Spiritually Refined

I’ve been lax in posting for a few months – I’ve been in both a creative process and a refinement process.  My hand has been in many pots and I’ve been slowly pulling back my energy and refining my vision for The BlueRoof Path. But the refinement process doesn’t end there. I have also been being refined spiritually.  There have been times of darkness when I believed I had no purpose, times of light when I could see the path clearly, and times of peace when I stopped to surrender and be led by Spirit.  The latter has made all the difference.  The Yoga Philosophy calls it tapas; the Bible calls it the Refiner’s Fire…they are speaking of the same things.  It is the process of spiritual refinement that we souls-in-human-form undergo on our journey.  As humans, this refinement process can be incredibly uncomfortable.  Did I put enough emphasis on incredibly there?  The big growth – it doesn’t often feel warm and fuzzy and in fact can feel like a tilt-a-whirl caught between dueling fire tornadoes.  This discomfort is a signal that something is on offer  – that you have the opportunity to clear away some of those pieces that don’t fit the puzzle that is you.  When you are attached to the little i-ness, that is – the ego-self, then you can get caught up in the heat feeling lost, scattered, overwhelmed, and alone.  But when you surrender into the bigness of you – the I, or Higher Spiritual Self, then you have an inner knowing that can sustain you.  You can then not only withstand the heat – but you can relax into it and see what it has for you.  Deborah Adele says, in The Yamas & Niyamas, that tapas is “the willingness to be both burned and blessed.”  Zechariah 13:9 says, “I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.”

This refinement, the heating up in life, carries a blessing.  If you resist – it can get quite hot and uncomfortable, much like when you resist surrendering into Warrior II and become rigid.  When you relax into the posture, just like when you relax into what life is offering you, then you can refine your experience of the posture, refine your experience in life, and allow yourself to be refined spiritually to relax into the Truth within you and see the lesson (gift) on offer.

Have you experienced your own Spiritual Refinement?  Could you tell a difference from when you surrendered and when you resisted?

I see you,

Rev. M

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Asana

I think this piece by Dr. David Simon exquisitely sums up what Asana is:

 

“Asanas are usually defined as the various yogic postures designed to bring balance
and harmony to the physical body, particularly the musculo-skeletal system. Asana
is part of the Ayurvedic treatment system for the physical body.
At a deeper level, asana refers to the complete expression of mind-body integration, a state in
which we become conscious of the flow of prana resonating in every molecule of our body and
in every thought and every experience.
The essence of asana isn’t about straining to get our body into a particular posture; it’s about
surrender, opening, expanding, and enhancing our flexibility, balance, and strength. The
practice of asanas is a way to expand our own sense of self and experience the joy of being
incarnated in this physical body. At the same time, it allows us to create an intimate dance
between our individuality and universality and celebrate the essence of this connection.”

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Tapas

As we’ve journeyed through the Yamas and Niyamas I’ve written blogs explaining the meaning behind each one. This week I found so much wonderful information on Tapas that I wanted to share verbatim the powerful quotes I’ve found. Enjoy! – M. Gatlianne

Niyama 3: Tapas

Austerity, Discipline, Fire – Deep Commitment to your practice on and off the mat.

“The joyful willingness to do what is necessary to reach a goal with fiery discipline.” Gaiaflowyoga.com

“Tapas refers to strength of character in resolute pursuit of yoga’s ultimate goal of the union of Self and God/Universe/Consciousness.  The word “Tapas” translate as a spiritual purification or fiery discipline that burns away impediments that keep us from achieving our highest potential of Self.” Gaiaflowyoga.com

“When the fire of a yogi’s life is burning brightly, he or she is a beacon of light radiating balance and peace to the world. The fire is also responsible for digesting both nourishment and toxicity. A healthy inner fire can metabolize all impurities.

