Category Archives: Live Your Yoga

For the Love of Chidambaram

This morning I stood to watch the crystal linga and then ruby Nataraja abhishekam, up front with a gaggle of little Indian ladies, one of whom chanted/sang beautiful mantra the whole time. I watched as the murtis were drenched in water, milk, honey, fruit, sandalwood, rice. I watched as the crowd gasped when the lamp alighted the ruby Nataraja from behind.

I sat in the hall afterward and tried to take it all in. There is something so rare and true and real and accessible here, it is so precious.

Priests chanting the vedas (one using his cellphone for reference). People sitting meditating, or chatting. Dikshitars doing their business. Westerners walking around dazed and confused.

I cried to know this is my last day here. I sat for quite a while soaking. Soaking in the grace of it all. Indescribable.

Then I made my rounds.

Each corner of the temple holds something. The plethora of deities too numerous to keep track of them all. The hunched old people who can barely walk. The dikshitars striding to do their business. The making of garlands.

And everywhere: worship. Palms raised overhead like a little temple or pressed together in front of the heart. Light offered, ghee lamps. Pranams. Mantras.

So alive!

A hidden corner with nagas (snake deities) and the Goddess in one of her many forms.

A dikshitar chanting into a cellphone, then handing it to a younger diskshitar who begins to listen to it.

Endless small shrines in the pillars, anointed with kumkum and lighted with clay lamps filled with ghee.

Inevitably my steps take me to the Dakshinamurti shrine. I have been sitting here in the early mornings when it is not too stinky. Today it is too stinky.

Around past the saints all labeled (in Tamil, which unfortunately I don’t read) and lined up. Respect, honoring lineage.

Pausing at the mula lingam, the oldest part of the temple.

Looking at the natural light as it plays in the long hallways and imagining what it looked like when the temple was lighted with the oil lamps lining the ceiling rather than electricity.

Moving on to Kamasundari, who has her own temple and it is fabulous. A little hike and at 11:30 the stones are quite hot on bare feet. Sticking to stones in the shade, or hurrying.

Walking down the steps inside…the beauty of the ceiling! Different vintages of paintings tell stories of the Goddess and of the temple. A lone dikshitar chanting, struggling a little I can tell. Yesterday he was there with two others, one named Shiva who is the son of Sundaramurti Dikshitar, who has been our host. Yesterday, Shiva seemed to be guiding the others, and I sat and listened to them chant for quite a while.

Inside it is dark, yet the beautiful saris on the sapta Matrikas are shining-alternating purple and gold.

It is too hot for proper pradakshina around the outside of the Goddess temple, so I take a quick sidetrip to sit in the shade before the Shri Yantra shrine.

The heat sends me “home” to my hotel, knowing I will return tonight for the chaos of the arathi, gazing back and forth at the reclining Vishnu, Nataraja dancing, bells clanging, singing, clapping, and happy chaos, again trying to soak it all in, holding it in my heart of hearts.

CHURNING OF THE OCEAN

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One of the most pervasive myths in the Hindu lore is the long and intricate story of the “churning of the ocean.” I have been considering this myth as I have been processing and practicing this last post-election week. Here is a shortened version with the salient details applicable to my current consideration.

The devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were both seeking the nectar of immortality (amrta or soma). To get it, they worked together to churn the ocean. They upended a great mountain, and wrapped a huge snake around it and churned and churned for a very long time.

Eventually a variety of different things emerged, like a cow, an elephant, the goddess Laksmi, and jewels, happily claimed by the churners.

Then as they continued churning, a dark viscous noxious substance started to emerge. It was quite toxic and threatening to the world. They had to call upon the god Shiva to handle it. He held it in his throat, which is why one of his names is Lord Blue Throat (nilakantha). He transmuted the poison in this way and the churning resumed until the amrta emerged.

I have heard this story interpreted in many ways, a favorite is as a metaphor for our practice of yoga, particularly meditation. As we practice, we are churning our own consciousness, from which emerges gifts like centeredness, clarity, and creativity, and eventually more blissful states. But as well, along the way, we must deal with and transmute any poison that resides in our own individual consciousness.

We experience this in our yoga asana practice as discomfort arises physically due to tightness in our bodies or old injuries. We transmute these through conscious breathing and correct and therapeutic alignment such that eventually there is healing. But it may be unpleasant for a while.

And as well in yoga asana and especially meditation, frustration, residue of old patterns, and all kinds of psychic gunk can be churned up. The practice gives a context and methodology within which to transmute these challenges.

