Patterns of the Body = Patterns of the Mind

Patterns. If you think about it for a moment, our lives are all ruled by patterns. Our patterns of thinking, our body movement patterns, patterns that form beliefs within us, patterns of our daily lives. Once something has become a pattern, it means it has established it’s own regular way of being, of repetition and of a habit and adopted it as a natural way of functioning.

Us humans have been developing patterns since we were born, by being surrounded with and copying from our parents, family and society – we learn the basic patterns of human life on planet earth in early stages of our lives – such as moving, walking, breathing. As we grow older, these patterns start changing according to the circumstances in our lives and our environment. Our patterns will further change as we change the thoughts about ourselves and the world around us.

One of the biggest aims in yoga ( and the biggest challenges ) is to break those patterns,  and start creating a healthy, natural states in which our bodies and minds will then mold in to.

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It all starts first by recognizing them; becoming aware of our posture, our thoughts and our breathing, and very importantly acknowledging & accepting the need for a change.

As I began my yoga journey, I also began an infinite & intimate self exploration & self discovery journey. It is not an easy path, I will tell you that. It is much , much easier to be ignorant or simply not aware of things happening in you and around you. Once you chose this path you have to be ready and willing to face everything that you don’t want to see or feel as all the imbalances, all the hurt, all the past pain, physical & emotional will come to you highlighted. And then you will have to deal with it. By Your. Self.

Ever since I was young I was praised for my posture of not hunching my back. Once I started developing my yoga practice I have realized that I have formed a postural lordosis – curved back and that my ribs were extremely anterior, flared and sticking out. I was far, very far from straight back. It took  me a long road of every day practice, tears of frustration & constant awareness to start changing something that I have been carrying with me for 30 years. It first seems impossible and makes you cry, but slowly , slowly you start developing awareness through practice and  you start finding ways to change. You start discovering muscles and muscle groups that you have previously not even know they existed as they were dormant and slowly, slowly you start waking them up and learning how to activate them and use them, so the body can find more natural way to balance itself and to move freely. By activating those dormant muscles and clearing dusty corners of your body,  you will also activate dormant thoughts, suppressed feelings and emotions.

I have realized that changing my body patterns evokes a lot of emotions and forgotten memories. As I would go to these dusty spaces, I would find there a lot of frustration, tears and sadness. Sometimes feelings of deep emotional pain would surface and I couldn’t understand why. As I was working more and more with changing my body, other parts of me started to require the same change.

One of the reasons why I took the next step in yoga and to dedicate my life fully & completely to it and to teaching is because I have witnessed, not just in me, but in people who also practice, this great effect –  immense changes this practice had brought in them, without them even wanting to change or approaching the practice from any other way than purely physical.

I slowly started to realize that our body postures and patterns that regulate the movement are nothing but a collection of our thoughts and experiences from the past. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And pretty scary. Everything you ever thought about yourself is reflected and written in your body, it’s openness, but also it’s limitations. That is why beginnings in yoga are the hardest – you get thrown to your face every little imbalance in your body & restriction that you have and you think it is there to stay forever. Most of them are not and require consistency in practice, dedication and faith. I remember some of the first hatha yoga classes I took. I couldn’t straighten my arms in any of the Warriors or Utkatasanas due to the stiffness of my shoulders.  I couldn’t do backbend as my shoulders were so closed that I couldn’t lift of the floor. The teacher came to me after one class and pointed to his shoulder and then to his head. He looked at me and said ‘ You are thinking too, too much. ” I looked at him and realized the cause of the incredible tightness in my shoulder area is my overthinking. I have always been a worrier, an obsessive thinker. I have always been carrying the weight of the World on my shoulders and that is where it has stayed. I used to be a hypochondriac already as a child, worried about my own health 24/7 and fearing illnesses, fearing loneliness and pain. With yoga I somehow learn to let go of worrying and learn to stay present and aware when fear arises. Not to live in some parallel future reality that has not yet happened and that most probably will never, ever happen. There has been a massive journey for me from that point to be where I am now, practicing deep backbends of the Intermediate series in Ashtanga with quite an ease, compared to my very start.

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But it is not just the body that becomes ready for such, it is also the mind, as intense backbending opens the spine & your chest, simultaneously opening you to vulnerability  and self trust. If you are full of fear and closed, it is very hard to expect that you will be open and ready for deep backbends and dropping back and coming up. Sometimes we all tend to forget that – where we are now and where we started.

By working with our bodies and squeezing them into some what it seems unattainable postures, we are squeezing out our emotional pain and we begin process of emotional healing. By moving your body in new way, you are also taking your mind with you and learning to think in a new way, thus breaking the old patterns.

If you think of your body as a separate from you, you will cause more separation in your life. If you see your body parts as objects, and that is often what media is trying, when objectifies the body and pinpoints your imperfections,s o you can buy into their products, -body will become a source of self hatred. A stranger, a foreigner that you keep on neglecting ad destroying.  always thought negative about yourself, your body and about others, you will see the negative effect on you. But if you in turn learn to switch and shift your paradigm of thinking to the one that is positive, compassionate and open, you will see and feel changes in your body and energy field around you.

Yoga is a path to freedom and acceptance. It invites you to find the power within you to create your life and live your highest potential. You start changing and healing, not because someone tells you to or you read about it, but because yoga opens the space for healing. It invites you  inside to find the ultimate self love and self acceptance, so you can radiate it and share that healing with others.

 

 

 

 

 

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Samasthiti – the art & mastery of a motionless state

Samasthiti  is my practice. My practice is my Samasthiti – I was thinking about it the other day, hence inspiration for the post.

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There is a certain strength & power  when teacher calls out Samasthiti , it is almost like a magic word that draws my dispersed energy back together & collects my monkey mind & brings it to the focus. My body becomes still, my mind sharpens, my breath deepens and relaxes. There is only now in that moment. Nothing else exists. It is me and my breath. Another chance to start again. Another beginning. Another redemption.

