By Helen Maupin CYA-E-RYT500
My yoga practice frees my capacity to write poems, and the poetry, as seen below, reveals my critical path through the continuous cycle of transformation.
Coming of Age
Another corner rounded, evidenced
by shifting sensations, expressions,
We are not left the same as we once were.
The closing of this well-read chapter
settles the scores of the past, opening
once blocked clear-seeing and creation.
Much was shed in the passing.
Turning a new page provides
the long-awaited blank canvas, soon
to be collaged with each emerging
experience. With awareness,
we co-create a joyful future.
Joy resides in such effortless spontaneity,
where celebration is witnessed in playfulness.
Naked, yet at home, in our new old skin.
In its essence, a regular yoga practice reveals to the practitioner where imbalance resides in body, mind and breath. As we become aware of our personal imbalances, we also discover how to transform them into healthier, happier ways of being in the world. It is these positive outward expressions that energetically influence and transform the behaviour of those around us. One cannot exude health and happiness without equally infecting the planet.
Over my own lifetime, it became clear to me that building and then maintaining a state of wellness requires a whole person perspective. Yoga teaches us that we must first be aware of our five layers of being (see image below) in order to integrate their respective capacities. Thus, our life journey shifts from merely surviving to thriving. And, because we are collective social beings, as well as one in essence, our personal suffering and joy is intimately connected to all people and the planet. Suffice it to say, the sooner we all get active in “being the change we wish to see”, the sooner other people and the planet will respond in like kind. Loving kindness works!
In order to move beyond survival into thriving, we must establish a solid foundation, have the ability to flow with whatever life presents to us, and all the while free our creative spirit. Integrating these three critical elements — foundation, flow and freedom — ensures we are each able to:
My yogi collaborator, Candace Propp, and I agree that self-reliance, self-mastery and self-expression are greatly enhanced by the following four pillars of transformation — awareness, deep-felt experience, deep collaboration and creative expression. In fact, we believe so strongly in their ability to alter the course of one's life and that of the planet that we designed a 12-week online program, which is soon to be released to the public. These four pillars emerged from recognizing our own self-inquiry process. Tried and true, they supported our journey from merely surviving to joyful thriving. They have shown themselves to be equally impactful in consolidating freedom for many others who chose to join us.
Let’s dig deeper into what it means to be aware, which IMHO is at the root of all yoga teachings. Furthermore, it is fundamental to shifting our personal imbalances (physical and mental illness) and global imbalances (climate change, poverty, war, etc.).
Undoubtedly, the wake-up call that snapped me to attention was the following adage — Where attention goes, energy flows. After reading this statement and witnessing my own distracted and impulsive attention span, I recognized my unconscious mind was controlling the show. I was running on autopilot with a lot of "fight-flight" response interjected during times of high stress. In other words, great chunks of my days, life and energy reserves were spent outside of conscious choice. I was not purposefully leading in my own life. And this is only one of the reasons why being aware (purposefully attentive and awake in the present moment of one's sensations, thoughts, words and deeds) is vital to creating a joyful life.
Another equally powerful reason for shoring up our awareness skill is that we are then able to see the whole truth.
Enlightenment is seeing things as they are,
not as we want or perceive them to be.
Wanting and perceiving bring in the past,
which blocks being present to the moment as it is.
— Sandra Stuart, Yoga Teacher
Enlightenment has present moment awareness at its essence. In fact, they are one and the same. Every time we learn something new or have an AHA experience, we are becoming more aware, more enlightened. Staying aware in each unfolding moment allows us to access our intuitive wisdom, which is at the root of all worldly creation or innovation.
Here is a simple awareness experiment you can try right now. You may want to set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes. Now, close your eyes and take your attention/awareness inside your body. With your inner awareness, search out a sensation (pain, tension, numbness, tingling, etc.). There may be several sensations, but choose only one and rest your awareness on it. Just breathe normally, and if your mind wanders or thoughts and emotions arise, keep refocusing your awareness on the chosen sensation.
Once the timer goes off, you may want to journal about your awareness experiment. What did you learn about yourself? That is, what did you become aware of? Did you find it easy or difficult to keep your awareness focussed on the sensation? Did focusing your awareness on an uncomfortable sensation in your body begin to alleviate that discomfort? Did your intuition speak to you about the root cause of the discomfort? If it did, what one action can you take to alleviate your discomfort and, thereby, make the world a better place?
In closing, the ancient adage gracing the Oracle of Delphi — All Knowledge is Self-knowledge — inspired the wisdom seeker in me to continually hone my self-knowledge. Why? Because all knowledge is self-awareness.
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