As I’ve thought about the story of the churning of the ocean in light of our current political climate, I’ve been thinking of the ocean in this myth representing our collective consciousness, and how we’ve stirred up and unleashed the poison. And the question becomes, who will transmute it? In the story it is Shiva, who is the consummate yogi. Shiva was called upon to handle it, he held and transmuted it.

Many of us have had the privilege and blessing of many years of yoga practice. As yogis we have many tools at our disposal to shift energy and transform our beings. We practice asana, pranayama, meditation, and chanting. We study the scriptures for guidance. And as we deepen our studies and practice, we have the power of transmutation.

The form this takes can vary. On a very practical level, for me it involves staying steadfast in my yoga practices, stabilizing myself in a place of connection to my heart. As a yoga teacher I will continue to aid others in this process, teaching the tools for transformation. As a citizen of this planet, I intend to do whatever I can to acknowledge the poison when I see it, and seek to transmute it by whatever means I have at my disposal.

I hope we can each remember and seriously consider utilizing the gifts we have received through the practice. We begin by acknowledging the poison is there, it has been unleased. Acknowledge as well that the gift of yoga has led to some degree of awareness, that you are awake at this critical time. Are you willing to engage, to work to transmute it in whatever way you have the power to do so?

Feel free to leave a comment regarding how you would like to transmute the toxic energy.

Choosing to Go Left

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I received a suggestion/challenge from a student in one of my yoga classes recently: can we sometimes go to the left side first? She felt she was tighter on the left and that it seemed we spent more time on that first side.

I found this an interesting challenge because it would require me to practice what I teach on several levels.

On the physical level I often have students switch up how they clasp their hands behind their back, in order to balance things out. This is a little different, but the same principle operates: not giving preference to one way of doing it. I often use the hand clasping as an example of a certain mindlessness and habitual patterning we allow in our practice, and in our lives as a whole, and the same thing applies to switching up which side we move to first.

In our yoga practice, most times we just automatically do it. When the teacher says clasp your hands behind your back, my tendency is to put my right index finger on top of my left. Over time, this is going to have a subtle imbalancing effect on my shoulders. But as interesting is that choice moment when I act seemingly without thinking. I just do it automatically, as if there is no other choice. This happens in our yoga practice, and in many other domains of our life.

This is an example of a habit pattern. Notice how we don’t think about it, we reach with certain hands, turn certain directions. We have a repeated way we travel from point A to point B. We have “our” way of doing things, perhaps honed from our own trial and error to discover the “best” way of doing things.

Maybe, maybe not.

Or perhaps a teacher told us to do it that way. In the tradition in which I began doing yoga, we always moved to the right side first. Some might argue there is a physical or more esoteric advantage to this.

Maybe, maybe not.

I realized I had established a pattern that I was perpetuating, and chose to see what it was like to start shifting that pattern.

It was challenging. I was constantly flummoxed as I taught because after 25 years of teaching it one way I had grown lazy with my instructions. I didn’t have to think about it, I just did it. And now I had to be mindful.

I persevered. I announced to my students we were going to start moving left first in some classes. It became a bit of a game as they noticed and reminded me when I slipped into my old patterns. And they got to see their own patterns as I switched it up, and they were challenged to shift their own patterning. We giggled at ourselves together, and together we began to shift the pattern.

In summary, here’s the steps of how I worked with it:

– Notice the pattern. This is often the hardest part because it is so automatic. In this case, I was open to feedback. Someone sweetly mentioned a pattern that might not be altogether positive, and I listened. At first I was resistant, and I had to look at that and evaluate whether or not I wanted to shift.

– Set an intention. I made it public. I asked for help and accountability. I announced it to my classes so they could remind me. This allowed them as well to look at their own habits and resistance.

– Make a plan. I committed to starting on the left side first on the first and third weeks of the month. I made it concrete.

– Do it. Again. And again.

– Flounder. I allowed myself to flounder. I made mistakes. I allowed myself to not be perfect.

– Stop in your tracks when you are enacting the old pattern. Choose again the new pattern. When I became aware I was caught in the old pattern, I stopped and switched, right there in the moment. I didn’t wait to shift it until later. So my students have had to endure starting on one side, only to have me shift, but as I said, they were in on the game, and they’ve played along very sweetly.

– Understand it is a process. It is challenging. Allow it to be challenging

– Acknowledge success. I noticed how it became easier as I established the new pattern. With the switching the hands behind the back, it is hard now for me to discern that the new pattern feels weird.

