

Yes, Brahmacharya does mean celibacy. When the Sutras were just an oral tradition, and even once they were codified by Patanjali a couple thousand years ago, they were meant mostly for renunciates - yoga monks, if you will - known as Swamis. They were meant for men seeking the spiritual path of union with the Divine.

Today, yoga has opened wide up to include everyone. Even women. Because of the influx of so many people finding the benefits of yoga, from the postures to the philosophy, two paths have emerged: that of the Swami and that of the Householder – the rest of us.

As Householders, we are at liberty to observe all the yogic principles and live a kind, compassionate life, just as a Swami might. While it may seem very enticing to crawl into a cave and meditate for 18 years, the yogi sages recognized that those with families, who were procreating, could benefit from the foundational principles of yoga as well and be every bit as devoted to the Divine.

In the past 100 years or so yoga has shape-shifted into many things: power yoga, hot yoga, yin yoga, vinyasa, and even naked yoga, but at its true core remains the principles of the philosophy. And that is where we find Brahmacharya.

For Householders, this translates to moderation in all appetites, including sex. And eating, and sleeping, and talking, and gossiping, and spending money -  anything that can become excessive or an over-indulgence.

When we control our impulses to do those things that bring us instant gratification, we are harnessing energy or prana for use toward our greater good, service to others or higher pursuits. The yogis of the cave ilk, repressed sexual urges to transmute that energy to devotion to the Divine. 

Swami Satchidananda explains, “Seminal fluid is our life. If stored properly, it can bring a lot of energy. When absorbed into the system it gets transformed into prana. Conserved sexual energy in women also gets transformed. It is the vital force that allows you to really help people and have good relationships.”

Prana is our vital life force, and when we engage in activities to excess, we are depleting our prana -  giving it away. When we limit our indulgences, we are able to store that prana to be used for our own growth. Instead of flowing down and out, it can be channeled upward to the higher energy centers of the body, known as chakras, for compassion, empathy, love, study, teaching, prayer, meditation.

Put another way, “Devoted to living a balanced and moderate life, the scope of one’s life force becomes boundless.” Nischala Joy Devi from The Secret Power of Yoga.

 


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Put Back the Post-It Notes and Paper Clips

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The third Yama – Asteya – encourages us not to steal. Anything. And non-stealing goes way beyond office supplies, even way beyond physical stuff.

Webster defines stealing as: 1. To take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal, 2. To take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission and 3. To wrongly take and use (another person’s idea, words, etc.)

In every cases it involves taking.

Consider the following:

TARDINESS Being late, especially habitually, is more than just disrespectful, it is stealing someone else’s time. And the message is clear; my time is more valuable than yours. By being habitually late you also rob yourself of time.  You are likely trying to get just one more thing done, rushing around and not being present in anything you’re doing, only to show up harried and apologetic to a friend whose disappointment is clear. Slow down, edit the to-do list, create space. Honor the time you spend with others.

INTERRUPTING Aside from sending Miss Manners into a tailspin, speaking over someone else is stealing their voice, their thunder, and maybe even their presence. It’s a compulsion we all share; something just popped into your head and before you forget it, you have to blurt it out. It’s that important. Only it’s not. When we quietly and mindfully listen to the other person, we are honoring their process. If it is a solution they are seeking, they will make their way to it. Allow this to happen for them. Listen with the intent of hearing, not responding. Your response will be so much more thoughtful. Or as Stephen Covey so eloquently stated, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

COMPLAINING Griping, which is typically gossip-inducing, is stealing someone else’s energy. By complaining, especially without a solution in mind (which would actually be problem-solving and not complaining at all) drains your own energy and now you’re asking someone else to solve a problem for you that likely isn’t a problem at all but rather a distraction that you have created to communicate with, or get the attention of, someone else. Often complaining is an effort to pull someone else down into drama. It is campaigning against someone else. Instead spend a few moments trying to solve the problem you have uncovered. Perhaps you’ll realize it’s not a problem at all. Maybe it’s just friendly conversation you are seeking. Keep Eleanor Roosevelt’s sage words in mind; “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

STEALING STUFF This is probably the most obvious. But here’s the thing, stealing or even coveting the possessions of others exacerbates a lack mentality, sending waves out into the void transmitting that you believe you do not have enough, and indeed, are not enough. You should stop that right now. You are calling to yourself the very opposite of abundance. Instead know, or say to yourself, that you have exactly what you need and just start to pay attention. Everything shows up. It may not look exactly as you pictured it, but it will make its way to you when the timing is right.

TAKING FREE STUFF How can it be stealing if it’s free, you ask? If you don’t need it, you are taking it from someone who may AND you are transmitting that lack signal again. You already have what you need. If you need it, really need it, take it.

The karmic antidote to all this lack-producing naughty behavior is to give. There is a tremendous amount of scientific documentation on the power of giving. Physically it fires off dopamine and other feel happy transmitters, making your feel good. Energetically, you are creating an opening for more to come in. Giving away your car does not mean you will be receiving a new car. But giving your mat everything you have in your yoga practice usually means your cup will be emptied of anything you no longer need so that it can be filled with what you do.

Yogi Amrit Desai so eloquently summarizes this yama, "We must recognize that the underlying premise in all stealing, coveting or jealousy is the belief that we are not sufficient, whole or complete. We practice asteya as an affirmation that we need nothing outside of ourselves to feel complete. We are enough as we are."

You are enough as you are. Give from there.

 


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