Focus on the good in your life. Focus on presence. Focus on love and showing love to yourself and others. Once you do this, the overall happiness of your life will totally change. Suddenly life doesn't seem as hard. Rather, life is exciting and the challenges are embraced rather than avoided. And the ironic beautiful part is, when that fateful day comes, we can reflect upon our lives knowing we lived, felt and appreciated every moment.Read More
Before I left for India, I was in a cushy job which paid very well. I was lucky to have this sort of financial security behind me and I will always be grateful for the many lessons learned whilst working as a corporate employee. Some good lessons, some not so good, but regardless they were lessons which have helped to shape who I am and where I am today. Over the years, since graduating, I was of the naive belief a secure job (somewhat - government is fickle) would bring joy to my life. It would allow me all sorts of freedoms which, if I were in another situation (say an unemployed entrepreneur), I wouldn’t have. Unfortunately, those beliefs turned out to be very naive after all. You see, the salary was increasing but as it would increase I would find my happiness would equally plummet. Increased salaries often bring with them increased responsibilities. Translation - no life. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with increased responsibilities, but when it’s in a role doing work which is completely uninspiring, one has to look at their life and ask the question “is it worth it?”
It took years for me to have the courage to actually ask this question and then actually act upon it. Years! But I will never feel regretful for not having left this unfulfilling lifestyle sooner, for I may not have been ready for the place I’m in now. It’s through those experiences that I can now truly appreciate the path I’m creating for myself. This path, yoga, is not in my life as a financial security, for if it were, I would be in trouble! Yoga is in my life as it brings me joy. It connects me to myself in a way nothing else ever has. Maybe people can relate to this, and maybe people can’t, but it’s certainly something I want to be completely open and honest to the world about. I hope to inspire others to act upon those desires which bring them joy and offers this same inward connection to self as what yoga brings for me. It doesn’t necessarily need to be yoga. It could be music, art, reading, walking. It could be anything. My point is that money will not necessarily offer this same connection to self. Yes, money is great and I would be lying if I said I don’t want more of it to make life a little more comfortable. But is it everything? No. This is also not to say people who earn alot of money cannot find this same connection. Absolutely not. It’s purely about taking time to stop and find what it is in your life that actually centers you. Chasing money in the hope it will bring happiness is quite possibly the silliest thing I’ve ever done, for there is no amount of cash in the world which can buy my happiness. I had to find this on my own, as does everyone else.
To be clear, I’m not recommending people who hate their jobs suddenly quit in pursuit of happiness. Not at all. This could lead to all sort of problems for you. I’m only hoping people can see, through my journey, that money isn’t everything. That in taking the time to stop and truly listen to what makes our heart sing, such happiness can be found. Possibly only for a moment, because nothing is ever constant, but at the very least you have that moment of pure bliss. And that is priceless.
I didn’t do a lot today, but of what I did do, I had an amazing time.
Something one comes to realise when living in the bubble of Gokulam, is how fast the outside world is moving. Why do we fill our days with so many activities? Why do we feel the need to buy more and more material things? Do we need those extra shoes or bracelets for example? And why is it the quiet person, who is happy with the simpler things in life, or better still - one’s own company - is frowned upon?
These are the honest thoughts which have just come to me whilst trying to work out how to structure tonight’s blog post. I say this because my amazing day may seem nothing short of boring to so many in the world. And it may very well be. But for me, I make no excuses for being the quiet one, happy with the simpler things in life, as this is where the bliss in life lies for me.
With that said, my day involved nothing more than a wonderful conversation with two beautiful young women I met at Anu’s (over a chocolate smoothie of course), and an evening class with Bharath (lesson not asana) followed by a simple dinner on the floor of Barath’s home. No extreme sports, shopping, wining and dining. This was it. Oh, and my weekly washing. I love getting this done!
Today really was a highlight day for me - of the entire trip. For one, these two lovely women, Marie from Norway and Amy from Scotland, were just genuine people. As I find it so challenging to meet genuine people nowadays, meeting them were like a breath of fresh air. We chatted for hours, and had I not needed to go home to get my undies off the line in the communal downstairs car park, I would have stayed longer.
We talked of many things, but as one would expect when you have a group of yoga practitioners together, the conversation naturally turned to that of yoga. Marie and Amy practice Ashtanga yoga, something I am not too familiar with. But type of yoga aside, fundamentally the purpose of yoga is the same. That is, we are seeking a way to still our mind. Asana is of course the first way to do this, hence the practice is so common and widely spread in the world. Something I really appreciated was Amy’s comment that yoga is bigger than all of us. She is absolutely correct. This statement can be interpreted on so many levels, but for me, as yoga helps me to connect with the deeper parts of myself, I can then connect with deeper external/universal energies (well, try to!). For example, if my energy and awareness in life is poor, then my connection to the greater world, including energy I omit and receive in return, will also be poor.The opposite is also true. If my energy is high and I can connect with myself on a deeper level, then my ability to connect with the world is also heightened. It’s important to remember yoga is not just about asana. That is one component of yoga. Moreso, it is the ability to bring yoga into your daily life. Whether on a boat, in an office or a crazy market place, an ability to maintain presence demonstrates a true, deeper level has been attained.
With yoga, we need to remember we are practicing what our teachers have taught us, their teachers taught them, those teachers were taught by other teachers and so on and so forth. This practice is thousands of years old and as practitioners we have a responsibility to honor this practice and its history. To treat it with utmost respect and remain committed to implementing the learnings into our daily lives. Often people can forget how old this practice is, how important it has been to many millions of people over the years. Yoga is not the latest trend, or fad diet. It is an art form which should be treated with respect. As a teacher and practitioner, I have a responsibility to this practice. To continually strive to deepen my own practice. Only then, am I in a position to teach it to others.
We also chatted about whether it is good or bad if people miss classes. As Amy pointed out, our teachers do not care if we miss a class as that is not their problem. It is our problem. If we miss a class, we are the ones who have lost, have missed out. The enormous benefits by which this practice can give to every human being have been lost. I too agree. To the practitioner who has a regular routine, they will notice the effects within themselves when a practice has been missed. Energy is not quite right for that day. However, in saying that, one also needs to allow themselves the freedom to miss a class should their body need this rest because, as I mentioned before, yoga is not just about the asana. It’s about how to bring yoga into our daily lives which is where the real power lies.
A lovely conversation I was disappointed to leave.
View of the sunset from the Shala
Ready for Part II - bring on 500+Hrs TTC!
This evening we commenced the second half of my 500+hr TTC. There are nine of us in total. Two new students, who completed training with Bharath in previous years, have joined our small group. Duncan and Josephine. They seem like lovely people.
In class, Bharath took us through the course structure for the coming month, and I have to say I am very excited about what’s to come. We will learn about (and practice of course) advanced kriyas, bandhas, mudras, asanas, adjustments - among many other things. This month is all about achieving Sadhana, about deepening our practice. Its not about learning asanas and their limitations etc. We know all this. Now we go deeper. We will also be writing a thesis (and delivering a one hour presentation in two weeks time) on working with a student who suffers a particular ailment. Again, we are going deeper now which is exciting.
As Bharath has gotten to know us all, he has also become much more ‘chatty’. He maintains the respect as a teacher, but there is a wall he has removed allowing us to get a little closer to him (if that makes any sense). The class format seems far more relaxed and I guess this is more easily achieved when working with a much smaller group. Bharath also seemed more comfortable at dinner sitting on the floor with us, laughing and eating, telling stories and sharing lessons. For such a young man, only 35, he has so much wisdom. I could listen to him talk for hours. I am completely inspired by this man. Unlike yesterday with obsessed followers of Amma who tend to lack any rationality around why they are so obsessed, with Bharath everything he says has reason to it. There is logic to his words and he only speaks of what he knows and has studied intently. This is why I hold him with such high regard.
So, as one can see, today was a simple day, but a truly great day. Because, for me, it’s the simple but meaningful conversations with genuine people, with no agenda or ulterior motive but to purely share and learn from one another, which brings joy to my world. This is where the substance is. To me, this is living.
With my alarm set for 4.00am (yes back to that routine) it is now time to prepare for bed. I have a vinyasa flow class first thing!
Enjoy your practice, and remember to ask yourself - “are you bringing yoga into your life?”
Hmmm - I have to be honest, I didn’t get alot done today by way of training. Being a Sunday with a million and one things to organise before Christmas, I did little when it comes to preparing for my trip to India.
My partner has agreed to help me learn Sanskrit. We began training today where he tells me the posture to do and as I do it I repeat the name of the posture in Sanskrit. It’s certainly a challenge - and I only learned four names! Making no excuses for my terrible effort. I promise myself to do better throughout the coming weeks. I have decided to transform my morning practice to one of learning the foundation asanas and their proper names. If I committ to learning 4 per day I should be ok.. I think.
I was telling my father today about my plans for india and yoga. As per usual this was met with non-acceptance and a bewildered expression. Dad’s only comment was - “you don’t earn very much doing yoga”. What I find so fascinating about a comment like that is - I already have a disposable income. and realistically I could purchase whatever I wanted. But am I happy? No. I’m not. And for me, life is about multiple meanings. My current life, by way of work, doesn’t offer that to me. So - I would rather earn less and enjoy my life, appreciating each moment, than earn more and wish my days away. But that’s just me.