Samasthiti.

The first position in which we start our practice – position and state we keep on returning to over and over again throughout it, so we can reconnect with our being and bring back awareness to the breath.  Over and over again.

Samasthiti comes from a Sanskrit word /sama/ which means equal – balanced. Sthiti means stand / stay. By just being in that posture  & observing, you can tell a lot about  students and their individual characters. I cannot express enough the importance of the posture in our practice and also in our daily lives.

Beginner students don’t pay much attention to Samasthiti and usually use the posture to fix their clothes, their hair – impatiently waiting to jump in their first sun salutation.I really encourage students to observe which extra and unnecessary movements can they erase from their practice and also from their lives. There is so much of fidgeting in all of us, so much of disturbance in our body and mind with the constant need to fix ourselves, to look good, to please ourselves and others. We are so insecure about our looks and if something has moved or is not in the ‘perfect’ place we need to fix it that moment. In yoga we become more aware of our posture in our daily lives, our bodies, imbalances and patterns that we need to change in order to find that ‘sama’.

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From a physical point of view in Samasthiti we create straight line within our body. Aligning joints on top of each other – shoulders over hips, hips over knees, knees over ankle. Big toes should be touching and heels slightly apart, pressing into the mat to get the  feeling of connection with the Earth below and it’s grounding energy. Observing the balance and weight distribution between both feet and trying to distribute it evenly. Drawing energy through the feet and energizing the legs by lifting the knee caps up. Abdomen should be in and bandhas engaged. Shoulders rolled down, so that upper chest, armpit chest is slightly lifted and open.Arms should be engaged by fingers pointing towards the floor. Chin parallel to the floor and our eye gaze, drishti directed towards our nose tip. Finding stillness in the body & creating stillness in the mind as well.The state of equanimity – balanced body = balanced mind.
In our yoga practice we create states that cause uncertainty, sometimes fear, even anxiety. We create scenarios in which we then discover our bodies  and their patterns, and how are they guided by this incredible life force, energy, our breath. WE move, we breath, we sweat, we fall, we balance and in between all that movement we keep on finding our Samasthiti. We keep on finding our balance. We keep on returning to that balanced state. Each time we do it should be strong & engaged.

Our yoga asana practice is pretty much similar to our lives off the mat. No matter what is happening in my life, no matter where I was and what I did, no matter how much I screwed up – I come back to my mat, to my Samasthiti. There can be a chaos around me, yet I know I have a place to return to, to the center of my being and that is where balance exists. Where is peace and stillness. That is Samasthiti.

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Samasthiti teaches us to remain calm and undisturbed by what is happening around us or to what has been done and told us. We learn to look at those things from a new angle, not from the automatic & conditioned mind that reacts to situation, but rather the one that responds. We start seeing see what is behind things that happen, why they happen and what can we learn from them. Samasthiti is somehow the ultimate self mastery over our bodies and monkey minds. This equanimity of the mind is one of the fundamental teachings in yoga, especially in Bhagavad Gita. Doing our actions, aspiring and giving our best, but remaining untouched, undisturbed by the results and outcome of them.

Trying to keep that inner peace even when we meet many adversities in our lives and our mats. It is that capacity to remain unmoved within in all conditions that we train by trying to remain unmoved in our Samasthiti.

xxx

Keep on practicing. Om ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s with the Sanskrit count in Ashtanga?

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I remember with the uttermost clarity my early Ashtanga days. I didn’t know much back then about the traditional aspect of Ashtanga. I would attend Ashtanga studio classes twice a week and then later on as many times as a schedule would allow me to.

I had no idea about the traditional practice – about the Mysore style, about daily early morning practice tradition,  I didn’t know about the incredible importance of adjustments in our practice, neither did I know that breath, bandhas, drishti take the central stage. All I knew was how I felt afterwards – and none of the other yoga styles that I tried before could bring me to that place.

As I was entering Ashtanga path, tradition of the practice was slowly revealed to me. And I always say I am a traditional yogi – it was so important to me to find a system of yoga that is fully integrated and that incorporates all parts of yoga practices, not just asana.I was als0 looking for a system that has a strong philosophical component on which our asana practice is based.

What I did notice at that early stage is that some teachers would lead class and pronounce each posture in Sanskrit before we would enter them and also that they would count in this often difficult to pronounce language. Even though it is complicated  & forgotten by many, it was also somehow so familiar to myself. Not surprising actually if you think that Sanskrit is the origin of  all Indo – European languages, and often called a  mother of all languages.

I remember how often I would go home after the class and the count would stick to me long after. Almost as if I could feel it’s vibration for some time resonating within me.

On my first teacher training we didn’t learn the traditional count, but the importance was placed on learning all the asanas in Sanskrit instead – for some students that was daunting itself, for me it was quite easy as I was already used to hearing it from my teachers.

But soon after I have finished my teacher training, I put it as a priority to myself to also learn the traditional Sanskrit count as early and as accurate as possible, so I can share this precious gift of the Ashtanga tradition with my students. And there are many reasons for practicing with Sanskrit count.

It provides an incredible deep centering effect.

Practicing with count centers you in the present moment and brings you  back to the awareness of breath and movement – which creates rythm & flow in the practice.

This Thursday I woke up for my practice  and my whole body felt weak and tired from a week of full on teaching, and back to back classes, as well as from my own practice. When alarm went of at 4.45am I couldn’t move and thoughts of my 2 hour long practice creep in. I dragged myself to the shala and laid my mat in the dark room to commence my practice. My mind didn’t want to stop chattering it seemed and after one sun salutation it was telling me to stop. As my thoughts were getting louder and my mind was trying to list all the reasons why not to practice, instead of continuing to listen  to that, I have come back to my count. I have made a conscious decision to replace the thoughts and follow the count instead. My mind was silenced and my practice flowed and I was able to find strength, focus & clarity.

