Sunday, February 8, 2015

"All You Need is Love" 

Integral Yoga
Living Yoga - The Life and Teachings of Swami Satchidananda

The summer of 2004 I was able to visit the Integral Yoga Studio in New York City. It was a lovely class, with chanting, several Shavasanas, pranayama, and of course asana. I knew it would be an experience I would always be grateful for. Now upon watching the movie "Living Yoga - The Life and Teachings of Swami Satchidananda" I am truly grateful to have had this life experience  and hope to include more learning from one of his many centers. 

The past few days I had been praying about something heavy on my heart and was inspired to share this after much prayer, meditation, and watching the life of this great Swami.

This week I had been struggling with a challenge. I knew it was an opportunity to examine myself, my reactions, my behavior in light of everything. The situation had hurt very badly, it was something I did not understand. I knew I could deflect the anger on to the other person or own the lesson. So I am choosing to own the lesson. There have been so many lessons of late. There are times I wish growth didn't come with struggle but it does.When you begin to grow and change people you have had in your life or have attracted don't often know how to take you. When you have lessons to learn you are given opportunity upon opportunity to practice. 

The past twenty nine years of my life I have been practicing meditation, for the past twenty six I have practiced yoga. At this point, at forty four, I often feel I know less than I did at fifteen. I'm so overwhelmed by all I have learned and all I have to learn sometimes I literally feel as if my tongue is tied. Many years ago, in my mid twenties I started practicing with Erich Shiffman, a great and wise yoga teacher. I had his VHS tape and his book "Moving Into Stillness". He would often say "When you let go of everything else the only thing left is LOVE". There was a part of me that was like "yeah right, okay dokey then, love, love is the answer, sure thing", then imagine a bit of eye rolling on my part.
Now as I have practiced with many masterful teachers, studied many great text, practiced yoga, and lived a yogic lifestyle I had come to understand what Erich meant. The answer is always to be love. 
Now we need justice in the world, we need law and order, we must stand up for what is right but we must do that in love. All the history, philosophy and teachings of yoga come down to that simple philosophy - love. Find peace, be peace, be loving. You can understand and try to understand all the history books and all the asanas but if you don't have love you don't really know yoga.

The best answer I can give to my students today based on my own experiences is to slow down -  the journey is the destination, today you can find peace and happiness - right now. Practice, practice, practice,  not only your asanas but all eight limbs of yoga. If you don't have the Yama's and Niyama's in your heart you are not a true yoga practitioner. If you do not try to cultivate a heart for all eight limbs then you will be out of balance. And in the end know that in you, and in every human being there is someone who needs love and all of our actions in this world are based on needing that love, the lack of it, the fear of not having it, or the desire to share it and give it away freely. We are all flawed, we will all make mistakes and do things out of fear but if we know how to come back, to come back to love, our lives will be more harmonious and balanced.

This cannot be imparted to you by only listening to a teacher, it must be practiced to "get" it. You must do the work, no teacher can do it for you, they can guide you, but "you" and only "you" can do the work. You must show up and practice, practice all eight limbs, whatever it is that brings you to that place do that. It may not look like asana, it may look like cooking for someone you care about. It may look like being a loving parent, it's all yoga, it is all union. It's all about the intent in which we show up and practice, practice being more loving, loving ourselves and others.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Namaste.