Yoga IS Love, Truth, Beauty: Here, Now.

As I was building my website over at yogaeveryday.org and typing my slogan, I was struck by how it read differently in that commercial setting. True, it’s also a yoga website. And it’s my business, how I let people know what I have to offer. And in that context, it suddenly struck me: am I pimping yoga?

Will yoga give you love? will it make your words true? and will it make you beautiful? and what’s this “Here, Now” stuff? What am I, a three year old? Immediate results?

And the answers are no, yoga will not give you anything. Because anything that can be given is a) not already present in the receiver, and b) an object. That’s the “Yoga IS…” part. Yoga isn’t a plan or program and it’s not a way to find love or beautify your body (though these things happen along the way). Yoga is the space between awareness and thought that Eckhart Tolle spent 10 weeks pointing toward and getting us interested in. Yoga is the silent space where what is has room to breathe and reveal itself. Yoga is the shadow under which we find shade for rest and contemplation of the deeper grains of our existence.

Love, Truth, Beauty: Here, Now. It’s my way of pointing with words to that expansiveness of mind we’re all seeking, the eternal Now in which the chatter vanishes or becomes so remote as to be inconsequential. The eternal Here in which we realize the rock bottom truth of our oneness with all beings. It is not a love we are given, it is The Love we Are. It is not the truth of argumentation or description – those all rely on dualism and leaving something out, the something that would shift the gestalt onto a tangent – it is the Truth we are under all the masks, and to which we return, and – when we are acting from this Truth – from which we proceed with certainty. Yoga is Beauty, not the one you’ll become, but the revelation that you already ARE.

Inner Purpose: aligning with the present moment

Chapter 9 of a A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle is entitled “Inner Purpose”.  We’ve brought our reflection on pain bodies and time and flowers and ego and roles to this chapter . Our inner purpose is all the same, according to Tolle:  “to align to the present moment”, “say yes to life”, “say yes to now.” How has your awareness changed with your reflections? Do you find more moments of presence among your everydayness? Has the process been gradual or startling for you?

“You can only be successful.” (270) How does it feel to read this?

What do you know when you are still?

Do you have an outer purpose? Does it bring you joy? How aligned are your outer purpose and inner purpose? What do you do to bring inner purpose into everything you do?

“Whenever you become anxious or stressed, outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose. You have forgotten that your state of consciusness is primary, all else is secondary” (p. 266). What do you do that reminds you that you are awareness, to “say yes to now” and align to the present moment?

How does it feel when you give people your 100 percent full attention? “Am I total in what I do?” Eckhart urges us to ask. Do you notice the activity – the buying or selling or caretaking – takes a secondary seat? Do you enjoy surrendering yourself to each interaction?

“…the most significant thing that can happen to a human being has already happened within you: the beginning of the separation process of thinking and awareness.” (p. 262)

Join us at ANewEarth.Gather.com at 7pm EDT (that’s 5 MDT) for discussion!

Reflections on Eng's take on A New Earth and Yoga

I was listening to Elizabeth Lesser’s discussion after A New Earth aired last week (I download it on iPod for my walking pleasure) and was so taken with Kim Eng’s integration of the spirit and silence evoked in the book on which the web class is based. She teaches movement based awareness, and counts yoga among her “modalities” with Chi Kung and T’ai Chi. She talked about progressing from breath, to sensation to innerbody feeling. I’ve been using this as a sort of template for myself and for my class, and the results have been, well, peaceful.

She brought people to their own silence by first suggesting a breath focus. She progressed to noticing sensation – usually tension, stress – but not naming it. Just being it, being with it.  She calls this the outer body. And finally, casting your attention, awareness, your inner gaze on your own sense of aliveness. She suggested the question “How do you know you are alive?” Answered not by words, not by concepts, but in silence, by feeling.

