Dear Friends of Holistic-Ways,
Over the past few weeks we explored the concept of mindfulness, in particular being mindful while eating and moving (Tai Chi and Earthing/Grounding). If you have not received one of the newsletters and would still like to learn about it, just let me know. Contact me and I will forward the previous newsletter your way again.
Today, I would like to explore a bit around the mindfulness in our yoga practice. In his book ‘Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra – The Ascent,’ Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati mentions already in the Preface: ‘Although we may not realize it, we are all slaves to our minds. Throughout the day we do whatever the mind directs us to do. If the mind is worried, we feel anxious; if it is happy, we are pleased; if it is envious, we are ridden with jealousy; if it is furious, we become violently angry. Is there ever a moment in our life when we put our foot down and say, No, I will not be angry, or happy, or vengeful?’
When I read this small paragraph I was thinking to myself that this is a wonderful journey we are on. It is certainly not a skill that I will master within the next few weeks or months or even years, BUT being on the journey alone has brought huge changes to my life. This quest to find and realize the self (ourselves) is manifold. What I can say with certainty though is that creating mindfulness and awareness around all aspects of my life has improved my nutrition, my relationships, my physical yoga practice, and of course, my spirituality. And, I know for sure that all of us who seek answers will find them.
Just this past weekend, I attended a 3-day workshop with the author Deborah Adele. She was lecturing about the Ethical Practice of Yoga. Her book ‘The Yamas & Niyamas’ explores in detail how we can enrich our daily contact with the ‘outer world’ through the practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess, and nonpossessiveness. It doesn’t stop there, however. We also need to look at our ‘inner world’ to complete the picture. This is done through the practice of purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and lastly surrender. Deborah has the gift to explain deep, meaningful content in a language that can be easily understood by all of us. Anecdotes enhance the book even more, which in combination makes it definitely a recommended read.
All that being said, we see that Yoga can not only bring us flexibility, strength, good posture, and balance but also (and I would almost say that’s the main focus of my personal practice) a connection between the body and the mind. When I attend my friend Caroline’s Hot Yoga class she asks us in the beginning to set our intentions for the upcoming 90 minutes. So often my mantra for the practice is ‘no fear’ and to keep the Ujjayi Breath going. You may be surprised about the ‘no fear’ aspect, but to me ‘no fear’ means more. It means not to be afraid to keep going (during the practice and our daily lives), not to be afraid to explore unknown territory, to dig deeper, to practice harder, to challenge the body and the mind into unfamiliar areas. ‘No fear’ gives me permission to move at my own pace without comparing my successes and failures to others around me.
Therefore, from today on, I wish you this ‘no fear’ attitude, which includes the curiosity to move forward, creating mindfulness in all areas along the way. This is the yogic way, but not solely, as Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati says: ‘In this quest one’s sex, nationality, class, creed, social status, dogma and religious beliefs hold no sway. […] Exploring the self, they say, is not a social, cultural or religious affair.
From my heart to yours,