IN THE WORDS OF A TEACHER TRAINEE JULIA JONSON COHN TELLS ALL HUMILITY, OPENNESS, GRATITUDE
Humility, Openness, Gratitude
By Julia Jonson Cohn
April 8, 2011. Teacher training is over. On our final day together I thought the room would be filled with tears… but instead there was a calm happiness. A knowing that even though this leg of the journey had come to an end, we were about to experience another new beginning. When I signed up for this program, I thought my biggest lessons would be learning the best ways to teach alignment in poses and then putting them together in really smart sequences. I did learn all about that, but there was so much more. I’ve always understood that yoga balances energy in the body/mind… but now I am directly in touch with my spirit as a result of this experience.
The three qualities that I feel now embody my personal mission statement for teaching are these:
1. Humility. I consider it the highest honor to be one who shares the wisdom of this ancient practice of yoga. I am aware that the participants who step into any class I might be conducting are going to be my greatest teachers. And they already have! I also know that being a non-judging observer of life will not only help me to deepen my own practice, but will help me connect more deeply with those who seek me out for class.
2. Openness. The world seems much less complicated and things more clear now that I have connected with the essence of who I am. I have gained the ability to be much more empathetic with all people… even those who I used to view as the biggest obstacles to my own happiness. Now I know my happiness and peacefulness only depends on me… and not losing my connection to my Self. I pledge to convey this awareness to others and share my personal experiences with students.
3. Gratitude. Being grateful for everything that happens is far from an easy practice. I really do view every tough time and every good time as an opportunity for growth because I am thankful for my life. I used to walk around with a “why me” attitude, but now I think why not me… Every hardship has helped me grow in leaps and bounds. I’m not to the point of saying “bring it on.” However, embracing the dark and the light the ups and downs has certainly gotten easier.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my teachers Silvia and Rachel. You probably don’t even know the scope of how you have changed my life (and certainly many others) forever. Thank you to my fellow students. It was no coincidence the Universe brought us together. This is not the end. I love you all.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GANESHA REMOVER OF OBSTACLES! GUEST BLOGGER RACHEL DEWAN
SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 FROM GUEST BLOGGER RACHEL DEWAN
Dear Peaceful Yoga Warriors,
It's Ganesh's birthday, so I hope you can join me on the mat this week to celebrate. Ganesh is the sweet, gentle elephant-headed deity of Hindu mythology. He is the bearer of auspicious beginnings, and he has much to teach us. Generally referred to as the "remover of obstacles" (join me in class to find out WHY...and how he got his elephant head!), the Tantric twist on the teaching is that he represents the obstacle itself. He is the reminder that challenges come up, that life is often hard, but that WE have the power to transcend and grow. When we actively engage with the challenges we face, rather than looking for someone (real or myth) to take them away, we live an awakened life of intention.
Join me 4:00pm Tuesday or 10:45am Friday for an empowering practice, facing our challenges head on with a little wisdom from our elephant-headed friend. Learn the story of Ganesh, delve into the iconography, do a little chanting (kind of like "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in sanskrit :-), and have an all around rockin' birthday party!
Kisses & blessings,
Rachel Dewan, ERYT and Anusara Inspired
THE IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE: THE UPSIDE OF FEAR
JANUARY 28, 2010: Yoga helps us to believe in the impossibility of things. That nothing is impossible. This practices helps us to expand beyond our preconceived limitations into limitless possibility. We do this every time we meet the sensations in our bodies and the associated emotions. So tonight we focused on inversions (the upside down pose family). We faced our fears going upside down and if we can do that, gosh we can do anything!
“Don’t worry about making a mistake, you definitely will. Nothing bad will happen to you.” -Rimpoche
So the pressure is off. The upside of facing our fears is that there is nothing left to be afraid of. Once we dissolve the barriers to ourselves our potential is tuned into forever. This is written about in Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras that speaks to how dissolving the 5 Kleshas or veils brings forth the radiance of our most beautiful self.”
- Avidya – our forgetting, because we are forgetting we start to identify with things ever changing rather than the stillness of our HEART. We want stuff and then we get it and these are like snowflakes that melt when they hit the ground instead of finding that inside at our center is stillness and peace always
- Asmita –our self esteem is based on things outside ourselves and other reactions
- Raga – excessive fondness for fleeting pleasures
- Dvesa – excessive avoidance of unpleasant experiences causes disdain
- Abhinivesah – elusive awareness of immortality – instead live in the now.
Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
RECEIVING WHAT WE WANT
JANUARY 23, 2010: “When you are more receptive to life itself, the more wonderful your life appears to be.” (Robert Holden)
Today we talked about coming to the mat to shift our energies towards what we want more of in our lives. To use the poses and the yogic breathing to let go of the struggle of focusing on what we don’t want. Really the shift happens when we let go of fear. What would happen if we actually get what we want to receive? Then what? When we are used to focusing on the drama of negative even that can become easily familiar. But it won’t make us happy.
May this practice help each of us remove the obstacles to our true seeing. To help us all be more receptive to the wonders of our lives. Peace to all, Silvia
FEELING SENTIMENTAL ABOUT THE OBSTACLES OF 2009
Yoga gives us the opportunity to realize healing for ourselves. On the mat we find the connection between the obstacle that has challenged us and the expansion possible for our hearts. We go through the healing which is defined as “a process of rejoining: a rejoining body to heart, a rejoining of spirit to consciousness.” You see the mind and the heart are sweethearts but obstacles sometimes form a chasm between them. It is only by opening our hearts that we heal. The mind otherwise will keep us bogged down in heaviness.