While people often associate discipline with deprivation, it can actually be extremely nourishing. For example, people who have established a yogic lifestyle may arise early, meditate daily, exercise regularly, eat in a healthy, balanced way, and go to bed early because they directly experience the benefits of harmonizing their personal rhythms with those of nature. Tapas is embracing transformation as the pathway to higher consciousness.” Dr. David Simon – The Chopra Center

Self-awakening by activising (activating) the spiritual power within oneself.Bose

Ramping up the practice. That turns up the heat and melts down the obstructions. When things start to get a bit stale, take a look at your daily activities and see which one’s may be sapping your energy, dissipating your spiritual focus, or healing evolutionary energy — communion, integration, etc. Then just drop it — let it go — kiss it goodbye. This will make room/create space and energy for the new healing energy to come in. Usually it is some activity that we know is leading nowhere, but we have yet to place it in perspective — in the spiritual context of where we want to go from “here”. by definition this energy that would have been expended in a distraction is now accessible for “practice”. When we start to focus our practice, it’s like a magnifying lens in the sun — the alchemical process is kicked up another level.Donny

Ultimate practice of Tapas: Love yourself and your life exactly as it IS.  Change nothing, but move with more and more presence and consistency.  Be vigilant that your thoughts, actions and speech are rooted in love.” – Gaiaflowyoga.com

Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

I willingly put forth the effort to create the life I want.

Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

Write (1) goal you want to accomplish then ask yourself why you want it. I want this because…then continue to break down why you want it…because…because…because until you get down to your deepest intention for why you want to create this.

Then write your willingness to accomplish this goal – how willing are you to manifest what you want to create? And what commitments do you make to yourself in order to create it?

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Santosha

Niyama 2Santosha Contentment

 “The bliss of present moment awareness.” Dr. David Simon

 Santosha asks us to be happy and content with our life as it is, instead of looking for a perfect fairy tale life. This time of perfection isn’t what life is about.  Contentment with life as it is, you as you are, and others as they are is the embodiment of Santosha. This Niyama asks us not to put our happiness or contentment on any outside thing, while we grow and learn but also live in acceptance of the now and trusting that we have everything we need now.

Santosha is the understanding that there is no “end” we’re trying to get to. Life is now.

Santosha asks us to act out of present awareness instead of reaction or ego – observing and loving things in the moment, as they are – without any need to change them. This also pertains to ourselves and others.

Find contentment with who you are, now, and what you have, now. When we resist what is happening in this moment we our out of flow with life. When we accept life as it comes, we flow along with life and allow life to flow along with us.

Daily Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

I accept life just the way it is.

 

Daily Meditation:

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the Present Moment, I know this beautiful moment.”

Thich Niht Hahn from his book “Being Peace

 Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

What am I grateful for now?

Start a gratitude journal – writing down at least (3) things each night before bed that you are grateful for about your day. This also pertains to those things that we may judge as bad or that we didn’t want to happen. The “bad” stuff tends to offer us the most miracles and opportunities for growth and change.

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Saucha

Niyama 1:  Saucha – Purity/Cleanliness

Concerned with both outer and inner cleanliness insofar as keeping both the outer body clean and pure, but also the inner body – both physically and mentally. Saucha also discusses keeping our environment and surroundings clean and pure.

 “Cluttered closet, cluttered mind.”

 What we hind away in the closet is often indicative of inner pieces of ourselves, or inner thoughts, that we are, too, hiding away. Look at the clutter in your environment. Do is tie into some sort of emotional clutter inside? (Hoarders are often “hoarding” deep emotional hurts, beliefs, or fears.)

Are you eating foods that nourish your body? Are you reading books that nourish your mind and spirit? Are you participating in activities that nourish you? Saucha asks us to choose things in our lives that nourish us.

Toxic thoughts equal a lack of purity of the mind. When you’re in the mindchatter/monkey mind – when the thoughts are running ‘round and ‘round and you can’t seem to make sense of them ask, “Is this true?” My stopping and asking yourself to look at truth you’re more aware in the situation and less likely to flow along with untrue mindchatter such as self-judgments, judgments of others and life, limiting self-beliefs, and the like.

Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

“Be here now.”

 

Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

Is this nourishing to be or toxic?

Does this nourish my mind, body, and spirit?

Is this (mindchatter/thought/belief/etc.) true?

Does this serve me and my highest good or does it lead me away from my chosen path?

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Niyama

The Niyamas: Self-Purification, Self-Discipline, Spiritual Practice

“Personal disciplines that relate to mind and body: Cleanliness of Mind, Body, Environment”

“Principals for how to treat ourselves.”

