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ToGetHer – how Yoga brings me to my Self

written by Celina Granato

Nearly 20 years ago when I became interested in learning Yoga, I didn’t notice much beyond stretching and was mostly focused on its benefits to my body.

I imagine that’s how it is initially for many yogis. It’s difficult not to be focused out on the outer world, especially when the mainstream makes it so easy with advertisements of what the masses look like. Yogis sporting trendy outfits and sleek mats. Images of dripping wet vinyasa practitioners or contortionist postures that seemingly defy gravity. That might be a product of the physical practice, but the dedicated student will come to see in time what lies beyond the pose. It’s not about hard workouts or a good sweat—and there’s no such thing as “Nama’slay”.

Yoga as Spiritual Discipline

I can assure you I am NOT a guru. I claim no specialty in Yoga style or limb, but what I am is a keen observer of experience. If there is one thing I can profess, it’s the role Yoga has played in fortifying me as a spiritual activist.

My spiritual life deepened as Yoga provided me application for self-study. I liken this self-study process to observing “layers of an onion”, which are analogous to mental constructs we hold about who we think we are in the world; ideas that make up our experience.

The layers are symbolic of our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and emotions. Upon closer examination, you’ll see that these layers can take on a variety of forms—all functions of ego: personal identification, expectations, preconceived notions, physical limitations, analysis, organization, labeling, judgement, etc. Using an onion as metaphor makes it easier to visualize multiple layers that make up the human mind; moreover, layers can be peeled away.

All these “layers” of mind reinforce a separated and limited identity. Resistance to letting go process does not make peeling easy, but it can be done and having a good thought system is worth its weight in gold. If we’re holding onto mental layers, they’ll obstruct us from having a more fulfilling experience.

Any clarity, increased connection and meaning I have garnered in my life has always been the result of spiritual discipline. The following are themes that have revisited me time and again through Yoga practice and may be helpful to offer here:

  1. Breath is Paramount. Breathing is the first and last thing we’ll ever do. Isn’t it interesting how we can’t live without the breath, we rarely give a thought about it and almost always do it unconsciously? Being mindful of the breath can teach us about presence and lead to stilling the mind. Notice that when you watch your breath, you are here and now.
  2. Resistance – Yes, Pain – No. In the Yoga Sūtra-s, Patañjali addressed āsana practice, for which he said Yoga postures should be “steady and comfortable”. While you practice non-harm and avoid pain, it is possible to experience mental discomfort as resistance. This type of resistance is challenging and used for growth; physical practice should not produce pain.
  3. Nothing in the world stays the same. All things change over time, including relationships. If you hold Utthita Parsva Konasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) for 90 seconds, and I promise you your relationship with the posture will have changed from where it was 2 minutes before! Are you the same person today as you were five minutes, 10 months and 20 years ago? My relationship with my boyfriend today is not the same as it was two years ago. Remaining curious about change allows ease and lessening of control and opening to a greater understanding and acceptance to the transitory nature of the world.
  4. Awareness is Key. Increased awareness happens over time through meditation and mindfulness practice. More awareness naturally leads to better choices in thinking, which is the way you perceive your experience, and opens you to deeper aspects of self.

 

WelcOMing hOMe

The peeling of layers isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s felt like burning at times. But Yoga has assisted me in this disidentification of what the world has us believe and it helps me better understand that there is only Spirit. For me, Spirit represents perfect love and unwavering peace, an experience we’re all walking towards.

Sometimes I like to think of Yoga as an agent for Spirit, and that has been out to get me. Over the years it’s become an old friend. Not only is it a path, but it is also walking the journey with me. Assisting me as I let go of old ideas that no longer serve, which in return has created space for an upgraded system of thought to start looking in a way that is beyond how the world sees.

In some ways, Yoga appears to be this thing that people do. Something for personal development, like it’s a road to get us to a place, somewhere we are not. But instead, Yoga facilitates a process of Undoing, not a doing. The Yoga practice takes the student inward because the student really has “no-thing” to do with the outside world. Our experience in the world is that we’re bodies, but that’s not what we really are.

