Kindness. Consideration. Friendliness. These words embody ahimsa meaning non-violence and one of the yamas in the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. In the second chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Sadhana Pada, Ashtanga is referred to as the eight practical integrated steps leading to a greater gradual awakening of yoga. The first limb or step is yama, our social observances and behaviors, in other words, how we relate to others. In Yoga Sutra 2.35, ahimsapratisthayam tatsannidhau vairatyagah, it is explained that when we live in a state of non-violence, those around us will cease to be hostile. It’s rather simple really…as old adages go…it takes two to tango or two hands to clap. If we do not react when someone has a conflict with us, no dance, no sound, the conflict will end. This interpretation does not imply to just turn the other way and ignore it. In fact, it is far from that.
My heart has been really heavy from the repeated and increasing gun violence in our American culture over the last two decades. It can’t be ignored which is exactly what we are doing. We hear of another deadly mass shooting as we say, oh god not again. We see the homeless on the street and look away. We go into a difficult asana and hold our breath. If we don’t like something we move away from it instead of working through the uncomfortable depths of ourselves. How about we look into the person’s eyes who we have conflict with and see ourselves responding with empathy and compassion? How about we look into the homeless person’s eyes and see ourselves with a genuine smile? How about we speak kind words to ourselves to build positive attitudes? When we cease harmful actions, speech and thoughts, love can shine through. It is the force that underlies the energetic structure of the universe. When we align ourselves with love others will no longer feel angry, fearful, and alone because there is nothing that separates us. And in that peace, harmony begins. Ultimately we help one another remember that we are all part of something so much greater than each of us as individuals. Cultivate love yogis, Namaste.
Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of abundance and prosperity. When worshipped in a temple, she is depicted with four hands, holding a lotus, a conch, a pot of nectar and a fruit respective in each. The fruit that she holds represents the results of our labors or actions, which comes from her blessings. When such fruit is a coconut, it indicates that she is the source of the three levels of creation, namely the gross, subtle, and the imperceptible. On this auspicious day of the August Leo New Moon and Total Solar Eclipse, this simple ritual will create a powerful intention to implore more love in our lives and universe. Moon blessings.
- 1 cup (8 oz) water
- 1 Organic India Tulsi Sweet Rose tea bag
- 1/4 cup Silk coconut milk (the vanilla flavor is an especially nice treat)
- Boil the water then add to the tea bag in a cup. Steep covered for 5 minutes.
- Remove tea bag and add coconut milk.
- Sip slowly while chanting Om Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha
Today is International Yoga Day which celebrates Yoga as a holistic way to achieve equilibrium of the body and the mind. Yoga is so much more than the physical practice of asana (postures) that we associate with here in the Western world. Rather it is the journey of discovering the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. When we devote ourselves to the practice Yoga, it moves off the mat and towards a lifestyle that is in harmony with the universe. Today, as you engage with others, look deeply in their eyes recognizing the divine in everyone. Be present. Be kind. Be compassionate. That is the real yoga. Be love yogis, Namaste.
When we surrender, we release fears, anxieties, doubts and all the endless agitations of the mind discovering our difficulties are only temporary. Our perspective expands tremendously and we change our karma…giving without expectation. Yoga Sutra 1.23, Isvarapranidhanadva, is devotion to a higher power. When we bow or surrender to a force greater than ourselves we find that what we seek is already present within us, the divine source of life. To devote or dedicate is the means to dissolve the citta vrtti, that place of mind chatter, and surrender to love. Truly devoting ourselves becomes a selfless service to all beings as we recognize the Divine in everyone. Imagine what a world this would be. Surrender to the flow yogis, Namaste.
Devotion. First thing that comes to mind is love. Then loyalty. And ultimately my golden retriever…a love sponge in an orange jumpsuit. The immediate feeling elicits a slow build intensity in the heart center that eventually bursts open like a piece of FreshenUp gum and all that is desired is to vibrate in that heart space. It is similar to the feeling I have while surfing or snowboarding or chanting. The heart just wants to reach out and hug everybody. A blissful state of complete contentment and connection to everything.
Devotion excites me in no other way. This single-minded focus, selfless and seated in the present moment. Take for example an infant playing peek-a-boo. The child is completely absorbed in the moment despite where the adult is. What the child perceives at each instant fluctuates from a state of curiosity when the adult is out of view and immediate joy when the face is revealed. The adult is always there just as the Divine is. It is merely the illusions of the mind that prevents us from seeing and experiencing it continuously. Imagine if we were able to reside in this state indefinitely, like a golden retriever, loving everyone every moment every day. Surrendering to the universe and falling in love with Love. Be a conduit for Love. Vibrating with love and light. Pulsating with love and light. Devotion to a dream yogis, Namaste.