Tag Archives: Yoga

Keeping Me in We

Maintaining our sense of individuation in the context of romantic relationship seems to be one of the biggest challengs to living in an ongoing sense of Presence. The desire to be awake is a skillful desire. This desire compels us to recognize the need to observe the internal and external events that trigger a shift away from Presence. Perhaps we’ve done much work in regards to inward seeking and while we may have a deep understanding of the concepts of living a fully liberated life, the microscopic truth is that in certain aspects of our lives, those concepts have yet to be fully embodied. We can see clearly in most situations and possibly very clearly into other people’s patterns. When our sense of self is less emotionally invested, our awareness of Presence prevails. This keeps us feeling healthy the majority of the time. But we are most likely interested in feeling healthy all of the time. So when do we give it up?

In those moments of feeling detached from Presence, there is usually the presence of blame. When we are blaming someone we tend to feel either righteous and superior or rejected, incomplete and inferior. The use of justified anger isn’t as strong as it appears. It is an overcompensating response to feeling unwanted. So the deeper root, the common denominator, is feeling unwanted. So let’s look there.

If we hold a secret story of feeling unworthy or insecure then we will look to remove that feeling by receiving approval and acceptance from other people. The deepest validation of our worthiness coming from the person who chooses to make us their significant other. The misguided belief being, “I must be worthy if this person wants to be with me.” And thus we define ourselves as worthy premised upon another person’s approval of us rather than our own.

This is an unconscious paradigm to operate within because it makes you feel inferior to your partner because they represent the fulfillment of a need rather than a choice. It also means that if we don’t feel that emotional fragility around them then we most likely are assuming that if they have feelings for us then those feelings are also “need based”, which we perceive as a weakness in them. This keeps us locked in a cycle of unhealthy relationships. It’s impossible for someone to be fully themselves when we are more interested in having them meet the expectations of our own projections of what a relationship should look like.

We may tend to hold a naive idea of what it means to fall in love. It’s like we are still chasing the Hollywood story. Rather than placing a relationship on top of a solid structure of personal autonomy and self acceptance, we supplant our personal sense of me with a sense of we. We transcend and deny rather than transcend and include. This new expanded identity of an “us” with all of its wild chemicals leaves us susceptible to replacing our core identity with a new identity of us. It often imagines how it is perceived in the eyes of the world and the approval of another signifies its worthiness to the world. Since it is deriving its sense of self from how the world views it, it’s like giving an addict a drug when it receives this approval. This heightened state of ego fulfillment is often misinterpreted as love. When in truth it is tinged with clinging and attachment.

The shifting away from Presence begins with the unconscious giving away of our personal autonomy. It is experienced as anguish anytime there is the interpretation of being unwanted. I say “interpretation” because since feeling unwanted is a belief structure we hold (or are learning to release), we will mistakenly interpret other’s actions through the colored lens of our own conditioning. We will literally, on an emotional plane, manifest our own fear. What’s more, even if the interpretation of your partner choosing to not be with you is accurate, this is their free will and in no way acts as a referendum upon who you are or your value as a human being. But when your self identity is based upon their desire to be with you, and that shifts, your sense of self will crumble with it. The ensuing sense of pain is not the cause of your suffering but rather the experience of it. The cause resides in the false sense of incompleteness that gave rise to the giving away of your personal autonomy.

It’s through the practice of reconnecting with Presence in the moment of this recognition that we can fill the perceived void with our own self acceptance rather than seeking another to do that for us. Once that foundation is in tact, we have laid the groundwork to experience authentic love. A love that is based upon two whole people choosing to share their lives rather than two half people trying to make a whole one.

All attempts to find wholeness through the acceptance of another is the ego’s false attempt to replicate truth. And truth, of course, is that we are inherently whole. We need only to connect with Presence to experience the absolute beauty and wonder of who we truly are. That is the practice. Connect with Presence. From that platform we can connect with eachother without the risk of losing ourselves.