Count internalizes your senses and works as a mantra.

Following the path of the count takes you inwards momentarily. No matter where you were before or how you were feeling, the sound of the count, the first Ekam Inhale, takes you to that place inside of you, where you know peace & equanimity of your full being. Having this knowledge, experience & awareness, we use the count as a tool to achieve the state of  inner peace – so that we can still our bodies & breath together.

I had a bad car crash earlier this year on one of the busiest highways in Dubai. To avoid being hit by another car, I smashed into the divider wall between lanes and completely damaged my car. Surprisingly my body had almost no damage, apart from a cut on my arm. As i stepped out of the car in the middle a highway to wait for help, my body almost instinctively retreated to the count. I started counting each breath in Sanskrit the same way I do when I practice or teach.  Despite the chaos around me, uncertainty, fear and panic, I could retreat to that place inside of my being where stillness is. In our daily practice we create and re create states of fear, uncertainty and anxiety on our mats. The only way out of them is to focus, to breath through. Similarly I did the same off my mat after that accident. And when medical came and checked my pulse and BP, it was all actually lower than normal.

Practice is your mala / prayer beads & Sanskrit count is your prayer

Guruji in Yoga Mala referes to the practice as ‘mala; a garland of postures. each posture has a ‘State’ and every state – Asana, has a specific number of vinyasa ( links of breath & movement ) to enter and exit them.

As John Scott explains it so beautifully accurate:

“The Vinyasa are all like beads, Choreographed breath/body movements, all to be counted and meditated on and it is the students requirement to learn this Counted method as a mantra for their own personal practice”
John Scott, Winter, 2013 Stillpointyoga London

By learning the correct count, we gain another tool for our own yoga practice and for our own meditative state that we aim to reach in our daily practice.

Even though in the beginning it is often hard for students to connect breath with the count and they need to add extra breaths in between, there is an incredible value added to student’s practice as she/he listens to the count.Even if the focus is not in the count, the subconscious mind will soak it’s vibration and with time effect will be felt.

By learning and incorporating traditional count we also show respect for this sacred tradition as wee keep on sharing it’s gifts with others. It teaches us focus & mindfulness that we can then apply when our minds start to wonder. What follows is the experience of the unity and interconnectedness  with breath, with ourselves and world around us.

Your Life – Your Creation / or what is stopping you from being your best, happiest self.

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Some years ago I saw something in my mind – I clearly saw who I want to be(come).

I saw what I want to do. I even felt it. And then, I had nothing else to do, but to Be it.

To be that version of me.

That image & vision of me had nothing to do with limited thoughts in my mind. It was on the other end. Limiting thoughts were there to prevent me from even trying to attempt, to achieve something so grandiose.  And most of my life, I let my thoughts do just that – prevent me from experiencing joy, happiness, bliss and being the best expression of my own self. I let my thoughts bring me down, make me feel ugly, weak and sorry for myself.

This time something was stronger in me – something in me that believed in that vision to be true, it was beyond the thoughts. There was courage, strength, faith, dedication. There was a deep call.

I saw it. I felt it. I was it.

Years later and my heart skips with joy as I brought to life that vision. It came true, it manifested. It was always true & it was always there actually, the only difference is that this time I chose to believe it. I chose to believe in me, regardless of what the whole world was thinking.

I have witnessed and experienced the power of my own thoughts and the power of creation that reflected them.  I have come to understand that I am creator of my own happiness and unhappiness. I have accepted that there is never anyone to blame in our lives for the situations and circumstances we are experiencing and we find ourselves in, but ourselves. I have removed any blame, any resentment towards anyone through this understanding and process.

I am my own joy. I am my own misery. I am my own Creation.

Lately I have been experiencing an immense joy & feeling of self love & appreciation. I am observing the fruits of my hard work – what were once small seeds that I tried to plant on a small piece of a fertile ground in the midst of a concrete floor that was all around me, now is a beautiful young tree that started to blossom and produce fruits. For years I was so busy with planting new seeds, finding new fertile grounds daily, that I forgot to look at those first ones that have produced this new, radiant life. Now, as I step back and as I slowed down I can finally bow to my creation with deepest gratitude and respect. I can enjoy the fruits of my effort.

It is a truly beautiful feeling to become an observer of your own transformation and change. It is empowering, it is magnificent. Knowing that who you are now is a result of that vision in a first place and putting into it 100 % of your dedication. commitment, efforts and hard work. Having had faith even through the darkest phases of self doubt, of fear of not knowing , is what propelled me to the next level and provided me with extra strength points. Universe will ALWAYS test you, but also reward you. Don’t forget that.

In last couple of weeks I feel truly embraced in my own love for my own being – physical, emotional, spiritual. I feel I am endlessly making love to myself, by doing what I love to do, by practicing and by choosing to think thoughts that contribute to that Love – the infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent  – Love.

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The journey towards Love, Acceptance and awakening is never linear. Just like our yoga practice. There are many detours, setbacks, rough weather conditions, many crossroads & obstacles. Yet – the light, the guide is always there, if we chose to see it.

There are many factors that will lead you to this journey. Each one of us will have different triggers that will be responsible for one’s awakening. It might be a person you encounter, a meditation,a talk,  a yoga class. It might be a book you read, a life threatening situation or it might be found in just a beautiful sunny day & an ice cream you just had.

In my experience, I think we have that initial trigger in awakening – the main one, one that shakes our ground completely and like a tornado takes us in it’s swirl and drops us somewhere along the path of awakening – how far it will drop us depends on our own state & level of awareness, conditioned mind and other factors at that moment. Once we find ourselves on this path, we will definitely encounter many other souls that will share more light, that will deepen our awareness and trigger even more powerful events that will then further contribute to the opening of the path and our new realizations.

One of such realizations  in my case was that  happiness & health are my natural states!

