An Attitude of Gratitude

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Can you ever have too much gratitude? I doubt it?

This is a repost from 2014; however, I was reminded, through a cascade of`teachable moments, to be eternally gratefully–for every moment.  There is no need to anticipate, and this does take effort, the next moment will get here!


Prayer is an interesting activity.  Like meditation, it is an opportunity to go inside and merge with stillness.  However, so many people pray their power away–they ask for assistance, intervention, and blessings; but, they do not, simply, offer gratitude for what is going well.

Recently, I was challenged by a dear friend to post 3 statements of gratitude, for a week, on my Facebook page.  Over, the years I have done several exercises in gratitude– which is something I continue to work on cultivating.  Whenever, I make a conscious attempt to find something to be grateful for, the gratitude flows in abundance.  One positive thought, attending to one gift, becoming aware of an inkling of Prasad becomes a river of plenty.

Many people mistakenly believe that prayer is not part of the Yoga tradition.  Conversely, this tradition has consists of four pillars: meditation, contemplation, mantra, and prayer.  However, it is taught, prayer begins as a dialogue and converges into a unification.

Prayer instills us with bhava, the strong emotion of devotion–but, we don’t have to pray our power away.  Offer gratitude for what is working.  You and the Divine Source are one and the same– therefore, nothing can be against you.  Sit with the blessings before asking for intervention.  You may discover that you are all the resources you need.

My Mental Meditation Pillow

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I’ve been recycling a bit lately because being a good teacher isn’t about finding new things to say all of the time.  Sometimes, it is about restating and reframing.  The path of Yoga isn’t about complicated techniques.  It is about depth; it is not about breadth.  You don’t need to know a million techniques to know the Center of Consciousness.  Whichever path you choose, you have to commit to going to the threshold again and again.

Originally posted August 27, 2014

A few months ago I was being coached by a wonderful teacher, Radhika Shah-Grouven, about how to keep doing “this” when I am so busy.  I know we all feel very busy– and, with regards to scheduling, I am: the family, full-time job, additional clients, commuting, this blog… this list could be endless.  However, I find that I am only as overwhelmed as I believe that I am– of course, this falls within certain physical parameters: I must get sleep (although I get 5.5-6 hours), I must eat well, I must drink water, I must exercise, and I must meditate.

Meditation doesn’t cause me to suddenly have a “stress”-free life.  However, it does cause me to be very aware of my reaction to stress.  It has afforded me enough self-awareness to realize how much I can take on or how much I must put down. I definitely experience times of ambivalence and apathy– times where I would rather sit on the couch and veg-out.  However, I would rather allocate predetermined amounts of “free-time” to meditation.

My lineage recommends four times a day– that may seem daunting to a newcomer.  I would recommend a newcomers dedicate time for one to two sittings.  As I have stated previously, five to seven minutes; but, commit and do it.  In the same way you wouldn’t consider leaving the house without brushing your teeth, commit to going inside.

My teacher, Swami J, says to make it an appointment, like lunch with a friend.  If you are late, you postpone and make it up, as soon as possible– like your lunch date.  Life happens!  But, as Radhika taught me, you have a “mental mat”– it goes with you every where.  She explained that there were times when she just touched the mental mat while riding the train!  The more you return to center, the more it stays with you.  Many times my meditation pillow is in the cockpit of my car and my meditation room is a parking lot.

All Yogic approaches account for surprise and/or grace.

Part 9 of “How do you Qualify Yoga?

About a year ago, I was facilitating a workshop and met someone who is now a dear friend.  Our connection was instant; he had been raised a devout Hindu and was very complementary about my ability to simplify teachings he had previously learned.  We culminated our discussion with the idea that, assuming you subscribe to belief in Saṃsāra, how it took everything we had done up to that moment to even be in that workshop–to even be discussing teachings which were, at one time, only available to the chosen few.

According to Swami Rama, “…There is also the activity of grace. Grace is the impulse or the impetus of the energy to dispel darkness. There is the grace of the scriptures, from the wisdom that has passed down from others. There is the grace of the teacher, who imparts that wisdom and helps bring it to life in the student. There is the grace of God, or pure consciousness, that is alive and ever present in everyone’s life. Integral to these three graces is the grace of oneself, having the will to undertake a purposeful journey in life, to do the spiritual work of life, and to prepare oneself.”

