What if I told you I could show you the value of your ego in your spiritual development? If I said that following your ego will help you to discover your own sacredness, would you believe me?
The ego has become misunderstood in recent years. Harkening back to the Freudian concept, the ego is the part of your mind that balances your desires with what is reasonably attainable. It is the part of your mind that can truly be called “the self.” It is within this self that the deepest and most important of the sacred mysteries wait.
In the practice of yoga, as in life, it’s the moments when we work together that can inspire the most change in us as individuals. In this clip, Jenny Sauer-Klein, co-founder of AcroYoga, talks about the principle of doing what works. To deal with the inevitable challenges and miscommunications that happen when individuals become partners, we have to leave room for the unexpected. When we let go of assumptions and embrace the discovery of what works best between these two people at this moment, that’s when we allow the relationship — and each other — to grow.
Last month, I spoke about the process of my expansion into a new arena of leadership and transformation as I hosted a teleseries for people around the world. Well, the Venus Transit event was June 5, 2012, and it was extraordinarily successful.
Powerful teachers gave their time and talents to support people in stepping through this once-in-a-lifetime portal to experience healing and growth. More than 7,800 people around the globe registered, and a powerful community was created. Participants accessed the call via the Internet and phone for three hours of intentional creation. I want to stop here and say that my team — Lisa Livingstone and Jean Hendry — brought skill, care and excellence to this process in powerful ways. We were all on a steep learning curve and still managed to find the humor and joy in the midst of many unanswered questions.
I am telling you all of this to let you know what happened next. The day after the call, we began to prepare for the Venus Transit University sessions that began on June 11th and continue through the beginning of July. As the conversations moved and tasks were undertaken, I had a thought: “Are you savoring the accomplishment?”
I had to pause and really take in what that meant.
What happens during the transitions between yoga poses — and the transitions in life? Whether you’re moving from one pose to the next or from one life event to the next (a relationship, a job, a city), yoga instructor Bo Forbes says that it is during these transitions that we often feel discomfort or a sense of uncertainty. However, transitions are also pregnant with potential for transformation and change, so we should strive to embrace them — or at least listen to what they are trying to tell us.
So the next time you unroll your yoga mat, try to slow down your practice and lengthen the time between your poses. Really listen to your body and mind during these shifts, because that’s often the space where you can begin to grow.
There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
I was thinking about hope this week and what it means to our lives. When I looked up the definition of hope, here is what came forward: The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; A person or thing in which expectations are centered; to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence.
The definition reminded me that hope can be attached to a feeling and therefore can be affected by emotion. “I hope things turn out okay.” “I hope that I will be understood.” “I hope my family will be okay.” It dawned on me that when I am hoping, I am looking into the future. There is a desire to be supported, but not an assuredness that everything will fall into place. Somehow there is a little kernel of doubt that things might not work out in a powerful way.
The day my mother died, I was hoping for something, anything, to help alleviate my incredible pain and overwhelming sense of loss. I was also hoping that Mom was finally at peace. A Facebook post around the same time revealed that a friend of mine was hoping fervently for something as well: that she would find just the right shoes to match her new dress.
At first, it seemed so cruel and unfair to me that I was hoping for something so crucial while she was free to hope for something that seemed so insignificant to me.
Hope: We hear it all the time. Heck, we say it all the time: “I hope I get the job!” or “I hope I make the cut!” or “I hope things work out!” The word “hope” adorns T-shirts, jewelry and bumper stickers everywhere. Our president even based an entire campaign on the notion.
As I watched my girlfriend plant the asparagus roots in the freshly tilled soil this past weekend, the thought finally hit me: I might yet stand a chance.
Seeds are amazingly simple in design for what they are meant to do. Soil, water, warmth and a bit of faith creates a plant that provides food, generates more seeds and nurtures the soil, all while cleaning the air and water. It was the cultivation of a few seeds that gave me a completely new perspective on absolutely everything in my life.