Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tapasya...

Tapas, or tapasya as named above, is not mere physical austerity, self-mortification, voluntary suffering or other such stereotypes; it is enkindling the firs within. In tapas we engage our energies by reducing all unnecessary activities. It is the natural restraint of turning one's energies within, creating a space for stillness to work its inner yoga magic of transformation.

This paragraph I just read in the book Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess by Shambavi Chopra got me to thinking a lot.

I know we in yoga, especially in the asana oriented cultures of yoga popular in the west, think of tapas as DOING something. Not doing nothing. And it is doing something, but within that something doing nothing else. Make sense?

No? Okay. Well say as an austerity I'm sitting and chanting a mantra 1008 times (which I do every evening) and while I'm doing that I get restless and look around, think of other things, or start doing something else. Then am I doing tapas by this definition? No, I'm not. Doing tapas within this context would be when the urge comes up to think about something, noticing that, and then going back to focusing on the mantra. Or doing something else, no, don't do it, just stop, sit and chant and allow that heat building up because of the frustration from doing the same thing over and over again just burn through your ego, through your karmas, through your samskaras even maybe.

Tapas can be anything, such as holding one arm in the air and when the urge to bring it down comes you still don't bring it down, that's tapas. But that's also self-mortification, which by the above is not necessary. And I agree, it's not necessary to take an austerity to that extreme.

Our asana practice can be a tapas. So when the urge comes to look at your phone, or take a short break just sitting and taking extra breaths, or thinking about what's for lunch, or just anything piddling around, you notice it and then bring yourself back to the practice, to the drishti if need be. To the posture, or where the tongue is, but not giving into that urge can be tapas. It can also not be, there is a fine line. But the idea being to turn it back inwardly rather than allowing the focus to stay outside is the goal. Then it becomes tapas and creates the burning that can take care of those sammskaras, karmas or even body fat sometimes! lol

I read in this way, no, stay with it, let it burn through you. It may seem crazy but it works for me. I love the learning curve I'm going through right now. That's why I picked up the above mentioned book again even though I've read it a thousand times, I read this whole chapter not just the paragraph I quoted above, and it is now growing fruit, so it was worth it.

Anyhow, time to figure out lunch, so I'll talk to you next time I have something come up that can't not come out...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lots...

There's lots going on on the planet, do you feel it? I do, and I think it's taking it's toll on me. I wish I was less sensitive sometimes, but then when I think of the loss of all the things I would be aware of I decide, no, I'm fine where I am.

It's just hard. And no, I'm not whining, just stating that I'm in a state of overwhelment much of the time these past few weeks. Today being my day off asana practice makes it especially hard, and this whole week having a new moon and screwing up some other practice days didn't help either.

I'm finding more and more of what I want and what I do not want in my life and it's interesting to see. As I grow to know more about myself and how what I know about myself can translate into how I teach, or even what I have to offer others and how they respond to it, use it, integrate it into their lives, is all for sure interesting to note.

I feel less and less like I know anything, or have anything to share and just when I'm feeling this is when people resonate more. I felt all head strong and ready when I got here and very few students were coming. Now I'm feeling like nothing, like I know nothing and like I am not sure what I have to offer and all of a sudden three weeks into my teaching here and now people are coming.

Just goes to show you, you never know. People sometimes resonate more with the not knowing than with the thinking you know it all. What a crazy time this is in, in the world as much as in each individual life.

Talk to anyone and we're all going through some dramatic times and some strong emotional times of learning and integration. How will we use these things in our own personal lives as we move forward is the key thing. Most hear and hear but do not listen and begin to use the tools people give them. Myself included.

Now is the time to listen, not just outwardly but to use the outward listening to learn how to listen inwardly. What does the deepest part of our being feel, want and need in order to keep feeling connected? It can tell us if we are open to receiving the information, allowing it to permeate our being and move forward from there...

Are you doing this? Am I doing this? Not always, but as often as I can I am. But you have to answer for yourself. Are you going through it blindly, and winging it? If so that's fine, but you can choose to start listening to your feelings and let them guide you, using your intellect to help you discern.

It's good, it's all good. Don't be hard on yourself, and I'll do my best not to be hard on myself too and just lean into life more. Lean into the dark, to the light, to the happy, to the sad, to whatever comes up and let it tell me what it tells me. Will you join me?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Support...

