Rejoice In The Way Things Are

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MONDAY MANTRA: Rejoice in the way things are.

There is an important distinction between happiness and excitement. So often in life we think, if I only had this or that, I would be happy. The truth is that we already have everything we need to be happy.

Happiness comes from being connected to who we are. It is the byproduct of believing that everything is exactly as it should be. Good things happen, bad things happen. It all works together to teach us to appreciate the blessings in our life. When we are grateful, we feel happy.

Happiness is very different than excitement. Excitement is what we feel when when we achieve a goal, or receive something that we feel we are lacking, such as a new car, a promotion, an invitation to a party.

Unlike happiness, excitement is not sustainable, because it is dependent on circumstances. Happiness is only dependent on self-awareness. It is what we feel when see ourselves with clarity, and remember that we each serve an important, unique purpose in the world.

At our core, we all want the same things–to know that we are seen, that we are heard, and that we matter.  This is what makes us happy, and it’s not something that we can buy or be given. It lies in how we see the world.

When we believe that we already have everything we need to be happy within, the whole world belongs to us.

I Am Peace

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MONDAY MANTRA: I am peace.

December is, for many of us, the busiest time of year. Ironically, though, it is also the time of year that we talk most about peace on earth and goodwill to men. So, how do we reconcile the demands and extremes of the holidays, with our fundamental hope for peace?

By recognizing that peace is not something to wish for in the future. It is not some elusive ideal that we can only hope to achieve. Peace is a state of mind, a choice we make to practice ahimsa (non-violence) in every moment of every day.

Ahimsa is one of the highest values in the yogic practice. It is much further-reaching than physical non-violence. Ahimsa teaches us to refrain from negativity in all aspects of our life, including our actions, speech, and thoughts, about ourselves and others.

Every single one of us can be peace, by reminding ourselves that peace is a state of being. Any time it feels out of reach, use the mantra “I am peace” to remind yourself that peace is a who you are at your core. No matter how circumstances in life may change, peace is something that is always waiting within, ready to be revealed and shared with others.

The 7th Discipline of Yoga: Just Be

When I was in yoga teacher training, one of my classsmates, Charlie, became the Yoda to my Luke Skywalker.

At the time, he had been practicing yoga and veganism for 25 years, and I was still relatively new to yoga. We ate lunch together at Whole Foods, every other Saturday for five months. He saw potential in me, and I enjoyed his company.

We talked about his wife, my husband, our new dog, yoga, meditation, and food. Charlie was mild-mannered, and easy to tallk to. Most of the time. Every now and then, Charlie would ask a question that totally rocked my world. Forever.

Like the time he casually looked up from his salad, and asked me, “What is your life?”

My mind fumbled for an answer. I told him that my life was working at my marketing job, spending time with my husband, walking the dog, and practicing yoga.

Without flinching, Charlie said, “That’s your history. What is is your life?”

I could feel my face getting warmer, as I squirmed in my seat. I considered the question again, and finally told him that my life was about helping people heal, and becoming the best person I can be.

He looked at me through his soft gaze, and said, “No, Amber. Your life is not what you did yesterday, or what you hope to do tomorrow. Your life is what is happening now. Right here, at this table. Eating this food, talking to me, this is your life. You can’t change what happened yesterday, and you can’t control what will happen tomorrow. But you can command how you live in each moment. This is you living, right here, right now.”

It took me a couple of days to process what that meant, but once I did, it changed everything I believed about who I was. I realized that I had been clinging to the traumas of my past, and letting them define me.

Charlie’s question taught me that we are not really living, if we are preoccupied with what was, and what might be. It helped me cultivate awareness, and inspired me to seek that feeling of just being in my yoga practice. And the more I learned how to just be on my mat, the sweeter life became off my mat.

This is what the seventh limb of yoga, dhyana, is all about. Practicing the art of living in the moment. It is what happens in meditation, when we are no longer forcing our attention to a single point, and we are being without doing. Our minds are aware of what is happening, but we are not reacting to any of it. We are living in the now, and there is room for God to fill our mind, body and spirit.

The discipline of dhyana helps us live a more full life. It teaches us awareness, and cultivates gratitude. We learn to value stillness. It’s finally ok to just be. And we notice things we have not noticed in the past. The sky is bluer, the flowers smell sweeter, and we feel grateful for the day we have been given.

It is the most peaceful feeling we can experience, to be in the moment, but not of the moment. Thankfully, it doesn’t just have to happen on our yoga mat. We can practice dhyana all day long, by paying attention, and not reacting, to the world around us.

I’ll never forget Charlie’s face, and what a relief it was to realize that I had the power to change my story. By practicing dhayana on my mat, I learned what it means to really live.

What’s your story? Could dhyana make it different?

Namaste,

Amber

Caribbean yoga woman

photo: peacefulpose.com