Archive for August, 2013
As Sri Swami Satchidananda explains in his interpretation to the Bhagavad Gita, (The Living Gita – the complete Bhagavad Gita /A commentary for modern readers by Sri Swami Satchitananda), the “Kurukshetra”, the battle field, is not something that happens as a once off event, but rather a constant battle within us; good against bad, faith against doubt, judgment against compassion and so on. This battle exists probably within all of us on a daily basis and probably even more in those of us who drifted away from religion and do not have this inner faith in a supreme power the same way that religious people might have. Saying that just because one is religious or a yogi does not necessarily mean he is enlightened and free from all sufferings or doubts.
Unfortunately our mind, our physical body and our heart and spirit have become separate. They no longer have the ability to converse, to listen and to respect the needs of one another. We tend to ignore the signs that are sent to us and end up sick and unhappy in one of them or most likely in all of them as they are interconnected.
Very early in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells Arjuna that his main reason for suffering is because his mind, heart and body are not saying the same things. He thinks one thing, acts differently and feels a completely different thing to the other two.
The “Kauravas” in the Bhagavad Gita represent what we would probably describe as “negative emotions and states of mind” where as the Pandavas represent the positive.
I was asked by my teacher to describe my own battle field which was an extremely interesting experience. I often read from the Bhagavad Gita and theme my classes around it and share it with my students but suddenly when needed to take such a concept which is so easy to understand as long as it is not imposed on my life, became extremely challenging and even paralyzing. Putting it down in writing would mean admitting what the mind tries so hard to ignore, to hide, to repress. At the same time there is even a deeper fear that the ego will take over and will not allow me to admit it all to the fullest and then there will be a feeling of “failure” and a feeling that all that I have done so far and believe in will turn out to be in vain.
I feel that my biggest “Kaurava” is Fear.
This fear has been a part of me as long as I can remember myself. I feel that is perhaps a “genetic” part of me. Since I was a child I heard the stories of my grandparents’ experiences in the holocaust which were horrifying. I felt that being “Jewish” was a curse as so many people around the world hate me for simply being this; a Jewish Israeli. Through the years this fear has expended to other fields of my life; mainly the fear of failing, of not excelling. This has often led me to completely avoiding experiencing new things / emotions / thoughts and closing me down even though I used to think of myself as an ‘open minded person’. My posture reflected this and I was shutting my heart to the outside world.
All my life I was an atheist. My ancestors have lost their faith in “God” after everything they went through, which I can completely understand. I was brought up with no reference to “God” or “Spirit”. When I stepped into the Laughing Lotus in NYC, about 13 years ago, it was the first time I felt this connection to my spirit awaken and since then it has been an interesting and challenging journey. Through Yoga, I learn to face these fears every time I step on my mat, to open my heart, and through challenging myself to reinforce and find faith in myself and in what I am capable of doing (which is really EVERYTHING). I am reminded of the connection to the spirit and to a higher power, whatever names we wish to name it.
I hope that this practice supports you somehow in some similar way as we all continue this beautiful journey called “life” and progress towards freedom and happiness.
By Olivia Rae
“Each of us is a moving center, a space of divine mystery. And though we spend most of our time on the surface in the daily details of ordinary existence, most of us hunger to connect to this space within, to break through to bliss, to be swept away into something bigger than us.”
I don’t really watch television, but last week I turned it on, and Australia’s Got Talent came up. I wasn’t really watching, until they started telling the story of Tommy Franklin, and it caught my attention. As they were showing Tommy’s story through an interview with him – they had onlookers in the screen. These onlookers whilst looking at Tommy, were doing the ‘what are they doing…they’re odd’ facial expressions…come’on you know that face, we’ve all done it before. We pull these faces out of fear. The fear of being different, the fear of standing out, the fear of the unknown. When we see someone who doesn’t ‘fit’ the status quo, we react out of fear – pulling faces, laughing, making judgements, anything along those lines because that person is ‘strange’. Watching it you could feel the energy – they were resisting him (probably because it is a part of ourselves which most of us suppress and resist).
Tommy walked out on stage – and the reaction from the judges and audience, were the same as the first onlookers during the interview. The music started…Shooting Stars by Bag Raiders…Tommy started to dance. My heart melted. His dance wasn’t choreographed with steps, there was no rules, it pure expression, an expression that was uncaged. It was an expression of him – from the soul. The camera scanned the audience again. Everyone’s initial judgements and resistance towards him had disappeared. They were all infected by his energy – he radiated and danced with freedom, joy, happiness and love. He brought a smile to each person’s face – it is so infecting that you just have to move along with the beat and smile!
I believe why, the moment when Tommy started dancing everyone’s judgements and resistance disappeared was because it sparks the free spirit within us, that too, wants to be expressed. We live our lives so restricted and limiting, we supress our spirits, our soul, or highest self, our creative self – whatever you call it, we suppress it as we fear the judgements people will make about us, the fear of not being accepted if we were to not fit the ‘society norm’, we end up living life hoping to walk past unnoticed.
“I’m free to be me and so is everyone else.” – Tommy Franklin
“Many of us are looking for a beat, something solid and rooted where we can take refuge and begin to explore the fluidity of being alive, to investigate why we often feel stuck, numb, spaced-out, tense, inert and unable to stand up or sit down or to unscramble the screens that reflect our collective insanity. The question I ask myself and everyone else is – Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit? Can we be free of all that binds and bends us into a shape of consciousness that has nothing to do with who we are moment to moment, from breath to breath?”
Some dance, some do Yoga, some scuba dive – the practice you choose is irrelevant – it is the dedication and honesty to it that matters. Each time we roll out our Yoga mat we are given this opportunity to really explore ourselves and investigate. Falling into this space within, that is without a judge, allows us to become conscious to our patterns, our habits, our thoughts…to everything. This opportunity on our mats allows us to consciously observe how we live our lives off the mat, as the way we practice each asana is a reflection to how we act off the mat in different areas of our lives – and then to consciously change and transform these patterns, habits and thoughts that no longer serve our free spirit.
“We dance to hook up to the true genius lurking behind all the bullshit – to seek refuge in our originality and our power, to reinvent ourselves, to shed the past, forget the future and fall into the moment feet first.”
If your dance is on the mat, may it build you the courage to take your dance off the mat, bringing this freedom into all aspects of your life.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
All quotes in italic are from the article written by Gabrielle Roth named ‘The Spiritual Power of Dance’.