As we start to emerge from lock-down, can we move into it with full open hearts, with love and compassion for ourselves and others?
We all to some degree have been isolated and closed off from everyone around us (some more than others) for many months now. Even as we tentatively move out of lock-down we will continue to feel ‘separated’ due to the social distancing guidelines.
This is a time to be whole-hearted so we can bridge those physical distances with mental, emotional and spiritual connections. But do we know how to 'feel' whole, to 'be' whole-hearted?
We need to feel a connection to the deeper sense of who we are, in order to feel whole and complete ourselves before we can connect wholeheartedly with those around us.
Self love, self nourishment, self care are vital in these times, to know 'what' that entails, we have to know and connect to ourselves.
Why do you get on your yoga mat or your meditation cushion?
For the love of yoga?
For the love of me-time?
For the love of the physical workout?
For the love of the mental stillness?
For the love of learning?
Your Online lock-down practice may reveal ‘why’ you get on your mat, why you practice.
With these pre-recorded online sessions, no-one is ‘making’ you, no-one knows whether you practice or not (other than your family or your cat!). You certainly aren’t tied to a fixed time or location for the class, no-one is relying on meeting you there and no-one knows if you even complete the session.
So why do you practice?
Is it pure discipline or a feeling that you ‘should’? If so, what is the ‘because’ part of that ‘should’? That might be your ‘why’.
When we bring a ‘love of something’ and a little commitment, discipline becomes devotion.
It becomes an authentic ‘love’ centered way of life.
This month is not about encouraging you to devote yourself to yoga specifically, it is about encouraging you to find what you love doing, what makes your heart sing, what makes you feel alive and whole. Our yoga practice can help us tune into our deeper self, into our heartfelt desires and a sense of aliveness being ignited. Once connected to 'that' we can wholeheartedly devote ourselves to life and to that deeper connection we have with others and the world around us.
We can use our yoga practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and savasana to quieten the ego, quieten the superficial versions of ourselves, providing space and stillness to ask ourselves those questions and journal whatever thoughts/answers arise. Allowing the words to flow without editing from our self-judgement or self-doubt. If words don't flow then doodle, often these doodles can express things that words cannot.
We can make mandalas, placing 'our-self' at the centre. Allow the mandala to evolve, filling the sections with things that connect you to your centre. It could be words, colours, pictures or natural items that represent aspects of your happiness and well-being, as long as it means something to you.
When you know what connects you to your centre, these things become your self-care responsibilities. These things need to be included in your life, to keep connecting you to your centre. When we take care of our needs, we become whole and whole-hearted.
In quantum physics it is documented that a subtle vibrational energy is the substratum of everything we know. Long before quantum physics was a ‘thing’ the traditions of yoga philosophy recognised this energy and referred to it as Shakti; the formless source of everything.
In Hindu traditions this Shakti takes forms as Gods and Goddesses that represent the multiple aspects of our own consciousness.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of Abundance and Good Fortune. She represents that part of us that sees beauty in everything, experiences gratitude for the simple things and is kind and generous in spirit.
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” Rumi
“Lakshmi is an aspect of our life-force: the sense of sufficiency, abundance and beauty is built into us, and so is the need for it” Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti.
Like the natural cycle of breath, the natural action that Lakshmi takes in us is the fine balance of giving and receiving.
Without receiving what we need we feel depleted, stressed, anxious and lacking.
Without giving we become arrogant, entitled, hard and narcissistic.
We are wholehearted when we allow ourselves to ‘receive’ with the feeling that we deserve the gifts of life and then ‘give’ with the feeling that others deserve them also.
If we wish to invoke wholeheartedness and all the qualities that Lakshmi represents we can use the following mantra:
Om shrim maha lakshmyai namaha
Ohm shreem muh-hah luhk-shmyai nuh-muh-huh
Last month we observed the cycles within us and in the world around us, we began to feel the interconnectedness of it all. That we need both light and dark, action and inaction, giving and receiving, to breathe in and to breathe out, in order to be whole.
This month we’re tuning into that subtle energy (Shakti) to the sense of abundance and to our deeper Self. Becoming wholeheartedly devoted to ourselves, to life and to love.
I feel it also invites us to revisit the last of Patanjali’s Niyamas:
Ishvara Pranidhana - asks us to surrender to a power that is bigger than you or I, to something that we are all a small part of, whatever we choose to name it or maybe leave it unnamed.
To surrender to this unknown is not a passive act, it is to be an active participant in life, without the need to control it, to fully experience the magnitude and mystery that it is to be human
The ego resists surrender, fights to be in charge, but when we relinquish the power of the ego, life begins to nourish and support us in amazing ways.
As you practice this month, continue asking yourself why you’re here on the mat, what do you need to receive or let go of in order to feel whole and complete.
Have the intention to cultivate the qualities of the Goddess Lakshmi.
See you on the mat!
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti