Established in the Self

Coming off our 300 hour YTT and Bhakti Yoga Cultural Immersion in India, we are left with several potent realizations and lessons. Chief among them is the importance of monitoring what mantras, or repetitive thoughts and sentiments, we allow and repeat in our minds. Are you criticizing, finding fault, indulging in resentment? To take notice and replace toxic mantras and thought patterns with gratitude, tolerance, and appreciation is to chart the path towards the true Self.

Raghunath drew the parallel between a luxury building with a doorman and our minds. A doorman is there to screen who is allowed in to protect the residents of the building. Similarly, we would be wise to set up a screening process of what we allow into our minds; for over time, our thoughts surely create our external reality. This screening process can be difficult if we are conditioned to place ourselves in the center, to see the world as either a place that satisfies our desires or thwarts our attempts at control and enjoyment. Duality is a tough reality of the material world and material thinking. However transcending pain and pleasure, happiness and distress is the central result of a steady yoga practice. This is the process of flipping a dualistic, self-serving world view in order to place unity, divinity, and higher principles at the center, relocating ourselves as servants of this center. 

This practice is a powerful tool in creating a clear headspace, something which is required to attain that oft-elusive state of even-mindedness lacking in our culture today. From that clear mind, we can truly begin to appreciate the eternal self residing in the heart, and live from that place. 

This month, practice cleansing the blocks to a steady connection to your true self. Notice the thought patterns that promote selfishness and encourage thoughts and actions that place service and tolerance at the center. 

by Alexandra Moga

The Other Person Is You

"We are all connected" a concept that rolls off the tongue with ease, almost as an afterthought. But if you pause to deeply meditate on this truth, you may find that the degrees of separation inevitably circle back to you. 

Every habit fostered in our lives creates an effect on the energetic frequencies we emanate and on the inner space from which we move on a daily basis. Have you ever felt another person's "vibes" to be dissonant? That feelings is an opportunity for us to turn within, and recognize the edges within ourselves which are activated or perhaps still unpolished. 

When we turn to the sacred literature of the Vedas, we can understand this point from a place of compassion and kindness. Recognizing the other person is you awakens consciousness of a unifying force, of a spark that is alive and seeking the same thing, no matter the body. 

The fifth chapter of Bhagavad Gita states:

5.18 - The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].

The purport of this verse as written by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami: "A Krishna {God} conscious person does not make any distinction between species or castes. The brāhmaṇa {priestly class} and the outcaste may be different from the social point of view, or a dog, a cow, or an elephant may be different from the point of view of species, but these differences of body are meaningless from the viewpoint of a learned transcendentalist. This is due to their relationship to the Supreme, for the Supreme Lord, by His plenary portion as Paramātmā {the Supersoul or universal consciousness}, is present in everyone's heart. Such an understanding of the Supreme is real knowledge. As far as the bodies are concerned in different castes or different species of life, the Lord is equally kind to everyone because He treats every living being as a friend yet maintains Himself as Paramātmā regardless of the circumstances of the living entities. The Lord as Paramātmā is present both in the outcaste and in the brāhmaṇa, although the body of a brāhmaṇa and that of an outcaste are not the same. The bodies are material productions of different modes of material nature, but the soul and the Supersoul within the body are of the same spiritual quality. The similarity in the quality of the soul and the Supersoul, however, does not make them equal in quantity, for the individual soul is present only in that particular body, whereas the Paramātmā is present in each and every body. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person has full knowledge of this, and therefore he is truly learned and has equal vision. The similar characteristics of the soul and Supersoul are that they are both conscious, eternal and blissful. But the difference is that the individual soul is conscious within the limited jurisdiction of the body, whereas the Supersoul is conscious of all bodies. The Supersoul is present in all bodies without distinction."

In essence, if we haven't created a space to recognize, appreciate, honor and accept our own shortcomings, our own 'darkness', then it is nearly guaranteed that upon seeing it 'out there' in another person, we will be short on the understanding needed to overcome the inherent difficulties of relationships. 

But when we strengthen our resolve to approach ourselves with understanding and patience, and with an ear for spirit, we create the space to accept others in that same mood, tolerating difficulties with the equal vision of compassion, viewing all beings as parts of the spiritual source from which we emanate. This month, notice what upsets, annoys, or causes the mind to create a 'me vs them' assessment. And then approach that attitude within yourself with a humble request that you may find compassion and unity - spiritual strength - where once dissonance rang. 

by Alexandra Moga

Focus of the Month: Humility // Gratitude

At this point in our evolution as a collective world family, extremities are more and more apparent. It seems like every day there are more and more outrageous incidents; extreme weather, natural devastation, lapses of humanity, compassion, and intelligence. Although there are more conscious communities forming and living based on higher principles, we can't seem to escape the opposite; much re-balancing and healing is needed. 

The path of yoga offers one of the most powerful and sustainable solutions to the material problems of our time. We cannot stop the forward movement of technology and information, but we can adjust our capacity to navigate this strange new world by maintaining a strong connection to the eternal reservoir of clarity, hope, and love that yoga offers.  

The principles of humility and gratitude go hand in hand, and are the basis by which we can truly learn and transform not only ourselves, but our interactions, our families and communities, and the world at large.

Humility creates space between the false ego and the receptive mind, or the witness. To be humble means to recognize that every being deserves to thrive and experience the same joy, support, and understanding we ourselves seek. Furthermore, humility inspires us to be of service to that end. Humility does not require a credential, reason, or material worthiness, although the ego certainly seeks these things as a justification to hear or acknowledge another. In short, humility puts the impulses of the mind on hold to allow for the truth to be heard.

With a consistent yoga practice, our mind and entire being becomes more and more sensitized to this truth. Yoga, union, invites awakening, and gratitude is a natural response to awakening. Gratitude puts our efforts in perspective, placing our journey along the continuum of our ancestors' journey, our teachers' efforts, and the journeys of our fellow students, friends, and neighbors. 

Gratitude opens us up to receive more blessings. And humility extends our blessings out to others, to share what we've been given because we can see that the best things in life don't belong to anyone, they belong to everyone.

This month, we encourage you to reach beyond your comfort zone and seek out ways of honoring and thanking the people and incidents in your life. Listen with an ear that does not know. Give with a heart that does not fear. And trust. Trust that to practice humility and gratitude is to open yourself up to the healing and transformation the soul is alway seeking.  

by Alexandra Moga