SOFT ON THE OUTSIDE, STRONG ON THE INSIDE
February 11, 2011. Here on Day 2 of blogging about love for 21 days in 2011 I guess I should explain why I am embracing the Year of the Rabbit. I met someone. And when you meet someone you really want to spend time with in one place then the quiet concept of "Love is Patient" takes on a whole new meaning. My yoga on the mat has served to make me strong enough now so that I want to practice the Yoga of Home and Yoga of Relationship more than ever. To me after the hardest pose of being ourselves then the next hardest yoga pose is making a relationship with another human being that is calm and content. What the ancient yogis call Santosha. Not the New Years Eve fireworks crazy amped up experience but the gentle force of kindness. "Love is Kind" in action. I recently did a cyber interview for Xinalani Resort where I'll be leading a yoga retreat February 26-March 5th. Part of that interview is here:
Xinalani: How did the two of you meet?
Jacob: We met on a train in Italy...yes, it was one of those romantic things you read about in books, and yes, we get asked every trip about it. Perhaps that is one of the incentives for coming on one of our trips?
Silvia: The way Jacob tells the story makes everyone cry every single time. It was exactly as Rumi writes, “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.” In that moment of meeting I was returning from a Yoga Retreat in Tuscany where I had found much healing and growth. I had ever more fully let go of the barriers to loving myself. I was truly awake and more openhearted than ever before. And that is when Jacob found me.
Through this yogic practice I have been able to get stronger on the inside so I didn't feel like I had to maintain the walls and barriers up on the outside. As a result I got softer on the outside. In that softness love felt more welcomed. Although I hesitate I feel I should caution you a bit here: When you arrive at that place where you are willing to be open to grace and be more gentle outwardly you will get hurt. Some will take advantage of you. You might wonder so how many times has my heart been broken? Well, more than most. But would I trade this letting go of barriers to have it any other way? No I would not. Once you start the practice of yoga the process takes over and what you thought was important before evolves to a whole new level. You put your energy on creating and deepening the poses of your life and away from holding back or closing off. It is in that receptivity that the yoga of relationship love will find you as it did me. So today sweat off the old hardness, knock down the walls and welcome LOVE! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
*Join me on a yoga retreat www.alchemytours.com
FREEDOM REQUIRES ENORMOUS STRENGTH
Yoga teaches us that we are sovereign over the democracy of ourselves. We are the kings and queens of the kingdom of our lives. So ask yourself what kind of leader do you want to be seen as? Are you afraid to stand up for your rights? Do you promote shared responsibility amongst the constituents of your limbs, breath, mind and heart? Do you keep yourself shackled to workaholism or do you imprison yourself with worry or self-doubt or critical self-dialogue, do you allow someone outside yourself (your kingdom of self) run your life and keep you in prison?
So right now, sit in a way that elongates your spine and let’s your breath travel more freely. As you free your breath you liberate your mind. As the mind opens the heart opens. You being to realize that you can choose to draw upon your own fortitude to free your heart from pain, to free your body from long held tension and to free yourself of unhealthy mindless habits (samskaras). It is going to look different for everyone. Freedom doesn’t appear to take the same priority. It is a constant practice to remind ourselves that we alone are the most responsible in keeping the peace and joy within the democracy of self. This territory you care for is most vitally important to you.
In the end I hope that as we make liberation important we find from the inside the peace and content with ourselves where we discover joy (Santosha) has always been our natural state (sutra 2.42). It was waiting for us to break free of our chains, our shackles and the prisons of our own making or imposed upon us by others.
I know what it’s like to feel imprisoned. I also can tell you I know what is it like to break free. It’s not easy but I believe all of us can do it. And if you want more of my story just call or email or sit and chat after class. I’d be happy to share more. In the meantime here is a final favorite story to take to heart, to free your heart, to live in love! Silvia
A final story I want to share with you from the Secret Power of Yoga “In ancient
At times I have felt defeated by life.
All I ever wanted was to be peaceful, happy and free. But I had this idea even with spiritual seeking “let me figure it all out then I’ll practice it.” But that’s not the way it works. We are not going to get all the answers we seek about the challenges of life. This procrastination could be applied to any part of our lives. Today I am examining it in relation to happiness. So here’s the thing, if we think something has to happen before we can be happier then we’re always waiting to be happy as opposed to being happy right now. If you fool yourself to believe that you have to understand all the reasons for WHY you are not happy you get stuck in the unhappiness. There is something to be said for forgive and move on from past to present.
Stop procrastinating the time you have by coming up with reasons not to be happy. This is not only self-defeating to you but does a disservice to the world, to your family, to your community, to fellow human beings.
So learn from my trials and errors: Don’t lose any more time trying to figure out or solve the mystery of unhappiness just live more right now. How? First thing, just feel more. Anything – sadness, anger, love, joy, frustration. All of it. The more you feel the less you fight against the feeling and the greater the capacity to accept yourself. So this is the second thing, love yourself as you are without apology. Please stop putting prerequisites on your own acceptance (if I lose 10 pounds, get a new job, finish a marathon, etc). Spiritual growth is not about self-improvement otherwise as we all know we’ll never be good enough (just like we’re never quite done with the work on improving our homes). Instead spiritual maturity is unconditional love towards our lives as they are offered.