This corresponds in essence to a yogic view of embodiment. Since I don’t relate to yoga as a modality, but as a way of being – like the Tao – encompassing and companioning other ways, I just see the reality to which different systems point. Yogic Philosophy describes embodiment as “koshas” – sheaths. There is a purely physical, the food body, there is energy or breath, there is interactive mind, there is the wisdom body and finally just bliss. Each within and among the others. One way to say what yoga is, is to focus on allowing the alignment of these koshas, or bodies. Allowing, because it’s not a relationship that can manufactured, only facilitated. The kinks and blocks are part of the whole and awareness is alchemical element that dissolves what demands dissolution, cleanses what clings to what is not its own, awakens what is dormant and grows what is nascent.

And breath awareness is lovely, immediate access that defies conceptualization, making it an open and wide entryway into the space we all are.  Sensation really takes the open awareness and gives it a finite determined object  with which to practice open awareness. And aliveness, chi, prana, spirit: awareness opened on this vista gives rise to presence and joyful action. That’s really the point of it all.

A New Earth Chapter 6 Discussion – Noon Eastern Today!

A New Earth Chapter 6 Discussion – Noon Eastern Today!
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Join us for discussion toda… more

You are invited to join in a live discussion today at ANewEarth.Gather.com, just one in a weekly series in conjunction with Oprah’s sponsorship of Eckhart Tolle’s webinar on his recent book. We’re up to chapter 6, a pivotal moment in the book during which he discusses the role of the pain body in awakening.

Whether you caught the webcast last night, are looking forward to catching up on it later, are reading at your own pace or are interested in new discussions of energy for transformation, we’d love to have you join our discussion.

Topics in this chapter include pain-body as fuel for consciousness, presence, the pain-body in children, breaking identification with the pain-body, triggers and awakening.

“Now, inseted of wanting this moment to be different from the way it is, which adds more pain to the pain that is already there, is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now?” (p165)

What is your experience with acceptance and presence? What makes us want this moment to be different than it is? What have you experienced as a result of times you have been able to practice this accepting presence? What blocks arise for you?

I hope to see you on anewearth.gather.com at 12 noon ET for the live chat. To jump in, all you need to do is type your question in the comment box below the featured article. To see others’ questions and responses in real time, simply hit the refresh button on your browser. Remember to refresh your page continuously to see each new comment. If you are unable to make it, but have a comment, observation, or question, please leave it in the comment thread below. Thank you for your presence!

Fall back into your Self

Yesterday my practice was crunched between writing and dog walks and getting off to work, quick sun salutations to warm and move me. The familiarity helps me connect to contentment and stay open for the surprises of my body and my day.

I’d just finished writing on Gather about the pain body Eckhart Tolle talks about, so this way of relating to pain and perceived burdens was much on my mind. As I entered the rhythm of practice and my mind began to clear of such entanglement, I rose from the forward bend at the end of a cycle, arms circling wide, dropping my tailbone to raise my heart. The heaviness of these thoughts lifted and I sensed them as a cloud gathering from my root, up my core and coalescing in front of my third eye. As my hands rose and I lengthened my side bodies in Urdva Hastasana I felt lightness and clarity. And as I brought my hands together in front of my third eye to trace down my midline to touch my heart, it was as if my hands had come together to form a knife’s edge which dissipated the cloud.

Try it for yourself, intentionally imagining what weighs on you as a cloud in front. Standing, circle your arms up and out, coming together and slicing through the pea-thick murkiness. See how you feel.

In some cultures the Self is believed to live in the back of the body, around the spine. I was told this when I first had the bodily sensation of falling back into myself years ago. As if I’d been living out in front, disconnected, and becoming present felt like finally coinciding with myself. Fall back into yourself today. Take a quiet moment, ask what will bring you back. Even if you’re not sure what the “right” answer is, try your first idea and see how it feels, if it gives you another idea, or if you just want to stay with the feeling you’ve now found. Fall back into your Self today, again, and again.

What does Eckhart Tolle's book _A New Earth_ have to do with yoga?

newearth_iconleader_christine1.jpg  The focus of this book is precisely yoga, only he uses different terminology. He approaches union with self from a truly philosophic – wisdom loving – perspective, discussing time relationship, elements of consciousness, relation of self to its capacities and authenticity.  Like philosophy used to be done, when it was a practice in community, in times we only now have drama and poetry to record (think Plato, among others).