What does it mean when all the mental layers are peeled and cast away? The linear mind sees it as there is nothing left. And that’s just it, a paradox. You learn that all those layers really are not a thing! And as layers of the onion begin peeling away, the student recognizes they are also not their thoughts. Going all the way means giving up nothing for everything in return. It is both a welcoming home and realizing that you never even left Home in the first place.

Ego, Leadership & Self-Study

Our unique strengths and personal power can have a tipping point.

The moment these two go from being helpful,

to getting in the way,

the divine play of ego is happening.

This awareness is the beginning of Yoga and the modern theory of self-leadership.

Over the last couple months, I’ve been percolating around these thoughts of ego and leadership and the study of Yoga. In the midst of the brewing a message from one of my teachers, Janet Stone, appeared in my inbox. She too spoke of ego and the trappings of false identifications. She shared this translation of a Sūtra.

dṛg-darśana-śaktyor-ekātmata-iva-asmitā

False-identification is confusing the nature of the seer or Self with the nature of the instrument of perception. In other words, false identification happens when we mistake the mind, body, or senses for the true Self.     

 – Yoga Sutra II.6

 

Do you ever fall into the habit of identification

with something that really isn’t who you are?

Experience has taught me, and Janet also noted, Yogic practices can assist us in dealing with our story-maker.

Have you ever caught yourself making up stories because

you think the person you are isn’t enough?

My answer to my own mis-leadings and mis-identifications is to engage in the all-inclusive offerings of Yoga as a form of self-study. No matter which lotus petal (see below) I choose to engage in, I am magically reminded of my true essence, big ‘S,’ Self. It assists me in moving beyond ego and the outward personas that can take over in interactions as small ‘s,’ self.

Some enter the world of Yoga through āsana, the physical postures. Another may add to this prāṇāyāma, breathing exercises and the development of life force (prāṇā) awareness. Dhyāna, the engagement of meditative-related practices, is also as common entrance point. It is also where my small ‘s’ self began to comprehend what my big ‘S’ Self is, several decades ago.

Within the analogy of an eight-petaled lotus, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyahara (sense awareness) and the three levels of mind awareness (dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samadhiI) each occupy a petal. What lies beneath all of these practices is the ancient philosophies of the yamas and niyamas. They comprise the last two petals of the Yoga lineage lotus. Together the yamas and niyamas are ethical guidelines for leading one’s life from within and without. Altogether these multiple threads are a guide as we live inside, what another teacher of mine calls, this “flesh suit.”

The roots of Yogic philosophy, meditative practices, prāṇā-related awareness and āsana guide me on through an all-encompassing study of self, also known as svādyāya. Yoga/Yuj (in Sanskrit) is simply and literally translated as union. Though it is one simple word, it stands for the lifelong quest of cultivating faith in the most Divine aspect of Self.

The theories of the modern Self-Leadership model have many similar pointings to the ancient teachings within the practices and philosophies of Yoga. As I am learning through the academic studies of a PhD program there is a process to the interpretation of data, whether it is words of theories or the hard data of numbers. So, my aim over the coming time is consider how Yogic ways may be part of a modern leadership movement.

Where do our unique strengths and personal power tip us into an understanding of the divine play of ego with humbleness and self-compassion?

How are our understandings helpful and assist us in getting out of our own way?

Can such an awareness become the beginning of a new evolution in this modern Yoga movement?

 

So, I am curious are you willing to examine the false identifications for the sake of your ‘S’ Self?

Are you willing to join this new evolution in considering Yoga’s impact on the mat and beyond?

Do you want to discover a world within where ‘S’ Self regins supreme without an ego battles?

 

Yes… great let’s go!

Retreat Reintegration

Written By: Dipika Delmenico

To retreat is to take quietude for renewal.  To reintegrate is to make meaning of, upon re-entry from such act of retreat.  Reintegration phases can often feel anything but, like the renewing quietude experienced during retreat.

One of the first questions I ask people on their return from retreat, a transformative experience away from the grunt and grind of the daily schedule at home (whether it be a training, vacation, pilgrimage) is “how is your digestion?”.