I know- sounds so basic, right? But not everyone knows it.

If my natural state was sickness and feeling like crap, then I wouldn’t try so hard to get better & to feel better. Right? We would remain in our diseased states and depression without even questioning whether to get better or not. But no. Our body is a smart mechanism that heals, that repairs to bring us back, over and over again to that state of balance and nature.

Knowing this, knowing what is my nature also meant choosing to stay on that frequency. I started to question each time I was feeling bad what was the cause of my suffering. And you know what was the answer each and every time – my thoughts. And my choice of believing them.

When you think about it- thoughts are just thoughts. They are not good or bad – it is us who gives them power, who charges them and gives them meaning. It is solely on YOU – whether you are going to believe them to be true, or you are going to dismiss them.

Thoughts are all around us and we chose which one will we pick and embrace.

Having this awareness that I am creator of my own thoughts, I have understood that I am creator of my own emotions. That every emotional state comes from me. If someone makes me happy or makes me feel bad – that is still my emotion, I just gave that thought and that someone power to trigger it in me. So why do people feel bad most of the time? Why are so many people unhappy? Because they are still identified with the thoughts. Once they realize that thoughts are just that – thoughts, they can start to dissidentify with them and create gap between themselves and their thinking process.

Another problem is that most of us have deeply engraved thought processes or mental patterns, our conditioned patterns of thinking. Most of us react from our childhood or adolescent experiences, despite being a 30, 40, 50 or even older individuals. They are so firmly rooted in our behavioral and thinking patterns that we don’t know for anything else. Many people are not aware that it is their mind that causes suffering, not themselves or people around.

There are couple of ways that our minds do that:

  • Minds take us into the past or future – where anxiety lives & where worry lives
  • Minds make us judge – world around us and our internal states – are we good or bad
  • Mind makes us worry – and by worrying it gives us sense of false, exclusionary self protection – it is tricking you in believing that by worrying you will solve the problem, the bad event won’t happen,

All this makes us slaves to our minds. With yoga we are training to become masters of our minds –  we gain tools to use on that mind when it starts to go out of the control. And when I say tools what do I mean?

  • Being in the Present Moment – being fully in the Now. letting go of obsession with the future to be fully rooted in the present
  • Being aware / Finding focus – in breath that very moment, in our body, inour movement, sounds around us, people we interact with. This again brings us to the now.
  • Being able to see the thoughts and you as separate – noticing that you are not your thoughts, that they just come and go and that you ( always) have a choice

All this brings us to the very core of the yoga teaching that we are pure awareness, witnesses and  observers. That we are – however you gonna call it – energy, spirit, prana, soul that inhabitates this human body – but that you are not your body. Same as you are not your emotions, your thoughts. You are that space in which thought and emotions arise.And how much you will be affected by them depends on YOU. How much you will identify yourself with them and chose to believe them, again depends on YOU.

yes – blame it all on yourself.

I know that to many people this simply seems as a hard concept t grasp.  But what I really ask you to do is very simple – it is not even meditation or yoga practice. It is about choosing how you want to feel. And I know you want to feel happy, because that is our natural state. So, if you feel joyful & happy, and all of the sudden you start feeling low – ask yourself what is that something that took you out of your place of joy or what is that something that generally makes you feel bad, miserable, down, depressed, ugly.

Once you can identify it – you can see it for what it is. And that it is probably stream of thoughts, the more you think, the more you worry, the more emotions arise and the more you feel bad.

The huge step towards freedom lies in a realization that you don’t need to think them.

The more you let them go, before they find roots in your mind, in your being, the more they will lose power over you and the more you have choice to feel how you want to feel. To be who you want to be.

Years ago I  saw myself teaching yoga, studying and traveling to some far east countries, free from corporate slavery. I was stuck in the office, I had weak body, I had fears of most of the postures and I had self confidence that was miserably low. But that vision of me was everything opposite and I chose to believe it. Until I have become it. I re-programmed myself, I downloaded new programs – I changed the course of my history.  I created myself and my life that I have now. But i had to start from somewhere, just like each one of us must begin this journey somewhere, but you have to believe that wherever you are that is exactly the right place to be at this very moment, at this very time.

Our lives are our choices. Make the choice to be you. See it, feel it and Be it.

x

 

Lara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questioning matters.

 

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As I sat down for a short coffee break before my class, I listened and looked to the conversations around me – I started to question:

Why is it considered weird to talk about questioning of our existence or about the universe in which we live in?

Why do people often run away from subjects that revolve around spirituality ?

Are we really so sure and knowledgeable about everything around us?

Why do people can’t be themselves in their own  authenticity and instead have to put mask, defense when they talk to other people?

Why do people have to fake it? Conversations, orgasms, lives ?

Why are we so afraid to connect with others? Why are we running away from human contact , from human touch, from closeness?
Is it a fear that stops you, a fear of some hidden treasure that is buried inside of you and that waits to be found, but you don’t want to acknowledge it and see it as that would mean seeing the truth and seeing the lies that you have been fed all your life and believed them to be true ?

I believe that main problem of our society, of ahuman race is fear – fear of opening up – our hearts, our minds, our spirits, our eyes. I truly believe that a lot of our society’s problems are caused by that blindness, by that neglecting of lives beyond what media and society says is right, by that closed attitude and fear of anything that cannot be seen by eyes , touched by hands, sensed by our sensory organs. I’m talking about energy, spirit.. Something that many people run away from.

