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It Takes Strength to Follow Your Heart

Greetings!

I want to continue with the 13 vitamins for living a happy and healthy life. But after returning from a phenomenal weekend workshop at the Arlington Center near Boston last weekend, I want to share a little inspiration with you first. I feel so graced and uplifted by the receptivity and authenticity of the students in attendance.

I taught about the heart being the center of the universe and that the highest purpose of the practice is to return to your heart and learn how to follow your heart. Ashaya means, “abode of the heart” and underlines the essential purpose of the practice – to regain access to the wisdom of the heart. When you come home to your heart there’s a moment of recognition, a pause, and a space where you realize you are already whole and complete. You realize that life is a gift and a miracle meant to be savored, not a problem to be solved.

Following your heart takes strength. You need strength because when you follow your heart, you may disappoint others. To keep you from abandoning your own center and caving into what others want and expect of you, you need strength, a kind of steadfastness to stand by your own side. If you don’t regularly disappoint others, you’re probably disappointing yourself instead.
 
There are two kinds of strengths needed to follow your heart, humility and high self-esteem. Humility relates to your capacity to open to a bigger energy greater than yourself. “Greatness is knowing you are greater than yourself.” (Dr. Douglas Brooks). But without self-esteem, humility leads to self-rejection or making yourself small.

When I moved out of Kripalu many years ago, I had no job, no money, and no business plan. On a walk with a close friend, I complained about how bad off I […]

The Third Vitamin: Education and Study

I’m delighted to continue the topic of the 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world. Last time I wrote about the importance of spiritual practices. Click here to review.

Study group at 200-Hour YTT in Portland

The third vitamin is education and study. As a yogi, it’s important to continue the learning process. Education is a life-long endeavor and should never end. In general, as the aging process progresses, it’s easy to fall into routines and avoid challenging our minds to think. But thinking is necessary in order to maintain a sharp mind. “Use it or lose it” as the phrase goes. If you don’t regularly challenge your mind, you will lose it. Whatever interests you, do that. Follow your passion and explore the wealth of information available to everyone today. We live in the information age. Well, actually it’s the digital age. But information is so easy to obtain. There are no excuses.

On a regular basis I attend trainings and spiritual retreats to sharpen my practices and refine my understandings. Boredom is essentially non-existent for me. When you follow your heart, you will never be bored. I’m currently studying with two Tantric scholars, Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks. Their teachings have been invaluable to stimulating my mind and contributing to my education. There will be two workshops with Paul coming up in October.

Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks

Education also includes spiritual study and self-study, Swadhyaya (one of the […]

The Renewal of Spring

Spring Greetings! I hope you are enjoying a delightful spring renewal! I’m so excited for the warmth. We had a beautiful weekend with lots of sunny weather. I just had my bike totally tuned up and parts replaced. It’s been hanging up in my garage waiting for me to take it out for a spin. I feel like an eager 10-year-old going out on his bike for the first time! So far I haven’t lost the thrill of that first ride. Thank God for spring!

Last month I mentioned the 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These vitamins might seem obvious, but it’s rare that we ever give ourselves this level of nourishment. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world.

These vitamins make up the core of my life. They are what guide my thinking, activity, and service in my life off the mat. In a way, these vitamins comprise my yoga both on and off the mat. They keep me aligned with the highest and support me to offer my best self on a consistent basis. If your yoga doesn’t do this for you, and if it doesn’t bring about true and lasting satisfaction, fulfillment and joy, then you might need to get a new yoga!

I mentioned last time that the first vitamin is having an empowering philosophy of life. Click here for review. The second vitamin is spiritual practices. In order to create and empower joy in your life, you absolutely need a […]

The Empowering Philosophy of Life

Greetings! Can you feel the promise of spring? I can. Even though there’s still snow on the ground and it’s still cold out, the sun is higher in the sky and the bird songs are getting louder.

I want to share with you an insight I had while teaching at Esalen Institute last month. The insight has to do with how yoga is about getting healthy. In addition to gaining physical health–which is the foundation for living in joy-mental and emotional health is vitally important.

Tantra tells us that our true nature is freedom and that the true nature of freedom is bliss. Whenever pain stops or diminishes and you become free from pain, bliss is what follows. Bliss, in the most basic sense, is the experience of moving from pain to no pain. Any amount of release from suffering is always accompanied by a release of tension, which is characterized by some form of increased happiness or bliss.

When I was cross-country skiing during the frigid weather a few weeks ago, I began to experience numbness in my fingers and toes after only being out for 15 minutes. When the numbness began to spread to my arms and legs, I realized I needed to sprint back to the lodge to warm up. I’ll never forget the relief I felt when I made it back to the lodge and began to thaw out. I went from suffering to non-suffering. Bliss was the resultant emotion.

You need to nurture joy in order to experience it. Joy is natural. But due to fear and other self-limiting beliefs, joy is buried under a pile of suffering. This suffering can take the form of self-doubt, self-hatred, confusion, judgment, hopelessness, loneliness, anger, resentment, or […]

Five Elements of Thinking

Dear Friends,

Happy February! It’s cold here in New England! We have over two feet of snow. It’s beautiful in its own kind of way. But then you need to be a skier and/or enjoy shoveling to be able to say that! Lucky for me I enjoy both, which is why I don’t mind the winter.

But recently I went on a teaching tour out west where I found some warmer weather. I taught a weekend workshop in San Antonio, TX, hosted by Jane Goldstein, an Ashaya Yoga™ Apprentice. Her students were so enthusiastic and very receptive. They brought out the best in me. On the last day, I began my session with an insight I received in my meditation practice that morning. I can’t wait to share that with you at the end of this newsletter!

In San Antonio the temperature was around 65º and sunny. Then on Sunday, I continued flying west to visit my mom in Mission Viejo, CA. There it was 70-75º! The purpose of this visit, in addition to spending time with family, was to write. I completed 16 hours of writing. I was well taken care, well loved, and very well fed, which contributed to a great environment in which to concentrate. Thanks Mom.

On Friday I was off to Big Sur, CA, to teach a weekend and a 5-day course at Esalen Institute. Esalen is amazing! It was like entering another world. The beauty of the cliffs overlooking the ocean was exsquisite. Temperatures were 75-80º!!! We saw whales, sea otters, seals, hawks, a snake, and condors (largest birds in the Western Hemisphere). Esalen reminded me of my early days at Kripalu because of the feeling of sacred community. Esalen was created […]