It is important to make decisions from a place of balance, by taking a breath and checking in with heart and mind
Each of the myriad of decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation.
When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilise both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion. This is going to take practice, and is certainly true for me.
Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When you are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, you should understand all you can about the choice ahead of you before moving forward. If you do not come to the decision from a place of balance, you risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don't take your feelings into account. In bringing your thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, you ensure that you are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and you have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with your values and support your intuition.
Though some major decisions may oblige you to act and react quickly, most will allow you an abundance of time in which to mull over your choices. If you doubt your ability to approach your options in a balanced fashion, take an extended time-out before responding to the decision or have a chat with a trusted friend or counsellor. This will give you the interlude and additional perspective you need to make certain that your thoughts and feelings are in equilibrium. As you practice achieving balance, you will ultimately reach a state of mind in which you can easily make decisions that honour every aspect of the self.
Daily OM wisdom - love it, grateful
When we undermine our light by hiding our aptitudes and quashing our dreams, we deny ourselves and others a wealth of experiences
We are each born into this world with unique gifts. Within us is a glimmer of the divine, a light that can potentially make the world a more beautiful place. But in many, that light lies dormant, snuffed out by fears and feelings of inadequacy. To spark it is to attract attention, face the possibility of rejection or the responsibility of success, and risk being labeled immodest. Yet when we undermine the light by hiding our aptitudes and quashing our dreams, we deny ourselves and others a wealth of experiences.
Your abilities are a part of who you are and when you take pride in them, you affirm the love, esteem, and trust with which you view yourself. Moreover, as you express the light within, you grant others permission to do the same, freeing them to explore their own talents.
For some, we are taught to hide our light from the world since childhood. Relatives caution us that the professions associated with our aptitudes are unattainable. Our peers may be envious of our skills and thus overly critical of the activities we instinctively enjoy. And authority figures admonish us to be humble and avoid showing off. But there is a vast chasm that separates those who let their light shine and those who seek only to draw attention to themselves.
When you dare to share your light with the world, the beauty and perfection of your soul become clearly visible. You become a whole being - the literal embodiment of your vast potential. Whether you are a wonderful dancer, a first-rate cook, quick with numbers, or a natural negotiator, you'll come to understand that you do the world no favours when you hold yourself back.
If you have hidden your light for so long that it has shrunk to an ember, make a list of everything you do well, however impractical, silly, or seemingly inconsequential. Then ask yourself how you can positively utilise those abilities in your daily life. The gifts you were born with were not granted to you arbitrarily. While you may never discover what impact your light has had on others, you can be certain that when you embrace your talents and share them with others, you will spread illumination in the world.
Reflect on dharma, sankalpa, karma and siddhis.
When you make a leap of faith you can accomplish almost anything you set out to do
Many people, in heeding the guidance of their souls, find themselves contemplating goals that seem outrageous or unattainable. In the mind's eye, these individuals stand at the edge of a precipice and look out over the abyss at the fruit of their ambition. Some resist the urge to jump, paralysed by the gap between their current circumstances and the life of their dreams.
Others make a leap of faith into the unknown, unsure of what they will encounter but certain that they will gain more in their attempts than they would bowing to self-protective instincts. This leap can be exceedingly difficult for individuals with control issues because the act of embracing uncertainty requires them to trust that surrender will net them the rewards they seek. Yet when you make a leap of faith, believing without a doubt that you will land safely on the other side, you can accomplish almost anything you set out to do.
There have no doubt been times in your life when you chose to go where the universal flow took you. Yet you may encounter instances in which your objectives require you to step outside of the boundaries of your established comfort zone so that you may freely and actively jettison yourself into a new phase of your life. While you may fear what seems to be the inevitable fall, consider that in all likelihood you will find yourself flying. A successful leap of faith requires your attention, as it is the quiet and often indistinct voice of your inner self that will point you toward your ultimate destination.
Understand that the leap across the chasm of ambiguity may challenge you in unforeseen ways but you will make it across if you trust yourself.