Instead of choosing to see beyond boxes, television, computers, screens, lives in boxes, humans chose to live in a society with Internet connection 24/7 , with TVs and junk program and news channel broadcasting lies, and with billboards, institutions, commercials in every city on this world telling you what to do, what to think, who to be, what to wear, how to be accepted, how to be better , always better, because you are never enough. That’s where the second biggest problem of humanity lies in – in the feeling of our own unworthiness. You never earn enough ,you are never pretty enough, never thin enough, never happy enough, never enough to be enough. If you feel you are not enough, how can you feel you’re enough to question you existence. If you are not even worthy of it…

If you are left with feeling of unworthiness , of misery , if your life revolves around getting numb to forget about your pain, you become a very easily controlled human robot. Controlled by top media companies that are owned by big corporations who don’t care if you are happy or healthy or worthy of life or their product. The same corporations buy out all the politicians and also control our public education – the same education that limited your and mine thinking, your and mine talents, skills and lives and told you to become (and how to become) a human robot – it erased or at least tried to erase everything that could make you an awakened, enlightened individual with open eyes and open heart and talents that you were born to express.
Such corporations control everything and they tell you how to live your life. They use money as a power tool to enslave us and we blindly allow it, as we don’t know for anything else, as we were raised in a society that bases its worth on success linked with money and social status? A game, very very dangerous one, where the ones on the top, steal from the ones on the bottom and keep them ignorant through constant broadcast of misinformation, fear and always – negativity. Why would they want you happy – if once you are happy you won’t buy from them and into them. My main wish is to still be alive to see the change – the one that hopefully I will be part of. Change where humanity will see unity instead of separation . Unity with each other, with nature and universe , instead of separation. And through that unity, peacefully break free from the control, of corporations.

I am absolutely aware that you can’t awake someone who is not ready to awake and force them to change, to see. I am absolutely aware that our social conditioning makes this a very hard road to walk, to believe in, to follow. And that is why we have to keep on questioning our existence and sharing our thoughts – we have to keep on educating ourselves and others, inspiring each other through LOVE. Always through love which is our essence. Whenever you wan to react in your old way, pause and ask yourself how would love react. We all need love. Darkness, pain, ignorants, all those need even more love. Even when your fellow humans don’t show any love in return – shower them with love, keep on going, please, don’t give up. Don’t give up on them, on yourself. Because there is no me and you. What you do to ‘them’ you do to ‘yourself’.
I believe with all my heart that light will spread and win, that love will overcome, but we have to relearn and retrain our condition minds and get rid of the main toxin – fear. Fear that has been installed in us. Fear of love, of openness of vulnerability, of being YOU. Don’t let that fear turn you cold, don’t let the world try to disappoint you. See beyond fear, beyond boxes, beyond ego. Look each other in the eyes and not in the screens and through screens. We are in this together and we can find our freedom together.

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Life is beautiful and even though the journey often seems hard and painful, it is through that pain that we learn, it is through the roughness that we awake and it is the darkness that makes us appreciate the light.

Peace out. Be love,

Lara

‘ Conceptualize your Mystical state ‘ or how did my Heart open

 

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‘ I have a question . ‘ – was all I could think as I was making my way  through busy airport terminals. During last 5 weeks of my training, I was that person who always had questions. And luckily I met teacher who could answer them all or at least guide me towards the path so that I could then find answers myself.

But now, I was left alone  –  it was finished, yet there were still so many questions that I needed answers to, even more than before. My throat tightened and I could barely swallow as I was trying to keep my tears from falling while  I walked to my gate. There was nothing sad happening directly to me that moment, but what I was experiencing and feeling was other people’s pain. Negativity. Unhappiness. Bitterness. Greed. Jealousy. Depression.  Anxiety. I could feel it all that moment at the aiport and the worst was that it was everywhere I turned. It was hitting me from all sides and I felt I couldn’t breath nor escape the pain. All I could see were human robots involved in their own mental dialogues as they were rushing to their flights with Starbucks coffee cups in their hands. ‘They don’t even know they exist’ – I thought. I felt I was thrown from a different dimension, bare naked and not understanding the single word from any of human languages anymore.

My heart has opened, purified and expanded so much in last weeks, that now I could feel the world’s pain overwhelming me. I can stand the pain and I can allow my tears, but what bothers me is what can I do about it? How to act, how to open eyes and bring  awakening to those people around me that represent majority of our society. How to bring healing to the beings and to our planet that is suffering intensely because of US. I felt so small.

Yes, I have a question. Not one, but many.

Big bright lights of shops and logos of expensive brands blinded me, people shopped compulsively, aggressively walked and pushed me as I was making my way to the flight. People fought over a coffee queue; frowning, yelling, their heads stuck in their electronic devices. I sighed – We think we are connected, but we are disconnected more than ever. Everywhere I turn –  everyone overconsuming – taking more and more and more. Food, clothes, cigarettes, drinks – taking, taking until they can’t take anymore, until they can’t breath anymore, until they are so full & numbed that they can’t feel their pain anymore.

But I could feel it. Question remains –  what do I do with this pain. What do I do with this knowledge that I have opened myself to? This wisdom that talks through me. I feel I have received this often very heavy torch to carry, but it is the same one that carries the brightest light of yoga and now it is my duty to keep on spreading that light.

How do  I ignite that flame? How do I make sparks, so visible, that even those on the darkest paths could see them and be guided by them?

And then I remembered my teacher’s words from the lecture we had the other day :

‘ You have to conceptualize your mystical states.’

Words  echoed in my head. I thought about them. I never really conceptualized and truly shared my experiences, that he calls mystical states. I never would think I am worthy of being someone who can even experience such states, but I knew they were special. With time I started calling those revelations and moments of epiphanies I collected – my  personal awakening, but even awakening was a term far too grand term for my little self. I always thought such experiences are only for mystics and those enlighten ones, chosen ones, so I never  really  had the confidence to call them that way nor to share them. Until I met Gregor who told us we are worthy and those experiences are our nature, our birth right. It was only then when I realized that we are all chosen ones, but it is on us if we will listen to the call of our soul and heart. We are not the chosen ones, but  rather that we have a choice –  to tune in to the divine frequency or to turn away from it.

