Here we are marching forward into spring, and my last ditch effort at love… Well at least for this month. Our Vimana studios just underwent a unique challenge for the month of February. As many of you know ‘I love’ themes that expand our yoga practice and push us to grow beyond improving a specific pose. Particularly themes that will help us all not only tap into the body, they also unlock where we are blocked in the mind. It is always a fine line brining in just enough work to be productive, but not so much that we trigger a melt down. This month was a little risky as I challenged myself and my students to practice and meditate on love… I know it seems like that’s what everyone’s theme was, so what make this any different? This is what is expect with Valentine’s Day on everyone’s mind thanks to; the commercials, restaurants, and store fronts that were peddling the same product- LOVE!! Well class wasn’t as cliche as a box of chocolates- it was really about digging past this superficial ritual that pressures us into spending money, and being on love steroids.
I’m going to break this down so you can totally understand what happened, and why I couldn’t share the outcome with you until March. Our challenge was a little like an experiment, and just like all good science we had to see it through in order to honestly find out how this process, and practice sparked transformation. This is how our month started- I just asked the students what they love? It’s pretty simple, however I found the process hit cords, and asked all of us to stand in what we love, and not the illusion of what we think we should say. This is when I would ask the students to not try to direct their natural responses. Just observe what comes up? It’s in what comes up that we can truly experience where we are at- and what reality we are holding space for.
For 28 days every class while my students were sitting in a cross legged seat, child's pose, or standing. I would ask, “ what do you love?” I did have to simplify this a bit because this did start to trigger some of the students; it amusingly opened us up for some light yoga heckling, as well as moans and groans not generated by postural release… Not to worry- I have kids so I’m used to this kind of resistance and it only furthered my resolve to dig deeper. I know this theme can be particularly hard for those of us going through a divorce, or splits of any kind- including a falling out with someone you loved or had an important relationship with. This seems like it could be the worst possible theme to have to practice. Or is it? What do you love? Is It your husband or your wife that comes to mind- or your dog or cat? Is it ice cream, or your car - maybe your job, your parents, or maybe a place you visited? Maybe through this inquiry you realized you have a lot of love to go around- and maybe it goes beyond your mate or bestfriend. For most of us this seems simple; I love the people in my life, the places I’ve been, or some of the things I’ve acquired. Of course that’s what I love- it seems so cut and dry, so why am I wasting your time? This is where I come in with questions to get us thinking about how we behave, and where our energy is directed. What would happen if every time you step on the mat, much like an invocation you think about what you love? What would your practice look like if that love energy became your focus in King Dancer, and not how high your leg is lifting up? I know what your thinking, what about that gaga love that consumes you until you come to your senses- but until then it totally grabs your attention, and has nothing to do with focus… That kind of love is fun- however that’s not the kind of love I’m talking about in our meditation.
These are all of the concepts we tossed around- not for one night when we all sat down and had a romantic dinner together; no it was for 28 days!! And I will tell you there was a week when as much as I love love - I was over it! And I was not the only one… Here’s the thing- this is what helps to us to discern between real love, and the things that are getting our love attention. I had to ask if what you love- loves you? Yes, you may say my love gives me some kind of pleasure, but I wonder if it may also be the cause of your suffering?
On one of the first nights of this “MONTH OF LOVE” we were in class and my son just so happened to come in to get some brownie points, which equates to Xbox time. Now I’ve “saved the princess” in my day. Then once I did it ten times in a row- which was the record in my house I was miraculously cured of the distraction, and the magical world of video games wore off, and I found something else to do... These new games are no Mario Brothers, and from my perspective seem to have no ending. This made me realize if I don’t put a time limit on it, or make my son work for it, he may wake up one day and wonder where his childhood went? That’s a little extreme, however for us parents something we all have to be vigilant about if we want our kids to stay balanced, and experience all of the wonderment of just being a kid.
So here we are in class and I ask the question - What do you Love? I let the students ponder this for a few moments before I talk about the next piece to the practice. My son looks at me and without noticing that he’s standing in a room full of yogis says; “Mom it’s not Xbox, it’s something else.” The whole class takes stock in this physic connection- and it segways me into talking about how what we love may not be giving us love. It may be taking it if you don’t get your homework finished, or are late because you're giving your energy to FB, video games, or YouTube. Now these things can be nice as well, they can be a source of connecting with other people, and about voicing your public views so you feel like you are part of the discussion. I know a lot of people who rely on social media to feel seen and heard, particularly our younger generation. So I ask, how seen and heard are you really? They may be educational shows, or they may be totally for pleasure it’s part of our screened in society. So here’s the question, when you turn it off the screen; do you feel loved, do you feel more fullness from that experience, do you feel enriched? Or do you feel empty, behind, or not good enough? The latter is the growing consensus behind how some of these outlets are actually draining our vital energy and not showing us the love.
