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Embrace Your “Inner Aliens”

Greetings! I taught a class on Halloween day in Cincinnati after my weekend workshop. My theme was “embrace your inner aliens” and just for fun, after the Om, I slipped on a green alien mask and offered everyone a Namaste. The class ripped up into laughter!

We all have inner aliens that scare us. These are our core-wounded identities and patterns of limiting thinking and behavior. In a sense, we’ve all alienated ourselves from our true nature – joy. We’ve forgotten our divine heritage and have separated ourselves from the Absolute. We walk around like ocean-less waves. Through self-limiting beliefs and layers of stress, we have dimmed and darkened the light within.

Brene Brown, renown psychologist and author, calls these aliens, “gremlins”. These are the negative thoughts we say to ourselves. In my experience, these “aliens or gremlins” can all be boiled down to one basic emotion: fear. But fear has many derivatives – worry, anxiety, doubt, frustration, anger, blame, and depression, to name a few. These shadow emotions are part of who we are, but not all of who we are. We forget that along with our core-wounded identities is our divine identity. We all have the DNA of the divine. Our divine identity recognizes and embraces the full spectrum of our being, both light and dark, both core-wounded identity and divine identity.

Halloween comes from the Celtic word samhain (pronounced “sum ween”) which is a time at the end of the harvest post summer where the veil between the two worlds, spiritual and physical, becomes very thin. As the myth goes, a threshold opens up where hostile spirits of the departed are free to roam and cause disturbances. To appease the angry spirits, the villagers […]

By |November 14th, 2016|Yoga Off the Mat|0 Comments|

See the Hand of Providence

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

― William Hutchinson Murray

The “hand of providence” is a phrase not so commonly heard today. What is the hand of providence and what value does it have in our lives?

The hand of providence is the idea that grace is constantly being dispersed. We live in a universe of power, interconnectedness, and synchronicity. There are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. In tantra, we recognize that sometimes that reason is for “no reason” (or lila, the divine play of things). But I choose to live as if everything in life is for my awakening and that nothing happens that isn’t for some recognition of a greater good. As Mr. Murray suggests in the quote above, it’s the commitment you make that initiates the response of providence. He suggests that life is a co-participation between yourself and the divine, between Shakti (the individual expression of consciousness) and Shiva (consciousness itself).

In August of 2012 when I founded Ashaya Yoga, I desperately began looking for a logo. I had no idea […]

Practice To Purify Your Reflective Surface

I just returned home from a wonderful meditation retreat with Paul Muller-Ortega in Joshua Tree, CA. Talk about hot! It was an average of 105º in the high desert each day and about 79º at night! I loved settling into our daily routine of practice. I was able to completely drop into the present moment and let go of everything else. I believe that retreats such as this are absolutely necessary to get at the deeper levels of purification that need to happen along the spiritual path.

The practice of yoga and all of the practices that go along with yoga, i.e. pranayama, kriyas, mantra, mudra, contemplation, meditation, and devotion, serve to clean the dust (malas) off the surface of the heart. If you don’t practice on a regular basis, it’s hard to keep up with the accumulating dust. Just like in the attic of your house, by no fault of your own, just from neglect, dust accumulates. This is the nature of all material reality. Ultimately, material reality (or Prakriti which includes both gross and subtle material, body mind) breaks down and returns to its essential components in the “universal compost bucket” of life.

What is the dust? Metaphorically, it’s whatever keeps you separate from the light of consciousness and from delighting in the miracle of life. The dust is what makes you forget who you are. The dust makes everything in life a burden. Your vision for a bright future gets blurry and dull. You sink into the abyss of hopelessness which emanates as lack of motivation. You stop believing in yourself and in life. You forget that everything in life is for your awakening. Essentially you become the victim of life rather than […]

Shiva Nataraja: Invisible Thread of Grace

Greetings! I hope you’re having a wonderful summer. Although I’m super busy teaching and traveling, I’m having an excellent summer. I just finished teaching the Teacher Renewal and Radiance Gathering at Angel’s Rest Retreat in Leyden, MA. It was incredible! The students were among the most receptive, open-hearted, and compassionate yogis I’ve ever had the honor of being with. We had wonderful asana sessions, deep philosophy, early morning practices, meditation, contemplation, journal writing, kirtan chanting, and therapeutics. In addition, we performed puja (a sacred ritual to honor the five elements), and had some sacred circles of sharing that opened everybody’s heart. The theme of the week was based on the transformative teachings of the Saptah Tandavas (the seven dances of Shiva Nataraja).

Upon returning home I had numerous insights about the Nataraja including the idea that grace is constantly being dispensed. But we are usually asleep to it. Grace is difficult to experience because it’s beyond our senses: can’t see it, smell it, hear it, taste it, or touch it. It’s easy to miss and easy to ignore. Grace is invisible and moves behind the scenes.

What is grace really? Grace is the power of the universe that reveals your true nature which is joy. Grace is responsible for everything that happens. It’s what makes you breathe. It makes the universe function, planets spin, and the sun rise and set. It’s what makes things come into existence, stay a while, and then dissolve back into the cosmos. Grace creates and sustains the entire universe, including all of us.

Within the statue of Shiva Nataraja, it is said that all the secrets of the universe are revealed. After many years of study and contemplation on the Nataraja, I […]

Enlightenment: Recognizing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Greetings!

Enlightenment is your capacity to recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary. I like this definition of enlightenment because it “demystifies” it and suggests that everyone has a shot at it. In fact, enlightenment is your natural state and doesn’t mean you have to renounce the world and meditate in a cave to achieve it. Enlightenment is a process not a goal. If there is a goal, it would be the goal of becoming more – more joyous, more conscious, more expanded, and less contracted, fearful, or worried. But enlightenment is not free, and in general, doesn’t just happen. I believe it takes work, intense self-inquiry, honesty, dedication, and a practice that cultivates healthy habits on all levels, body, mind, and heart.

I love the title of one of Jack Kornfield’s books, After Ecstasy, the Laundry. After enlightenment or a high experience during a meditation or during a retreat, you get to return to your daily life. Enlightenment is the process of becoming more and being able to live in the ordinary world from the perspective of the extraordinary. In the Tantra, it’s the process of living in the Relative world from the place of the Absolute.

When I was younger, I had a spiritual dream. This led me to pull away from the world, away from a “normal” path in search of the esoteric. I visited a yoga ashram for ten days and stayed for 13 years! I still believe living in the ashram was a valuable experience for me. But in a way I made my spirituality dependent on the externals, including separating myself from my family and the world, living in a “spiritual” environment, and doing renunciate practices. Maybe a life of seclusion can […]