We all have a choice on how we feel. This secret the world seems to have us forgetting. From an early age we’re taught that feeling good comes from doing the right thing for our parents, performing well at school, working hard or buying the right products or services.
There is nothing wrong with performing well, working hard or treating ourselves to beautiful experiences that make us feel good. The challenge is not to fall for thinking any one of these things are the cause of our happiness.
Happiness is an internal state. A state you generate yourself when you clear away the distraction and noise around you. When you meditate, you’re getting your body and mind in this state and it feels great.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Of course it takes practice and sometimes it can be frustrating because it seems like we have no control. Our mind and our body let us down. They mind takes its own course and leads us down a rabbit hole. Stick with it.
You are not your thoughts.
You have the choice to step back and observe your mind rather than be consumed by it. This is meditation. This is what we are all working towards when we commit to stick with regular yoga and meditation.
When we understand that the mind creates a form of energy. An energy that attracts and brings us the kinds of experiences we repeatedly dwell on, we realise that through meditation we are able to create experiences, rather than let life serve them up without us having a say in the matter. We begin to live with more control over the life we live and the experiences and people we let in.
Let me know if you think this is true or not…in your experience.
When someone says what style of yoga they are usually referring to the modern stylistic forms of yoga that have flourished in recent years. Styles refer to things like “Flow Yoga”, “Bikram(hot) Yoga”, “Yin Yoga”. It is probably more appropriate to refer to these as brands or trademarks. Trends even.
Paths of Yoga
It is often a good idea to consider the various paths involved in Yoga as they are laid out traditionally:
Practices that purify the body. Usually through Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing) but also meditation is a form of purifying the mind. We are practicing the techniques of hatha yoga each week in class.
Discipline and selfless work to achieve the state of yoga. Working hard and working for the benefit of others is a way of practicing this kind of Yoga.
The use of devotional chants to achieve the state of union (yoga). Traditionally this involves the use of the various names for God. Many people also practice Bhakti Yoga by taking an appreciative and heart felt. This is Kirtan which Inner Journey’s hosts once a term and you are welcome to come along to.
The science of controlling the physical and mental states of being. This is done through asana (physical practices), pranayama (breathing) and dhyana (meditation). We are doing this when we practice Yoga but we soon discover that gaining control over the body and mind are not as simple as we thought and this takes discipline and comitment.
The yoga of knowledge and understanding of the self. This is a more philosophical path. It can be helped by reading and learning, but also by overcoming the narrow stereotypes that we have formed for ourselves or that have been formed for us by others.
Traditions of Yoga
There are also many traditions of Yoga. In the beginners course you are learning from a tradition called Satyananda Yoga. This tradition encompasses a wide range of the yogic paths listed above. I enjoy it because it has such a range of different ways of working towards the same goal which is realising our highest potential and being complete and content with ourselves.
You’ve taken the first step in learning how regular practice can transform your life by giving more control over the way you feel with only a few simple techniques.
With a commitment to attending class each week, you’ll discover something very important about how you can control your state of body and mind. This is the reason the course is not open to casual attendance.
In Yoga we keep shifting our mind and body back to the present moment regardless of what we find there. We do this when it’s easy, we are relaxed and comfortable, but more importantly we do this when it’s difficult and the mind and body are distracted, tired or uncomfortable.
Over the course of the next 9 weeks you will have days where you’d rather take the night off and do something else with your time. Your responsibility to work and family will challenge the commitment you’ve made to yourself when you enrolled in the course.
From the outset, I’ll challenge you to follow through with your commitment to yourself through Yoga and Meditation. Give priority to the course and you’ll be giving priority to yourself and your sense of health and wellbeing.
Stick with a weekly class and not only will you get the most out of the money you have paid, you will also realize how balance does not involve standing still, but is a constant correction back to the stable and strong centre that lies within each of us. On good days and bad.
Have a fantastic week and I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.
Most of the time we live in the past of the future. In the past we find the memories and experiences we consider to have made us who we are. Even recent events can surface to draw our attention backwards. Whilst making dinner we happen on something we did earlier that day. This memory triggers a scene that plays over in our minds as we chop carrots. Some days we get furious as we chop carrots thinking about the things we should have said to the person who riled us, let us down, offended or somehow made things more challenging.
As we play this story over again, we chop carrots more earnestly. Our grip tightens. We think on things we should have said, the things we might have done to show them. Take that. Yeah…I wish I’d have said that…
Briefly, momentarily we return to the present and pick up a new carrot…
The mind wanders again, this time into the future. To all the things we might say to that person tomorrow. To set things straight. We may imagine talking to them, showing them how offended, riled up, or otherwise let down they’ve left us feeling.
We can’t avoid these incursions of the mind back to the future or off into the past. For all of us too, there are people who fire us up in some way. Regular practice of Yoga and meditation will limit the impact of these incursions. Will limit the hold they have on us and release the past and future, leaving us free to return more frequently to cutting carrots. After all the carrots have done nothing wrong to us. They deserve a present and engaged chopper, a present engaged parent to serve them up, and a peaceful home in which to share them.
And the source of these things is nowhere but the present moment. The moment we’re in right now. Every time.
The source of a more empowered future and less inhibiting past lies with our our practice of Yoga and Meditation. Through practice we equip ourselves to take up residence here in the present moment and to remain here despite the challenges offered up by an imagined future. As we continue to create joy and stillness within the present moment we encounter more joy and stillness in our dealings with the future. When it finally comes along.
Whenever that might be…
Every thought you think is creating your reality. Thought is followed by word, and is followed by action. We think, we speak we do. All together, all of us are thinking, speaking and doing all of the time. This week we were reminded of the creative power of thought, through Louise Hay who says that:
“Every thought we think is creating our future”
– Louise Hay
What if we changed the thoughts we have. What if we believed the world was filled with abundance (it is actually) and that we deserved to have this abundance flow towards us(we do actually). The challenge is not to pick the thought, the challenge, as we soon discover is to reduce the noise of the thought that already exists in the background.
From our parents and others: “it’s a struggle to make ends meet”, we are “hard up” while others are “filthy rich”. From the media we find “Chaos in the streets”, “Crime on the increase” and all number of murderous realities. All these beliefs about what the world is expected to deliver for us help to create the future we experience. Our challenge as we practice Yoga is to reduce the volume of these background beliefs and increase the impact of the stillness within us. To create for ourselves and others a more uplifting and inspiring beliefs and experiences. This is our journey with Yoga and it is the very power of thought to create our reality which makes Yoga and Meditation so crucial to ourselves and the society around us.
We spend a little time on the theme for the term and this week we heard more of the story of Louise Hay, who has developed an inspiring and surprisingly effective way of changing our experiences in the world. A child of a dysfunctional family and subject to a great degree of suffering early on in her life, Louise realised what students and teachers of yoga have realised for centuries and formalised through the discipline of Yoga. This is that we can change any and all aspects of our experience simply by changing the thoughts.
Though not easy, this is what Yoga is all about in the end.
Louise believes that changing our thoughts about the world, we can change our experience of it. Not only the highs and low of relationships, work and family, but also the experience of our own body through illness or disease. If we change the beliefs we take on about ourselves and the world around us we can change what comes into our world. For the better.
See you in class.