According to Vedic texts “MAYA is an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem.”
Why do we do what we do? Why do we struggle to achieve things that don’t bring out the best in us? Why do we struggle to fit into societies and situations that don’t bring us joy? Whose criteria do we measure our success by?
Today we exist in a world of appearances and influences, where the treatment and respect we receive depends on our ability to conform effectively, and we constantly compare ourselves with our perception of others.
It feels so important to belong and succeed that we forget what belonging and success really mean to us.
Often we find that our sense of fulfilment has nothing to do with how we are being told to live our lives and measure our success. The traditional path to traditional success is simply an illusion we buy into so that we can fit in effectively and easily. It stops us having to ask the difficult questions: what do I want? What brings me fulfillment?
We don’t need the latest tech, the expensive car and the fancy clothes. We don’t need the flashy apartment or the massive house. We don’t need the 24/7 high-powered job.
Look beyond the to find your Truth and your Joy. Look at your relationship with the people and objects in your life. Look at your relationship with your mind and your body. Look at how you are connected to the Universe in so many beautiful ways. Open yourself to the understanding that there is more to you, more to the world, than meets the eye.
Step away from the rat race, from the illusion of success and happiness. You’ll find the balance that enables you to flourish, that enables you to lead a fulfilling life of meaning and impact.
Living a life of meaning and impact is a balancing act. Challenges will be tossed your way but try to redirect life’s practicalities towards your Soul’s purpose. Remember, mistakes aren’t failures just stepping stones to your #dharma.
Be grounded enough to live with purpose and intentionality. Be creative enough to open yourself to the Universe. Build solid roots from which you can touch the sky. In fact, building roots takes time, focus and connection. It means knowing who you are, understanding where you’ve come from, and seeing your purpose in the world.
But once you trust the yourself and the Universe, finding balance between your roots and the skies may possibly reveal the key to living your best life!
It’s okay to need time and space. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong, or that we don’t enjoy the people in our lives.
In order to achieve a state of yoga, one must develop both practice and detachment.
—Yoga Sutra I.12
When we detach, creating space, it’s simply that we need to re-align with ourselves, whether by reading, practicing yoga, dancing, appreciating nature or meditating, to better be able to embrace the world.
Are you attached to being seen?
That’s a funny question, and maybe has an obvious answer when asked on Instagram, right? That’s the whole premise of IG. Many of us or those we follow on IG post happy, photoshopped, artistically created, or professionally taken photos of lives, food, and activities that 95% of the time are just for the sole purpose to be seen.
Maybe that’s exactly your goal—to be IG-famous, to be an influencer, or to make it to the cover of Yoga Journal. But what’s behind that delectable stack of pancakes you had for breakfast or that challenging yoga pose you did on a boulder or those perfectly pedicured toes poolside on vacation in Bali? Did the right filter and snappy status-update project an image of a life far better than the one you authentically experienced?
Narratives (or “stories”) and creating images and video has shifted from simply sharing to performing. Have you found yourself working to create something interesting solely for your online audience, directing your actions towards the camera rather than authentically being in the moment? Then ask yourself this: Does your attachment to be seen show up somewhere else in your life? It’s interesting that our outer world often reflects our inner world. 🤔
There’s a delicate balance between performance, becoming yourself and being present. Performance in everyday life can take you away from your mundane context in a way that can offer up the image of you, but not the REAL you.
I bring this up only because I am guilty of this and am in no way judging others.
For myself, I noticed this more since taking a break from teaching which, in turn, put my usual posed yoga photos and inspirational or clever content on break as well. A few days ago, I said to Don, its been a while since I’ve put out a “yoga post.” Then I inadvertently pressured myself to create content so I could remain relevant and continue to be “seen.”
All this time, it was never my intent to be an influencer or a future yoga cover model. I just wanted to share my thoughts with, of course, a pretty or creative photo or video that pulled you in…so I could be SEEN.
But all you see is the outside. You get the narrative I want you to see or hear.
In yoga, specifically, in Vedantic philosophy, there are five #koshas or layers of our body that provide a framework for conceptualizing ourselves. In a way, this desire to be seen reveals just your first outer, physical layer—the Annamaya Kosha. This first layer represents your physical body (skin, muscles, bones, etc) but for a lot of people this first layer is where we spend the most time hanging out, locked in our physical senses—what we show to the world. Maybe even what feeds our ego. Or gets us lots of “likes” or followers.
Yoga helps us to create a track towards the deeper, subsequent and subtle kosha layers so they’re easier to access.
- Pranayama Kosha – Breath
- Manomaya Kosha – Mind
- Viyanamaya Kosha – Wisdom
- Anandamaya Kosha – Bliss
Asana prepares our body, yogic breathing draws you into the pranic body, and lastly, wisdom and philosophy provide tools to calm the fluctuations in the mind so that you can embody a state of bliss and liberation.
