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That Lives in Us

nebula

If you put your hands on this oar with me,
they will never harm another, and they will come to find
they hold everything you want.

If you put your hands on this oar with me, they would no longer
lift anything to your
mouth that might wound your precious land –
that sacred earth that is your body.

If you put your soul against this oar with me,
the power that made the universe will enter your sinew
from a source not outside your limbs, but from a holy realm
that lives in us.

Exuberant is existence, time a husk.
When the moment cracks open, ecstasy leaps out and devours space;
love goes mad with the blessings, like my words give.

Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack of the past and the future?
The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond its capacities
will find no rest.

Be kind to yourself, dear – to our innocent follies.
Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance.
You will come to see that all evolves us.

~ Rumi ~

(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West)

October 13th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on That Lives in Us

Spirit of Compassion

peopleontrack

Whenever we look deeply into our behavior, we begin to recognize that many of our interactions with each other are unconsciously based on protecting our self-image, trying to control the ever-changing world around us or win the acceptance of others.  We can practice having compassion for the ways that we all suffer from our attempts to arrange for happiness, reminding ourselves of the innate goodness within, like the light beneath a lampshade.  We can also acknowledge the ways we may have hurt others when we’ve been preoccupied with our own safety and desires, and in this spirit of compassion, forgive ourselves for these mistakes.  

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October 10th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Spirit of Compassion

Get Close to Yourself

grassfield

” Svadhyaya means to get close to yourself, that is, to study yourself. All learning, all reflection, all contact that helps you to learn more about yourself is svadahyaya.  T he term  is often translated as “the study of ancient texts.”  Yes, yoga does instruct us to read the ancient texts.

Why? Because we cannot always just sit down and contemplate things. We need reference points. For many this may be the Bible or a book that is of personal significance; for others it may be the Yoga Sutra. The Yoga Sutra says, for instance, that as we progress in our self-examination, we will gradually find a link with the divine laws and with the prophets who reveal them. 

from The Heart of Yoga, by Sri T. K. V. Desikachar

October 6th, 2016|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Get Close to Yourself

Self-reflection: Insights for Lasting Change

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Every faith I’m familiar with encourages self-reflection in some form as an element of spiritual practice.  Reflecting on our behavior in a neutral and objective way is an important way of acknowledging and learning from our mistakes.  It calls us to look beneath the surface of our actions to the intentions behind them, and to consider if we are acting with the well-being of everyone in mind or thinking only of ourselves.

This practice is inherent in a teaching from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali called svadhyaya.  While svadhyaya is often translated as the study of scriptures, it is clear that such study is meant to guide us in reflecting on our behavior.  By observing ourselves carefully, we can see where our behavior or thinking is not in harmony with spiritual truths, and causes us to struggle with life.

Self-reflection can reveal to us the very roots of our suffering by examining the relationships we have with people, objects and our goals.  If, for example, I get upset by someone’s behavior, I may see them as the cause for my disturbed condition.  They may have acted inappropriately, but do I have to be upset?  Is my state of mind in their hands? If I reflect honestly on my relationship to that person, I will see that it was my expectation, my desire for them to act in a certain way, that caused me to be disturbed.

If we become anxious as we are pursuing some goal, reflecting on the cause of our anxiety will reveal that we are counting on some result in an unhealthy way.  There is nothing wrong with giving our all to achieve something, but if we depend on our envisioned outcome as a source of happiness, we lose our ability to stay focused and perform at an optimal level.  Any athlete or performer knows that worrying will cause them to freeze up.

Another significant benefit to looking deeply this way is that it empowers us to change.  As soon we become aware that we are attached to someone or thing in a way hurts us, we have the choice to let go or change the way we feel.  We all must learn, for example, that we cannot please everyone and we must do what we believe in our hearts to be right even if someone else doesn’t like it.  The more I can let go of trying to please others or win their affection, the freer I am to do the right thing and have peace in my heart.

In this way, self-reflection becomes a companion to the other spiritual practices we do, and to our daily activities.  Observing ourselves carefully gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and make amends for any harm we’ve done.  Ultimately, even our missteps can be seen as part of our step-by-step progress on the spiritual path.

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October 3rd, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Self-reflection: Insights for Lasting Change