If your mind and heart resist, you can dampen this resistance by building a bridge of knowledge. The more you know about the leap you are poised to take, the smaller the gap between "here" and "there" will appear to be. Your courageous leap of faith can lead you into uncharted territory, enabling you to build a new, more adventurous life. Though you may anticipate that fear will be your guide on your journey across the abyss, you will likely discover that exhilaration is your constant companion.
Borrowed from the wonderful Daily OM
The most important relationship we will ever have in our life, is with our own self
The most important relationship we have in our lives is with ourselves. And even though we are the only ones who are present at every moment of our lives -- from birth onward -- this relationship can be the most difficult one to cultivate. This may be because society places such emphasis on the importance of being in a romantic partnership, even teaching us to set aside our own needs for the needs of another. Until we know ourselves, however, we cannot possibly choose the right relationship to support our mutual growth toward our highest potential.
By allowing ourselves to be comfortable with being alone, we can become the people with whom we want to have a relationship.
Perhaps at no other time in history has it been possible for people to survive, and even thrive, while living alone. We can now support ourselves financially, socially, and emotionally without needing a spouse for survival in any of these realms. With this freedom, we can pursue our own interests and create fulfilling partnerships with friends, business partners, creative cohorts, and neighbours. Once we've satisfied our needs and created our support system, a mate then becomes someone with whom we can share the bounty of all we've created and the beauty we've discovered within ourselves.
As we move away from tradition and fall into more natural cycles of being in the world today, we may find that there are times where being alone nourishes us and other periods in which a partnership is best for our growth. We may need to learn to create spaces to be alone within relationships. When we can shift our expectations of our relationships with ourselves and others to opportunities for discovery, we open ourselves to forge new paths and encounter uncharted territory. Being willing to know and love ourselves, and to find what truly makes us feel deeply and strongly, gives us the advantage of being able to attract and choose the right people with whom to share ourselves, whether those relationships fall into recognizable roles or not.
Choosing to enjoy being alone allows us to fully explore our most important relationship -- the one with our true selves.
In our everyday life we are surrounded by a variety of people
Some of the people we deal with on a daily basis are a joy to be with, and their loving presence nurtures and encourages us. Others may have the opposite effect, draining us of our energy, making us feel tired and exhausted. Our well-being can be easily influenced by those around us, and if we can keep this in mind, we will have greater insights into the quality of our social interactions and their energetic effect on us.
Once we think more deeply about the people we interact with, it becomes easier for us to work toward filling our lives with people who help us cultivate healthy and positive relationships.
Even though it might not always seem like we have much control over who we are with, we do. The power to step back from toxicity lies within us. All we have to do is take a few moments to reflect on how another person makes you feel. Assessing the people we spend the most time with allows us to see if they add something constructive to, or subtract from, our lives. Should a friend sap our strength, for example, we can simply set the intention to tell them how we feel or simply spend less time with them. We will find that the moment we are honest with ourselves about our own feelings, the more candid we can be with others about how they make us feel. While this may involve some drastic changes to our social life it can bring about a personal transformation that will truly empower us, since the decision to live our truth will infuse our lives with greater happiness.
When we surround ourselves with positive people, we clear away the negativity that exists around us and create more room to welcome nurturing energy. Doing this not only enriches our lives but also envelopes us in a supportive and healing space that fosters greater growth, understanding, and love of ourselves as well as those we care about.
Borrowed from the Daily OM
Grid from Dimensional Healing (Deniz, one of my gems)
Tuning in to the language of our bodies can be very enlightening, and increases our intuition
So much can be revealed to us when we listen to the language of our bodies. Our bodies are always speaking, sending us messages through the way we move, the sensations that arise from within, and the gestures and expressions that we make when we are communicating with others.
Tuning in to the language of our bodies can be very enlightening, especially as most communication is believed to take place nonverbally. It is also believed that the body never lies, and that if we want to know the truth about ourselves and others, then we should listen to what our bodies have to say. Anyone who has ever flirted with someone they are attracted to has probably, at one point in time or another, brushed their hands through their hair or found themselves leaning forward to get closer to that person. Someone feeling defensive will tend to cross their arms over their chest, while a person who wants to withhold something may look away when speaking.