Of course this is a somewhat trivial example in the larger scheme of habits in our lives we could benefit from shifting. But it makes the point. We all have patterns, some of which serve us, but others that may not. As we refine our lives we need to be mindful that we are making choices, and whether we are choosing the optimal choice. Our ability to pause and make conscious choices is one of the greatest gifts of our humanity. May we enact it.

Ganapati’s Ears: Listening and Winnowing

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One of the distinguishing characteristics of the elephant-headed God, Ganesh, or Ganapati, is his ears. They are said to be indicative of his capacity for listening, and as well they resemble winnowing baskets, and therefore the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Our ability to truly listen is fundamental to our paths as yogis and as humans. By “listening” I mean not only hearing with our ears, but accessing all our senses, and honing our ability to perceive accurately, which is tied into the winnowing process.

Think about any of conversations you have, face-to-face or electronically, and consider to what extent you truly listen. If you look closely, you’ll find that most of us are already formulating a response before the other person has completed the articulation of their thought. Often our listening is selective, we hone in on a particular point without hearing the full range of what the person is saying.

For example, I recently received an email with feedback on one of my classes. I immediately began to discount the feedback, pushing it off on the person who had the problem, justifying why I did things the way I did, etc. And I immediately began writing back with those points. But since it was an email, I had the time to first of all, reread the email and really try to understand what was being articulated. Then I started formulating a different, more nuanced response. And instead of hitting send too quickly, I again read the email and formulated several more responses before sending one that expressed appreciation for the feedback and how I would try to improve my teaching. So instead of starting a negative feedback loop, I was able to shift it into a win-win situation.

Now, I know some of you are thinking: well, sometimes it is the other person who is “off” somehow, or incorrect. Or sometimes it is hard to know, how can we figure that out?

Here is where the practice of meditation comes in. Our meditation practice allows us to begin working with our habitual patterns in a variety of ways. Meditation directly affects the old imprints stored inside, such that they become attenuated or burned off. As well, a regular meditation practice allows us to establish connection to, as Patanjali puts it, the Seer: a wiser and clearer part of our self. Having established connection with that part of our self, we can begin to access that wiser self on a moment-by-moment basis to guide us in both our understanding, and responses.

So there is a listening we can cultivate in the other direction: listening within, listening to the Seer. And in time, with practice, we can begin to truly listen and perceive the outside world from this place of deep listening to the Seer.

Nowhere is this more important than when we are facing the challenges: the obstacles and thresholds that are associated with Vigneshvara, the Lord of Obstacles as Ganesh is also known as. In those moments of challenge, or as we cross the threshold into a new domain in our lives, our ability to negotiate all of the input while standing in an awareness of our innermost self will allow us to respond in a refined and nuanced way, and from a place of love that is the essence of who we are.

My sense of the divine is that it is benevolent, and actually wants us to grow and heal, and to serve the world. And as the Lord of Obstacles, Ganesh is that energy of the divine that places exactly the obstacles and thresholds in our path that we need in order to proceed on that path of growth. Yet often when things are challenging, or challenging messages are sent, we try to combat them, or to simply ignore them. So Ganapati’s ears remind us: are we listening to what the divine is offering us?

EXERCISES
For the next week or so, in your conversations, try to truly listen.
– Can you listen and hear the other person before you begin judging or formulating a response?
– Can you create some space to respond from a place of listening and refinement, rather than reacting from you habitual patterns?

Over time, notice the effect that your practice of meditation has on your ability to listen and refine.
– Can you begin to discern the habitual patterns that cause you to want to react before you’ve had the opportunity to really listen and refine?
– Is there a shortening of the time it takes to create a refined response to a situation?

SPACIOUSNESS

In a recent workshop I facilitated, we each came up with some words or phrases encapsulating our next steps toward manifesting yoga in our lives. Here’s mine:

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I placed this on my altar, and I’ve held it in my awareness each morning and afternoon as I meditate. And I came to realize that it is all encapsulated in the word SPACIOUSNESS.

Last year I went with the word CONNECT, and I have to admit that I failed to connect in the ways I wanted because I allowed myself to get too busy. I don’t regret the work I got busy with, but it took its toll on me, and my failure has taught me much, and led me to this place of craving for space, and a determination to create it in my life.