I just watched a trailer for a movie coming out next month called "Boy Erased." Then I watched an interview with a few of the cast members, it's about a boy coming out to his parents and the father being a pastor sent him to conversion therapy camp. Often these camps use abuse, starvation and punishments as part of the "therapy" and should be abolished. The film has an uplifting message from what I saw about it, in the end anyway, and so can bring hope to those in the same situation.Not only this but with all the negative crap out there on social media these days. Well, not only there but that's the only outlet I have to news since I do not watch the news, but with Trump and all the stuff going on in almost every country these days it seems there is no shortage of "bad" news to be seen and heard, so I wanted to write something positive.

I have to say that in my life I have had the good karma to be a receiver of much privilege. Now I know I'm a white male, so I automatically have that privilege going on, but also my family is wonderful and my friends have always been wonderful and supportive as well.

This is why I titled this entry Support. So just to give a few short examples...

My mother. She has always been someone I've been close to, now in proximity we are not anymore but still in our hearts we are. When I came out to her finally, after her asking me and me lying about it and then her asking me again years later and I was honest, she did not receive it well. But after some years she wrote me a great note and mailed it to me, yes, this is what we did back then, exclaiming her love and support for me. She always encouraged me to be who I was and sometimes even thought maybe begrudgingly accepted it. There are too many instances to site so I'll just mention one, when I was leaving the U.S. and I had told her when I was still in India in February of 2016 that I would come home for the summer and but once I left again for India in the fall that I would not be coming back. So all summer we, not just she and I but also my sister and her family as well, spent much more time together than we normally would have. Then the day I was leaving she drove me to the airport and when she picked me up in the morning it was just she and I she said "well, I hate this, that you're leaving and I won't have easy access to seeing you anymore, but I'm glad that you're still doing it and following your heart." That is the kind of support one cannot usually count on, and I appreciate it.

Not just her, but all my friends that I made over the years. Even when I became Sikh and was living in the midwest, wearing a turban and sporting a 16 inch beard, and even when I just began the path they all made the effort to call me by my new name and go out in public with me. And trust me, going out in public in the midwest with a guy in a turban can get tomatoes or worse thrown at you, but they stood by me all the way.

These are just two examples, but there are many more I could share and am proud to have had these experiences. Not all in my life have been positive, but what we could label negative experiences can also be guidance to lead us to better places within ourselves and within our lives and interactions with others.

So there is not only bad stuff going on out there in the world, there is amazing stuff too. And even some of the bad stuff if viewed from a different perspective can possibly lead you to a new and more amazing place in your being, then in your life, so don't judge them too quickly. Look and say, "how can I see this from a different angle...?"

Monday, October 1, 2018

Transmutation...

Oddly enough I just looked and my last post was written right in the exact spot I'm sitting right now, in my apartment at Santosha Yoga here in Germany. I had so much I wanted to write in Mysore but my laptop would not connect to the wifi for some reason for almost the whole time there, which also means I didn't get to watch any Netflix or anything else either, except on my phone and watching that small screen makes my eyes hurt.

So I had a great time there during my month practicing at the shala, not my practice mind you, it wasn't so great and there were no physical breakthroughs but assisting Sharath was great and I hope to do it again.

Not only that but not having access to write everything down and get it out kind of forced me to process stuff and I feel I had a radical shift while I was there, within. So I may not write so much down anymore, as far as processing. Probably ideas and such I still will, but most of what needs to be transmuted I'll keep within, that's where the real growth happens anyway...

And there is that word, transmute. Or as I labeled this entry, transmutation. What does that mean?

To me it makes me think of the alchemists, who would change lead into gold, or coal into a diamond, stuff like that. But really it's not about the physical transmutation of any substance into another. It's more about the inner transmutation of feelings or memories or emotions into something else, something that serves you much more than whatever it was is.

So as I feel something one might label negative, then I'll embrace it, feel it, wonder where it came from. Figure it out, and then slowly make it into something beneficial, a feeling that inspires me or a movement in my consciousness that helps me move forward into the future and grow and expand. Change my ideas of things, or embrace that my ideas are just that, ideas, so to also embrace that everyone has these and they are all valid for each of us. Embracing the dark, the light, all of it and making peace with it, even becoming happy with it.

These transformations also affect our chemical balance and can shift it for the better or for the worse. Not only that they can shift our neural network into something better, or worse. We are the ones who have to decide, no one else can do that for us.

How we feel about things is our choice. Lately I've become very neutral as the sutras say to cultivate. But it's nice because then external factors do not bother me so much and immediately affect my mood like they once used to. I can just sit with something, observe it and then become okay with it that way and not react or act on it unless it's needed.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect at this and I still am human and have my moments, just ask any of my friends, but it's nice that I'm finally affected less than I once was. This has helped my physical practice, my teaching, my interactions with friends, and my interactions with those who I don't know. Just in general it's a better place to be in.