If you want to know how you truly feel about a person or a situation, then it is a good idea to tune in to what you are feeling inside. Excitement, nervousness, anxiety, and fear are just some of the messages that your body wants you to hear. Your body can also be a very reliable compass. Anyone who has ever been somewhere they don't want to be has probably experienced their bodies trying to move them away from that particular circumstance. And while it can be very easy to talk ourselves into and out of choices we may make with our minds, it isn't so easy to change the truth of our hearts that reside within our bodies.
'People should be more like animals...they should be more intuitive; they should not be too conscious of what they do while they are doing it.' Albert Einstein
To begin tuning in to this subtle form of communication, start taking the time to notice what your body is telling you. Greet each feeling or sensation as a message carrying wisdom from your body. Tune in to what your body is telling you about the situations and people you encounter and listen to what others are communicating to you through their bodies. We already are subconsciously receptive to the language of our bodies, but when we choose to consciously pay attention, we hear and understand so much more about ourselves and the people around us.
Trust your intuition, it is very rarely wrong and only has your best interests at heart.
OM, peace, peace, peace.
Your inventiveness can become the root of large-scale changes that take place in your life
Sometimes you may feel compelled to approach your goals in an innovative and modern fashion because you believe that doing so will help you prosper. If you feel comfortable embracing novelty, your assumption will likely prove correct.
Undertaking even a single task using a fresh strategy can give you insights into why your efforts have faltered in the past. Consider that there may be no right or wrong way to accomplish the objectives before you, so there is likely no reason to stay true to one methodology when creative inspiration strikes.
What has served us well in the past will not always meet our needs in the present.
Recognising this is one of the key elements of innovation, because it allows us to break free from the patterns that might have set limits on our potential. Our imaginative minds can take us in so many directions yet using practical methods to bring what we see in our thoughts into being can be quite challenging.
We are undeniably, creatures of habit. We tend to gravitate toward what is comfortable and familiar even if it no longer serves us. It is a part of being human. Your life today is the sum of your habits. How fit are you? How happy? How much yoga do you practice? – all a result of your habits. Want to change any of that? yoga philosophy addresses this intriguing aspect of our human existence -- according to yoga philosophy, not only do we form habits throughout our life, we are born with certain karmic conditioning that influences our mental and emotional habits -- called Samskaras.
The word Samskara comes from two Sanskrit words, sam = same, complete, joined together, and kara = action, cause or doing. The meaning of the word points to the understanding that the repetition of our thoughts, behaviors, and actions becomes our conditioning. The more we repeat any Samskara the stronger and more engrained it becomes. Samskaras can be positive, and help propel us forward in our evolution, or they can be negative, get in the way of our evolution, and even be destructive or life threatening.
Often Samskaras go unnoticed, quietly and unconsciously guiding our thoughts and behaviors until we bring our attention to them. Our Samskaras even sneak into our yoga practice with us. The physical practice of yoga helps us gain understanding and insight through the body. When physical practice is combined with the underlying philosophy of yoga there is great synergy that fuels transformation of the mind – creating change on the level of thought and emotion.
One of the greatest gifts of yoga is heightened awareness and the capacity to see ourselves clearly -- viveka -- a Sanskrit term that can be translated as right understanding, discrimination or knowledge.
If we realise that aspects of what we see are outdated or harmful we can take steps to create change and even replace old ways of being with new positive Samskaras. One time tested method is to employ a Sankalpa or resolution.
Translated, the word Sankalpa also means seed. In order for a plant to grow first there is a seed placed in fertile soil. The same is true of transforming our habits. First we must plant the seeds of change. Our practice is like the fertile soil that brings the seed to fruition. Identify what you want to change. Is it a negative habit that is getting in the way? A positive habit you want to create or nurture? Perhaps both?