Years ago for my 40th birthday, my husband and children gifted me a Pilgrimage to the Heart retreat in the aśram I’d lived and served at in India.  It was a silent retreat.  With four children at the time, our home was busy and noisy. I yearned for spacious inner silence.

The retreat was divine.  The silence was elixir for my soul.  While it was, at the time, difficult to leave my family, my young children, I was going to a place of such intimate and deep familiarity, refuge and renewal.

On returning home however, I felt the immediate dispersion of the renewal I’d acquired during retreat. I did not wish to dilute the expansion and joy I’d experienced.  However, the contrast of worldly life as a householder was intense and it was difficult to hold.

My husband laughed at the wide eyed expression I wore as I sat in our family vehicle driving down the coast from the airport, wedged between children all talking at once and yearning for my attention.  It was wild and I love the symphony but slow down …. I was assimilating. My physical body had only just landed. My soul, I’m not sure had yet fully arrived!

A week or so after returning from retreat, I observed that I became Irritated with one of the retreat’s teaching Swamis. I was annoyed that he had  not addressed how the participants could support and  assimilate the heightened retreat experiences, on return to our homes in different corners of this magnificent globe.  I was irritated and made him the object of my discontent while I struggled to digest and find ways to make meaning of my experiences. Leaving the cocoon of the retreat to the demands of worldly life. “Did he truly have any understanding of what I was going home to?  Toddlers, nappies, teenagers, tantrums, juggling shift working partner with my own clinical practice, international distributorship business, baking, hands on mum, running a house, a rural property”. Oh yes, I was cranky. How could I hold this expansive, loving space.  Where was the time in my day to devote to my own practices?

This was a story I was creating.  Everybody has their own story. I acknowledge and honour that each of you have your own individual demands, challenges and triggers.

The truth is whether you take retreat for a day, a weekend, a week or longer, the emerging is delicate and sensitive.  If not managed with considered sensitivity there can be discord. Disharmony  between where you find yourself and where you have been. Contrast in the environment, company, daily schedule, the satsang.

When you place yourself in an intentional environment and circumstances like retreat, you can experience an activation, mobilizing even eliminating the accumulated residue of life.  There can be a purification of the different sheaths of yourself, the  kośas.Your more subtle layers, sheaths or bodies. Those that are not visible but are part of your wholeness.

Often people have new experiences on retreat. It may be feeling and meeting whole new frontiers and sensations within yourself. This can be peaceful, blissful, loving, painful, irritating, frightening, overwhelming, sad but oh so alive!

If the environment is one that fosters spaciousness, safety, restoration and ease there can be an opening of you.  A heart opening if you will that sees you even MORE loving and sensitive to all impressions you encounter.  While in the cocoon of retreat it can be heightened in a way that feels, well good.

Then this precious time comes to it’s natural close and you emerge. You may emerge somewhat fine tuned in resonance.   There’s a moment of spark when your resonance and nourished state of being meets with that of the world, which may not have changed in resonance with you. It can be a moment of friction, perhaps even tension or chaos. It can be a moment of great compassion, love, acceptance depending on you and your circumstances.

Of course it looks different for all. Perhaps it’s smack back in a traffic jam, deadlines, demands and expectations, running, juggling, same old patterns emerging, the inner clutter, lack of silence and noice jangling the nerves. And, that sweet, sweet heart space slipping from your grasp.  And, be gentle and loving with yourself, for it could be the contrast between your state and those you love, perhaps family, friends, work colleagues.

Being able to digest everything you are feeling, experiencing is key to how you transmute the qualities of your retreat time.  You’ll be digesting on all levels of your being.  Physically, emotionally, mentally, soulfully there will be a need to fully digest.

Breaking down, assimilating into a substance that nourishes all aspects of you, understanding, making sense of, reflecting and integrating will be inwardly occurring.  Having an awareness of this, eating and living in a way that supports this process is key to how you sustain all the gifts of your retreat period.  Whether it’s been for a day or a year, the same principal applies.  Whatever your circumstances, this applies to you.  To understand these principals in practical and profound, yet simple and effective ways I encourage you to read the Chapter on digestion in my best selling book The Ayurvedic Woman.