First and perhaps most relevant to my previous failure, I want to maintain a spaciousness with my time. A huge pattern of mine is overcommitting – in fact it is a tactic I use to be productive. And I will still use it , but much more judiciously. For I must create space in my schedule in order to do the other things on my list: practice, study and write. And as well, to fulfill my desire to connect that I articulated last year.

Other ways I intend to create spaciousness in my schedule:
– being present and enjoying doing things, like writing as I am now
– limiting my time on social media
– limiting when I check and respond to emails
– tracking my time and noticing places I unconsciously waste time.
I welcome your ideas about this in the comments section!

I’d like to create more spaciousness in my overall attitude. I want to notice my reactivity and allow some time to pause before responding. I want to allow a larger more spacious perspective and awareness in general, especially in relationship, on social media, and when people differ from me. And I’d like to cultivate a more spacious attitude regarding my conception of time.

And finally, but perhaps most fundamental, I need to create physical space. Ever since my mom passed, over 7 years ago, I’ve been struggling with the physical stuff of my life. When I cleaned out her house I was aghast at the amount of stuff she had. Then I brought a bunch of it home! It has been a very slow yet steady process of letting go. And there is so much more to do. I have become increasingly aware of my sensitivity to clutter, and will be exploring how it shows up in my life, and its ramifications.

I would love to hear how you create more space in your life. Please leave a comment!

REFLECTIONS ON YOGA

What is yoga? How do you think about yoga? What is the role yoga has in your life?

I recently asked students to contemplate these questions, and I was so astounded by their replies. I tried to capture their wisdom in small phrases, and it ended up looking like this:

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It is so important for us to all reflect on the impact our yoga has on our lives, to begin to connect the dots on how our daily practice, and our studies, slowly begins to manifest in our lives.

Yes, there was mention of a positive physical effect: mobility and strength, which is so crucial for us to live healthy and productive lives.

But by far the vast majority of responses reflected an understanding of the deep effects of yoga, how it transforms us, how it creates an ability to pause, to connect, have dialogue, to remember. How we are more kind, less judgmental, able to love more deeply. How it keeps us present, centered, in equilibrium, and mindful. We begin to have a greater awareness of when we’re “off.” It is a set of guiding principles, a way of learning, a measuring stick, that allows us to adjust to what is, and continue to evolve, and experience the full pulsation of what life offers.

As you can tell, this reflects an understanding that yoga is a whole lot more than postures on a sticky mat. It is a way of being that comes out of a deep connection with our Self.

I invite you to look within yourself to consider how your yoga manifests in your life.

And then, consider this:

What helps or encourages yoga, all these qualities? And what hinders or blocks?

And then, further consider: what are my next steps on the path?

My students reminded me that community was one of the greatest ways they felt encouragement on their path: the sense that there were other like-minded individuals walking with them. If you resonate with any of this, perhaps leave a note to share something about your path of yoga, so we can encourage each other in this way.

Taking Care of Myself and My Self

Lately I have had a lot on my plate. My to-do list each day is way too long, and at the end of the day, I sometimes see myself feeling frantic and starting to rush, and also getting rather grouchy. I’m sure some of you can relate.

I know better. We all know better! Yet somehow we allow ourselves to get sucked into the drama of our lives, our checklists, and need to get things accomplished. I know this pattern well: I can do it all. I can tough it out, do one thing after another without a break, for days on end. Fit it all in, check things off my list. Then I find myself grumpy and sad, and feeling a little sick.

I know better. I have to slow down a little and take care of myself. And I have to take care of my Self.

Yet, unfortunately, like many of us, I start to cut corners. I grab fast food and forgo physical activity. I skip or cut corners on my practices. I don’t give myself or my Self the love, respect, and support I need. Keeping my body, heart, and spirit, healthy and connected is fundamental to being my most productive self.

If I take the time to take care of myself by getting enough sleep, good food, and exercise, I’m laying the groundwork to do my best. I know this.

But what was less obvious to me, and is becoming much clearer lately, is how essential it is to take care of my Self. That is where my daily practice of meditation comes in. When I meditate, it feels like I clear a channel to my Self: a deeper, fuller, wiser part of me. And that place feeds me in a way not unlike food and exercise.

The access I cultivate in my meditation practice supports all of my other activities so they become less effortful. I cultivate a channel to this Self during my meditation, which serves me during my everyday activities. It is not only a source of wisdom, but of energy, and of perspective as well.

The wisdom helps me in my studies, in my teaching, writing, in so much of my work, including my own personal inner psychological work of clearing out my old unproductive patterns.