The Niyamas offer us an outline for self-discipline and remind us of the importance of our actions or inactions. Dr. David Simon from the Chopra Center defines Niyama as, “the internal dialogue of enlightened beings. Whereas the yamas are about how conscious beings behave, the niyamas are about how they think.” Again, this is a rigid set of rules to be used for judgment. Practicing Niyama isn’t about being right or wrong.

Dr. Simon also believes the niyamas are about “cultivating self-acceptance” by releasing the expectations, “shoulds,” we have on ourselves and others.

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Aparigraha

Aparigraha: Non-Coveting/Attachment/Possessiveness

This Yama encourages us to let go of anything that we do not actually need – releasing possessions that we do not actually need. It encourages us to surrender greed and covetousness, as well as attachment to people and things – in other words, to let go of the accumulation of things or people. It asks us to stop looking for our worth in material possessions or in other people. Practicing Aparigraha helps us discover our true selves when we learn to release wanting what another has, release attachment to possessions, and release attachments to people. In essence, this Yama shows us that nothing outside of us can bring us happiness – not people, not things, not events. Our true worth and happiness comes from our connection within.

When practicing Aparigraha we learn to be happy and content with what we have and not yearn for unnecessary items or material possessions that might be considered luxury items. Possessing more than we need is not living in Aparigraha. This Yama goes even deeper by asking us not to receive gifts that we do not need or that would attach us to the giver.

Ultimately Aparigraha is about generosity and living in a constant state of abundance. It asks us to move beyond the ego to the spirit – releasing the ego attachment to material possessions and living from the spirit’s unattached, abundance state.

Live free of greed. Take only what is necessary. Do not take advantage of others or a situation for personal gain. Limit possessions only to what is necessary. Live a simple life. Release the fear of lack – trusting that whatever you actually need will come to you, and everything essential is available to you. This puts you in a state of abundance.

Nothing outside of us defines us – nor can anything outside of us prove our worth, value, or prove to us that we are loved. These things truths are inherent within us. They simply Are. Looking outside of the self for love, peace, or worth takes away from the true love, worth, and peace that can be found within us.

Aparigraha also asks us to release attachments to outcomes – our own and others. Attachment leads to suffering; detachment leads to freedom.

“That which we hold on to eventually begins to disappoint us, and is always changing, and ends up possessing us.” – Deborah Adele  

Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

*Corpse Pose – Surrender to the moment; to life as it is. – 10 Min a Day*

“I let go, I let go, I am Peace.”

Daily Meditation: “Everything I need exists within me.”

Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

*Clear out clutter; release all things that are no longer useful or necessary.*

What am I holding on so tightly to that it actually possesses me?

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya – Unconditional Love, Continence, Celibacy, Control of Desire

“Walking With God”

Brahmacharya invites us to practice living with the highest integrity, relating to one another with unconditional love, free of manipulation or selfishness. It includes practicing sexual moderation and chastity if chosen, because that is part of relating in the highest integrity.” YogawithKatrina.com

When we practice Brahmacharya we practice moderation in order to create balance. This moderation involves energy conservation. Why? Because the basis of Brahmacharya is to use our energy in a spiritual sense to connect to our Higher Self. When we distribute our energy impulsively on other things, and at times many things, we are depleting our energy stores. This means that we are taking away energy from our spiritual pursuit and giving energy to our desires. Sometimes, yes, this is of a sexual nature. Other times it’s other sensory desires. Brahmacharya enables us to live unbound by the senses, unbound by desire. When we are bound by desire we believe we “need” things in order to survive. This is generally not the case. We actually need very little in life to survive.

Brahmacharya is not a limitation; it is a choice to live moderately, enjoying life as it is instead of looking to the outer world or outer things to prove our worth or bring us happiness. When we look within and connect with our divine selves – we have all we need for happiness and our worth need not be proven because it simply is.

The true essence of this Yama is to see the divine in ourselves and in others – at all times. This means living in Namaste`: The Divine in me sees the Divine in you and I bow to you.

When we see this truth, then we are better able to release desire because we can put our energy toward our spiritual selves instead of our worldly, material wants, etc.  With this comes the practice of celibacy. In this practice celibacy is a key factor in spiritual growth in terms of energy conservation. This is very important to not only a yoga practice but to any spiritual practice. Conserving energy that would normally be put toward sexual desire enables one to utilize it for spiritual energy which can lead to deeper spiritual experiences, stronger will-power, and a greater connection to the divine – your higher self and cosmic consciousness. This doesn’t mean to suppress the natural human sexual instincts – rather, to practice them in proper context. That means that sex is utilized as a means of spiritual connection – not gratification. The more energy one expends on sensory gratification the less energy there is for spiritual awareness.

