ARE YOU GROWING? A TEST OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
March 20, 2011. I often ask myself what is the true test of my Spiritual Growth? Or more simply put I meditate on the question "Am I still growing?" When I was little my Mom measured us (me and my brother) against the door in our house and marked the little lines proving I was actually growing physically. You did that too, right? Well, I loved that. I was sad the day she stopped doing it and I stopped growing.
Well that's speaking to physical growth. I am as tall as I'm going to be (although to be honest by practicing yoga I've gotten a little taller, just a quarter inch but that's pretty cool).
However what I'm speaking about is emotional and spiritual growth. My aspiration continues to be that I grow into the BEST version of myself. And that's what I hope for you too.
Or as True Nobility is defined: it is not about being better than anyone else, it is about being better than you used to be, much better. This is the barometer of our ability to raise our spiritual energy. Are you better than you used to be? Are you growing?
"The only difference between a flower that is alive and one that is dead is that the live flower is still growing." - Dr Wayne Dyer
For me I received so much nourishment, like a flower, from my daily yoga practice that I wanted more. That's when I started taking yoga workshops: first they were the 2 hour kind, then the half day, then the full day, finally entire weekends both locally and eventually I started traveling all over the U.S to attend 2-3 day trainings and workshops until I went all the way by signing up for a one week yoga retreat in Italy with Sadie Nardini. Well that did it for me. I could experience for myself that to keep growing I had to keep investing in myself and more time dedicated to evolving my consciousness was required to do that. And traveling to new places and exploring new territories externally matched the growth I was making internally. They went hand in hand.
And that's when I made the commitment to start leading yoga retreats combined with other ways to express one's yoga and vitality like cycling and hiking. I want to give everyone a chance to really invest in your own growth and raise your energy by visiting places that support your evolution.
You see, until the last breath, I don't buy into wellness as defined by the AMA as the "absence of illness". I believe in the potential for radiant health (shakti) as the World Health Organization defines wellness. I am growing! And I am learning. And the higher my vibration the softer I get on the outside. I am kinder, more patient, nicer and easily more loving. I think we all are when we're growing. So make that commitment to yourself keep affirming your life! Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
In the words of Lao Tzu,
"At birth all people are soft and yielding
At death they are hard and stiff
All green plants are tender and yielding
At death they are brittle and dry
When hard and rigid we consort with death
When soft and flexible we Affirm Greater Life."
CHOICES ALL DRESSED UP AND SOMEPLACE TO GO
JANUARY 20TH, 2010: We have a CHOICE. What we tell ourselves is reflected back to us by the world. How we see ourselves in term of the quality of our thoughts and healthy choices determines how others see us. Our view of self sewn together thought by thought creates the sacred garment we are always wearing around. This garment then is what other people see. So ask yourself what does your garment look like today? Have you arrived into this day wearing something that is torn and beat up because that is the way you are talking to yourself through your inner dialogue? Or have you chosen thoughts and actions with meticulous care like you would choose the best quality fabrics, rich textures to sew together a beautiful costume?
Now I have to tell you when I first started practicing yoga some years ago I would wear to class my loosest crappiest stuff. I figured if I looked like I didn't care then the expectation would be lower from the teacher and other students since I didn't know what I was doing. I certainly didn't want to look like I cared or that I was trying my hardest and really wanted to get it. I know I had a choice but my choices were conflicted. I wanted to make my life a work of art (Thich Nhat Hahn) but I didn't want to admit that out loud. But deep inside was this quiet voice that insisted on trying to be my potential. The more I practiced yoga the louder that inner voice got and the wierdest thing happened...I changed what I was wearing to class. I know it seems trivial but it was indicative of a bigger choice and change going on within me. My self-confidence grew with my self-expression.
Today, I dress up for yoga class. I bling it out. I make the choice in my thoughts, in my actions, in my words to aspire to greatness. I am not afaid to reveal my choices and the world treats me differently because I treat myself better. Sadie Nardini wrote in her book Road Trip Guide to the Soul "Our biggest mistake as humans is to look at our destructive, habitual patterns adn think we cannot choose again, because we have fallen prey to the illusion that what we have chosen repeatedly is how we are stuck with being. You ALWAYS have the POWER - and the RIGHT - to CHOOSE again."
On the mat each pose is simply part of the creation (shakti) of the garment we are choosing to wear and represent ourselves with in the world. In Vinaysa Flow yoga the breath serves as the thread that sews each pose seamlessly to the next, stitch by stitch. The way we practice our yoga truly becomes the way we live our lives and how the universe is reflected back to us. And the more we take ownership of our choices the more beautiful this energetic garment we wear becomes and we get excited to wear it around. We have purpose. This practice in a real sense helps us get all dressed up AND have someplace to go! Loads of love, Silvia
POTENTIALITY: CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE
MAY 8th, 2009: On this beautiful Mother's Day weekend, where we honor the power of creation itself, I feel deeply inspired by all of the Mom's that practice yoga with us at TBY. I see their strength and quiet courage in making time for their own nourishment on the yoga mat so that they have more to give their children and partners. You are all amazing in that you are modeling such healthy choices for your families! Keep shining out for you are making the world better not only for your kids but for the children of your children. This ripple of self-love lasts forever!
And I'd like to especially recognize all the current pregnant goddesses practicing with us in almost every single class. What a humbling expression of love to be in the practice with such a powerful being growing inside.