Access to a deeper source energy allows my days to be less effortful. I feel like I don’t have to push so hard because it isn’t only “me” doing it, I can channel an unlimited ocean of energy to support me.

And yes, being the human being I am, working within the boundaries of our culture, I have many challenging experiences. And I absolutely can not do it all. But my daily steeping in the quiet of my meditation practice helps me keep a greater perspective. I remember why I am doing what I am doing. And I am less reactive and more able to stay calm.

I know I have a long way to go with all of this, which is why, each morning when I get up, I head to my meditation cushion. I understand how much I need to take care of my Self.

So recently, as I make my to-do list, I include one item that takes care of myself, and one to take care of my Self. I know if I continue to add these things into my life, all of the other things on my list will get done in a much more efficient and easeful manner.

I invite you to try this out. Whenever and however you consider what you need to accomplish in the next period of time, consider as well one thing to better support yourself, and another thing to support the connection to your deeper Self.

If you’re willing to share what these two things are, please do so in the comments below.

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GET MUDDY

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May in Boulder was one of the wettest on record, and consequently, the trails we love so much were a mess, because of the mud itself, but also because hikers are reluctant to get muddy. Yet at the start of many trails are clearly marked signs, “GET MUDDY”. But instead of doing so, some hikers go around the muck, and start creating now trails which then becomes even a greater mess.

This unwillingness to get muddy reflects a human tendency that is important for us, as yoga practitioners, to consider. We must look at this unwillingness to get muddy and ask ourselves: what are we avoiding? What is there in the mud that is so bad, so frightening? And might our wading into the muck be exactly what we need to keep steady on our path, rather than divert our course?

One misunderstanding of yoga is that it is all about light, enlightenment, bliss, beauty, and so on. And yes, that is definitely part of the experience. However, any authentic spiritual path will acknowledge that there are difficult times, times where navigating the path is challenging, and we may be tempted to avoid or circumvent the circumstances, or even give up. Yet between where we are on the path, and the journey we need to traverse to move toward the light, are the muddy parts. The parts that are clouded, cloaked, and in the way.

Yoga philosophy gives many different descriptions of this mud, these obstacles on our path, the cloaking of our innermost self. And it further acknowledges that these are in fact the source of our suffering, so encountering them can be painful. Yet just because of some temporary challenges, the muck you have to wade through, do you give up and turn around?

In fact, one component of our practices is precisely the stirring up of the muck, all our unconscious obstacles that block us from deepening our awareness. Do we want to keep sidestepping these issues? Notice how in the physical world that just creates a bigger mess of mud. Likewise in our lives it is much more effective to move forward instead of sideways.

So may we each go ahead and move through it, traverse the challenging muck, and see what is waiting on the other side. The worst that happens is we get our feet wet or our shoes dirty, which to me is a sign of a path well-travelled, our willingness to explore what is being offered in this life, what is possible. To see where the path leads.

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My hikes all over the world have often taken me into the mud, and arriving on the other side I’ve experienced some of the most treasured moments of my lifetime. But I had to be willing to get muddy, to get down and dirty. to experience the goo and gunk that was standing in the way. Slipping and sliding, even falling down and getting muddy, then getting up to continue.

The journey is worth it.

Likewise our journey in our yoga practice is worth it. It is worth it to choose to continue to practice even when it seems dark, muddy, challenging and unpleasant. We have to be willing to move trough the muddy places, or we will never experience the delights that lay beyond.

2015: The Year of CONNECTion

Cindy Lusk- 2015: The Year of CONNECTion

In these dark days around the winter solstice, I’ve been diving and digging deep, assessing the past year and considering the next year.  What emerged from these ponderings is a guiding word for me for the coming year: CONNECT.

As it continued to assert itself, and I let it settle, I had to laugh. Because, of course, CONNECT is another way to say yoga. 
And because of that I resisted it, considering spicier words like spacious, clarity, travel, and dharma. Yet CONNECT kept calling to me, so I’m gonna stick with it, because there are specific ways and means I want to CONNECT.

As always, HIGHEST FIRST:  CONNECTing with my Self. First through practice. Each and every day, connect to that highest place in myself.  Cultivate an established CONNECTion that grants me ready access.  Create a conduit within myself that allows me to channel that which will be of greatest service.

Then, take time to CONNECT and access that channel in any given situation.  Pause to CONNECT to the highest, wisest, most loving place I can muster. And act from the CONNECTed place. With each action, I want to remember the CONNECTion I have with all beings. I want to look closely at how I participate in creating separation, and make choices that acknowledge the CONNECTedness of all beings.