What is the source of the impulse?

According to the mahavakyas:

  1. Brahma satyam jagan mithya–Brahman is real; the world is unreal
  2. Ekamevadvitiyambrahma–Brahman is one, without a second
  3. Prajnanambrahman–Brahman is the supreme knowledge
  4. Tat tvam asi–That is what you are
  5. Ayamatmabrahma–Atman and brahman are the same
  6. Aham brahmasmi–I am brahman
  7. Sarvam khalvidam brahma–All of this is brahman

If Brahman–which is an arbitrary word for the Center of Consciousness, the nameless apex, or whatever you wish to call it–and we are one and the same, the source of the impulse is from within.  We heard it said before, “You are who you are seeking.”  Ironically, the picture above says “to serve another”–there is no other.  There is only one.

There is no need to anthropomorphize the Center, I am not suggesting “someone” is pulling strings.  But, to paraphrase Ma Tri, when you done all the preparatory work, when you have gone deep enough in your meditation, eventually it is a surrender and grace that carries you the final distance.

Hence, meditation, affirmative prayer, contemplation, and gratitude–try to do some every day.

The closer we come to Enlightenment the more ordinary we become

Part 8 of “How do You Qualify Yoga?”

Toward the One,
the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty,
the Only Being,
United with all the Illuminated Souls,
Who form the Embodiment of the Master,
the Spirit of Guidance.

I find such comfort in this prayer from the Sufi master, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan.  Especially when I contemplate the line, “all the Illuminated Souls who form the embodiment of the Master”.  Pause to savor that concept.  There is not one Master, there is not one path.  When the Buddha was asked, “who are you”?  He replied, “I am awake”.

Self-realization is an experience shared by numerous individuals from numerous traditions.  One can argue that the Buddha, the Christ, and Rumi were all describing the same level of consciousness with different words.  To believe that the omnipotent Ultimate Reality is confined to one tradition belittles it.

One hallmark on enlightened Masters is simplicity.  Not merely renunciation; because like a dry drunk, mere physical renunciation without renouncing internally is playing a role.  Internal renunciation is the letting go of the attachment to the outcome; yet continuing to strive for ultimate Reality, as described in my previous post.

All illuminated Masters incline towards simplicity.  Furthermore, the closer they are the less they are drawn to the fleeting transient world.  They taste what is “real” and tasting leads to savoring.  What could be more satisfying; to know the Ultimate Reality or to go on with the mundane temporary–even if it is stimulating to the senses.  Everything “out here” is subject to change.  The only constant is that core, “the perfection of love, harmony, and beauty”.

All Yogic approaches require the implementation of Discipline and Detachment.

Part 7 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga?

People think that sadhana–the yogic path–means the day-to-day process.  In a way it does, it is what practices you do (meditation, breath work, etc).  But, abhyasa is the moment to moment committment to this way of being and living.  It’s the cultivation, not obsession, of remembering your committment to reach Yoga.  But, all of the work you do has to be done with surrender–if you expect an exact outcome you are living in the world of control.  Control is an illusion.  There are many factors affecting us at any given time; our karma is coiled and spiraled in ways we cannot imagine.  So we do the work, we commit to the path, and we let go.  We make mistakes and we try again.  Life throws curve balls and we still meditate, contemplate, pray, and offer gratitude.  We are not bargaining with the Center of Consciousness– we are trying to connect to it.  Although, the irony is, we are never away from it.  Let the trials help you remember that every moment is Holy and Divine.

From Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

The Silence

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From the Gross to the Subtle is proud to present our third guest blogger: the esteemed Cecelia Smith.  Please contact us if you would like to share lesson, personal experiences, meditations, and poetry from dharmic traditions and mindfulness.  Thank you for blessing us Cecelia.

THE SILENCE

Silence is of inestimable value in creating the place of change we are destined to inhabit. As our silence grows, so does the attributes of the One Being into whom we are transforming ourselves. Most of us are not yet capable of being in the Silence for extended periods of time. That is as it should be at this point in our development. Although, we may meditate for long periods of time, our moments of true Silence are very brief. Every second of linear time spent in true Silence is vast in the change it brings and the momentum it builds in our ongoing expansion. Each second of true Silence adds to our store of Silence and makes it easier for us to achieve that ultimate Silence in which we know ourselves as One Being.