There are simple, effective and practical ways you can support how you digest these experiences.  Eat foods that are warming, easily digestible and nourishing.  That includes more cooked foods and less raw foods. YES, that’s right.  Soupy stew like one pot meals and soups are perfect.  Slow cooked is great.  Raw foods have more nutrient dense energy but are less nourishing for this time as they require far more digestive energy and power to transform into a substance that is nourishing for your body and being.

In addition, sip on ginger tea after meals to bolster your digestive fire. If you are feeling like there’s a lot of gas and wind in your gut, your mind and you are overthinking, over emotional or over sensitive then start the day with drinking a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of ghee to pacify you.

And, massage yourself with warm sesame oil before you take bath or shower to nourish your nervous system and impart strength and grace to reintegrate well.

May your digestion be strong and bright, your resonance light.

 

About Dipika:

Dipika Delmenico is an Ayurvedic Medicine Practitioner, Anthroposophic Naturopath, Yoga of Sound teacher, Speaker and Author.  She’s practiced clinically for more than 20 years, treating thousands of patients globally with holistic healing wisdom and Mantra.  Dipika is a best selling author of The Ayurvedic Woman and Shine Your Light. She’s the founder of Conscious Woman Rising and The Radiant Woman Foundation; holistic practitioner trainings, wellness courses and programs.

Dipika works therapeutically with Mantra and Sacred Sound as the original medicine, and medicine of our future, integrating and bridging physical and spiritual sciences for true healing potential.

Dipika is in service to the renewal of ancient healing mysteries and healing the divine feminine in each of us and our planet.

You can download my free ebook A-Your-Veda: Your inner roadmap treasure on dipikadelmenico.comfor more tips and tools to support you.

Retreat

Written By: LauraLynn Jansen

 

Why Retreat?

Why Step Away?

What does Drawing Back Offer?

 

Withdrawing from regular life allows you moments to gather in energy usually dispersed into multiple directions. The word, retreat,comes from the Latin verb “to pull back.” By retreating you allow yourself time to focus deeply in one direction and gain a new perspective.

 

Each one of us possess an essential nature that is untethered by the confines of modern life. Retreating from everyday life and leaving behind the usual distractions allows an inner change and redirection toward what really inspires our life.

Continue reading “Retreat”

The Struggle Is Day 4

Written By: Stephanie Keiko Kong

 

Dear reader,

            The following article is based on a journal entry I wrote as a letter to myself back in 2014. At the time, I was at the very beginning of my journey into meditation, feeling frustrated and blissful by turns.

            Currently, I teach mindfulness and meditative singing, and I’ve enjoyed a strong, consistent practice for years now. However, as you’ll read, this wasn’t always the case.

===========

I’m a meditator. Sort of.

I meditate on a daily basis for about four days in a row. Then, I miss a day. Like today.

It’s day 4 of my brand-new-again daily practice. I’ve squirmed every time I thought about sitting on my cushion today. It’s as if my butt is a magnet of the same polarity as my meditation spot. I get near it, and I can feel invisible forces driving me away.

Somehow, on days 1, 2 and 3, I woke up knowing I had to start meditating immediately. Maybe it’s because I knew I would otherwise get distracted. I didn’t even brush my teeth first. From my horizontal sleeping position, I slid off the side of the bed, onto the floor between the bed frame and my closet, and there I sat. I picked up my mālāfrom my nightstand and off I went. Continue reading “The Struggle Is Day 4”

Yoga Will Save the World

Written By:   LauraLynn Jansen

 

It is everywhere!!! It, meaning “Yoga.” Versions of it are used in advertisements on the television and in magazines. Corporate heads write of its’ underlying benefits and relate how engaging Yogic philosophies and practices aid in being a better leader in business settings. And, of course folks doing postures are all over social media channels. So… I thought I would take a moment to share some details of how Yoga is demonstrating impact in the scientific realm. Plus a few other ponderings.