Sankalpa is determination. Willpower is a one-pointed mind plus determination. The more one-pointed your mind and the more determined you are, the more you will have willpower. The complete practice of yoga: asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra and bhakti, or devotion, is the time tested method to developing a one-pointed mind and the fertile ground for planting the sankalpa to support you in realising your full potential in the here and now, this life.
Building Willpower: Sankalpa Shakti - Himalayan Institute
The level of our own transformation helps us to find the next level of teaching, either from the same teacher or from someone else
'The process of transformation manifests in the form of patience and firmness in our overall character. Through self observation and inner analysis we begin to understand this process and see where we are in it. This in turn helps us to have reasonable expectations of both the teacher and the practice.'
These words above and many below are borrowed from my teacher, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait's book: 'The power of mantra and the mystery of initiation'.
At any time as students it's wise to apply a pause in our practice, not only to digest, assimilate and embody all we're being taught, but to also reflect on the teacher and the teachings, and our relationship to both. Over time it has served me best to constantly work on separating the two. One is timeless, one is time bound.
Sometimes the pause uncovers a realisation that we have come as far as we can with our current teacher and we must again begin the search for another. While all practice is leading us to uncover the ultimate connection to the teacher within, there does not seem to be a way to embark on this journey to impersonal universal Truth without receiving personal guidance from an experienced mentor. Someone who has already walked the path and shines the light on it for us.
If ever this realisation occurs to you, I encourage you to apply self reflection, clear seeing, and kindness - even forgiveness if necessary - to your decisions before choosing to move on. It is important to end in the way you wish to begin: with gratitude and thanks for everything you've learned and been gifted - all of it. The relationship is much deeper than a transaction, and as such deserves respect - both ways.
For further explanation, I offer this excerpt taken from the introduction in the same book:
'Constant contemplation and reflection on the material in this book enabled me to better understand the problems I was witnessing in spiritual seekers as well as many of my own unresolved riddles. It also helped me gain a better understanding (although there is still so much to understand) of what my gurudeva (Swami Rama) meant when he repeatedly said, "Do not use the guru as a crutch. The guru is like a boat, and it is important for the boat not to leak. If you don't know how to row your boat, it is neither the fault of the boat nor the river. If you have successfully crossed the river with the help of the boat, you may not need to carry the boat with you, but neither do you need to destroy it."'
'Ordinarily we spend so much time brooding about such issues as the benefits and pitfalls of gurus, traditions, mantra, God and shaktipata that we have hardly any time left for actually studying and practicing. It is my wish that reading this book will help spiritual seekers conquer their internal enemies without wasting too much time and energy, and thus reaching the other shore of life safely.'
This sublime and essential book can be found for purchase here. I have read it many times and each time I find either something new, or from the same passages, a deeper understanding I was now ready to receive. It's a book for keeping and sharing - a constant companion for me as I navigate the world.
In all of life, may we be reminded of our divinity. Life is beautiful and a gift, and we are asked to use it to the best of our ability to serve all of life.
Below I share with you something given to me when I was 14, it has helped to ground and guide me in times of turbulence and confusion which often precede growth.
'This human body at peace with itself is more precious than the rarest gem. Cherish your body, it is yours this one time only. The human form is won with difficulty. It is easy to lose. All wordly things are brief, like lightening in the sky. This life you must know, as the tiny splash of a raindrop, a thing of beauty that passes away even as it comes into being. Therefore, set your goal, and make use of every day and night to achieve it.'
Lama Tsong Khapa - 14th century Tibetan Yogi
The Himalayan tradition of which I am a part is rooted in wisdom, compassion, love and Truth. I express my heartfelt gratitude and respect to the sages of this lineage, and their living voices in our society today who continue to guide me on the path home, that is lit only by love.
Om Tat Sat. Peace, peace, peace.
If we close our eyes, nearly all of us can go to a song that either reflects our current mood or invites us to create movement toward a preferred one, and most are associated with memories related to those feelings. Music is powerful! Sound, words - vibration
One of my favourite functions of music is dancing -- a beautiful way to shift energy, and sometimes to communicate intimately with others. It is unknown if the first dancers created a musical accompaniment, or if music led to people moving rhythmically -- the latter seems more plausible to me? Some of the documented reasons for music is communication, often over large distances, using instruments such as drums or horns. Another reason for music is ritual, and virtually every spiritual practice uses music in some way.
