It would not be right at this time of year not to mention something of Love. The shops are full of things you should buy for someone you love and although the commercialism and promoted expectation that these corporate events promote can be a little distasteful in the true spirit of Vajrasati, we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Having had some sort of change to routine is common over the solstice/Christmas, winter festival period. A break of routine can mean a break of habits, too. Use this to shift perspective…
Although some feel that the thirteen-month lunar year (29.53 days a month, 384 a year) is a more logical point (although very hard to get right) at which to place the New Year and all that is associated with it, this time of year definitely lends itself to a feeling of new opportunity, and for starting with a clean slate.
It is still winter, but at this time of year, one cannot help but start thinking of the spring. Hope, or faith then, is essentially a positive emotion and one that makes the yogic life not just better but actually possible. It is because of faith or trust that we can surrender, joyfully. When in meditation or asana, we experience thoughts, feelings or physical sensation: it is our attitude towards them that is so important.
As we delve in deeper to yoga through our practice and study, we find that surrender runs like a golden thread through its practice techniques and philosophy on many levels.
On the road to surrender, one needs to develop ethics (yama), refinement (niyama), posture (asana), pranayama (intimacty with the breath), pratyahara (sense withdrawal or ‘centering’), dharana (concentration), dhyana (absorption built from ‘relaxed concentration’, and samadhi (surrender to emptiness or infinite creativity).
Having recently had Valentines Day and it being the season when nature’s critters are thinking about making young, one’ attention turns to love. There are many kinds of the stuff: romantic love, sexual love, motherly love and brotherly love, love of one’s country or one’s lifestyle. There is infatuation and there is spiritual love, there are soul mates and playmates and of course all the variants of mixing up theses different aspects of love together.
Yoga means union when translated from sanskrit to English, or engagement.
It is through the process of engagement that the process of letting go is facilitated.
The more we endeavour to move towards the asana or to be fully concentrated on the mantra, meditation obect or breathing practice, or whichever other Yoga technique we employ, the more the mind’s presence is required and so pre-occupation has to diminish.
When yoga teachers talk about being non-competitive, this does not reflect some utopian idealism, but a down-to-earth pragmatism. A sense of space provides sufficient disentanglement from our formations, compulsion lessens, and the opportunity to respond begins. This is the beginning of what yoga poetically describes as ‘Ishvara Pranidhanna’: surrender or dedication to God, or handing over to intuitive, creative action.
Carry on in hard times with the steady influence of yoga practice and study. At times there is joy, at times there is sorrow, but let there be always practice and study, and yoga will illuminate your life, and also life will illuminate your yoga.
To be a great teacher, you don’t have to be always happy, but only keep yoga going, even if you are confused, sad and tired. Then you will know how to teach when your students are confused, sad or tired.
Sabbe sattaa sukhi hontu is a Pali phrase meaning ‘May all beings be well (or happy)’. It’s not, properly speaking, a mantra. It’s a chant that is used in exactly the same way as a mantra. Unlike most mantras, it has a definite grammatical meaning.
Sabbe = all
Sattaa = beings
Sukhi = happy, well
Hontu = may they be