That point, that second of transforming Silence is very close, and gets closer with every brush we make with the Silence. We feel it as a tremor, an awesomeness surrounding everything we do. We become excited in our anticipation of the revelations of ourselves, the One Being, Humanity. This excitement shatters our individual Silence, but in no way touches or disturbs the collective Silence we augmented by our entrance of the Silence. Second by second it grows. Second, by second, we are drawn closer to our objective; second by silent second we are a little more awake. The split second which transforms separate ego based individuals into the Great Being of Humanity is so very close. It is said in sacred writings that “no one knows the minute, or the hour when the Son of Man comes.” That is the truth.

We are building the habitation for the Son of Man on a second by silent second basis. The excitement is almost unbearable. The suspense so great, that some of us rush ahead. The Son is not ahead. The Son is not behind. The Son (translated SUN) is within the silent seconds we spend in the Silence. The magnificence of the raising Sun draws strength and substance within the Silence, getting bolder with every second spent within it. This Silence is an act of grace. We pray, we meditate, we sing, we dance, we expect and we love, all doing all building, all calling for the Silence to overtake us. Then it does and we remember. The truth of who we are dawns within our consciousness. We are astonished by our beauty and grandeur. Then we retreat from the Silence enter the world of doing again, leaving behind a Silence grown larger by our silent presence. The birthing of the Sun of man draws ever more close.

Enter The Silence Now and Become the Sun.

” I have written almost all my life. I write because I must. Words pile up inside my head and the only outlet for me to have is to write. I choose to share some of these writings in my blog ‘motivated in spirit” to inspire first myself and then others. It is my hope and prayer that you find these blogged words inspirational. Thank you… In the deepest love, Cecelia”

Cecelia’s home blog is:

Motivated By Spirit

A motivational blog to remind ourselves of our grandeur and Divinity.

http://motivatedinspirit.blogspot.com/

 

 

All Yoga Paths Subscribe to Dharma

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Part 4 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga

Please let me forewarn you, this may be a polarizing post.  Humans, on many levels, enjoy their misidentification with nonself (to borrow a Buddhist term).  We cling desperately to all that we are not–all that we are attached to.  The ego is a collection of false identities, which the teachings of Yoga systematically deconstruct.  The ego gets particularly obnoxious when we perceive we are being told that we are doing something “incorrectly” (or at least differently from how it was intended).

Dharma is a Sanskrit term which is utilized in many traditions; however, it has no true English translation.  Dharma can mean, law, right-way, and order; Feurestein ascribes it to morality.  Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are all called “dharmic traditions (or religions)”.  Truthfully, there really is no “religion” called Hinduism.  Hinduism is a term that originated from the British trying to describe the various traditions of the people Sindhu River.  Hinduism is a collection of philosophies, among them: Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism–all of whom, like the branches of Yoga, describe the Ultimate Reality in different ways.  Sanatana Dharma means the “Eternal Way” (or law, morality, etc.).  It is the wellspring out of which the dharmic traditions sprung.

Yoga and Sanatana Dharma cannot be separated.  Their lines are intrinsically blurred.  While it’s possible to practice Yoga and still adhere to other religious tenets–Christianity is very much a Bhakti Yoga practice–the origins are one and the same. Conversely, it is possible to be a Hindu and not practice Yoga; however, they originate from the same source.

All types of Yoga (not mere asana practice), have a dharmic component.  In some paths the tenets are spelled out in recommended actions and restraints.  In other paths, there is a call towards looking inward towards ones own moral compass.  Regardless, there are no Yogic recommendations towards: competitiveness, hyper-sexuality, greed, or lying.  However, that is often the case in the contemporary Yoga scenario.  Studios are selling expensive clothing, hyper-mobility is lauded, scant dress is praised, and teacher’s don’t have a personal sadhana.  It’s not a judgement, you aren’t bad if you’re doing these things.

Yoga is not about a punitive deity waiting to judge–it’s about becoming so clear and so aligned that you wouldn’t want to do these things.  Patanjali calls this the “great vow”.  It is not about becoming pious either; but, there is nothing wrong about being aware of what Yoga is and is not.