THIRD EYE YOGA
If you have trained or studied with me in any capacity you know that dharma talks are the most essential pieces of my teaching. These are the themes I weave into my classes and my goal is to help make the teachings of yoga more understandable and applicable to what happens in our lives. We have much to learn from these ancient teachings. Applied with dedication and purity of heart, they can have the most profound changes. I share below the Dharma as I’ve come to know it.
Not all healing can be done through talking. Much of our healing occurs when we allow our bodies to move fluidly, in whatever way they want. Simply rocking, for example, can be incredibly healing.
An excerpt from The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.:
“Yet while the surroundings were foreign & terrifying, I recognized this group all too well: The women sat slumped over -sad and frozen- like so many rape therapy groups I had seen in Boston. I felt a familiar sense of helplessness, and, surrounded by collapsed people, I felt myself mentally collapse as well. Then one woman started to hum, while gently swaying back and forth. Slowly a rhythm emerged; bit by bit other women joined in. Soon the whole group was singing, moving, and getting up to dance. It was an astounding transformation: people coming back to life, faces becoming more attuned, vitality returning to their bodies. I made a vow to apply what I was seeing then and there and to study how rhythm, chanting, and movement can help heal trauma.”
While yoga asana practice is a set series of intentionally aligned postures and is not always freeform movement, it has always been a tool for deep healing. The postures create structure and build strength. The breath moves energy and establishes a healing rhythm for the mind that soothes pain & helps heal trauma.
When your hurts lie beyond words, begin with movement. Breathe. Hum. Chant. Rock. Sway.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” ~Anais Nin
Perspective is everything. The mind-set you have when something happens determines how you perceive and store your memory of that thing, be it an event, conversation, experience, transformation, whatever. Since we live in a sensory world and are sensory beings, it is natural and undeniable that we are influenced by our senses. They are, afterall, how we interact with the world and ourselves. What we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, sense, becomes our own unique way of experiencing and interpreting the world around us. Our inner dialogue determines what we believe to be true about an event, ourselves, and the world around us – the ‘what you think about what you think about’ kind of thing. Our senses make our world; they can make it lovely and amazing and fun, and they can make it difficult and hard and miserable.
The mind is said to be always fluctuating. It is these fluctuations that we are working to still in our practice, but first we must understand what the mind is fluctuating within. The teachings of yoga say the mind is always fluctuating between 3 states: an active, agitated, stimulated state called rajas, a dull, inert, dark state called tamas, and a clear, illuminative, bright state called sattva. These are called the gunas. Guna means “quality, particularity, attribute, property.” So these qualities of mind are always moving & always changing depending on what the senses are perceiving, and how you feel about what they are perceiving.
“Compassion for others is a natural result of being aware and conscious of your own feelings.”
June 1, 2022
Ram Dass, spiritual thought leader and author of Be Here Now once said, “we are all just walking each other home.”
The essence of this message, to me, is to remember that we all share in the human experience. We are here together, on Earth, at this time, to help one another out, to look out for one another, and be with one another when things get overwhelming. Being human is not easy, and our paths are varied. We are social creatures and need to feel connected to each other, for we are each a vessel of divine energy. Our relationships a way to understand ourselves on a deeper level as well as figure out how we fit into the world. We are mirrors of and for one another.
One of the gifts yoga practice gives is the ability to know yourself better. With practice, you can brighten the light of the mind and align more and more with the part of you that is watching – the witness. Aligning with the witness gives you the perspective of the witness. And there is so much to see! You can see your tendencies, your preferences, your beliefs, your opinions, reactions, feelings – it goes on and on. You can get to know yourself well & realize how you feel. And, not only can you become aware of how you feel, but you can also realize why you feel the way you do.
This is where compassion comes in. Guaranteed that when you look inward you will see things you do not want to see. You will be reminded of things you do not want to be reminded of. There will be a lot to unlearn. You will need strength to change deep seated patterns & overcome unhealthy habits and thoughts. There will be times you will conquer your demons, times where you will stand victorious before the face of evil & temptation. And there will be times you will fall. Times when you reinforce the very thing you are trying to defeat. And so, there must be compassion.
When you develop compassion for yourself you can also develop compassion for others. You can consider that others are battling to overcome their struggles just as you are battling to overcome yours. And then you can extend understanding and patience instead of judgement and expectation. You can create more peace and love in the world. And I’m sure we can all agree there’s nothing wrong with more of that!
Dharma of Kali
May 25, 2022
Our country is reeling from the most recent events of the times, most namely the shooting at yet another elementary school, this time in Uvalde, TX. 10 days after a racially motivated shooting spree at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. These, after my dear friend Alyssa Gunn Maldonado was killed at the hands of a madman with a gun on December 27, 2021. I wish I could say this was all the shootings there have been lately, but sadly, there are many, many more that have happened before these and will happen after these.
In all the time I’ve been studying yoga – since 2000 – I’ve heard that we are in Kali Yuga, a time period when human integrity is at it’s lowest, when disease, famine, destruction, and disillusion rule the times. The Yugas, epochs of time, are huge; one Yuga can last anywhere from 432,000 years to 1,728,000. I’m not sure exactly when Kali Yuga began, but it’s probably safe to assume we’re not going to get out of it anytime soon. (And if we do live to see the end the next Yuga is Satya Yoga which is a time of truth and virtue and high integrity, so we only go up from here!)
I believe we are all being guided by a benevolent force. I believe the things that happen to us are part of our soul’s Karmic unfolding & are ways to help us learn more about who we are and what we are here to do. Even the really heartbreaking and difficult things that happen to us. To be clear, this doesn’t mean I think we need to like or be ok with everything that happens, or that we are not to be bothered or disturbed by the things we’ve been through and/or are going through. It’s more that things will happen – good and bad things – and it’s our response that’s important because our response can create change.
As I sat at my altar, where a picture of Alyssa will always be, I reflected on what to do with all that has happened, and how I can understand it. I reached for my Goddess Kali card deck & drew this card, Dharma of Kali.
Kali is the fierce mother goddess who presides over the realm of destruction, decay, death. While fierce & maybe even scary, she is the force that makes us really take a look at our deepest, darkest, most destructive wounds. She is far more concerned with us overcoming these dark, shadowy parts of ourselves than she is with us dancing in the light. After all, we can only truly dance in the light once we have faced & defeated our innermost demons of darkness.
This aspect of Kali, Dharma of Kali, is asking us to align with our inner moral compass. Instead of looking for external reassurance that we are ok & aligned with one another, it’s more important that we align with our own inner values at this time. Darma of Kali is about our integrity, our ability to know right from wrong and the strength to stand fiercely in the right, to live in Right Way.
As I see it, this is what we as Americans are needing to figure out. Are we, as a country, internally aligned with what we externally project? Are we as welcoming and loving and supportive as we profess to be? Are we as willing to help others -your tired, your poor, your huddled masses- as our country’s manifesto promises?
These are big questions for us all to be asking ourselves. It isn’t pretty, or easy to see, but necessary for our growth and evolution. If we are brave enough to ask these difficult questions, we’ll be strong enough to hear the answer and act in right way.
My heart has been so heavy & broken. For so much loss. For so much grief. It’s so hard to accept this as a teaching, but to think Kali is the one bringing it forth helps me believe it’s not in vain. From the ashes we will rise & be born again.
Hug someone. Reach out to someone. Check on all your people. Call your senators, get educated on your vote & vote! Walk out, make a sign, march to the capital. Let your integrity speak & your voice be heard. I’m here if you need.
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