What matters most (Part 2)

Beach-sunset

The Yoga teacher and author Michael Stone powerfully articulates the importance of bearing witness to the world we live in with all its injustice, suffering and corruption, as well as its magic and majesty. He describes in detail how spiritual life includes taking responsibility for our participation as a member of this planet.

I believe our spiritual practice is much more potent when seen in the context of the condition of our world, our communities and our homes. Everyday choices, as well as our long term goals, take on new relevance when we realize that each action and every focused thought is a tangible contribution to the collective consciousness of our planet.

Our science oriented culture does not appreciate the power of the subtle energies we generate in our hearts and minds. Yet how many times has a gesture of generosity had a ripple effect that touched many hearts. How many prayers for healing have brought soothing relief to someone who is suffering?

Each time we disengage ourselves from the grip of habitual ego-driven thought, we bring a greater awareness into presence. Each time we pray for peace in the world, as we do in Integral Yoga at the end of each class, we send profound energies out into our world. Even though we may not see its effect, each instance of mindfulness, every act of kindness, is a significant act in co-creating our reality.

On a larger scale, we are systematically destroying our home, mother earth, and our response to this crisis is a crucial element of spiritual life. Thus, spiritual action can also include promoting green energy, conserving water, and taking concrete steps to withdraw our support of the wasteful culture of consumption we live in, as well as the mass production of harmful chemicals that pollute our environment.

Every choice we make, everything we do, can be guided by either a ‘me’-centered or ‘we’-centered mindset. Understanding how our daily actions are the moment to moment expression of our ultimate purpose can transform our lives, bringing meaning to every aspect of it. May we all learn to see how awakening our inner Light and bringing that Light into our world is actually the same thing.

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2016-10-15T01:45:16+00:00 June 25th, 2015|Tags: |Comments Off on What matters most (Part 2)

Be Mindful

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Mary Oliver beautifully expresses the idea of appreciating simple joys, the topic of my blog post last week, in her poem “Mindful”.

I sincerely hope you have time to read it.

Mindful

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

By Mary Oliver

2016-10-15T01:45:16+00:00 June 22nd, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Be Mindful

Celebrating International Yoga Day!

Meaning-of-Yoga-quote

Yoga is both the complete experience of our essential Spiritual Self and the practices done to reveal that true nature.  It is both a science of self-mastery and the art of pursuing that goal with self-discipline, compassion and contentment.

Yoga asanas (postures), so commonly known in the West, are only one small part of Yoga and are meant to be performed in the context of a much broader philosophical picture.  Otherwise, the numerous benefits of asana practice, while significant, lack the potential transformational effects for which they originated.

Yoga is a comprehensive way of life that includes numerous branches, each like a pathway leading to the same mountaintop.  These different paths or approaches to Yoga practice heal and develop the various aspects of an individual:  social, physical, energetic, emotional and intellectual.

Though Yoga emerged in ancient India as one of six schools of Hindu philosophy, all of these paths, teachings and practices remain timeless tools for personal transformation.  The more well-known practices—–asana, guided relaxation, pranayama and meditation—create numerous physical and psychological benefits and, when properly instructed, can be practiced by anyone, of any age, of any faith.

Yoga practice can be reduced to very simple and safe forms, such as slow deep breathing, and is being used therapeutically to treat countless health issues.  My teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda, playfully summarized it when he said that Yoga means having an easeful body, a peaceful mind and a useful life.

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2016-10-15T01:45:16+00:00 June 21st, 2015|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Celebrating International Yoga Day!