Obviously my deep thoughts on this aren’t going to change any of my future yoga posts. I’ll continue posting posts and content with no other intent but to share, inspire and guide. More importantly, I choose to be seen and share narratives that reveal my true self and not one created nor performed. And, who knows, maybe my posts assist you in tapping into your own koshas like they do for me.
In the meantime, enjoy this asana I did on a tree. Oh the irony.
Those aren’t marks of sweat next to my wrinkly foot…those are tears. 😥 The movers came yesterday so this morning I woke up knowing I had to practice in my empty living room that was once full of boxes and chaos.
I cranked up the music (@djtazrashid of course…shameless plug😜) so it echoed loudly in the emptiness of the house. I set my #sankulpa (#intention) of immense #gratitude and began practicing.
I could feel my first few movements unraveling stiffness and stress that’s been built up over the past few weeks. Then all of a sudden, I began connecting to my gratitude intention for our house and instead of hearing the music, I could hear many sounds of our family’s and friend’s laughter, conversations, and even arguments we’ve had in this home of 22 years.
That’s when the tears came. And when I looked down at them on my mat, I read the tattoo on my left foot “Love the life you live” and I have, in fact, loved the life I’ve lived in this home. I’ve loved every joy, every pain, every change, every growth, every laugh, every tear.
Thank you, home, for holding space for so much of our life. Although this transitional period is bittersweet and the next chapter our our lives is around the corner, I will embrace these last days fully present with where I am, where I’ve been and whom I’m with because I’m incredibly grateful for living a life I am in love with.🙏🏼🕉💜
In Yoga Sutra 2.33, author Nischala Joy Devi loosely translates this as “When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude. This is pratipaksha bhavana.” .
Life comes with so many frustrations and challenges. How often does someone or some incident disturb your calm? Many of us naturally let our emotions take control and we most likely react in an unfavorable manner. Pratipaksha Bhavana is a simple way to redirect our minds toward calm and our hearts toward love. Simply change the story. Change your mind. Change your attitude. React from a place of compassion. .
Turn fear into opportunity. Turn challenges into blessings. Turn pain into joy. Use whatever you can inside and around you to reframe where you are in life. Barriers will always present themselves in ways we may not expect. But if we train the system to be ok with those times, thrive within them, and grow from them, you will discover that you are much stronger and more capable than you could ever imagine. Find your best self.
In order to learn and grow, we must commit to the practice—no matter what you practice. Yoga. Music lessons. Martial Arts. LIFE.
Once you choose to fully commit to the journey and trust in the process, the results show. And it’s not about developing a talent. It’s about developing a skill.
For me, practicing yoga has taught me how to skillfully walk through life with compassion and patience. There are many life moments that challenge me and my reactions, but Life, as in yoga, is a constant, committed practice for me to live my best self.
A couple weeks ago my dharma talk was about the #yama, #Ahimsa. To remind people to act, think & speak from a place of #love and #kindness, every student in all my classes that week got a #BeKind @bekindchicagoland pin from me.
The idea is when you wear the pin if someone comments on the pin, liking it, you give them your pin. Thus, spreading kindness. Another way to share the pin is if you see an act of love & kindness, give that person the pin.
Since then, I’ve asked my students if they still had their pins. The results were interesting: 1) Some students liked their pin so much that they didn’t give it out, 2) No one commented on their pin even if they tried to make the pin obvious on their lapel, 3) No one saw an act of kindness.
Each result is quite telling, isn’t it? 1) We either are protective of ourselves or what we have that we don’t want to give anything out. 2) People just don’t communicate with each other anymore. And 3) People are not as kind anymore. All of this is quite sad, don’t you think?
I recently read, “The smallest gesture can bring a smile to light the shadow of an unpleasant situation or remove tension from a difficult task, but its effects can echo and extend far beyond the moment…Kindness expands the light within us and reaches out to touch the light in others as well, giving us all a glimpse of the glow that has the power to enlighten our world.”
Being kind is so simple, folks. You don’t need a pin to be kind and loving. Just spread the light.
Whenever I want to feel stable and at peace, I connect with my inner light, or #jyoti. The #yogasutras teach us that this inner light frees us from darkness and suffering and, in turn, shines our way towards our strong, inner Self.
“Listen to your inner light. It will guide you. Listen to the inner peace. It will feed you. Listen to the inner love. It will transform you.”—Sri Chinmoy
Ever get stuck between a rock and hard place? When you do, it’s like no matter what, no matter what options, the outcome of your decision might not be quite desirable.
Recently, I was guiding a friend through a challenging decision. She felt that no matter which way she turned, it was “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” She felt defeated and frustrated.
Sometimes when faced with situations like that, it helps to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. List out the pros and cons to weigh out the consequences.
During that reflection, also take a better look at your moral compass. What serves you best? What is in line with your core values?
Still can’t find the right answers? Try meditating upon your Third Eye Chakra, the Ajna Chakra, to open your mind, find more clarity and connect with your inner wisdom.