WHO AM I? WHAT IS MY DHARMA? WHY AM I HERE?
And this means it is something more than the role we play at work, the labels we wear like son, daughter, partner, parent. When we get onto the mat it is a special time to rediscover ourselves. Or for many of us, to discover ourselves for the first time. Through these poses and conscious breathing we learn to gain control of our emotions and harness the power of our mind to direct our 60,000 daily thoughts towards our great purpose. But first we have to know WHO WE ARE before we are able to give direction. It’s like using the GPS on the car, you have to know the destination. This practice breaths life back into us or as Rumi writes, “I was dead, then alive, weeping then laughing. The power of love came into me!” With every physical sensation we feel our humanity. As Stephen Covey puts it, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” So as a human being what is your Life’s Purpose or Dharma?
So right now say to yourself, “I AM THE CREATOR OF MY LIFE. I will listen with total attention to my experience, I will relish each sensation, I will love every minute of being with myself today.” You see the poses are the QUESTIONS. They are not the answers. They help us to be aware of our attitudinal alignment. For instance they ask us the fundamental question of whether or not we are focusing on our limitations or on our DREAMS, are we expecting the worst from life or the best from life? To co-create with the universe means we are taking responsibility to know who we are and are actively sharing our unique contribution with the world. Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States said it like this, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.” So how do we do this? We get to work on the mat, anchored in our body to try to peal back the layers to look inside where all the answers already exist. As the Buddha says, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”
It is not always easy. But we have to work harder than our fear, we have to work harder than our pain to make the truest discovery of WHO AM I. And the answer only comes from within, no one else can tell us who we are and why we are here. I know it’s sometimes scary (like doing a handstand against the wall) but through the poses we break down the self-doubt and grow more determined to live as who we really are. Eventually by the end of the practice we meet ourselves or as Derek Walcott puts it, “The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the others welcome, and say, sit here. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life.”
So this year face your fears, do not let them stand in the way of discovering the answer to WHO AM I. Best put by Earl Nightingale who says, “Don’t let fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Love to all, Peace to All, Courage to all! Silvia
NOVEMBER 1, 2009: “If you want to know the past, to know what has caused you, look at yourself in the present, for that is the past’s effect. If you want to know your future, then look at yourself in the present, for that is the ause of the future.” Majihima Nikaya
What I would love for you to do today is just Pay Attention. Start by paying attention to your breath. When’s the last time you really thought about the power of your own breath? Consider this prose from Pieree Teilhard De Chardin to help inspire you “The inhale and the exhale. Breathing out carbon dioxide to the trees and breathing in their fresh exudations. Oxygen kissing each cell awake, atoms dancing in orderly metabolism, interpenetrating. That dance of the air cycle, breathing the universe in and out again, is what you are, is what I am.” Wow! All he is talking about is the breath.
Keeping the breath in mind helps us to focus our attention. It is an anchor to the present moment and if you use it the breath will always guide you back to yourself when your mind wanders. The breath helps us remember that we can only live one moment at a time and that is right here, right now so we might as well be alert to whatever is actually happening. If we stop paying attention to the moment before we know it we stop paying attention to our life and years or decades slip by. Jon Kabat Zinn says, too often our lives cease working because we cease working at life.
Yoga teaches us that when we are not present our minds become totally distracted and our thoughts are all over the place, starting stopping, wandering from one thing to the other at often break neck speed. If we pay attention we harness the power of our thoughts. This is a human being what distinguishes us from other creatures and is our GREATEST STRENGTH. I don’t care how much money you make or have in the bank, the value of the currency of your thoughts is worth more than anything!
Probably the coolest thing I come back to time and again is that we get to choose on purpose our own thoughts! Our thoughts then are like a magnet that attract similar energy (positive attracts positive, negative attracts negative). So why would we waste time paying attention to negative thoughts over and over again? Why wouldn’t we choose to pay attention to what makes us stronger.
Ultimately, when we are present and paying attention we can through practice have a meaningful dialogue with ourselves asking “WHO AM I” and as Swami Vivekananda says, “We are responsible for what we are and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.” And from there we are so focused that we can ask ourselves “WHY AM I HERE?” You’ll be amazed that this naturally evolves simply from paying attention. But if your mind is disturbed its like rough waters on a lake you can throw a pebble in and you won’t be able to see the ripple effect because the water is too choppy…but if your mind is calm from paying attention you can throw a little pebble and watch it ripple. When you practice yoga, you see these ripples of possibility every moment!
Today just say to yourself “My life is precious and glorious and I will pay attention.” Love to you, Silvia