Finally I bow in gratitude to one of the most powerful women I know, my mentor Shiva Rea, who inspires me with such infinite goddess energy to be a better person and teacher each and every day. Yesterday she wrote these words that I totally embrace and want to share with you, "All praises to the men who love women and the women who love men...Ah Shiva-Shakti!"
You see this practice is one of finding the balance and honoring the power of creation and the action required to direct that energy into new realms. We are Shiva Shakti, we are sun, moon, Zeus and Athena, Sita and Ram. Through spiritual practice we can find that perfect harmony within ourselves. We discover our potential for more and greater things! Even if the way we are doing life now is good, it can evolve more as our nature is one of expansion and creativity. So today let’s harness our own creative power to give birth to the next stage of our lives, to our best self ever! Listen to your heart, Silvia
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Suess
ARE YOU AUDITING YOUR LIFE
Put simply: are you Auditing life or are you a full-time active player.
There are really only two teams: WHICH TEAM ARE YOU PLAYING FOR?
Yoga teaches that LIFE requires active participation. Instead of watching folks dance on tv, why not dance? Instead of watching folks on TV sing, why not start singing or playing guitar yourself. Instead of watching folks take great adventures in the amazing race, why not have an adventure of your own? That's the inspiration I hope you find from tonight's class at 7:30pm, Level 1. That you show up and participate more fully in your life, that you don't just audit it watching others live. When we do this, I see it as a WIN for life itself. This is a true victory of spirit! This is a victory for life itself!
Take to heart the words of Jon Kabat Zinn, "When you quit working at life, life stops working for you." Yup. So engage your life right now, get in the game! Love and courage to you all, 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
QUESTIONS ARE COMPLICATED - ANSWERS ARE SIMPLE
JULY 30TH, 2008: It never ceases to amaze me how good we all are (and I mean gold medal good) at making the questions of life super complicated. The good news is that regardless of how complex we make the questions, the answers are simple. So I pulled together a simple list of 5 of these answers based on my lifetime of yogic readings and experience to share with you.
The teachings of yoga include a view called parinamavada, the idea that constant change is an inherent part of life. Therefore, to proceed skillfully with any action, we must first assess where we are starting from today; we can’t assume we are quite the same person we were yesterday. Emerson says it like this, “There are no fixtures in nature. The universe is fluid.”
In life, change is constant. Things are always beginning, dissolving, dying. And we are usually most aware of life’s ever-changing nature in the gut-wrenching moments…loss, death, heartbreak. In a nutshell we can respond to change in 2 ways.
- One response is to race against time in an effort to accomplish as much as possible. When you realize “life is short” and no marriage, no person, nothing lasts forever, you want to squeeze it all in. This response is fun and exhilarating but ultimately can wear you out. “Time--when pursued like a bandit--will behave like one. Always remaining one county or one room ahead of you…slipping out the back door just as you’re banging thru the lobby with your newest search warrant.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)
- The yogis prescribe another approach to best ride life’s ever-charging flow. By learning to relax, surrender, and let go, you realize that stillness is a magnet for contentment. As the German author Frank Kafka said, “..be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
2. IT’S OK TO ADMIT WE DON'T KNOW
In reality, we DON’T KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT. Just like there are poses in this practice we don’t understand, can’t yet do, may never be able to do or if we can perform have no idea why or how…
· When we practice Yoga we are really acknowledging that we are on the ROAD OF LIFE. The path unfolds in this moment and in every moment while we are alive. And we don’t know what comes next.
· This means in part, even at most crucial times, acknowledging that we really have NO IDEA WHERE WE ARE GOING OR EVEN WHERE THE PATH LIES.
· We are not meant to understand why all things happen, we may never understand. All we can do is keep flowing forward…
3. BE PRESENT
"We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow."
What’s so important about being in the moment? Yoga teaches us that the present moment is the source of healing, love, inspiration, passion, creativity. In fact, the purest form of strength is that which is found in the present moment. The yogis call this power of presence shakti. But to reap these benefits, one can’t just have fleeting moments of presence. We have to stay long enough in the present moment that we can really soak in its cleansing, healing, loving energy.
4. LIVE FULLY NOW
“You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted.” ~Ruth E. Renkl
Steve Ross, LA Yogi and Author puts it like this: "You are always already happy. The reason you don't experience it is that it's covered up by layers of suppressed emotions and negative thoughts. Shift your attention and your inherent happiness flashes forth."
5. GET ALONG – SEEK HARMONY
A human being consists of 75 trillion cells each with a very specific task necessary to sustain one's life. Scientists and doctors are likening the 75 trillion cells to musicians in a giant symphony. The conscious human being could never possibly conduct this symphony, but the conscious human being is absolutely responsible for providing a harmonious environment in which the symphony can play without interruption. The paradigm for health is already shifting. We can see it moving its priority from "fit body" to "open heart." The truly great workout of the future will not be "How far can I run" but "How best can I serve?"
My favorite advice is from Sri Swami Satchidananda
"Whatever you do, let it be a perfect act. What is a perfect act? It harms nobody, it brings at least some benefit to somebody. If you have control, you can use anything and everything to achieve some good purpose. Keep that in mind as your goal. Whatever you think, whatever you say or do, ask yourself: 'Will it harm anybody?' The answer should be, 'Absolutely no.' The next point is, 'Will it at least benefit somebody.' The answer should be 'Yes.' If it is not benefiting anybody, it is a waste. So, no harm to anybody, at least some benefit to somebody."