When you have something bothering you, do you just leave it there and let it affect your whole day, or are you able to transform it into something more? Give it a try next time, don't act immediately on a feeling, just sit back and watch it a bit first and see where it goes, then try to make it beneficial for you and others. Not easy, but well worth the time it takes to train yourself to do this...

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Do we ever stop fucking up...?

I'm at the end of my time here in Germany again and was looking forward to getting to Mysore, getting settled back in my house, even looking forward to dealing with the registration line with Sharath, often it's not so bad and the anticipation can be a lot but I enjoy being in his company so am always ready for it.

So was at the dinner with the owners of the shala I come here to teach for and they presented me with the amount of money and a chart of how much I made from each thing and what it added up to and then that I'd drawn against it quite a bit and so the actual pay I received was not very much.

Now, I knew I was drawing against the pay. I tend to always do this since I just live on what I make as I make it and don't have a storehouse of money anywhere. But this time I'd fucked up and not paid attention to a point that now I cannot afford to pay for my practice time with Sharath and my rent and living expenses all together. So, what the hell to do? Of course as is usual for me I freaked out inside, tore myself a new asshole from the inside out (figuratively) because I always give myself money troubles but I haven't done that since I've been traveling and teaching the past few years. And now I've dug myself into a hole and not sure how to get out of it. Of course I'm being a bit dramatic and realised this this morning as I'm walking down the Ring Road here and seeing all the homeless sleeping on the street. I'm okay, and I know it, but how and why do I always do this to myself? But thankfully I talked to quite a few friends who are in Mysore right now who made me feel better about the possibilities that I'm still going to practice with him and it will all work out. Then I started seeing a brighter day ahead. Then I can't check into my first flight on the route back, but it checked me into the second flight. WTF?!? Why is this happening? Am I not supposed to go back to Mysore? Maybe I'm supposed to stay in Germany, learn German and just live here and teach. Sharath listed me in Germany on his KPJAYI list anyway, maybe that was prophetic? Hahahaha. Of course I don't think it's all this but my mind goes to the drama first. Now I'm calmed down about that.

Everything else all day seemed to go very wrong, even the man making my pizza down near the Dom couldn't get the pizza into the oven, it took 5 tries lol. Again, wtf?!?

When you seeing "wrong" then you keep seeing more wrong, not anything possibly right. So you have to take the time to shift your perceptions to a new angle and then look again at it. And probably this is just the universal mother testing me again to make sure I keep letting go and allowing the flow to happen. She knows what I want and the better way to get it to me than I could have imagined so she's able to do this, get me lined back up and able to receive the blessings she has waiting for me. At least that is the way I'll choose to look at this so I can keep myself in a good place, not go down the rabbit hole of doom and gloom.

So, next time you hear from me I'll be back in Mysore typing from my bed and we'll see how this all turned out. I can't sit and worry about it anymore or I'll go crazy, and no, I'm still not sure how it's all going to work out but to go back to what I've said in previous entries, I have a lot of faith and this time it took me hearing those exact words from a friend to get me to remember that I know I have a lot of faith and it always carries me through, when I allow it to!

See you soon, live and love your life!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Hungry...

Do you ever go through phases where you're just hungry for more?

For me right now that means more reading scriptures, more reading about Kali, then putting that into play in pooja, more pooja, more chanting, can't wait to practice my asanas each morning, more intensity, more heat, more.. just more everything!

Right now I'm sweating a lot, I'm reading a lot, I am chanting louder, I am using fire and water more than ever in my rituals, I am studying more, reading sutras from many different scriptures, seeing how they feel to me, putting them into play in my life, teaching and the teaching is more intense right now, enjoying that intensity more than ever. I just want all of it and to push it into me somehow.

I know this may sound ridiculous to some of you but this is the phase I'm in right now. I often go through this phase when I'm not in India because when I'm there things are automatically more intense so I don't have to work at it so much. I suppose I don't have to work at it so much now either, I'm just an intense person so it will likely always be this way with me.

I just read an article by someone I know from Mysore and her love of the intensity of practicing there and assisting there and all of it. I have applied to assist Sharath when I'm practicing with him in August and thought I'd have heard by now if I can or not, but if I don't before I register I will ask him then and hopefully be able to. I to love the idea of this type of intensity, learning and teaching and the circle of all of that.

I teach for a living, but I also learn from each student and from each situation. I think if I was not also open to learning, that I thought I knew it all already, then I would be a shitty teacher. And I don't think I'm a shitty teacher, but maybe I'll ask some of them, maybe I am a shitty teacher hahahaha!