Brahmacharya teaches us to be mindful of our senses, mindful of what we eat, mindful of material distractions and wants, mindful of what we watch or hear, mindful of our sexual engagemetns. Brahmacharya allows us to act with a deeper awareness at all times of how we are reacting to our sensory wants and enables us to not be slaves to our desire but instead, masters of our selves living as the divine beings we are, seeing others as the divine beings they are, seeing life as a beautiful divine dance. When we take Brahmacharya into our lives with a deep yoga and meditation practice, we greatly expand our spiritual growth.

“We practice brahmacharya when we consciously choose to use our life force to express our dharma (our true place in the cosmic process), rather than to frivolously dissipate it in an endless pursuit of fleeting pleasures. Brahmacharya reminds us that our life force is both limited and precious. This yama teaches us to use our energy wisely so we can living a fulfilling and meaningful life.”- Robyn Hussa

 

Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

*Bound Angle Pose – at least 5 minutes per day, in mantra meditation*

“I let go of everything not for my highest good.”

Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

Does this serve my highest good?

Potential Ways to Begin Practicing Brahmacharya:

  1. Daily meditation, mantra and personal growth work.
  2. Keep the company of spiritual, like-minded people.
  3. Listen daily to spiritual, reflective, soothing music.
  4. Read uplifting books, quotes, affirmations etc. daily.
  5. Practice moderation in all things – create balance, not over or under indulgence.
  6. Avoid the company of people who are not like-minded, who have no interest in spiritual life.
  7. Avoid books, magazines, television, radio, and movies that are centered on materialism, sex, or that do not provide a spiritual uplifting.
  8. Avoid casual sexual associations.
  9. Avoid any person or thing that discounts your spiritual path or attempts to pull you from your path of inner peace.
  10. Avoid giving in to impulsive urges of the senses – the “want it now” factor.
  11. Abstain from drugs, nicotine, and alcohol – anything that could create a sensory shift.

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Asteya

Asteya: Non-Stealing

This week we discussed Asteya: Non-Stealing…but not just of material items. Asteya is all encompassing of not taking anything from another or anything you haven’t earned, such as: Material Items, Money, Thoughts, Ideas, or Energy. It also incorporates keeping confidences, i.e., not telling what isn’t yours to tell.

Wanting what others have and taking what others have comes from a state of lack – the idea that there is not enough. By taking from another is it like believing that what we have isn’t enough. Practicing Asteya comes from a state of abundance – acceptance and trust that we always have exactly what we need, at all times. This brings about a sense of fulfillment and prosperity instead of lack. Asteya is a continuation of both Ahimsa and Satya, insofar as, one must be aware of how they are being toward others to notice if they are practicing Asteya and a state of lack is a misperception of how the world really is, which means a state of lack isn’t practicing the truthfulness of Satya.

Practicing Asteya means living free from coveting, envy, and jealousy while trusting and accepting life as it is. In this state you can allow others their experiences and joy and share in their piece of life with them from a state of Compassion (Ahimsa) and Truth (Satya)

Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

I have exactly what I need at all times.

Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

 Where today have you had a jealous mentality?

Where today have you had an envious mentality?

Where today have you practiced Asteya?

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Ahimsa

Ahimsa Non-Violence / Non-Harm

Acting in a way that does no harm or violence toward another, the world/environment/ourselves. Ahimsa means having compassion and love for all living things and beings. Once way to practice Ahimsa is to practice compassion. When one is compassionate one is incapable of doing harm or violence.

Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

I will be compassionate to myself, others and the world – every day. 

I will be compassionate to myself, others and the world – every hour of every day. 

I will be compassionate to myself, others and the world – every minute of every hour of every day. 

I will be compassionate to myself, others and the world – every second of every minute of every hour of every day. 

I will be compassionate to myself, others and the world – in very breath, of ever second, of every hour, of every day.

Journal Questions for Personal Growth: 

Where today have I not shown compassion toward others?

Where today have I not shown compassion toward myself?

What kept me from being compassionate and accepting?

How could I have been compassionate and accepting?