After class when my son was helping me clean the studio, very causally I asked if he felt comfortable telling me what he loved? He said, “the Ocean mom, I love the ocean.”
During class when the students had to dig deep, did their choice of what they love help them? Did it have their emotional back and remind them of why they were willing to work so hard. Not always, and that’s okay because we want to weed out what’s maybe robbing you of fulfillment and true love. Some people love their habits; they love their cigarettes, their beer, and wine, they love their donuts, or candy, or phone. Again- this is the inquiry, and I’m not saying never eat a chocolate donut again. I’m saying if we create a relationship with our habits that elicits a love like responses this is the base of addiction, and that road is very tricky to come back from. In my blog I always want you to come away with a little exercise that you can practice- here is the meditation on love we did for 28 Days.
**Now for the practice - At the end of class we did a seated Chakra clearing that didn't take more than three to five minutes. More importantly was the last piece and something I think everyone can connect with whether they just finished Alternate Nostril Breathing, or an asana class. Once the students were still I asked them to bring what they love into their heart center; and as they invoked that person, place, or thing or experience, into the center of the heart what did they notice? As you sit, the reality is if it’s something that you really love, and not something you are telling yourself that you should love it will invoke a sensation. I know I sound a little crazy- but try it and you will find that you feel, sense, or see a physical response in your chest. As you let this energy linger you should feel it swelling or building- this is tapping into your love energy and stoking the heart with the object of your affection. Often times our focus is on letting go, this experiences allows you to draw awareness and energy from the love sources in your life. Once you feel like your heart center is so full it’s going to burst- allow that energy to move beyond the heart and fill the rest of the body. Again allow yourself to feel, sense, or see what responses come from bringing love to your belly, pelvic floor, thighs, knees, hips, calf, ankles, and feet. Fill your back, neck, arms, elbows, forearms, wrist, and hands. Once you are full- then allow yourself to bask in a the love bath you’ve drawn. By tapping into the intention of love, your body and cells are now mimicking that vibration. This transformation allows you to fill yourself with LOVE!
Interestingly it was reminiscent of the feelings I have for my children when they were born, and the people I love the most. Now those sensations were brought on by the experience- the beauty here is that these potent experience can continue to fill us. The difference is now we are bringing natures natural responses to you in the form of a practice. All things in life take practice, and all new things lose their luster. Or do they? Maybe we just lose the ability to tap into that initial source that elicited such a visceral reaction in the beginning, and because of that we are always looking outside ourselves or for new experiences because we haven’t mastered the ability to generate from the inside out.
Now as you can see this meditation ended up being very potent. Class after class elicited this same visceral repose even when I changed up what I was directing my love energy too. At the same time it was pretty constant; My family ranked high, as well as yoga, the students and what The Vimana House holds space for. I tried on a few ideas just to see where my heart was at and found very little reaction, that was because It’s going to be hard to elicit that same potent love response from the things that you are not in balance with. Learning to not give all of your attention or love to some of the more superficial or temporary things in our life like; a video game, or show, or habit is very important. Now a powder day - that feels like it gives back, and sometimes cuddling watching a movie is just what you need. Or learning the balance of ritual to support your toasts, and how you bring substance and food into your life in a healthy sustainable way. Now that’s love!
Now that your feeling all warm and fuzzy and possibly feeling the love again, I want to share the final piece to this practice. My son struggles with staying on task, and although his teacher wouldn’t call it a mantra when we went in for our parent teacher conferences in the middle of the month- both of his teachers said the same thing; “If you could just FOCUS your school work could be amazing.” Yes they both kept coming back to focus. This is probably true for most ten year old boys with a lot of energy- and as I was thinking he would grow out of it something spectacular happened. My son, who in his previous quarter did a writing project that looked like mountains scribble across a page was able to write something. When we looked at his work and compared them- he had written a five paragraph paper, and it was good. I could read it and didn’t have to ask what a word was, and it made sense. Do you want to know what he wrote about? He wrote about the Ocean. He wrote about what he loved, and what he loved gave him the ability to focus and it made him successful. So it’s that simple - if you let what you love fuel you; you will find your focus, you will find your success, and you will find that because you love it so much, it’s not even that hard- it may even be easy. Let’s all meditate on what we love, and know that what we love is tied into our purpose- so when we give what we love energy it gives back. And this my beautiful yogis may be the true key to tapping into abundance.
Blessings on a life filled with more love!