  1. The physical movements associated with āsana, the postures, leave a ripple of benefits – flexibility, muscle coordination, and assist in healthier functioning of the organs and tissues. 
  1. Prāṇāyāma, the conscious movement of breath and bodily energy, has a full list unto itself. On the physical level it improves blood circulation and improves concentration. It also invokes a relaxation response to the body and mind. When engaged regularly these breath focused practices are being proven to address and release anxiety and depression (components of post-traumatic stress).
  1. The ability to self-regulate, also known as having the skill to respond and relate to stress in a healthy manner, is addressed by almost every marga(Yogic path), whether it is āsana, prāṇāyāma, meditation or nāda (sound, chanting, etc).
  1. One’s ability to focus attention shifts as an increase in mind-body awareness is acquired. Literally, the brain’s neuroplasticity changes through the engagement of attention networks and other mental facilities used in the aforementioned practices. This increase in mind body awareness, also known as metta-cognition, enables folks to stand back and watch what is happening from a more neutral mindset.
  1. Lastly, is the bliss factor, some call it the endorphin rush post a physical practice. However, the intense state of flow, unity (what Yoga/yujactually means in Sanskrit) and peace/calmness can present a deep change in an individual’s perception of self and their path in life.

Continue reading “Yoga Will Save the World”

The Teacher Mold

by Emerald Ralston

 

“I….. I just don’t think I enjoy teaching yoga…” I muttered to a friend, a fellow graduate of my 200-hour yoga teacher training. We were warming up at a studio of another fellow graduate, preparing to take class there, and I was contemplating her offer for me to teach there as well.
We’d all been teaching intermittently, subbing whenever we could and getting as much experience as possible, to attempt to bring to others what yoga had brought to our lives.


“Well, maybe you just haven’t taught enough classes, or you’re just not confident enough in the words,” she offered, in the purest, most encouraging way possible.


I allowed myself to sit with this suggestion, one I had considered several times before.


Maybe I’m just not confident enough. Maybe I just don’t quite fit the mold of the studios I’ve encountered or the students I have had in front of me. Maybe I’m just simply not a good teacher, maybe I’m just not good enough.
The doubt spiral took hold and didn’t let me go until I was halfway into Savasana. That is when I realized that it wasn’t true. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy teaching Yoga… it was that I simply didn’t enjoy teaching Asana.
When we consider yoga, in the West particularly, the first image to come to mind for most is the asana. The poses, the leggings, the catch phrases on the tank tops. But there is so much more to Yoga than that, Asana is only one of the eight limbs of Yoga. There are the Yamas, or the restraints and moral principles we follow. The Niyamas, or the positive observances. There is Pranayama, the breath work; Pratyahara, gaining control of the senses; Dharana, focus; Dhyana, meditative absorption; and finally Samadhi, or total enlightenment.


Anything that brings people to yoga is incredible, powerful and likely life changing, in my opinion, but there was always more to it than asana for me. In my YTT I wasn’t the most flexible, I didn’t know all the sanskrit names or possible variations of each pose, I wasn’t interested in perfecting the picturesque and beautiful poses that the other incredible yogis in my class excelled at as much as I was just there to move my body and spirit around.
But when it came time for papers and class presentations on the sutras, on the spiritual side, the academic side, I lost track of time and space. I connected with a side of me that needed to be awakened and I discovered Yoga. I discovered the yamas and niyamas, I truly dived into my breath, I sought the divine, I found it within myself.


Asana got me there, as it gets most people to yoga. Asana teachers are a gift, but not every 200-hour YTT graduate is going to be cut out for teaching asana, and I am here to tell you that is okay. I beat myself up for months, after spending so much time and money, seeing many of my fellow classmates moving on to teach incredible classes and truly find their calling in that. I felt the anxiety that yoga usually relieved for me creeping back, comparing myself to other people, wondering why I had failed. I even quit going to studios for class, only occasionally practicing my asana at home. My only connection to yoga on the surface seemed to be my daily spiritual reading and Instagram. My escape had become my prison, and everything that brought me to yoga wedged itself between us now.