Another reason why I have never really conceptualized and shared those experiences is because when you start seeing world with different eyes, you realize most of the people don’t. If you start telling them about glimpses of your awakening they will probably think you are crazy or taking some pretty serious medications. I am often surprised my parents could listen to it all so openly, without really opposing, without contradicting, without judging ( Thank you guys!)

Because I couldn’t really share my newly discovered life & and I couldn’t connect with my old self I slowly drifted away from my old life. I could no longer fit in. I could no longer engage in the same activities and conversations – there was nothing left for me there anymore.

At the same time, I haven’t kept my experience entirely private. Being an open person, I feel easy to share my inner world with others – anything that excites me, thrills me and makes me alive –  emotions, ideas, life..But there are not too many people with whom I can share those as they can seem too out of this world. They seem that way because they actually  are.

However, I did write about those certain, special moments  in my previous blogs, but I have never wrote about it in its own entirety as I couldn’t really understand it myself.  And sometimes I would even think it was all surreal. But now – I understand. I met a teacher who spoke about them, who described them in words, who described exactly what I have felt, what I have seem, without me even asking, without me ever telling him –  he gave answers. He spoke about it so vividly, so clear, so heartfelt as if he was there. I was listening to him in awe, amazed by the use of his words and expressions that described exactly my states. It is real, it has always been real I thought.

I call 2014 a year of awakening. And it is not just because I had simply left my job and sobered up, found a yoga class and started practicing some fancy postures, that I would often post on my Facebook. No.

There had to be a certain far greater and far more powerful force, intelligence that pulled me out of my own destructive ways. Meds didn’t work, psychotherapy didn’t seem to work and my life was pretty much a long string of days of suffering, pain, alcohol and self hate. Avoidance, numbness and escapism – vicious cycle.

Consciously I couldn’t break free from it. I was stuck.

So, one day when my symptoms worsen and panic attacks became a daily thing, I googled meditation in Dubai and found something that seemed appropriate for my corporate life schedule back then, so I could have enough time to leave my work and get there on time, considering the heavy Dubai traffic.

Mind you, I have never ever meditated before –  I come from an atheist family and no real spiritual background, apart from what I built on my own when I was younger and drawn to  exploring ancient religions and then later Christianity and Islam. Only now when I look back I can see that I was drawn to spirituality from a very early age.

In 2014 there was no real yoga obsession like today on social media, no fancy postures on every page and certainly not so many yoga studios and healing centers in Dubai – and definitely not many meditation groups.

I was clueless. My vision and perception of meditation was limited to the image of someone sitting with their legs crossed, having eyes closed and probably listening to the breath. That’s all. So basically that zero experience has led me to zero expectations, and I think this is where and when magic occurs – in that blank state of the mind. The moment we imply something or we already have certain knowledge of how it should be, we start projecting – having expectations, comparisons, ambition to achieve something, and so that way we put pressure on ourselves. When you are as blank as I was then – pretty much anything can happen.

When I arrived to the center, there was no one there and I was very close to just leave out of my own insecurity and fear of the unknown that started to creep in.

Luckily I stayed and someone has opened the door. The sweet smell of the incense spoke to me and I came in and sat down, among the crystals and mantras hanging from the walls – a foreign world to me that somehow felt familiar. There was only one girl there, who was already familiar with the whole process of meditation. Apart from her- there was only  teacher and me.

I sat there and equipped myself with cushions as back then I could not even sit in a cross legged position neither with my back straight for longer than a couple of minutes, so I supported my back with the wall and waited for the instructions as our teacher lit candles and burnt more incense. Instructions were quite long and the meditation was far more complex than I could have imagined, so I tried to really focus to get it all right. It was called The Twelve Blessings and it involved raising of hands and sending out flow of spiritual energy, visualizing it as white light. That energy  would stream then  from our palms and from our heart center to 12 different groups – Of people, healers, shamans, of celestial objects, of creation, galaxies, until finally we would reach to the absolute, Divine, Creation or however you wish to call your god.

  1. Blessed are they who work for Peace
  2. Blessed are the Wise Ones
  3. Blessed are they who Love
  4. Blessed are the Planetary Ones
  5. Blessed are the Thanksgivers
  6. Blessed are they who Heal
  7. Blessed is the Mother Earth
  8. Blessed is the Mighty Sun
  9. Blessed are the Supreme Lords of Karma
  10. Blessed is the Great Being known as the Galaxy
  11. Blessed are the Supreme Lords of Creation
  12. Blessed is the Absolute

The whole point was that whatever we send out to the universe , we receive back – law of karma pretty much – multiplied. The more you give, the more you receive. After each energy projection from our heart center and palms, there was a prayer dedicated to that each group, while at the same time, we would be receiving back waves and waves of energy from those beings, planets and creations.

I grasped the concept that was explained to me and I could easily create and visualize those balls of light through which I would then send my energy. My mind was nagging, reminding me of the bad situations in my life, reminding me of the pain in my knees that I had from sitting and trying to tell me how useless and how boring this was, but I kept on ignoring that mind and I kept on following the teacher’s voice.

And then it started. All of the sudden I was an 0bserver of sensations that started rising in me. The incredible warmth spread to my chest and the palms, my hands were tingling as if someone had put thousands of needles  in them and plugged me to some source of electricity. The warmth then spread on my face as I would shoot out the energy from my heart center out to the Universe. Suddenly I was met with even more energy that would then radiate across my chest and shake my whole being,  I had no idea what was happening, but I felt strong presence of something much more powerful than me. I suddenly started to feel dizzy and almost as if my energy and my soul communicated with soul of other beings involved in that specific energy blast and exchange.

It was a feeling of being part of something much much bigger. And I was conscious and aware at the same time while it was happening. Images of our planet and rivers, rain forests and mountains have entered my mind and all I could feel was being one with everything. That moment I felt there is no other. I felt incredible connection to every living being that moment, that left me absolutely fascinated, mesmerized. There was only love – and I realized that love was my core, my nature, my center.

