Monday, July 15, 2013

Dreaming the World

I just got back from my tour in Europe. It was fun to bring the Dharma to all these different communities; sometimes I feel like a hummingbird, collecting nectar and spreading it around. As I have always loved hummingbirds, this feels like a good use of my inherent potential!

I love being back home in Santa Fe. I don’t know what it is about this enchanted place, but it makes my heart sing and my soul breathe like no other place I’ve ever been to.

Some thoughts for your contemplation:

Just like the tiniest grain of sand has a particular mass, a mass that remains attached to the big mass called Earth, every thought has a mass too. Some science, like quantum physics, verifies this and confirms that even random thoughts may have consequences because of the mass they possess. When many people focus their thoughts on the same thing, the mass increases and so does the outcome.

As we grow up, we often forget our dreams. This is an unfortunate outcome of “growing up”, as it is our very dreams that help us realize our full potential. When we forget to dream, we may get stuck in habits – good or bad. In order to change habits, we need to be fully aware of them to see how best to proceed.

It is said, while the Buddha made every mistake possible on his path to freedom he never lied to himself about it. Making mistakes, consciously, allows us to actually learn from them. I often invite my students to make new mistakes! Making the same mistakes over and over again seems very depressing to me. To go and make a new mistake is one of my missions in life.

Yogic practices, such as chanting, invite certain archetypes and possibilities into being. For example, Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Shiva, is not just the master of obstacles. He also represents an invitation to accept our life just as it is, to get grounded in the here and now. It is said, when Ganesh appears we stop wanting to be somewhere else. When this happens we actually show up, fully, to who and where we are in this moment.

One description of enlightenment is exactly that – the moment we stop wanting to be somewhere or someone else. We realize that we are in the right body at the right time, with the right people, on the right planet. We wake up to things as they are, as well as learn to hold a vision about where we are going. From this vantage point we get to work intelligently with the obstacles in the way. Holding this paradox is exactly what yoga is about.

There is an ancient teaching from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika that talks about a link between our mind and our life energy, called Prana (or chi, dao and many other references to describe this life-force in different cultures). The relationship between these two vital forces, although invisible, is one of deep connection. It is often described with the image of two fish swimming in tandem.

The work at hand is to be fully awake to where we are, and to see ourselves and others clearly. We must also cultivate the ability to cast our mind forward, say two years, to get a sense of how we want to feel in a relationship, at our job, or any other place in our life. Our life energy focuses and reorganizes around this possibility, eventually manifesting it into being. At the same time, the honest view of where we are, at the moment, and what might stand in the way, helps us to deal wisely with the obstacles.

On the yoga mat, investigating this link can take a very tangible form. We can focus our mind on the simple reality of sensations in the body while we are moving through the asanas. Instead of practicing to achieve some perfect idea of our body or the pose, we connect with the wholeness of who we are in that moment and simply accept. In that liberating instance of just being with what is, it is possible to perceive everything as sacred. Usually, once we leave the mat after one of those experiences of wholeness we feel supremely, and maybe even sublimely, okay with the way we are, including the fact that there is room for improvement. In essence, our body becomes an ally in the quest for full realization instead of an obstacle to overcome. This is good news!