Suddenly I realized I was no longer practicing Yoga. I snapped out of it with the help of my mentor and friends, and the spiritual foundation YTT had given me. I realized that even if I wasn’t arbitrarily teaching asana because that’s what was expected of a 200 hour YTT graduate, I had been teaching Yoga all along — even more so by following my truth that teaching asana was not for me.


I was reminded of stories of ancient yogis where there is not a single mention of Asana. Conversations that went well into many evenings about the impact yoga has had on the lives of me and my friends. This is because Asana does not have to be the focal point of yoga.


Teaching Yoga is reminding your coworker to breathe when they’re overwhelmed. Teaching Yoga is donating excess to charity because you are consciously practicing non-attachment. Teaching Yoga is setting boundaries to fill you own cup before you try to help fill others’. Teaching Yoga is living in truth and modeling that for others. There is so so much more to teaching Yoga than guiding someone into a pose with your words.


Grant yourself the grace you grant others if you are at this crossroads in your teaching journey and allow and trust your own path to guide you.
You might find that you can teach yoga in a different way, like I found that while I don’t love teaching asana, I do love teaching Yoga.


Namaste <3

Innvolution-Evolution

by LauraLynn Jansen

“May I resolve to evolve,” I ask the Divine.

Resolve to evolve, to consciously seek a deeper understanding of Self.

This request is for the continual progression of understanding. An understanding of life in this body. I am realizing my request for personal evolution is becoming more of an involutioneach year. This life journey moving me more and more inward with a deeper desire to tend more inside than outside.

 

The recognition of a shift of evolving to involuting came while considering what to put onto the 2019 new year card. Every new year, I create a card. These yearly markers stashed away in a sacred spot date back over 15 years. They are milestones depicting the examination of life. Sometimes I pull them all out and reconsider the overall arch followed by my life. Each New Year’s Eve gives space to truly reflect on what is happening around and through me. The writing and imagery, on each card created, reflects a vision. Words and images depict an energy, a retrospective glimpse, and an inspiration toward a forming momentum awaiting manifestation.

This year’s card is covered in patterns and images of art nouveau flowers, a bird soaring, another bird singing on top of a dogwood branch that is blooming with a white pedaled flower. It has five words on it: “Dare… Create, grow, and expand.” Continue reading “Innvolution-Evolution”

Yoga’s Impact on Life’s Roller-coaster

by Madisyn Walter

Yoga has been the greatest mentor to me throughout the past two years, guiding my life toward a sense of nirvana.  Life means so many different things to so many different people; full of decisions, actions, happiness and regrets.  These decisions, like the tide, rise and fall each day. Every person has a constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness, yet it is up to the individual to make that happiness a reality. 

My path to personal happiness started when I found yoga.  Yoga, which is the practice of bringing wellness and strength into the body, is aimed to reduce the chaotic stress associated with life and help achieve inner peace. Previously in life I was focusing too much on the situations around me instead of the mental and physical turmoil living within me. However, when I started the practice of yoga everything changed.  I had more respect for the health of my mind, body and soul.  The less I started to worry about all the problems around me the more I began to realize more about my personal character and how unbalanced my life had been.  It was a breath of fresh air to be able to wake up and not feel the anxiety of a new day; instead, I could rejoice in knowing that I now have the mental and physical tools needed to tackle every obstacle that life throws at me.

Yoga does not take stressful situations out of your life; reversely it guides you to better awareness of how to deal with those stressful situations.  Throughout my childhood I experienced a lot of frustration, resulting in arguments with everyone.  Managing my stress did not happen after one yoga session. Instead, as with most great things in life, it happened with consistency and practice.  When practicing yoga, which is a mind-body connection experience for me; and it consists of a combination of activities from controlled breathing to meditation, and relaxation to physical poses. After enough practice, these activities become second nature and I find myself dealing with stress in a totally different manner.  This ancient practice of meditation and yoga has thusly encouraged my mind to heal itself rather than shut down due to chaotic distractions in everyday life. For example, instead of suffering a bad break down, yoga has helped me to be able to categorize and identify areas of stress in my life and allow me to handle them in order of importance. In my experience this has been a much healthier approach to dealing with stress rather than self-medicating or consulting a physician.

