November 8, 2013

What am I Practicing & Why? Mind the Seduction of the Mat.

‘Authenticity is a (daily) practice.’

Truer words have never been spoken. The practice component is enlivened whenever we’re acting authentically.

Sometimes keeping it real may result in creating turbulence along the way. Let’s face it, it’s virtually impossible to be consistently true to ourselves when we’re being led by our egos—that insidious nemesis of ours that left unexplored, holds the potency of (self) destruction.

Nowadays, my approach is simply this:

What is the most loving action I can take in any given situation—from the mundane to the extraordinary?

Within the yogic realm, the Sanskrit word ahimsa, which translates to non-violence, is way more encompassing than I’d ever paused long enough to give it credit for.

Whenever we experience harm, self-inflicted or otherwise, the desire to push this pain away from us is in essence an act of violence.

In the words of Elena Brower, ‘when we close our hearts off to those who have hurt us, no matter how brutal the pain we feel, the act of closing off our hearts is an act of self-violence.’ Even more so, I coin it: emotional mutilation.

Ostensibly, one can and will argue, what if you’ve been abused, raped, had a loved one murdered, experienced betrayal, etc.? Our pain is undeniably justified.

In the words of Marley, ‘who feels it knows it.’

Now here’s the rub, shutting off or numbing down kills any opportunity to feel. And as I continue to discover, it is only through feeling that we ultimately heal.

I had the honor to hear Marianne Williamson speak at the recent Yoga Journal Conference in Miami, Florida. So insightful was her wisdom and so powerful her presence that I spent virtually the entire evening while listening to her perched on the edge of my seat.

She said,

‘When you’re healed, you alone are not healed.’ (Read this several times until it resonates.)

Hmph… why would I want to heal the jerk that inflicted pain on me, one could easily question?

Understand that a key component to your own healing is also vested in the other.

As a yogini, whether I’m in front of a class guiding students or on the mat being guided or engaged in self practice, I’m contemplating, what am I practicing and why? Irrespective of the ‘role’ that I’m in, still, it is a part of my daily practice.

Being used as a vessel for service is one that I take very seriously. My internal responsibility is to ensure that in this process I don’t take myself too seriously. Ego check, ego check, ego check.

Being on a yoga mat is the ultimate seduction. We get caught up in the asanas and forget about their intention; to move us away from our physical selves and towards our integrated whole.

So, what am I practicing and why?

Straight up, I’m practicing love, for every person, situation and thing that I encounter. Why?

Love is all there is.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Painting and photo courtesy of Karen Arp-Sandel.}

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