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The Nature of Inner Peace: How To Get There? How To Stay There?

For the last several weeks, I’ve been teaching FB Live classes called Ashaya Yoga: Practices for Inner Peace. I’ve had the opportunity to examine the concept of inner peace from many different angles and I’ve learned a lot.

Two questions arise for me around inner peace: 1. How do you get there? and 2. Once you’re there, how do you protect it? The answer to #1 is deep acceptance and the answer to #2 is consistency. Let me explain.
There’s nothing that disturbs inner peace more than self-judgment.
This can take many forms, including, self-criticism, self-rejection, perfectionism, shame, and an inability to accept our flaws.

Flaws are a natural outcome of being human. In the Nondual Shaiva Tantra tradition, what occurs on the human level, occurs on the divine level. Our human existence, in all of its glory and gloom, is an expression of divine existence. We have the DNA of the divine. Our universal presence consists of both light and dark. But it’s very common to only acknowledge our positive qualities while suppressing our shadow. In our attempt to do everything well and bring our best self forward, we invariably make mistakes.

To be at peace within yourself, you need to accept both your gifts and your flaws, your light and your shadow. “If you think you don’t have a shadow, then you must not be standing in the light.” Deepak Chopra. Having a shadow is natural. It comes with your humanity and your humanity is your divinity.
Deep acceptance allows you to see your flaws rather than deny them.
But as yogis, we want to go deeper than just seeing them. If you could imagine going inside yourself to the other side of your flaws, like seeing yourself the […]

Being Present Is a Key to Feeling Well

Hello friends. How are you doing? No, really. How are you managing during this pandemic?

This is a great question to ask ourselves right now. Being thrust into the unknown, forced to accommodate and make changes to almost every aspect of our lives, is the perfect storm to bring up our shadow selves – reacting impulsively to situations rather than responding consciously.

Words of wisdom – this is normal and you’re not alone!

Over the last 4 to 6 weeks since sheltering at home, I’ve given myself permission to complain, resist, push against, be frustrated, have a tantrum, be afraid, and be lonely. If you’re not allowing your emotions to arise, please immediately check your pulse!
Change is the catalyst that gives rise to uncertainty.
When uncertainty arises, fear usually follows in its wake. In a state of fear, the sympathetic nervous system takes over, and we do what we’ve done best our whole lives – survive.

But there’s a difference between survive and thrive. Yogis long to thrive – to live fully, to follow your heart, to not play small. But faced with the uncertainty of change, our survival instinct kicks into gear and there isn’t much we can do about it. Or is there?

I heard a very interesting podcast recently on the TED Radio Hour comparing loneliness to solitude. Loneliness results when we’re forced into being alone against our will, like for many of us during the pandemic. Solitude is a choice and has many benefits. In fact, we all need time alone every day to gather ourselves, to feel our feelings, to check in with ourselves and see what we need. Solitude is the choice to meditate and do other things that help us release stress and […]

Head, Heart, and Covid-19

I was devastated when I got the news that my India trip in March was cancelled. I had been looking forward to this for about eight months. I got all of my immunization shots, spent considerable time and energy purchasing airline tickets, making travel arrangements, and purchasing travel paraphernalia like suitcase locks, a money pouch, anti-bacterial wipes, and masks (well, masks were sold out everywhere.)

Then a colleague of mine asked for my advice about whether or not to cancel her sold out yoga retreat in Morocco. While telling her my story about cancelling India, an insight emerged.
How much is my personal attachment to go through with the retreat clouding my wisdom about doing the right thing?
You have to discern between your attachment and what you know in your heart. Attachment comes from the head. Wisdom comes from the heart. To make good decisions and feel integrated about it afterwards (rather than doubting yourself, feeling guilt or shame), you need both head and heart to work together.

Here’s an inquiry that really helped me get clear:
How do you go through loss? Do you accept it easily or do you resist it and fight back? How does your personal attachment get in the way of your judgment?
To arrive at a conscious decision that unites mind and heart, you have to sort out the various voices in your head. I had a few different voices – the voice of denial, the voice of fear, and the voice of anger, sadness, and loss, that covered up my voice of wisdom.

Voice of Denial: “The virus isn’t really that bad. I’m healthy. It will just be like a mild cold. So what’s the big deal?”

Voice of Fear: “I could get really […]

Meditate. Activate. Generate.

Meditate. Activate. Generate. This is my mantra and reason for meditating. Understanding this inspires me to prioritize meditation, not only as a daily spiritual practice, but as a practical tool that supports my vision for following my heart and living my dream. If it can do that for me, meditation can do it for you too.

Meditate: When you sit for meditation you draw into the source and dwell in the light of the primordial life force, the essence of the pulsation of life. In that space, you connect more deeply with your life purpose.

Activate:  You activate and wake up to your reason for living and touch the immense good fortune and joy of being alive.

Generate: Meditation is preparation for activity in your day. It carries you deeply inward which activates the memory of why you are here. Then you move into your day and generate results making good things happen, serving others, bringing in the light, and manifesting your dream for a better world full of meaning, joy, and freedom.

Meditation, as taught in the Kashmir Shaiva Tantra tradition, is preparation for activity.
That’s not normally what people think meditation is for. Most people think meditation is about calming the mind, or increasing concentration and focus, or for transcendence.

Meditation is all those things. But when you meditate, you consciously move closer to the source of life. You automatically sift through the field of thoughts, releasing them one by one, until you settle into the depths of your own being. One image that comes to mind was when I taught on a yoga cruise for Yoga Journal years ago. We toured the Western Caribbean and on one of the islands, we swam with the stingrays. The stingray is an […]

By |February 28th, 2020|Ashaya Yoga|0 Comments|

What Must We Risk to Give and Receive Love?

With Valentine’s Day coming up this month I’ve been reflecting on the topic of love and relationship. According to psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Sue Johnson, it’s not sex that drives our deepest urges and actions in life. It’s our need for emotional connection and attachment. Human beings are bonding mammals. We need connections with others, not only for our own survival and safety, but for emotional stability.

Then why is bonding, connection, and love so difficult? Among the many possible reasons, fear of pain is the main one.
We fear the very thing we long for – connection.
Falling in love or getting closer to another person brings the risk of rejection and hurt. We can’t live without it. Yet living with it can be challenging.

Pain seems to come with the territory. There’s pain either way. When you shut down, close your heart and isolate to protect yourself from pain, paradoxically there’s pain. Similarly, there’s pain in opening your heart and being vulnerable.
But the pain from closing down is the pain that deepens the pain, while the pain from opening your heart is the pain that heals the pain.
Stay Open:

In yoga, we want to choose to open up and be vulnerable. This is the first essential of Ashaya Yoga, Open. Of course, there are times when we feel that we have to close down. There are appropriate times to put up a boundary. Sharing what’s really going on in your heart and being able to listen wholeheartedly with curiosity and interest to the other’s experience is what opens the relationship and creates the bond. When you feel safe to be in your most vulnerable self, healthy attachment forms.

The love attachment bond strengthens us. If the attachment […]

By |February 2nd, 2020|Ashaya Yoga|0 Comments|