IN THE WORDS OF A TEACHER TRAINEE JULIA JONSON COHN TELLS ALL
Living, Loving & (most importantly) Laughing
By Julia Jonson Cohn
Our recent weekend of studies delved into The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which are the ancient texts that are more about life philosophy than physical poses. Deep stuff, right? Yes, for sure… yet, we students spent the better part of the weekend laughing.
One of my many takes on why yoga = happiness is this: Yoga makes me feel great in my physical body, loved and accepted by the people who teach me and practice with me. Add learning life lessons that are “in your face,” but that totally make sense and you have solved another happiness equation. It is a major shift in perception that makes me feel good and able to laugh at some of the silliness in life. Our teacher, Silvia, compared the racing thoughts in our head to a washing machine. How funny, but how true! The washing machine spins and agitates, much like the human mind, until we find stillness and see the quiet inside that already exists.
Fellow student Rachelle Green (btw, one of the oldest souls I’ve ever met and she just graduated from high school) puts it like this: “Yoga has changed my outlook on so many simple things (accepting things the way they are, being happy and grateful for whatever comes my way). If I heard someone say that a few years ago I'd want to punch them in the face, but over the last year I've grown so much as a person and am truly happy. Yoga helps you create the ease that you've always desired in your life.”
By day three we were giddy. Fellow classmate Ric Saquil observed that we were much like old friends at a high school class reunion… and we were.
Laughing is not just fun, it’s important. You have to be able to laugh at some of the garbage that life dishes out and turn it into something, well, better than garbage. I think that happiness turns up wherever you let it emerge. After one of the most awesome weekends I’ve had in a long time, the trickle down effect is amazing… since then, it’s been one great day after another (even with the garbage).
Wishing you immense peace and never ending laughter!
p.s. One of my favorite Sutras is I 33, The Four Keys to Happiness
MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN FAMILY
May 26, 2010, What instrument would you play if you could play anything? At the start of class we went around and shared what that would be in this idea that coming together as a yoga class we create a symphony of humanity at its best. I of course love that!
“These two teachings, the supremacy of the heart and the uniqueness of each human being are very important to me. They give me the fullest understanding of my membership in the human family.” Robert Muller
When we truly love we are in harmony not only with our beloved but with all living things. Love is blind in that it makes no distinctions but extends to everyone and everything. This is the idea of Bhakti yoga. You either love everyone and everything or nothing at all. The uniting of ourselves through relationship of breath in class to others reminds of the one tribe we all belong to. We are all members of the Human Family and in this family, there is no divorce.
BHAKTI MEANS LOVE
WE are all united in the highest sense “At the highest level of existence, we are all united. This supreme condition as the joyous union between Shiva (masculine cosmicness) and Shakti (the feminine cosmic principle).
Relationship is what coming to class is all about: relationship between your heart and body (a love story); relationship between your arms and legs; relationship between you and the poses relationship with you and the other students, relationship with you and the teacher.
The funny weird PARADOX of relationship is that it calls on us to be ourselves and express who we are without hesitation and let go of getting too hardened into a single position. We have this play constantly between Shiva and Shakti. On the mat we experience this in a simple but profound way when lying on our back and we do a spinal twist with our arms at a “T” position. We want to extend our arms as us and yet there are other students to navigate around and so we co-create together making space for everyone. This is the harmony of bhakti yoga, and hence the beautiful music the asanas help us create through the instrument of our bodies.
“As a student progresses on the path, he arrives at a highly sensitized condition when dealing with the world, and this becomes painful at times. The problems which thus arise cannot be eliminated, for increasing sensitivity is a natural result of finer mental and emotional development. However, the reaction to difficulties caused by this can be controlled.” Paul Brunton
This is very much true in spiritual practice. As you become more integrated and sensitive to the relationship you have between your mind and body then you become more sensitive to all human relationship outside yourself. The yoga makes us all experts in humanity. And we can use that for good: Love everyone, serve everyone or promote disconnection that serves no one and destroys us all. But I promise if you practice regularly and practice with love the choice will be easy. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
LOVE IS THE ANSWER
May 10, 2010 Nischala Joy Devi puts it like this, “We miss life if we allow others to dictate the direction of our thoughts and feelings. But when our heart guides the focus of our consciousness, love is ever present in our life.” So whatever the question you are struggling with is in your life the answer yoga teaches us is simple. LOVE IS THE ANSWER.
