Thoughts & Musings by Emily Longfellow
How do you know you are confronting a classic “hinderance on your spiritual path? Just ask yourself: Am I losing my sense of balance, my sense of priorities, and my sense of what’s really important? Am I being carried away by temporary reactions, by destructive emotions? That’s what challenges do; they obstruct your insight and prevent you from seeing things as they really are. They stand between you and the calm clear awareness of the enlightened mind.
I love this passage by Lama Surya Das, because in life we are always on one path or another. The path to the bank, to your kids recital, to that new job or down the aisle… How do we as humans have so many roles, and not fall prey to being reactive when you get cut off; or when your kids throw a fit and don’t eat the amazing dinner you prepared for them. How do we get our heart broken and forgive? How do we stay steady when our life can be so unsettling it feels like the ground is moving and going to swallow us whole. All of these questions are answered through practice. Just like you practice Medicine or Law, Gardening or cooking you also have to practice discernment. This awareness regulates and guides you through the temptation to lose your peace, and supports you so you don’t make reactive short term choices.
When we decide to practice yoga, meditation, or any mindbody endeavor we are asking ourselves to be present. This is a challenge because of how future and past-based we can all be. Once we settle into the present moment this gives us the skills to chose what is not only right for us in the now, but to ultimately move through our future challenges with more grace and ease. This is time well spent in my opinion, because this is a positive way to nourish your soul. We’ve all heard the expression a “Lost Soul.” I think this stems from not knowing what you want, so you pick what you think others would like for you to have, or what’s safe or even easy. If we don’t spend time pondering who we are to ourselves, and we spend all of our time thinking about who we are to the world. This way of thinking and living is a great disservice to all involved. So as you sit with “you”, which involves no titles, bank accounts, cars, houses, or any of the accolades that you rely on in polite company at a dinner party, to let the world know how fabulous you truly are. This is just “you” stripped away down to the skivvies of your soul. So I ask you, how is it in your soul space? Do you like you? Can you break into a smile? This is something I’ve been dealing with due to some of my life challenges, and all of the changes I’m going through. I remember the morning I woke up after a traumatic event, and I smiled. Not because someone gave me love, or promises, or because of some success; but because I woke up and my soul felt the storm had passed, and it was time to smile again.
It’s in there, even if you are feeling a little lost. So now I’m going to share some things that have helped me to reconnect with my souls desire, and help set the tone for our practice this week. Let’s not separate our spiritual path from all of the other paths we travel on. This is the true mark of a Yogi, the time when your practice and life blend together and you look through the lens of life from all of the same angles you look through your practice. Even when something happens, you pause and chose breath over being reactivity, you also honor your values and stay true; and take space when necessary from people that are toxic to your health or otherwise.
So let’s get started, I would like for you to make a list: Please answer the questions from the passage as honestly as you can. As my teacher says, “Don’t think, just write so it comes from your heart.”
Am I losing a sense of balance, my sense of priorities, my sense of what’s really important? I’ll give you some examples; sleep, family, friends, work, health; are you experiencing any turbulence in these realms of your life? Now write what comes up, don’t judge it, just let it flow. You're getting answers from your subconscious and that’s gold in the world of yoga.
Am I being carried away by temporary reactions, or by temporary emotions?
ex: are you having a lot of ups and downs, and not handling them very well? Are you shutting down when something happens, and do you have unhealthy coping mechanisms? Are you having disputes and conflicts with people in your life?
3) Now you have some insight, so what on the mat or off the mat adjustments do you need to make? Now that you are aware of your hindrances, how will you move forward and let go of destructive patterns? What can you shift in your actions to hold space for your precious spirit to thrive. Lastly what would your list look like if your path were clear? That’s the part I want you to take away and bring into your consiousness, and repeat like a mantra; this will weed out all of the negativity and put you on the path to fulfillment.
The insight is for you to unpack what’s taking you off your path, and distracting you from fulfilling your true purpose or your dharma. You have some great work to do this week. For those of you on the Vimana teachers page beyond the blog, I can’t wait to see how you all share this work with your students and how it impacts you personally. Please feel free to email me with questions or if you want to share how this work has supported you. Who knows I may include your ideas and insights, with full credit in one of my future blogs.