Research has shown that music and sound have the power to change emotional states, change perceptions and physiology, and elevate spiritual awareness. Certain types of music, devotional and sacred in nature, also have the power to transform individual and collective consciousness into the heightened states of love, forgiveness, compassion, and physical healing -- a personal love is kirtan and chanting.
Such heightened states of loving awareness are what empowers human consciousness to identify with disharmonious societal and geopolitical issues, environmental imbalances, and attune more empathetically to a deeper awareness of the root causes behind physical health situations. This same heightened awareness is what inspires the ability to envision, co-create, and implement solutions for these various disharmonies.
Life is always moving, and if we resist the ever-changing flow, our energy can become stagnant, and we can fall out of rhythm with the universe -- the mysterious intelligent force which governs all of our life.
When we’re feeling a little stuck and can't get onto our mat, under our singing bowls, or into the outdoors, another truly helpful way to shift our energy, frequency or vibration is to put on some music and dance along with it -- free yourself up. When we dance unrestrained our spirit takes over, and with every sway or bop, we are moved back into harmony with the flow of life…in doing this, your body learns how to be moved by your intuition, by the Divine.
This reference point of the Divine within is what ultimately inspires the awareness to intentionally look for this same Divinity in the eyes of another person, in the eyes of the animals and in the eyes of Mother Earth. In this state of sacred awareness, we can choose to evolve and honour the spiritual, cultural, and ethnic diversity that is the watershed of the Divine's loving and creative expression towards ALL.
“Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe. Music is a divine art, to be used not only for pleasure but as a path to God-realization. Vibrations resulting from devotional singing lead to attunement with the Cosmic Vibration or the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1). Paramahansa Yogananda
By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
In the calm and tranquil oceanic existence of consciousness, the first spanda (motion or movement) is called prana
The ancient scriptures tell us that prana, the life force, is derived from two words, pra and ana. Pra means “first.” Ana means “that which moves or animates”—the first unit of pulsation, animation, vibration, and movement.
There is a complex philosophy behind this statement, but Swami Rama (Swamiji) explained it in a simple way: that prana means “energy combined with consciousness”; intelligence that knows “I am moving”; that force whose motion or movement is self-regulated and not governed by anything else; that which is not blind force; and that which has purpose in vibrating, throbbing, and animating in a particular pattern or manner. That self-intelligent force is called prana.
It is because of the presence of that pranic force that the simple air that travels through our nostrils becomes a carrier or vehicle of vitality, freshness, and newness. When prana is not present in the body, none of our sophisticated medical devices are effective. They are not able to restart the lungs or heart after death, even though physiologically everything is still the same; the only difference is that the heart is no longer pumping and the lungs are not expanding and contracting.
Prana means 'energy combined with consciousness.'
It is said that the pranic force is omnipresent and omniscient: it knows all about the past, present, and future; it is spontaneously aware of everything visible and invisible. It is because of the presence of this life force that we receive vitality from food, assimilate it into our system, and supply it to all our tissues and cells. When that pranic force decreases or is not functioning well, it will make no difference how much nutritious food is eaten. Megadoses of vitamins will have no beneficial effect; they may even have an adverse effect on the kidneys and other cleansing systems in the body. So, actually, it is in the presence of this divine force, prana, that we thrive—this force sustains our life and health, and we can use it to unfold our vast potential.
That is why it is so important to understand this divine force. We need to keep asking the question “why?” like a scientist—or like a child who is constantly learning. We call the person who discovers something a genius, but inventions and discoveries take place only because of this childlike nature of continually asking, “Why? Why? Why?” When that nature vanishes—when we take an answer for granted—then immediately discovery stops. The moment we delete “why?” from our vocabulary, we get old, rigid, and stiff. Only this question can really lead us to understand what the pranic life force is.
Please continue reading this great article by Panditji here in the Himalayan Institute's Wisdom Library.