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9 07, 2018

Shiva Nataraja Dances for More Than Just Ecstasy!

By |July 9th, 2018|Yoga Philosophy|0 Comments|

The Tantra Immersion: Path of Radical Affirmation at Kripalu Center a couple weekends ago, was a huge success! I co-taught with three world-renowned scholars of religion, Douglas Brooks, Bill Mahony, and Constantina Rhodes. It was such an honor and life-transforming experience for me. I am grateful to all those who attended and served to make this a great event!

During the Immersion, much light was shed on the dance of Shiva Nataraja. I learned about a series of myths that portrays Shiva’s dark side. At first, I was very sad and disappointed to learn that Shiva had a shadow. I said to myself, “Who, Shiva, the great light of consciousness? He is perfect. How could he mess up?” But as Douglas Brooks taught, Shiva goes to the forest which represents the place of shadow and light and all things twisted. The forest is the place of deep reflection and integration of the nature of life in that you cannot control it. Though you can make plans and have a vision for your life, you cannot control how those plans will play out. I remember a joke from years ago, “If you want to make God laugh, just show him your plans.” This particular myth had everyone on the edge of their zafus wanting to know what comes next. The myth was better than any season TV drama you could stream on Netflix!

One of my insights is that the forest represents life’s authenticity – the place that houses our truest experience of not only the victory of the light, but also the deepest darkest places of the heart. Remember one of Shiva’s arms crosses his heart which represents that the heart (and life) is partially concealed. […]

11 05, 2018

Shiva Nataraja: Navigating the Cycles of Life

By |May 11th, 2018|Yoga Philosophy|0 Comments|

Puja
As I was offering puja (a ritual of devotion) this morning to Shiva Nataraja (Lord of the Cosmic Dance), I reflected on the great wisdom this deity represents. I pay homage to these teachings by offering various elements of the heart like flowers, rice, water, a candle flame, fruit, and incense. Afterwards I always feel refreshed. The puja is a way to restart and clear the past to begin again from a place of wholeness and positive vision. It’s like pressing the life-reset button.
Imp of Forgetfulness
Nataraja, standing on one foot on the back of the “imp of forgetfulness” (Apasmara Purusha), or the ego (that’s us!), does not kill the ego. He permits it to live. He just keeps it at bay under the foot of the dance of the universe. The deeper symbolism is that the entire universe is dancing on the “back body” of your ego. (Remember that your back body is where the universal hangs out. You cannot see your back body. It’s the mystery of life.) Your ego provides the dance floor for grace. Hmmm. That’s interesting. Maybe I need my ego. Yes, that is correct. Tantra teaches that YOU matter. What you think, say, and do is really important. The universe helps those who help themselves. Grace requires effort to be received. “The winds of grace are always blowing. But you have to set the sails.” Sri Ramakrishna.

The imp has his eyes cast upward to the lifted foot of grace above him. As long as your ego is aligned with grace and you remember the bigger energy (basically you remember your heart and the deeper purpose of what it’s all about), you will thrive. Either way, whether you align or […]

1 08, 2017

Dharma: Release Stress & Reconnect to Nature!

By |August 1st, 2017|Yoga Philosophy|0 Comments|

Now more than ever, we need “dharma”. Dharma, synonymous with being connected to nature, is about doing things that reduce stress and bring you back to the truth of who you are. Have you heard the new rage? It’s called Forest Bathing – It’s a kind of therapy or guided meditation that gets you to put down your device and go into nature to just be, open your senses, and experience the natural world. We are part of the natural world. But as we’ve become more digital, we’ve lost touch with nature.

Dharma, from the Sanskrit root, dhr, to make firm, to nurture, or to sustain, is the fabric of truth that underlies all reality. Sva Dharma means “one’s own dharma”. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna teaches, “Better to act upon one’s own dharma poorly than another’s well.” He encourages us to be our unique self even if we aren’t perfect. The Tantra teaches that you are an original, a one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece of divine perfection – including your imperfections.

Dr. Douglas Brooks says, “Dharma is principled argument, law, and the deep feeling that the world has spiritual value. Without Dharma, we are doomed and with it we are held to rigorous account.”

Here’s another one of my favorite wisdom teachings on Sva Dharma from Dr. Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you’er than you.”

One of the key aspects of the yogic path is the process of finding your dharma – your purpose in life. But often our dharma is buried under our “drama”. We all get caught up in the ups and downs of life. We remain like buoys on the surface of the ocean, always being thrown […]

3 05, 2017

Need for Certainty and Uncertainty

By |May 3rd, 2017|Yoga Philosophy|0 Comments|

When your head and heart are lined up and going in the same direction, you gain the favor of grace. Your heart awakens and you return home to your center. You have coherence and resonance with the universe. The Heart Math Solution talks about aligning with your heart to get all your systems online, in harmony, and in coherence, where all parts – body, mind, and heart, talk to each other.

But most of the time the mind is going in one direction and the heart is going in another, which places the burden on your body. The body is the repository of the split between head and heart. You may have the desire to express yourself as an artist, musician, or writer, but you don’t follow through because you’re full of self-doubt, insecurity, or fear of failing. The desire to express yourself and create comes from your heart. But your head tells you that you can’t do it. You’re not enough. You’ll never be able to support yourself. It’s not the right time. You’re not talented enough. You will fail. Out of fear, you lose steam and never really fulfill your dreams or your life’s purpose. You end up dying with a dream unfulfilled.

The head represents our need for certainty. Certainty is a necessary “vitamin” of the psyche because if fulfills our survival needs to have shelter, food, and clothing. But too much certainty can lead to monotony and predictability. Every day is the same. Soon boredom, restlessness, and negativity creeps in.

The heart represents uncertainty. For your creative juices to flow, to reach for new ideas, and new passions, uncertainty is needed. Uncertainty represents the unknown and is another kind of “vitamin” necessary for […]

1 01, 2017

Release Regret, Bring More Joy!

By |January 1st, 2017|Yoga Philosophy|0 Comments|

Greetings! Happy New Year! May 2017 be your best year yet! May yoga be your guiding light.

One of the gifts of yoga is the recognition that your true nature is joy. That underneath it all – the worry, stress, loss, sadness, unfilled desires, and regret – is joy. As the Tantra teaches, joy is already within you. You can’t add anything more to it and it can never be diminished.

Your true nature shines like 10,000 suns. But it’s concealed. Yoga is the process of unpeeling the layers of the soul, like the skin of an onion, to get to the core in the middle. In yoga, you peel away what no longer serves you; peel back what’s blocking the light and allow your heart to shine. From the Katha Upanishad, “Yoga is unravelling the knots of the heart so that the mortal can experience the immortal.”

Through paying attention, you eventually come to see how your mind works and which habits of thought cover up your joy. Two of mine are self-doubt and procrastination. If you’re not sure what your limiting habits of thought are, just try writing a book. Every trick of the mind will be revealed to you. Or at least it has for me! Ugh!

But one habit of thought I’ve recently gained some leverage on is the habit of regret. Regret is a natural human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It’s not about eliminating regret. It’s about managing it. If you’re not careful, regret can steal your joy and take you in a downward spiral of emotional “stuckness”. Regret is a combination of guilt and shame bound together. Guilt is the feeling that you did something wrong. Shame is […]