So this is the time to make peace and allow the rejoining. Breathing in a way so that:
THE DOOR TO MY HEART IS WIDE OPEN
THE WINDOW OF MY SOUL INVITES THE BREEZE
MAY THIS PRACTICE CLEAR THE OBSTACLES TO MY TRUE SELF
MAY I HAVE THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW MY HEART WHEREVER IT MAY LEAD
And no matter what obstacles of past have taken place we move forward living from the truest most gentle place. Inspired by the way Dr Wayne Dyer puts it "The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. Stop looking for the approval of others as your reason to do good. Even if no one ever says thank you, do for others as your heart dictates from spirit, which is rooted in the energy of love, kindness and connectedness to all. Remind yourself to give love and do good because that is who you are, and for no other reasons."
Live from your heart, embrace your obstacles in a sentimental way and let them serve you to open up to your own humanity even further! Love your life, love yourself! Silvia
PUT SOMETHING DOWN: REMOVING OBSTACLES TO LOVE
APRIL 21, 2009: The heart is a bit foolish you know? Overall, life is really lovely. Each day brings its own charm and delights (even as the shadows of fear and self-doubt add flavor). Yet we often catch ourselves up trying to “carry too much” in our arms. And then funny thing we ask ourselves why can’t I invite anything else in? Why is this stuff all in the way? Well the easy answer is that we have to put something down in order to pick something else up. So today’s class is from a Western view “STRESS MANAGEMENT 101”. From a yogic view we are focusing on Chapter 2, verse 10 and 11.
We begin with a moving meditation: Imagining that as we stand tall, shoulders back, palms together that as we inhale and separate our hands we are pulling back the curtains of Fear, Self Doubt, Worry. This curtain is paperlight, see through and by observing it as such we can essentially dissolve it away. This reminds us that the Obstacles we have to face are really of our own mental creation. They are not insurmountable. They are just like a veiled curtain waiting to be pulled open so we can see to the other side. We know this as we held our arms out to our sides thumbs inside peaceful fists for 2 minutes imagining a 4 oz cup of water in each hand. It is not the absolute weight of the water that matters. It is about how long will we force ourselves to hold on and carry around the mental obstructions? If we hold our arms out 2 minutes that won’t hurt us, but an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, years? Then even though the water is light in weight the duration of carrying the burden of the water will do us harm. So it is with our thoughts. Replaying disastrous thoughts over and over for 2 minutes won’t kill us, but doing this day after day will create the stress that destroys our lives.
So really take 5 minutes to ask yourself what is it that needs to be released from my life? What mental obstacles can you put down right now? What can you clear out that is detrimental to living happier, lighter? Are there old habits you can release that don’t reflect your current needs and desires?
Then once relaxed and refreshed from the burden of carrying so much, ask yourself what is ready to be born in my life? What do you want to pick up?
And remember that only you can welcome the positive changes that transform your life. But don’t make it such a big deal. Remember as Sharon Salzberg writes in Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, “The next step is not the last step.” In order to take the step, we have to put something down, in order to pick up something else. So let down the obstacles, and pick up LOVE. Let love heal. Love your day, love your life! Silvia
For me the word on my life ticket was FREEDOM. This means a number of things to me such as:
Freedom to be happier than ever before
Freedom to try new things
Freedom to meet new people
Freedom to make happy failures
Freedom to not play it all so safe
Freedom to do the unexpected
Freedom to just see what happens
So as you close your eyes and turn inside to your most loving self what sense of freedom to you experience in your breath right now? The breath, the air element that of the fourth chakra. This is the heart chakra and perhaps that’s why one of my favorites quotes from the book Immunity to Change is “Happiness is really freedom from unhappiness.” What does FREEDOM mean to you?
Ultimately freedom means that we are living on purpose or as Robin Sharma writes, THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS A LIFE OF PURPOSE. Everytime we come to the mat we have the right and freedom to explore ourselves more deeply. This cultivates an intimate connection with who we really are and can we live with what life is offering us right now. For its about whether life gave us what we wanted today but the fact we have the freedom to respond rather than react. We don’t have to struggle, fight or become disappointed. We can empower ourselves to make the experience (even if it is painful). In the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma writes, “People who study others are wise but those who study themselves are enlightened. Those we are truly enlightened know what they want out of life, emotionally, materially, physically and spiritually. Clearly defined priorities and goals for every aspect of your life gives you direction. The real source of happiness is stated in the word Achievement – lasting happiness comes from steadily working to accomplish your goals and advancing confidentily in the direction of your lifes purpose.
Here’s the coolest part! You get to choose your life’s purpose. And you can readjust as your intentions evolve. So take to heart the words of John Wood from another all time favorite book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” who writes, “If you are thinking about making some adjustments in your life my heartfelt recommendation is not to spend too much time thinking about it. Just dive in. I know that all kinds of practical considerations make this advice difficult to embrace. The need for advice from friends and family, and the desire to write a business plan. I am not saying you should not do any of these things – just that you should not spend too much time on them or you will lose momentum. The biggest risk is that a lot of people will try to talk you out of your dream. The world has too many people who are happy to discuss why something might not work, and too few who will cheer you on and say, “I’m there for you.” The more time you spend navel gazing, the longer you give those negative gravitational forces to keep you in their tether. So sometimes, it’s really important to just dive in. If there is something out there that you want to do, don’t focus on the obstacles. Don’t ask for permission. Just dive in.” FREEDOM MEANS YOU CAN DIVE IN TODAY! Wishing you courage to do so, Silvia