This year as well, I want to dive even deeper into the teachings.
 I want to create a more personal CONNECTion with them through deeper contemplation and application in my life.

And, I want to help others CONNECT to the teachings.  To do this I need to CONNECT with people who need to hear what I have to offer. This one is a little mysterious to me, so I’m just throwing this out to the universe as an intention and see what comes back.

As part of that I want to CONNECT people in community. I want to continue to gather like-minded individuals together for practice, study, and well, CONNECTion. I want to do this in a bigger way on-line this year, and I am hoping to find ways to open people up to making a deeper and sincere CONNECTion with each other around the teachings.

As well, I want to CONNECT with writing. It is a love of mine, and I’ve been a bit shy and fearful about putting stuff out there, but I want to make it happen. I could use some encouragement here.

And I want to reCONNECT with old friends, and CONNECT with new ones. I’ve been feeling a little personally isolated of late. I need to be held a little more.

As we move through the year, I hope you will help me CONNECT, with some reminders, reflection, and love.

CHOOSE YOUR WORD:

If you would like to come up with a word to guide your year, try out these contemplations.  You will likely want to do these steps over a period of a few days to let your ideas percolate and settle.

1. Contemplate what you want to have happen in the next year. What would your ideal day look like? What will you do? How will you feel? Consider qualities you want to develop and what your heart really needs. Describe in your journal.

2. Look at what emerged in your writing and make a list of the words that most evoke the sense of what you want to cultivate in 2015.

3. Consider this list and which words resonate with you most. Narrow it down to the most potent 3-5 words. Perhaps journal on each of these to see which yields the most or feels the best.  If you have trouble coming up with a final word, randomly choose one and see if you register any disappointment, and if so, choose another one and see how it feels, until you finally settle on the one that feels right.

HOW DID THE ROSE

 How

did the rose

ever open its heart

and give to this world all of its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light against its being,

otherwise we all remain too

frightened.

~Hafiz

Cindy Lusk- HOW DID THE ROSE

This poem from Hafiz is one of my very favorite poems, in large part because I believe it relates so well to how to live our lives as yogis.

FEELING THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF LIGHT

I usually end my yoga classes with folded hands, bowed head, and “Namaste.” For me this is an acknowledgement of the place of light and love. This is how I think of my innermost self, and the essence of all beings. Beyond stretching and strengthening our bodies, yoga is intended to help create a connection to, and experience of, that place of light. Our yoga practice creates that connection, which may be felt clearly and consciously like the light of the sun, or may flow more undetected like an underground river. That connection allows us to feel the encouragement of the source light. Our lives begin to open and flow more smoothly, being fed from this source.

OTHERWISE WE ALL REMAIN TOO FRIGHTENED

One of the saddest things for me is to see a shriveled rose bud that has never opened.

Many of us keep our buds closed, we are frightened for whatever reason. Perhaps we were taught to do so, or it feels safer.

Although fear can be useful in some situations, it often acts as an obstacle in our lives, along with a whole lot of other baggage we carry around, all our habitual patterns. When we connect with the source light, that encouragement helps us face those fears, choose to move through them. The challenges begin to resolve, sometimes consciously, but sometimes just naturally and without our notice. That connection creates an en-courage-ment, courage to move from our hearts.

GIVE TO THIS WORLD ALL ITS BEAUTY

When we become connected to source, we naturally want to live our lives fully, and express our own individual gifts, whatever they may be. The rose simply blooms. The mother fully express her love to her child, the scientist begins to see the cause and effect connections more clearly, the writer can articulate more fully. Your smile radiates the inner light. We each have something beautiful and unique to give to this world, and the world desperately needs us to do so. There cannot be too much beauty, especially in this time when society seems to feed off negativity.

BE THE LIGHT OF ENCOURAGEMENT

In this world full of negativity, I feel it is so important for yogis to be the encouragement of light. Not in a surface or play-acting saccharine way, but to truly be pillars of light. . We each must first maintain our connection to essence, then let that stream through us in all our activities. In this way, we encourage and inspire others, help them connect to source, build the strength to face their fears, open their hearts, and give to this world their beauty.

CONTEMPLATIONS

How/what makes you feel the encouragement of light in your life?

What keeps you frightened?

How can you engage more in activities that support connecting with the light rather than inducing fear?

How can you give your beauty to the world? What are your gifts?

How can you encourage others, and therefore be the light that allows others to bring forth their beauty?