If you can accept and embrace that our true nature is joy beyond the ups and downs and complexities of our humanity we are meant to live in love. In yoga Bhakti means love. Bhakti is love in ACTION. Love is active.
Right now you could be living more in love with your life. There is no reason to wait for your life to be better when it can be better right now. So why delay? Well what often happens is we start to identify with our grumpy selves or sad or angry or critical selves and even come to believe that it us. It is not us. Those are just some fluctuations. To get back to our true nature we have to do something. Love is active. (Chapter 1 Verse 4)
The Yoga Sutra this is based on is Chapter 1 Verse 3 United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature, joy. The expansion of this joy is infinite LOVE, which encompasses and then transforms everything it touches. Everywhere we look, we see the reflection of our joyful nature.
Make the practice of Bhakti of actively living in love your experience this week and see what happens, I know what happens…for that’s how I’ve chosen to live every day I have in this earthly body. I don’t want to waste a moment and hope you won’t any longer either. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
FALLING IN LOVE WITH LOVE BHAKTI YOGA
Buoyancy by Rumi
Love had taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.
I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn't.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That's how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.
I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence!
The sky is blue. The world is a blind man
squatting on the road.
But whomever sees your emptiness
sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man.
A great soul hides,
moving through a crowd in a city
where no one knows him.
To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.
To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.
So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where?
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have. It's a total waking up!
Why should we grieve that we've been sleeping?
It doesn't matter how long we've been unconscious.
We're groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness
around you, the buoyancy.
LIVING FROM YOUR HEART OPEN TO BLISS
YOGA SUTRAS FOR TODAY: 1.3 United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature, joy. The expansion of this joy is infinite LOVE, which encompasses and then transforms everything it touches. Everywhere we look, we see the reflection of our Divine and joyful nature.
1.4 Sometimes we identify with the rays of consciousness which fluctuates and encourages our perceived suffering
This means that as we come to understand that our nature is joy and love suffering can’t take over our lives as easily. Now we will in our humanness continue to experience some fluctuations (ebb and flow, up and down). What this sutra is saying is that if we “identify with grumpy, negative, fearful, angry thoughts the mind BEAMS them outward to the universe and those same thoughts and grumpy, negative, fearful, angry people are attracted to us like a magnet.” (Translation from Secret Power of Yoga)
What is the answer?
Love is the answer.
Bhakti is love. Bhakti is love in action.
Love is active.
Yoga is active, yoga is love in action. Yoga is bhakti.
Ask yourself are you living from your heart? Are you actively living from love? Are you waiting before you listen to your heart? Well, there is no reason to wait when your life can be better right now. This is not a rehearsal. This is your life and each day we only ever get to do just once! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
ROCK YOUR BHAKTI: TRANSLATION (LOVE ROCKS!)
SEPTEMBER 23, 2008: This is what I've been meditating about...
Is it more important to be right or to be happy?
Is it more important to be right or to be in love with life?
Is it more important to be right or to be peaceful?
Tonight let’s stop being offended: by the body, by illness, by someone at work, by economic conditions. Let’s accept where we are at, start there and broaden into love. As Eckhart Tolle writes, “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” So bring on the bhakti, make love bigger! Put down your weapons, step away from defending how right you are, how smart you are and trust in love. As it is written in the bible 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.”
Each day is an opportunity to gather with our fellow human creatures not to do battle, not to document rights and wrongs but to make the time to love one another. Rumi says it like this:
This is a gathering of Lovers.
In this gathering
there is no high, no low,
no smart, no ignorant,
no special assembly,
no grand discourse,
no proper schooling required.
There is no master,
This gathering is more like a drunken party,
full of tricksters, fools,
mad men and mad women.
This is a gathering of Lovers. -Rumi