At the very end of the 12th blessing we had to lay down and just soak and absorb the most potent energy that came down on us from the One, The Absolute. As I was laying down, I felt the energy flowing into me, bathing me and healing each part of my body, each cell, each atom with it’s light, presence and grace.. It was a bath of melted gold and the divine light. I had no sense of divine from before nor any image in my head, but I felt as if I was taken in the most healing caress. The light and warmth kept on coming down in me and on me and I didn’t want this feeling to end, I wanted it to say there.

When I came out of this experience, my cheeks were red and my vision was blurry. My shirt was drenched in sweat, especially on my lower back and my chest. It took me some time to gather myself and come out. I had no idea what has just happened, but something shifted. Little did I know that from this moment my life will change forever.

When I  came down on the street,  I felt as if I was still in another world, observing the intensity of people passing by, of city lights and city rush, yet I remained unaffected by it. I was still absorbed in that moment and in that world where whole world exits.I was stillness while the world was in motion.

I came home, still feeling tipsy and I tried to describe the experience to my parents, but just like now –  words are simply not enough to describe such states and they seem so small compared to such experiences. I can’t quite remember who it was, my mum or my dad, who mentioned then the concept of oneness in some of the religions of the world, so I decided to google it and that is how I found my answers and the symptoms of spiritual awakening that kicked in the following weeks and months.

I found out that The Twelve Blessings is a profound cosmic teaching and sacred mystic practice given by the Master Jesus to inspire humanity and to give us all a much greater appreciation of the spiritual nature of the cosmos.

The practice of The Twelve Blessings is a uniquely powerful system of prayer, which gives us all an extraordinary opportunity to take spiritual action and bring about lasting change on Earth.

Fascinated by my experience, I decided to keep on visiting that place once a week and I remember that  I used to say that I am going on a date with universe whenever I would go to that meditation. Because that is exactly how it felt.

Each time there was a different intensity and different processes for me that I had to go through and it wasn’t easy. There were days when practice would be so strong and I would think I will faint, but those days were the most powerful as my emotional, spiritual and physical bodies were releasing pain and trauma, so I could open up. What would often follow then was the feeling of vibration and buzzing in my chest region. It was a strong, physical sensation that would often leave me overwhelmed, because I could feel it physically, but I wasn’t scared. That sensation started to lead me to experience love and connection with all beings. The most unusual things started to happen… I felt incredible love to everyone I would encounter. I remember clearly couple of such encounters – one in elevator of my old office building with a cleaner who happened to be in the same elevator with me. I felt intense warmth and love radiating from my heart region to his, the same happened to barista guy in cafe Nero. I would just feel a stream of energy shooting out of my heart. It was the most amazing phase in my whole life. I also felt that connection with higher beings such as with Sun, with Ocean, with the Moon. I could feel endless and unconditional love and it all begun at my heart chakra.

radiantheart

Soon I couldn’t wear black color anymore, my body has just rejected it and I had to throw all black from my wardrobe and instead I was attracted to bright, colorful clothes.  Next thing I remember was that I couldn’t listen to most of the music, except from the chants and soft, love songs. The frequency of the music, the lyrics became too much for me.My life was changing day by day, it was accelerating and I was guided and led by my heart chakra and I never wanted this state to end.

Finally, what came out of this awakening was my yoga practice – I was drawn to it, naturally . And I felt the calling immediately – calling of my dharma during my Savasana :

“I am healing not for myself, I am healing, so I can heal others.”

I remember how I rushed home, didn’t even turn the lights on, just kicked my shoes and threw my mat on the floor, excited to call my mother and tell her how I am going to resign my job and become a yoga teacher. Of course she laughed at me, told me to be serious and we ended the conversation by me hanging up the phone.

But there was no single doubt, just like there is no single doubt now – I was awakened by the Divine force to help others awaken and heal, and I was given a tool to do so – and that tool is yoga.

Because of this support from the Universe that I have received from my very own start, I had guts and enough of madness to leave my job, my old life, sell my closet and depart to Rishikesh to study Ashtanga and to come back and teach.

And ever since then I feel I have been guided for a higher purpose. I feel supported because I support the Creation, despite occasional falls and challenges that often result when you follow your heart – such as material wealth, getting ends meet.

But the whole point and answer to my question – what can I do to save this world? -is to  start sharing, keep on sharing those tools, experiences – keep on conceptualizing your ‘mystical states’ or whatever states you want to to call them, but let the world know the truth behind all this glossy facade that we call life.

Be daring to explore and to throw yourself into the situations that you never previously thought you would find yourself in – because they are the ones that hold the key.

Be brave enough to question – your existence and your purpose. Be strong enough to stay when you stumble upon answers that you don’t like. Accept that you hate your job, your relationship or your life, if you feel that way  – because only then change can come, only then yoga can start.

Patanjali starts Yoga Sutras with verse:

1.1 Atha Yoga anusasanam. = Now then the instruction in yoga.

Now then – when you have become so disappointed in life, in sensory objects, in pleasure, now you are ready for yoga and to remove the deconditioning so mind can be purified.

Live your path, live your truth and then share it with others, like I shared it with you. Only by sharing and lighting paths to each other can we can rise  as One in the spiritual awakening of humanity and maybe get the opportunity to save this world.

With Love & Light,

Lara

 

 

 

 

I bow to the lotus feet of Gurus ~ The search for a glorius Guru

Since today is Guru Purnima – a festival that celebrates and honors gurus in our lives, I have decided to share some of my views on the Guru worship and my own ‘struggles’ while embracing & understanding the figure & concept of a Guru on my yogic path.13346417_10156906992665214_3115928567982088698_n the

GURU

गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात्‌ रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः।
अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात्‌ गुरुरित्यभिधीयते॥ १६॥

The syllable gu means darkness, the syllable ru, he who dispels them,
Because of the power to dispel darkness, the guru is thus named.