Authentic Power: Week 6 2015

Power is a loaded term. Perhaps more confusing and misunderstood than any of the other virtues I’ve contemplated thus far. We tend to regard power in terms of having power over something or someone. This sense of personal superiority is distinct from true power. It’s very life force is premised upon needing someone to be inferior so it can express its power over it. This, of course, is the ego’s method of overcompensating for its own sense of inferiority. Truly authentic power knows no comparison. It is not derived from being more than anyone else. It is derived from knowing ourselves at the depth of our being.

I’ve chosen to write about authentic power because it’s something that in all honesty has been somewhat of an internal struggle to fully realize. And I feel compelled to share this because it’s when I’m unabashedly honest that I feel most powerful, most real. It would be easy to write or teach yoga from a false platform of pretend power. I can say something wise or invoke charisma to seem powerful. But I’m not interested in seeming powerful anymore. I’m interested in being powerful. I’m interested in being real.

And in it’s most real sense, power is a virtue I’ve had to discover through necessity. Through feeling powerless. What I’m speaking of is not necessarily powerlessness in my capacity to be productive or to affect change. I’m talking about the conversation we are having with ourselves. The one we are rarely bold enough to reveal to the world. I’m talking about giving more power to what I know as truth, within the very moments of emotional obliteration. It’s easy to feel powerful in the moments where I feel my life flowing. But I’m interested in bolstering my power in those moments I’m triggered emotionally, where my false story re-emerges and I feel panic or anxiety or deep sadness. To claim my truth in those moments- that’s my yoga practice. That is truly powerful.

And here’s what I’ve realized: for so many years when I’ve felt that silent anxiety begin to rush through me and waves of darkness take over, I would believe it was real. I would derive my sense of self from my depleted emotional state. And I would become guarded- even if no one could tell. Concealing our sense of powerlessness is something we can get good at.

But what I’ve come to see is that guardedness never fulfills it’s intended function. Guardedness does not protect- it stifles our growth. The true force that prevents us from being overcome by powerlessness is truth itself. It is standing in the remembrance of who we are beyond our bodies, our possessions, our jobs, our roles, our beliefs and our emotions. It is standing in the remembrance of Self, of being, where power flows naturally not from us but through us. If we dig deep enough to know who we are at a root level, we will come to know the true meaning of authentic power.

Namaste Mother Fuckers

I am ambitious. I am a yoga teacher. I am an ambitious yoga teacher. Fuck. It’s not my fault. I was born this way. I also drink coffee & curse. Shit, I am a caffeine drinking, profanity laced, ambitious yogi. And it’s not that I lack a deep reverence for the sacred roots of the yoga tradition. And I’m not the 100 chaturangas “work out” kinda teacher. For whatever reason I’m more like the 108 aum’s “work in” kinda teacher. So when the people who come to my classes see me carrying a starbucks I get funny looks. The kind of suspicious “I guess he’s not the real deal after all ” kinda looks.

It’s a funny dilemma we contemporary yogis face: Are we to divorce ourselves from our cultural roots in order to become “authentic”? Is there some required quota we must meet in order to pass the authenticity test? Maybe something along the lines of not leaving the house, I mean cave, without the requisite mala beads and sufficiently interspersed lexicon of sanskrit & english? In other words, is our humanity an indictment on our spirituality?

Don’t get it twisted. I fully realize that in its essence yoga implores us to confront the unexamined aspects of who we are. At some inevitable point, if our paths are genuine, we must all encounter our conditioned habits and tendencies to discern whether or not they are in alignment with our higher Self. But where do we place this seemingly arbitrary benchmark for both ourselves and one another?

It seems to me that perhaps these desires and habits that we are all reconciling along the way have less to do with our external actions themselves and more to do with our internal relationship with them. It’s not so black & white. When we start putting people in defined little boxes we run the risk of becoming spiritual elitists condemning the gluten ingesting, bad mood having, sports watching, facebook loving wannabe yogis of the world. As though there is one pre-determined standard of what an awakened life looks like.

I prefer to think of each of us a process rather than a person. This reminds me to give my life, and your life, space to breathe, permission to be human. Permission to start the day with a hot, fucking delicious cup of coffee thank you very much. Followed by meditation of course. Then we may finally be able to honor the beauty of this ancient tradition within the context of our own cultural heritage.
~Namaste Mother Fuckers