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So far chitracanada has created 88 blog entries.

August: Taking the Witness Stand

Witnessing can be a spiritual practice which involves taking the position of a neutral
observer to the whole range of our experience: physical sensations, perceptions,
thoughts and emotions. It can be practiced as a meditation technique in which one
systematically observes and dis-identifies with all that arises into awareness. Practiced
with sustained and focused attention, stepping back from sensations and thinking again
and again, thoughts gradually diminish and a healing silence is revealed.

Practicing regularly in meditation makes it easier to apply this same effort to daily life by
having one part of the mind observing even as we engage in activities. The non-
reactive awareness we cultivate gives rise to a tremendous benefit, changing our
relationship to any activity, conversation or emotion. Where we might normally react
compulsively lost in an emotion or a habitual pattern of thinking, we now are
empowered to pause, reflect and respond mindfully.

For example, I may be able to stop myself from spinning the truth to protect my self-
image if I feel compelled to hide a mistake I made. I might be able to catch myself
obsessively thinking negative thoughts about someone and choose to focus instead on
my part in a difficult interaction. No doubt, becoming this conscious of our thoughts is
not easy, especially when we are stressed or emotionally triggered.

A practice of Hatha Yoga can be an effective way to develop this attentiveness by
tuning into the raw sensations of the body. We can train ourselves to see and act with a
non-judgmental response to the body’s capacity in a given moment. A mind that
becomes focused on sincerely listening to what is can respond to events as they are,
without looking through a colored lens or projecting onto things our hopes or fears.

In this way, we train ourselves to pause and discriminate between the anxious reactions
that may be triggered by stressful situations, and the deeper, neutral voice of our
Spiritual Self. This skill develops over time with steady effort, patience and without
expectation for how and when results will come.

When we repeat such a practice and experience moments free of habitual thought
patterns, we begin to see ourselves and our relationship to the world in a fresh way. We
begin to feel our connection to each other and all of nature. A natural compassion and
wisdom arise in our hearts. Over time, a regular practice of this kind will gradually
restructure even the subconscious mind so that we are no longer compelled by old
beliefs, and approach life with a sense of deep belonging, inner contentment and
wonder.

2017-08-01T20:49:09+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Comments Off on August: Taking the Witness Stand

Being Free

We normally think of “being free” as “being free to do what I want”.  But this kind of freedom can mean that someone is compelled by their desires to do things that are unhealthy or harmful to themselves or others. Case in point: the hot fudge sundae I used to want until I realized just how bad I felt afterwards.

Yoga teaches us a higher form of freedom — “being free of wanting things”.  When we begin to touch the deep sense of fulfillment and contentment that is already present within us, we are much less compelled to desire anything, especially something hurtful.  What a relief it is to know that I can enjoy many things that come to me, but I can be fine when they don’t.  It’s a great practice to experiment living this way.

2017-07-31T21:47:30+00:00 July 31st, 2017|Comments Off on Being Free

Loving and Serving Others

Until we experience the profound sense of completeness that is already present within us, it is natural for us to have many desires.  But we can save ourselves a lot of frustration and wasted time by learning to distinguish between healthy desires — that consider the well-being of everyone (including us), and unhealthy desires — that are based on our needs alone.

Unhealthy (selfish) desires are incompatible with our true nature —  the way we are connected to each other and all beings.  Even if we fulfill a desire, the momentary happiness we experience maintains the illusion that getting what we want is the source of our happiness.

As I pursue my own goals, if I also consider the effects of my actions on other people, my heart is at peace.  A genuine concern for others also makes possible deeper relationships, and has taught me that I can find joy in loving and serving others.  I hope to deepen this experience and learn to live this way always and I encourage everyone to try this as well.

2017-07-25T21:46:17+00:00 July 25th, 2017|1 Comment

Desire

Until we experience the profound sense of completeness that is already present within us, it is natural for us to have many desires.  But we can save ourselves a lot of frustration and wasted time by learning to distinguish between healthy desires — that consider the well-being of everyone (including us), and unhealthy desires — that are based on our needs alone.

Unhealthy (selfish) desires are incompatible with our true nature —  the way we are connected to each other and all beings.  Even if we fulfill a desire, the momentary happiness we experience maintains the illusion that getting what we want is the source of our happiness.

As I pursue my own goals, if I also consider the effects of my actions on other people, my heart is at peace.  A genuine concern for others also makes possible deeper relationships, and has taught me that I can find joy in loving and serving others.  I hope to deepen this experience and learn to live this way always and I encourage everyone to try this as well.

2017-07-21T18:37:11+00:00 July 21st, 2017|Comments Off on Desire