— Advayataraka Upanishad, Verse 16

The definition of a guru goes much more beyond than the English term ‘teacher’ imposes. The guru is seen as the one who “dispels the darkness of ignorance, who shows us the light in the darkness & the right path to follow. Guru thus becomes a guide, mentor in our lives, point of reference in a way, and source we turn to once we get stuck. Again, it goes much, much more beyond someone who instructs, teaches you a certain subject and then expects you to memorize it.

The relationship that forms the true guru – student connection is actually a wonderful bond that is based on trust, openness and willingness to learn, to recognize our own faulty behavior and patterns & open up to the possibility of change.

Early in my yoga days I didn’t see it as such. I was repulsed just by a mere word guru and what it represented to me back then . Whenever I would encounter someone who calls himself a guru I would run away as fast and as far as I can.

To me worshiping human and kissing his/hers feet was something completely out of my zone of understanding. As someone who has never worshiped God of any religion, I found it very hard to grasp worshiping a human and seeing it as God. The lack of understanding and my reaction back then came out simply of my ignorance caused by my conditioned mind that has created the same views and opinions that my parents, grand parents, grand-grand parents and society that I was brought up in adopted.

As my journey deepened, so did I start to see past that conditioning, and from there openness & understanding merged . Instead of running away I was ready and willing to meet gurus, to listen to them and to feel them, instead of trying to understand the concept with my western, white man brain. In last couple of years I have met many inspiring yogis who have found their gurus, who found their peace and comfort under their feet, in the teachings of that one particular person.

I could feel their surrender, their deepest love & gratitude and I remember how I hoped that one day maybe I will meet that one person too who will fill that longing deep inside of me. Little did I know that there is no someone who can do that, but that very guru has been in me at all these times.

I think that the problem lies when people desperately try to find someone or something to hold on to, to surrender to, something that will heal them, fix their pain and kiss them goodnight.

In today’s world so many people suffer from depression, anxiety, mood disorders – generally people are not happy and look for an escape all the time. With advanced technology we are so used to quick fixes at the same time and being one click away from all the answers to our problems makes us less patient and more on the edge. We are used to downloading and receiving – immediately.

Whether it is drugs, shopping – retail therapy, alcohol, over indulgence and over stimulus of sensory organs – people are searching for something or someone to feel the void in their hearts and in their being, to cure their loneliness and pain when they have to be by themselves, sleep by themselves, breath by themselves. Looking for a partner and seeing him or her as someone who will fix them, heal them is pretty much the same – we give power to that other person, instead of doing the job ourselves. While nobody can heal us but ourselves, nobody can save us and liberate us but ourselves.

Thinking that someone holds the answers and can help us to carry the weight of our world is a cry for help & gives a tremendous power to the other person we surrender to that way. Whether partner or a guru, it is a dangerous power play that takes place here. Position where unhealthy part of a human ego can comes out to force and impose it’s own views, opinions onto the other, who is usually a submissive person on the other side. In such relationship dominance occurs that can often result in abuse, exploitation, brain washing, mind control and ultimately – disappointment.

I have been asked many times by my friends, students question about their path – who to follow and where to go, who to study with, who to practice with. I have met many people on this path that are desperately trying to find their path, their teacher based on someone else path. That is incorrect method of inquiry. I tell them that what has worked for me will not necessary, work for them. With whom I connect to as a teacher is a cocktail of so many things – mix of my own character that blends with theirs, my own questions and my own emotional background & state of mind. You can’t compare journeys. I can tell you what works for me, and if you feel something in your heart for the same, by all means then go for it too, explore and throw yourself wholeheartedly into it. But first listen to the voice in your heart – only you know what is good for you.

I have been lucky and blessed enough that I have met teachers – gurus who don’t want to be called gurus or even be associated by that term. It is because those people are the ones that I am attracted to as I highly admire those who don’t ask for gratification of any kind, who don’t ask to be worshiped, who don’t crave the power trip of any authority, but those who selflessly share their knowledge with anyone who is ready to hear it. Those in whom humbleness prevails.

I also simply cannot nor do I want to limit myself to one guru. I find that almost impossible. In this world where there is so much wisdom, in people, in nature, in all that surrounds us, how can I open my ears and eyes to only one person and one path and call it ‘the right path’? I find it very constricting and in the process of my spiritual liberation I want to shed those ties of constraints and limitation.

What is the right path anyways? There are limitless paths, while the destination is only one. It is up to us to chose those paths and people that will help us direct us towards paths with less suffering.

So yesterday as I brought my hands together and chanted the guru prayer for Guru Purnima, there was no rejection of the guru or repulsion of any kind. In front of me there were faces and images of many gurus whom I have encountered, starting from my own Mother, who was my first and foremost guru.

While every day I roll the mat to commence my practices, I bow in the deepest gratitude and I kiss feet of many of my teachers who brought me onto this path towards my liberation, who daily inspire me to stay on the path, so I can be a better human. I go back to all those great masters who have kept on passing this torch of yoga to each other – passing those ancient teachings and wisdom, so that one day it can be delivered to us in it’s purest form, especially now – we need those teachings more than ever on our planet Earth.

My practice is my guru. Through being part of Ashtanga yoga lineage I feel the interconnection between all of us on the yogic path as we unite to help, share and spread the light from the same torch in order to heal ourselves and heal the world.

There is no one guru, but many gurus in my life. We are all guru to each other. Everyone you meet is your guru and is in your life because he / she has something to teach you.

Only when we stop that guru search is when we can truly open to the intelligence of the Divine & see the teachings inside of us.

How Gregor Maehle says in his book on Samadhi : “ Beware of the teacher who claims they are the path and puts themselves at the forefront of the relationship. The new guru is not a person, but is what emerges as we teach each other, as we take the next step of human evolution together. “

Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde