Resistance to What is

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Stephen Levine once wrote, “Suffering is resistance to what is.” It is natural to avoid painful situations, but we suffer when we try to escape from the pain that we do feel. When we judge or reject our difficult feelings and react with anger at ourselves or others, we layer a new painful feeling on top of the initial one.

Instead, we can train ourselves to pause and breathe with moments of dark emotion rather than repress or escape them with drugs or distraction. We can learn to make space around what we feel by being present to it, and we can turn this same awareness towards a person or situation that challenges us. From a place of greater clarity, we can then make conscious choices.

We may choose to act carefully, mindful of what we see in ourselves or someone else that may obstruct clear communication. Or we may choose to withdraw from interaction to process our emotional distress on our own and regain our balance before taking action. Accepting what comes into our lives, as well as what arises inside us, enables us to be present to life as it is and respond skillfully.

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2016-10-15T01:44:33+00:00 June 27th, 2016|Tags: |Comments Off on Resistance to What is

Healing Our Piece of the Collective Soul

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The recent tragedy in Orlando is a heart wrenching example of how inhumane a human can be. Our minds cannot grasp the breadth of suffering the shooting has created, nor can we easily envision some personal response to an act so horrific yet distant from us. The teaching we adopted for this month, Accept What Comes, seems a feeble statement in light of such events. What teaching or practice can help us digest such disturbing incidents and not become depressed or jaded?

The most fundamental Yoga practice that supports us to cope with difficulty is meditation. A regular practice of calming and focusing the mind in some way develops a steadiness deep within us. Practicing this way builds willpower and resilience, an ability to observe our own thoughts and feelings without being swept away by them, and the ability to consciously choose how to respond to a situation instead of falling into old and unhealthy patterns.

If we maintain at least some level of equanimity in the face of a tragedy or crisis, we can make conscious choices that bring some benefit, instead of reacting with hatred or ignoring events that we feel powerless to change. We may have little influence over the circumstances that make such violence possible, but we are responsible for the way we see and treat our fellow beings. The origins of injustice and violence are in the human heart. We can commit ourselves to exposing the Spiritual Light within ourselves and practice seeing that Light in everyone, even those who commit horrific acts.

In the face of injustice, we can commit ourselves to serving those less fortunate, bringing compassion into daily interactions, and being a presence of peace where it is lacking. Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga articulated this as follows, “Unless the human mind is freed from greed, jealousy, and hatred, there will be more and more wars. If you free your own mind of all these problems, at least that little part of the world will be free from trouble. If we want a world free from violence, we should free ourselves from every kind of violence—in thought, word, and deed. If we want a peaceful world first we must have a peaceful mind.”

Accepting what comes, in its essence, need not mean resignation. It is simply an acknowledgement that life’s events are beyond our control and often beyond our comprehension. In the face of tragedy, we can be inspired to seek a deeper source of inner stability, and from that foundation, we can dedicate our efforts to healing our piece of the collective soul of the world.

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2016-10-15T01:44:33+00:00 June 20th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Healing Our Piece of the Collective Soul

Accept Change

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“Once you see and accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, you can enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last without fear of loss or anxiety about the future.

Now you can enjoy and honor the things of this world without giving them an importance and significance they don’t have. You can participate in the dance of creation and be active without attachment to outcome and without placing unreasonable demands upon the world: Fulfill me, make me happy, make me feel safe, tell me who I am. The world cannot give you those things, and when you no longer have such expectations, all self-created suffering comes to an end.”

-A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle

2016-10-15T01:44:33+00:00 June 14th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Accept Change

Laugh at It and Be Brave

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Question: I have a vision defect which, with other problems, leads to despair and a feeling that I am only awaiting death. What can I do?

Sri Gurudev: If there is an operation that will help your vision defect, certainly try it. If there is no possibility of correcting it, it doesn’t matter. Accept it as what God wanted you to have. The minute you learn to accept something, it is no longer that troublesome. You can live with anything and everything. Haven’t you known of people in worse conditions living happily and usefully? The problem is in the mind. If you just accept it, it becomes very easy, very light.

If you want to feel bad, you have many hundreds of excuses; but if you want to be happy, you can be happy without any of these things. It’s useless to worry about them. After all, it’s just a body. The so-called limitations should not spoil your joy. Remind yourself. “I’m not the body. I’m not even the mind. I’m the spirit.” Laugh at it and be brave.

-The Golden Present by Sri Swami Satchidananda

2016-10-15T01:44:33+00:00 June 9th, 2016|Tags: |Comments Off on Laugh at It and Be Brave