In the web class held every Monday night a_new_earth_button.jpg he and Oprah begin each live broadcast with silence. Silent meditation. In communion with 100s of 1,000s of others. 

This last week the discussion was about what he calls the pain body. The pain body refers to the stored up energy of all the emotional experiences we haven’t had the time, consciousness, energy or resources to process. The pain body in itself is not a  problem; it simply holds the remnants we have not let go. We can come back to them in the present moment and finish digesting in our own time. But as long as the remnants are being held by the pain body, they are juicy temptation to the ego. They are, after all, the stuff of stories, of drama and of entanglement when properly spun. And that is what the ego does. It spins. Stories, time, past into future, mistaking the past for the present. It’s your own personal spin doctor, running double time in your ears, not even the phone tapped, just runnin’ your world.

Until…. until you drop in. Drop in to the present moment. Drop in to your body. Become present, here, now. (Yes, I believe you will find Love, Truth and Beauty this way: Here, Now. Notice I didn’t say pleasure. That’s fickle. LTB, though, that’s guarunteed.)When you drop in, become present it interupts the sound track, if only for an instant. It inserts a sacred doorstop between the streaming banners and the open space you’ve stepped into. You can watch, observe. Now don’t get caught up in judgment, that’s just more spin: Just be. Offer your own loving presence to yourself for this moment. This one moment. The only one there is.

In yoga this digestion of experience is said to occur through tapas, a fierce, firey focus on practice. We build the fire in the belly through practice, repitition, focus, concentration, meditation, pranayam, and that fire is the digestor of our food as well as our experience. It allows us to move through the world in real time, acting and reacting to things as they are, in the moment and completely experience it, so that like ducks we can shake off the unuseful remnants and remain fresh in the present moment.

Sustained Practice

By sustained practice of all the component parts of yoga, the impurities dwindle away and wisdom’s radiant light shines forth with discriminative knowledge.

Sutras of Patanjali II.28(tr. Stiles)

bendy-pigeon-2.jpgWait…. let me get the last of this sand out of my ears… oh, never mind, I kind of like the reminder. Just returned from a vacation on one of the Georgia islands, the highlight of which was yoga on the beach, so close to the surf that I caught a wave at one point! “Gorgeous” doesn’t begin to touch the experience. “Oneness” might… if it weren’t a word.

What does this have to do with “sustained practice of all the component parts of yoga”?  Everything and Nothing.

I’ve been engaged in an experiment in balance the last few months, and the plate I’ve been dropping is blogging.  I could give you all kinds of reasons. Suffice it to say that I’ve fallen in love with regular sleep since switching to a day shift – luscious, deep, dark descending sleeps of eight and ten hours – and this has required choices.

One of the choices has required me to investigate the role of words in my life: do I use them to reveal or conceal? And how? What I’ve learned is that I conceal by what I don’t talk about. Sometimes I conceal from myself by my story about “needing” to blog.

So I’ve chosen regular practice instead of blogging mostly and have revealed a deep need to shift the priorities of  my life. I’m scaling back on my career, or maybe I’m switching. I’ll let the radiant light reveal which in time. I’ve been working on patience. I’ve been listening to my internal monologue, creating  space for it. I’ve been practicing mantra japa. Reflecting on the yamas and niyamas. I’m finding Ahimsa – nonviolence – really difficult in ways that have shocked me. I’m thinking of tapas – fierceness – having a role in forgiveness. I’m processing a lot Eckhart Tolle’s book.

Oh, yeah, and I’m keeping up certs in stuff like Pediatric Advanced Life Support and stuff. Oh, and vacay.

Going to go practice some saucha and clean up more of this sand we’ve managed to treck back across six states and two airplanes 🙂 What have you been up to? What has your practice revealed?

Stay tuned for practice tips, links to podcasts, reviews of awesome (and, yes, satya urges me to say so, too) and not so awesome yoga books. And of course, reports from the mat on the state of the mat. But that’s the part that doesn’t change as the impurities dwindle away….