In order to deal with this epic reality time and time again, one must understand their own ‘feeling of being’.  For some this is an extremely intimidating task to confront because you are becoming aware of whom you are by flowing into your own natural rhythm.  The easiest way to feel your sense of wellbeing is by becoming aware of yourself.  Try this: Relax the body from your jaw all the way down to your toes by exhaling into each section of the body.  After you find yourself comfortable in a position where there is no tension, turn your focus on thegentle expansion and release of your abdomen as the breath draws and flows out of the mouth and/or nose.  Once a rhythm is established locate the short pause between each breath and focus on harmonizing each inhale and exhale.  At this point of your practice you may experience a natural smile or some type of warmth lingering in the body. This is the presence of your wellbeing.  To some this may sound strange but that will change once the importance of being in tune with your body is been discovered.               

            It is self-evident to the majority of people who try yoga, that it is an extremely healthy way to combat stress.  The well-being of one’s mind should be paramount above all else.  A healthy mind is free to better assist the body in problem-solving and thus creates a better flow in work and many other aspects of life.  It is understood that many people may find the idea of yoga to be a stressful thought in of its own; and I can assure you, it took some time for me to get used to it as well.  Through yoga I have found true happiness in myself and it is my wish that in reading the positive aspects it has played in my life that you as well may find the peace we all deserve.  Namaste.

Untruths

by LauraLynn Jansen

 

So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that, which has been denied.

– Helen Keller

This year, for the first time in 15 years, my partner and I are living openly on every level of our lives. I am grateful the hiding is over. If I am totally honest, I am challenged in remaining in this gratitude. Reminders of the imposed silence of our love flash back to me. My attitude of gratitudewaivers far more than I think it should considering we no longer have tohide.

Before this year of living openlywe shared our devotion to each other only in certain places and certain spaces, and only with folks we trusted to hold our love in confidence. When we legally bound our love just over 4 years ago on a beach with the splendor of the Sierras surrounding us a trusted posse of friends and a couple family members joined to witness this unprecedented moment in our lives. The societal acknowledgement of the validity of our commitment to each other was one I honestly never thought I would see in my lifetime. Not just because we are two women, but because of the restrictions placed on my partner as a military officer. That moment of deeply vulnerability, for both of us, marked the beginning of a major adjustment period we are still trying to navigate. Our capacity to find a new rhythm as we openly explore the world together is now the test before us. We must un-master our ability to tell untruths. Please know my deepest gratitude lies in the realm of not having to lie any more. Personally, as someone who tries her best to live by Yogic values, telling untruths and/or holding back pieces of what the heart is distressing.

The Yoga Sutrasencourage Yoga folk to think, speak, and act with integrity through the term, satya. The word satmeans that which exists, that which is. “Satya, therefore, is seeing and communicating things as they actually are, not as we wish them to be.” Oh the wishes I’ve had over the last decade and half. The many times I wished I could share the truth within my heart with new friends.

When we lie, the sages say, we disconnect from our higher self; our minds become confused, and we cannot trust ourselves.

This state of confusion is a familiar one to me. Over the years of hiding, my ability to trust self and others has faded, and as it dropped fear rose creating an even greater disconnection within myself and without. Now, everyday, I put forth effort to re-establish trust in Self and other. Now, I question assumptions as they arise, in the past they were a protection mechanism. I defeat fear by reaching out to those, who in the past I was uncertain I could trust. I am retraining the fear to back off and allow me to be myself with those who live around me.

It is said the truth sets us free. I wholeheartedly concur! I am so grateful we are free to be ourselves in the sense she won’t lose her job, and society is opening to the validity of our relationship. The great freedom to be who we really are, rather than hiding behind lies and untruths, is indescribable. And now as we remove the layers of cultural conditioning and find a new way to be together we struggle and celebrate. It is an opportunity to grow anew as individuals and as a couple. It is for all this – the freedom, the growth, the newness, and all that lies ahead yet unknown to us… that I find an even deeper attitude of gratitude.

namaste