Thursday, July 28, 2011

Craving and Rejecting

The next time you find yourself stressed out, or challenged mentally or emotionally or physically, or whatever, see if you can just witness it. Without judgment, without expectation, just simple observation. See if you can observe the process of craving and rejecting. This simple cycle of craving something and rejecting another thing which can be applied to so many instances. It can be as basic as you have an itch on your face, you crave to be more comfortable and not feel that itch, so you reject the itch and the feeling of discomfort. This is the process of precept (of perceiving). The outcome is the action; you scratch the itch. This is a simple example. Now think of it on a much greater scale.

Your friend, or family member, or significant other, or coworker, or neighbor communicates that something you did or said was hurtful or offensive or uncomfortable in some way. You reject his or her feelings because they are not agreeable and you crave for things to just be fine and easy instead of questionable or difficult. So you deny or argue against his or her feelings instead of just accept that somebody in your life may feel a way that differs from how you feel. This forcefulness and pressure only makes things worse, and now you are hurt, offended, or uncomfortable too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Revealing Nature of Distractions

A few weeks ago I taught a class and found myself completely inspired by the group of students in front of me, and spoke to that... to that energy that I sensed in the room, and I could tell what I said resonated with more than one person in that class.

When I suggested that the class set an intention at the beginning of practice, I attempted to better explain what I meant by this, what I thought a strong and meaningful intention might be and how to figure out what you might want to set as an intention. I remember the effort to set an intention in my first classes, and wasn't sure what was meant by that. What is my intention? Where do I begin? It's a funny question to explore when you are not used to thinking in that way.

I told my students to look to their distractions to set an intention. Notice: what is it that is pulling you away from this moment, right now, right here? Where does the mind want to go? There is always going to be something to pull you away from the moment, there is always going to be a distraction, there is always going to be a reason why you are not 100%. When you can begin to notice patterns and habits, you can begin to work with them.

I watched my students. I presented examples: are you constantly on the move, are you always making to-do lists and busying yourself, living in the next moment, anticipating the future, worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet and very well may never happen? Your work is going to be about presence, about patience, and faith and trust in the present moment, because that is going to fuel your present action which is going to affect your future. Or, does your mind go to a critical place? Do you wander to a place of self-criticism and self-judgment? Beating yourself up, asking yourself why you're not better, telling yourself you are not good enough. Your intention needs to be about self-love, acceptance, and compassion. Judging yourself is one of the most detrimental things you can do. It disempowers you.

I watched as one student nodded her head. Another began to cry a little. It was so profoundly touching, to witness my words affect another person in that way, to know I had influenced someone, I had spoke to someone's experience, and very simply because I listened to an inner voice and I spoke from my heart. Though my students may not have considered it, I understood full well in that moment, the reason I can speak to these things, the reason I can understand and share my knowledge on this subject, is because I, too, have felt it. And during those darker moments, never did I think that they would somehow make me a better person by facilitating me to help another person see light.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Balance Between The 3 Gunas: Rajas, Tamas, Sattva

I like the way my teacher, Mokshapriya, explains the 3 Gunas, or modes of life: look at nature, she says. Look at the birds. When the birds wake up, what do they do? They sing. This is their sattvic time. They rejoice; they don't think about work yet, they don't worry about when and how and where they are going to get their food, they just sing. When it comes time for forage for food, they go about their business, moving into rajas. At the end of the day, no matter what they did or did not get done, they put the beaks in the wings, and they sleep, because it is time for tamas. Very simple. Learn from the birds.