Be yourself. You serve the world most brilliantly by simply being yourself.
My teacher approached me one day. He said, “When I wake up in the morning, I lay in bed and be very still. Then I think of the hard questions that I have and get all the answers.”
His description of a morning meditation was amazingly simple, and so concise. I was in awe of his capacity to be present in the gossamer fine moments between sleeping and waking. In that moment it was apparent to me why he is the Guru.
Then, I finished packing his lunch, reminded him to get his jacket on, and hustled him out the door to get to school on time.
Here are a few more quotable quotes by my fearless Guru.
Mom: “Why do we bother to clean the toilets, mop the floors, or wash our clothes?”
7-year old Guru: “So our house can be clean.”
Mom: “Yeah, but what’s the point in having a clean house?”
7-year old Guru: “So we can be comfortable.”
“How to make lemonade
Get a large pitcher.
have a cup of water.
8 lemons cut in half.
2 half meshering cups of
sagar. put all items in
pitcher. mix all items.
Serve to your friends.”
“The toilets at the airport suck! They flush right in the middle of my privacy.”
7-year old Guru: “I think I have a cold.”
Mom: “You do? How do you know?”
7-year old Guru: “I was sneezing and sneezing. I think my bacteria is broken.”
“Ghosts taste like anti-plasm.”
“Hey! My name is Flash-Ninjakid!”
As humans we become habituated to certain things within our environment, social structure, and interpersonal relationships. As a direct result of this, we develop certain boundaries around our experience of enjoyment and satisfaction; these are called preferences. So the human prerogative to choose amongst our preferences, in many cases, is equivalent to the human prerogative to choose amongst our fetters. In the yogic understanding these preferences can be experienced in two forms; Raga: likes and Dvesha: dislikes.
According to Swami Sivananda:
“Raga-Dvesha in the mind is the real Karma. It is the original action. When the mind is set in motion or vibration through the currents of Raga-Dvesha, real Karmas begin. Real Karma originates from Sankalpas (desire) of the mind. It is the actions of the mind that are truly termed Karmas. External actions manifest later on. It is desire that sets the mind in motion. When there is a desire, Raga and Dvesha exist side by side in the mind. Desire is a motive force. Emotions and impulses co-exist with desire.”
Take, for example, the case of thirst. If you have the habit of drinking soda when you are thirsty, the brain habituates to the soda, creating a preference for soda. Then, when you experience a feeling of thirst, you will more than likely reach for a soda instead of an alternative. Consequently, when soda is unavailable, forcing you to choose a less preferable alternative, dissatisfaction occurs. Essentially, the habit has limited your capacity to enjoy.
So, we learn how to enjoy life through our habits; binding ourselves through repetition and precedent. We derive a sense of satisfaction and a feeling of security from indulging our “likes” and rejecting our “dislikes”. Unfortunately, this indulgence only provides us with a “sense” of satisfaction and a “feeling” of security. And, as Swami Sivananda so aptly points out, this process is deeply interwoven with our emotions and impulses. Therefore, the indulgence of raga (likes) presumes the presence of fear and anger. This, because in the absence of the object of our desire, we are bound to become angry and dreadfully fearful of being without.
So, although it is not immediately obvious, detachment from our creature comforts, our status symbols, and our expectations of others is a more direct route to a truly enjoyable and satisfying life. Furthermore, and most fortunately, we never have to try to detach ourselves from anything. Trying to detach doesn't work and can, in fact, be counterproductive. Instead, focusing our attention in this moment on gratitude, abundance, and love will attract those same qualities to us. Where your attention goes, your energy flows. And the more you do it, the more you'll do it.
For more information on how to implement this process, come to a yoga class with Heather Promise.
Remembering my Teacher
You whispered into my ears, made for hearing your voice.
I recognized you immediately.
You gazed into my eyes, made for seeing your face.
I felt your light in my heart.
You poured into my mind, made for knowing you.
I surrendered to the fullness.
You reached into my past, made for meeting you.
I gave up all that came before.
You slipped into my life, made for holding you.
I opened up to the touch.
You slipped out of my life, made for holding you.
I learn to let go.
The fountain of youth flows through an expanded mind.
Wherever there is space, there is expansion. You can see it happening in every direction, not only in the natural sense (trees growing, rose buds blooming, the deltas of every river), but also in the ways that humans interact with their environments. For example, a skyscraper expands into upper space, and a metropolis sprawls into suburban space. A man occupies some space on the moon. And with each expansion into a new space, a new perspective emerges.
So, what happens then, when you look inside? The space of the mind, internal space, is as vast and as potent as, what we call “outer space”. And just like “outer space”, the more we explore internal space, the more capable we are of seeing a new perspective of our world. Fortunately for us, we were born with all the equipment required to access the deep space of the mind. And it is free.
Energy emerges in space. For example, in clearing a corner of the kitchen, energy emerges, often in the form of a lovely, nutritious meal. Stretching and clearing space within the body (joints, muscles, organs) results in the emergence of energy in the form of more range, comfort, and good general health (and also more “energy”). Furthermore, when we shed the extraneous layers of mental “stuff” (anxieties, stressors, old conversations, dilemmas, etc.) and clear the mind-space, energy emerges in the form of a new, unlimited perspective.
An expanded mind is more capable of rich experience, more receptive of life’s possibilities, and more imaginative. An expanded mind is a marker of youth.
Get comfortable and close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths through the nose and relax.
Affix your gaze (under closed eyelids) as if to see beyond your thoughts into vast and empty space. Whenever a thought or pattern of thoughts disrupts your view, push past those thoughts and look more deeply into the vacuum of the mind.
This technique cannot be performed incorrectly. Therefore, let go of any expectations, moving beyond even those thoughts into the spacious, unlimited mind.
Heather Promise is a perpetual scholar whose commitment to yoga is the guiding force in her personal, professional, and academic pursuits. Her dedication to yoga has spanned the last 15-years, and she has been teaching for nine of those years.