Practice non-judgement, gather resources, find your tribe, and bliss out!
We often think of yoga as movement, postures, or stretching… but the art and science of yoga goes so much deeper. Check out these seven steps for personal transformation and healing!
First, we can acknowledge where we are with non-judgment and curiosity, beginning to practice self-awareness on and off the mat. The first yoga sutra says: Atha Yoga Nushasanam, which can be translated to Now the Inquiry of Yoga Begins.
Second, we can choose to take personal responsibility for our health, our wellness and our lives, letting go of blame (I feel the way I do because of someone else or something external to me) and shame (I am not enough). We begin to focus our attention on creating peace in our inner worlds rather than fixing and changing external circumstances. Our inner worlds begin to influence our external reality.
Third, we can create a vision for where we are going and a personal mission statement based on inner principles to guide our decisions in life. In that sense, we are making conscious choices rooted in character rather than reactive responses based on short term pleasure or fear. To support this process, check out Patanjali’s eightfold path and pay special attention to the the yamas and niyamas, which are observances that lead to healthy habits.
Practice: CREATE VISION- What does living a healthy and fulfilling life look like? Feel like? When you imagine a life where you are happy, healthy and living a life full of purpose and integrity, what are you doing? Who are you surrounded by? How do you treat yourself and others?
If we know where we are going and the principles are guiding us, we discover a sense of stability, integrity and inner peace in the healing process. I find my personal mission statement and vision board helps me to align the choices I make in the present moment with my deepest, most integrated self… and this in turn gives me the patience and awareness to sacrifice pleasure in the moment for long-term happiness… most of the time.
Fourth, we can practice presence and and self-awareness on and off the mat… letting go of attachment to end results. We can let go of trying to arrive in some complex posture or at some future destination and, instead, we can become interested in our own experience in the present moment. Here, we take the seat of the witness or nonjudgmental observer within. The asana practice in yoga (postures and breathing exercises translated as “to sit in the seat of one’s self“) is a wonderful tool to support this step.
Fifth, we can discover new information and personal tools to support our process. We identify gaps in our knowledge or support base (perhaps we choose to develop resources for self-soothing, or we find individual or group support systems around issues we face) and gather new resources to aid our growth. And then we can allow these external resources and support systems to interact with our own “gut” or inner compass, taking baby steps in each moment of our lives, knowing these small moments add up to big changes.
Sixth, we can ground our personal understanding, mission and practices in community by discovering our tribe.
Practice: Are there other people who are interested in exploring mindfulness practices, yoga, personal growth, or your chosen spiritual practice? How do you feel when you join this community? Who in your life already makes you feel authentic, whole, abundant, and alive? And where are there people who are being, living, doing, thinking in ways that align with your mission and vision?
We can go through life protecting ourselves and avoiding authentic connection- and yet, when we open our minds and hearts to love (not necessarily romantic love), we find ourselves attracting other people who are asking similar questions and enjoying life the way we like to enjoy life. Although it is wonderful to spend time around people who are incredibly different from ourselves, finding our tribe- people who are aligned with our core values- gives us a sense of connection and resilience in our lives.
Seventh, we can begin to know ourselves as multidimensional beings and “yoke” or “unite” the various aspects of ourselves. Yoga means “to yoke” the sun and the moon, the masculine and the feminine, the light and the dark, the yin and the yang. When we experience moments of yoga (the integration of the layers of our being), we move from darkness into the light… and we bliss out! We access a healing state of inner peace and experience personal transformation that is rooted in a sense of infinite abundance, love and light.
And we remember the saying Jack Kornfield introduces in his book A Path With Heart: “After the ecstasy, the laundry.” Kornfield goes on to say, “The dazzling effects of lights and visions, the powerful releases of rapture and energy, all are a wonderful sign of the breakdown of the old and small structures of our being, body, and bind. However, they do not in themselves produce wisdom… Even great openings of the heart, kundalini processes, and visions can turn into spiritual pride or become old memories… Spiritual experiences in themselves do not count for much. What matters is that we integrate and learn from the process” (Kornfield, 129).
So the bliss itself is not necessarily indicative of lasting transformation… it is in the life-long, moment-to-moment process of learning from direct experience when personal transformation occurs! Beginning right now…