I used to be a destination junky. Then I read Jon Kabat Zinn’s book titled ‘Wherever you go there you are”. I woke up to the fact that waiting to be happy until I was somewhere far away never really worked. I still had me and how I felt about me no matter how exotic the location or distance from my office. I had to face myself honestly and say, “I am hungry for love.” Just as Mother Teresa spoke, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” I felt that hunger.
The hunger cannot be quenched by buying stuff, or by other people loving you, or going to cool places it has to be some internal shift of self-recognition that moves us to self-acceptance. As soon as I started loving myself I wasn’t starving anymore. I knew I had plenty. That was the first day I made a commitment to my own healing.
So I ask you, how much do you want to live a healing lifestyle? Only you can make the choice to choose love and happiness moment by moment.
Of course in my heart I want you all to find that this practice saves your life TODAY as it does mine daily. I want you to love yourself more and in turn feel how loved you are by the universe herself. As Sutra 11.42 reads “when at peace and content with oneself and others (santosha) supreme joy is celebrated.” You hold the key to your own happiness. Question is do you have the courage to take time today without delay to fall in love with yourself more deeply. Are you ready to celebrate? You are everything, you have all you need to be happy. Let’s not waste another moment! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
APPRECIATION OF THIS MOMENT
There is that tendency we have to want things to be different than what they are but spiritual maturity impresses upon us to learn how to find a way to be content with what is in the present for it is a gift. To help with this growth simply listen to your heart as you watch your thoughts. This study of oneself will open up channels of stuckness in both the physical body and channels to deep reservoirs of clarity and wisdom within our minds. This cultivates appreciation. And there is an inherent gentleness when we practice appreciation for who we are. Please make your observations not from a place of judgement but of understanding, compassion and self-love. Know that you dissolve negativity through appreciation for this is the real enemy of love. Practice appreciation and love triumphs!
So today take time to appreciate your breath, to appreciate your feelings (whatever they may be – joy, sadness, peace, frustration, love), appreciate being in your own skin. I know this is not easy. Just like the poses we practice on the mat are not easy. They are often very uncomfortable.
So I’m asking you to be uncomfortable. To actually stay with the discomfort of your reactivity until you can turn it into a loving response. With time you’ll find the action of appreciation gets easier and this is the answer to dissolving the negative from all areas of your life. And as luck has it life is going to keep giving us opportunities to evolve this practice. From one perspective what we are talking about here is Santosha, to be with what is and find the good, experiencing contentment within the situation, with the person instead of getting angry or having to change the thing, situation, weather or person. Now that’s the advancing of our spiritual selves. Let the door of appreciation open the way. Love you, love serving you! Silvia
FUNSHAKTI: WHAT ARE YOU THE BIGGEST FAN OF?
DECEMBER 28, 2008: The words to a song a friend sent me included, I am the biggest fan of you (or something like this). So I thought about it, what am I the biggest fan of? And I'd have to say I am for sure the biggest fan of FUN!
How do I make fun? Yesterday as many days, I ate dessert first. I tell myself jokes all the time, I died part of my hair violet red for no reason (just makes me giggle), I wear sundresses in the winter (over pants and with a sweater of course), I do what I love, I surround myself with brilliant, funny people, I only watch life affirming tv or movies, I read inspiring books. The list goes on.
Interesting enough, children laugh 300 times or more per day while adults laugh an avearge of 17 times per day. We clearly have lots of catching up to do according to Heather King. When it comes to yoga it is as my idol Judith Lasater says, "yoga practice is important but not serious. Practice is too important to be serious." RIGHT ON!
So today may you feel the shakti power of being presnt for the many blessings in your life so that you can know greater happiness. Or as Rumi says, "hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you." Take from this that you can practice life with elegance and joyfulness just like you appear luminous in your poses. Take this brightness into each moment.
Really recognizing our capacity for happiness through the power of our hearts is the first step in yoga. We use the practice to go withing the hidden chambers of our hearts to find our most joyful true selves. It's just like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. So join me on the mat to dance like there was no tomorrow! Keep your spirit burning brightly, learn to take your troubles lightly, count your blessings daily, nightly (Linda Elrod). Happiness knows no bounds! Love, Silvia
BEING HAPPY IS NOT FOR WIMPS
The key word here is working. Seligman's underlying point—and here, psychology aligns itself with the wisdom tradition of yoga—is that contentment is something that has to be practiced.
Most of us know how to practice discontentment. We routinely sabotage our good moods by worrying about the future; bitching about our bosses; comparing our achievements, looks, and body weight with those of others; or telling ourselves negative stories about our lives and relationships. The yogic practices for getting to contentment are simply tactics for reversing these tendencies, for retraining our minds to view life from a different perspective. And these techniques are universally applicable—they can work for you whether you practice yoga or not.”
This is why I teach yoga. I think of it as HAPPINESS TRAINING. I wholeheartedly believe that we are co-creators with the Universe and what we say to ourselves on the inside is what we see on the outside. The world is not created out there and then experienced inside us. It's the other way around. What you see on the outside is the reflection of what you've created on the inside through your thoughts. But it's not easy to be happy, and it certainly isn't for wimps. It takes courage to be happy (as Henry Frederic Amiel) says. And the good news is:
It is never too late.
Even if you are going to die tomorrow,
Keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today.
If you keep your situation happy day by day,
you will eventually reach the greatest happiness of Enlightenment. --Lama Yeshe