It took me awhile to decide on the best way to share with you all the lessons and valuable experiences from India. I wish you were there for yourself to experience the ashram’s bliss with the inspirational lectures, thoughtful discussions, energizing sun salutations at sunrise on the Ganges shores, and the light and pure vegetarian home-made food. The entire experience was transformational in many aspects. The best part is that every one out of our 11 people group learned something slightly different and perceived the experience in a very personal way. A few people will be sharing their experiences and lessons from India trip in the coming weeks.
While reading through memoirs can be fun, I always want to make sure that you get out something useful from your time spent on this blog. When you set a clear intention, the answer emerges. Waiting on inspiration to write up the India report 2012 paid off, in my opinion, but I will let you be the judge of it. There will be two parts of the Ashram Wisdom Lessons: one today and the 2nd one next Tue. Don’t forget to sign up for the email updates on the right side bar to make sure you don’t miss the 2nd part. Let me know if you found this post interesting in the comments. I would love to reconnect and chat with you now that I am back!
Vedanta and Yoga Lessons from the Ashram
- The internal world is the most beautiful place.We are attracted to places that have beautiful views and a long interesting history. History and views of Varanasi, Agra, and Rishikesh called out my name this year. I traveled to another side of the world with a group of inspiring people to see meditation caves in Himalayas, watch the Ganges take its beginning and turn into a sacred river for millions of people worshiping it, to get lost in the windy tiny streets of the most ancient city in the world, and to marry a couple at Taj Mahal:
to celebrate the most colorful holiday on the earth:
to eat fresh spicy vegetarian food, and to admire rare jewels of Jaipur. Surprisingly, what impressed me the most were not the wonders of marble art work or the ancient temples, instead it was a quiet peaceful spot that I found inside of me. The world that you see when you close your eyes, is the most beautiful place. Calmer than a beach at sunset, more picturesque than the snow-topped mountains, and more vibrant that a forest full of birds singing. It also doesn’t cost anything to travel there. It doesn’t take time to get there. It is always present in you as soon as you draw your attention inwards.
- True happiness is not based on ever-changing external things. It can be uncomfortable to take responsibility for your own happiness but it is better than leaving it in the hands of someone else. Your decide how you feel! Don’t believe me, check out Seth Godin’s post on happiness. One of our teachers at the ashram used to say: a true yogi feels joy and does things out of joy, not for the joy. How powerful is that?! I always notice that when I feel inspired and peaceful, I want to share this feeling with my students. I want to give them a piece of it through yoga classes. It is totally different than teaching yoga to feel re-affirmed and assured that you are worthy. I used to get upset if my class was empty. It made me feel like a failure. Now, I don’t let the number of students effect my internal state of happiness. If people come to take my class, I’m happy; if there is no one there, I’m happy. It is a work in progress but I feel less dependent on my work to make me happy. Instead I choose do my work because I’m happy!
- True relaxation requires hard work. We are used to think of relaxation as collapsing on the couch in front of the TV or melting away in unconscious deep sleep somewhere on a horizontal surface. While both provide a minimal amount of rest for the body and a nervous system, efficiency-wise both of these methods suck! Resting in front of a tv is the same as washing greasy dishes in ice cubes – not very smart or effective. When the time is a precious resource and a huge part of population can’t find 8 hours to sleep, it is crucial for survival to have the tools to restore quicker. Mastering effective relaxation requires some work just like any other tool. Think of it as your relaxation muscle that needs to be trained.
Yoga Nidra is a boot camp for your relaxation muscle. While yoga nidra has a deeper purpose than just recharging our batteries, it helps with that, too. No one can meditate, if tired, you will just fall asleep! Feeling rested is one of the first steps to enlightenment, if you wish:). No exhausted enlightened folks out there;)! Once you train your relaxation muscle through regular yoga nidra, then you will be able to get into a deep state of relaxation on your own very quickly. Then your power naps, will be SUPER powered! We did yoga nidra twice a day at the ashram in India and it was the first time when I felt full of energy on 4 hours of sleep for 3 weeks! Talk about SUPER powers! For best results, try to do it everyday for 2 weeks and let me know how it works for you! Start with Guided Relaxation – Yoga Nidra or Classical Yoga Nidra 37mins
- All the answers are deep inside.You are your guru, your master, your teacher, whatever you want to call it. If you ask a question, the answer will emerge. To do that you need to learn to be still and to hear your internal voice. Some people achieve this state when they run or knit, some when they meditate. Almost any repetitive movement can put you into a highly perceptive state. Meditation does it best, however.
If you are scared of meditation, start with Yoga Nidra!
- Whatever we identify with, that we become. Your thoughts turn into your reality, whether you want it or not. We choose to identify with disease and become one with it. Maybe that’s why some people get sick often while others don’t get sick at all?! It can also be the reason behind why some people have so much trouble losing weight – their own picture of themselves is fat. What you visualize and focus on creates your body and everything that happens to you. Thoughts are food for the mind. We spend hours reading about nutrition and thinking about what to eat but we rarely scrutinize our thoughts as closely as the restaurant menu. If you chose to feed your body with a clean highly nutritional food, choose to feed your mind with positive and kind thoughts! Start with daily positive affirmations.
- Body is not me, it is my instrument and a trusted companion in life. Body has to be light and healthy to let you focus on finding the answers to the important questions and True Happiness. The concept of what is our body is tricky and controversial concept. Some people believe that we are one whole, where mind, body, and spirit are one. I think mind, body, and spirit are connected and unless one is dead it is impossible to disconnect them. All 3 are interdependent and always effect on each other. However, I’m not certain any more that all three are one and the same.
- Yoga is an effective and a multidimensional tool. If you wish, it can be your tool to attain a healthy body. If you explore yoga deeper, it can offer a recipe for happiness, bliss, or enlightenment, whatever you chose to call it. Unfortunately, we often use only 1 dimension of it – asanas. Asanas are great for our body but their effect on the mental state and emotions is limited.
Think about it this way: yoga has 8 ingredients: yamas and niyamas, asanas, pranayama, control of senses, concentration, meditation, and deep absorption. You can’t make a brownie using just the cacao! You need flour, eggs, butter, vanilla, etc. Same way, if you want the full taste of what yoga has to offer, you need to practice the combination of asanas, breath, and meditation. Breathing practices is an amazing tool to re-energize the entire body! Meditation and concentration raise awareness and allow for a much greater control of your mind and emotions. Why would you want to control your mind and emotions? Well, remember that whatever thoughts you have is what your reality looks like.
What do you think of these lessons? Have you had any revelations lately?
If you want to chat about yoga or try out some basic meditation, come to Strala Yoga on Tue night at 7pm. I will be sharing everything that I learned in India from my Vedanta and yoga teachers! Hope to see you there!
Yours Calm and Happy!