This morning in meditation I had the distinct experience of the longing of my heart for freedom. Not that I’m suffering from anything in particular. I just felt a deep inner urge to merge with something bigger; to grow and evolve, to expand beyond previously held limits within myself. This morning my heart was open. It was not a normal practice or normal meditation. I was elevated.
After my practice, I reflected on what happened and why was this meditation different from any others. I realized that it was the quality of my heart. It was my attitude that was different. When I meditate with an open heart, a heart that is on fire with the longing for freedom or longing for anything deeply meaningful, it shifts the potency and my ability to focus in meditation. Not only was I more still inside my head, I was also more open, spacious, and blissed out. I melted into the mantra and the mantra melted into me.
This is what I call Bhakti Shakti. (Bhakti means devotion or heart-centered awareness.) It’s the powerful energy of the uprising aspiration of the heart to become more of who I am. It is nothing less than Shaktipata (the descent of the life force), which can only come when your heart is open and ready. What makes your heart ready? It’s how you live your life, what you do, say, and eat, how you listen to others, how you listen to yourself, what you say to yourself (are you kind or self-critical? can you accept and forgive or do you hold grudges?), and in general, how you are.
When you align with your highest self and strive to do your best and make the best of what you’ve been given, your heart will open. But then even if you do all of the right things and you have no guilt or resentment, you just are, I believe the missing ingredient is being in touch with your primal longing for oneness. True Bhakti grows from this longing. When I’m really awake to the moment, I can’t help but sense the paradox of living in duality while also sensing the one light, one heart, and the nondual. From my “relative” self, when I’m still, I can feel the deep inner longing to unite with something greater and to transcend the dualistic world and experience the nondual. The connection with the nondual, the unbounded Absolute, even if only for a second, is enough to totally rejuvenate my whole being and wash away tiredness and negativity.
This is why I practice yoga and meditation every day, and this is why I’m very excited to offer the upcoming workshop with world-renowned scholar, Bill Mahony.
I hope you’ll join us to awaken your Bhakti Shakti in the upcoming workshop March 21-23 entitled, Awaken Your Heart: Devotion in Motion, with Bill Mahony and me. Here’s some inspiration from Bill:
“A central theme of our workshop, Awaken the Heart: Devotion in Motion, will be on the cultivation, refinement and elevation of spiritual love (bhakti) as a foundation for a deep yogic practice. We focus our sat sang discussions on a 10th-century text from India, Narada’s Bhakti Sūtra. Together, we will reflect on concise teachings on divine Love such as these”:
- “It is of the nature of ambrosia” (amṛta svarūpa);
- “And it is of the nature of peace and supreme joy” (śāntirūpatvāt paramānandarūpa ca);
- “Knowing this love, one becomes ecstatic. One becomes still. One comes to delight in the true Self “(yaj-jñātvā matto bhavati stabdho bhavati ātmārāmo bhavati); and
- “It reveals itself wherever there is an open vessel (prakāśyate kvāpi pātre).”
“When contemplated closely and at length from a yogic perspective, these otherwise seemingly simple statements can lead us to deep and transforming insights that can give us illuminating, supporting guidance in our larger lives. Each word of each phrase can be understood at remarkably deep levels.”