As I go back to India very soon, I'll be there about 2 weeks early before I get to start practicing, and will be there again for the Guru Purnima celebration at the shala. I attended last year even though I was not practicing there and so hope I am able to again this year, and this year I have a kurta to wear to it. I imagine that those same days will be registration for classes since it's near to the end of the month this year. So that will begin the process for me.

But maybe since I"m already missing India so much again that I'm bringing the intensity now? I hope so and that I can maintain it without bursting into flames, or that it calms down before I go so I can get a bit of respite before it starts again!

This next few months looks to be intense already from a glance anyway, India now, practicing and hopefully assisting Sharath for a month, then traveling around to Kolkata, Assam, Varanasi, Uttarkashi, then back to Germany for another month intensive of teaching, then back to Goa for a month or so of practicing with Sharmila Desai again, then to assist Harmony at Purple Valley Yoga in Goa. And to top it off I'm working on booking things for next year already, which is new for me, and I've already got temple tours and things booked for when I arrive in Mysore in 2 weeks, and a couple people to do private lessons with and possible taking German lessons while there. Whoo......!

I think I'll survive though, when I'm in the intensity I grow and expand and become so much more than I ever thought I could be and I glow. I thrive in this state, so I'm glad to be here.

Life is an adventure and I'm very happy to be actively moving forward in it, rather than passively allowing it to whip me around as I was when I was younger.

Thank you!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Rebirthing oneself...

Do you ever feel stuck? Like stuck in a way that feels like something is squeezing you and all your shit is coming out, hopefully not literally but only figuratively? And you know things are coming to a head, but you just don't know what to do about it?

I've been feeling this way to a small degree since I was in St. Louis, but here in Germany since I kicked my practices all back into high gear it was feeling like the pressure was on. Pressure as in coal being squeezed into a diamond, not peer pressure or something like that. Although that can end up being the same thing often.

So yesterday I was reading my new book and then wrote in my journal, all in the morning before teaching (Saturdays is at 9am so I can get finished early with all my rituals and go have a chai and chill before instead of after class). I usually just write in stream of consciousness so I never know what will come out or where I will end up, and so I was doing this and came to conclusion from past impressions that at this time I am having another growth spurt. A period where all the work I've done and all the time I've spent on integrating it comes to a head and boom, it starts making sense, or its a big transition so it feels like a very large baby trying to fit through a very tight hole and oftentimes those holes rip or need an episiotomy so that the mothers vagina doesn't rip open. Either way a very painful process and we on the inside coming out feel as we'll we might be dying.

Dramatic I know, but I am dramatic so I'm not going to calm it down for this entry haha!

So, I've been drawn a lot over the past year to just let go of everything and live as a sadhu, throw my passport in the Ganga (and yes if you've known me for the past year it's likely I told you the story about the German guy in Rishikesh who did just this, and it inspired me so I use it often) and just going to be a wild man in the Himalayas. And now that I'm reading about all this folk tantra and how they do things in the villages as Goddess worshippers who believe in magic and those types of things I'm even more inspired and this wild man that lives inside me is wanting to come out.

Often lately I've also referred to this inner being as a big, fat lady. She likes to eat a lot and she is wild and living mostly naked and by her instincts and she is a magical creature that is magnificent. So whichever you want to think of it as, it's wanting out. And to deny this part of myself is to be blocking the flow of energy in me and in my life which is not something I want to do or enjoy doing when I end up allowing myself to do so.

Teaching here has been more magical and I feel like a sorcerer moving energy around the room and am enjoying it more than usual, but my physical body has been having limitations mostly due to my mental ideas of where I am in my practice. And then I remember last summer living in India and just giving up and not caring anymore, and then boom pasasana became easy all of a sudden and I was doing it easily for 4 months, even the 5th month when I came back to Germany and it was colder and raining I still had it mostly, until I got locked up in my mind with different ideas about how my body should be, then I lost it again and have not completely gotten it back again since. Now in two weeks I head back to India again and will be there a couple month before coming back to Germany so am working on letting these ideas go again. They are not serving me and in not serving me are restricting me from serving others more fully.

Since it's my mind that's doing it, the body is the same it gets more frustrating. And when frustrated there is more and more that builds up and becomes some"thing" rather than just staying a mental impression that should be easy to get rid of...

Anyhow, this is where I am. Once I realised this is what's happening the process seems to have exacerbated, which is cool because it means the new me will be here soon. And it won't be different than the old me, it'll just be a new thing integrated into my mental emotional impressions of existence and hopefully make me better for it. We'll see...lol