Who am I? Yep, kicking this thing off with a major question. For a long time I had no freakin clue. After hearing the model of the Samkhya Philosophy during my teacher training at The Practice, this question sorta started making some sense. Mind you, I’m still just a little fetus along this path and continuing to wrap my head around all these empowering teachings, but this was the first lecture that perked my ears up for this Tantric Hatha Yoga thing.
The Samkhya philosophy says that in the beginning there was Source. The nameless one, consciousness on every single level, whom if we had to name we shall name Ishvara. The ultimate field of the Divine. Stemming from Ishavara is Purusha, or Pure Consciousness, the one who never changes and Prakriti, our human nature, or Creative Potential. One day Purusha wanted to experience itself… so he texted Prakriti and yadda yadda yadda BOOM…a big bang birthed all of existence! (or something like that). From here all of creation was born. That means you and me.
So if we’ve been given life that means we’ve each been given a Mahad, the supreme idea of who we are and why we are here. We aren’t just here to simply exist, we have a Dharma. A unique, badass purpose, if we didn’t we wouldn’t have made it to this part in the story. From here came our individual ego, closely related to our mind, that thing upstairs that is constantly moving and fluctuating like the phases of the moon, making it pretty darn tough for us remember our true essence, cosmic consciousness, aka Ishvara. Intertwined in all of that is the three Gunas, Sattva, Tamas and Rajas that start to calibrate our personalities so that we have the best shot at fulfilling our individual purpose. Combined with the five elements we start to have what looks to me like a pretty rockin human bod.
A bit of manifested matter so that we can see , touch and truly experience life, but also so dense it can be difficult to get through and wake up to the remembrance that we are one with the Divine. We’ve traveled so far from Source, through energy and the mind and the body, that now we may feel a bit lost. So here we are friends, now it’s our job to find our way back home. Yoga is our road map. And the fuel for this journey back to Ishavara is self-love. So let’s gas up the tank!
Self-love. It’s a word that has been thrown around a lot lately. A buzz word if you will. Which is super rad because it marks a shift in society from focusing on the external to the internal. Putting a little less energy into how we look and a little more into how we feel. Sah-weet! But hold up…like what does that even mean? What does true self-love look like? How do we practice it? A simple “i am” you fill in the blank mantra post-it note on the mirror seems inspiring, but is that really changing our core beliefs? Altering our actions in challenging moments? Can it impact us on deeper lasting levels? Maybe. Tantra says whatever works we should embrace. So if the ‘I am Brave’ note on the fridge is making you more brave, solid.
Society also tells us self-love means go ‘treat yo-self!’ Sure buy those ridiculously overpriced sunnies, spurge on a fancy dinner, spa day…yes please! Basically, go out and buy yourself some shit. That will prove to you (and the people around you) that you deem yourself worthy of love. Swipe that plastic, you’re worth it! Or quite possibly these days it may look more like snapping a selfie from a really good hair whilst rockin those new shades and posting it on the Gram. Each double tap and heart emoji gradually fills up the validation tank. Don’t get me wrong, all these things can bring some legit good vibes, they can for sure cheer us up when we are feeling down. Although the problem with this mentality is that self-love is something we need to acquire, something external. And when that’s all we are associating with self-love, that can become very dangerous.
What do we do when those things are not at our fingertips?! When we are alone, can’t sleep at night or get out of bed in the morning, the times we are going through a breakup or experiencing extreme sorrow and loss. How do we cope in those moments and not fall to pieces? There is no faraway island, breakfast burrito or high waisted leggings that can make us suffer less during those times. What can help which I’ve experienced first hand is if we get grounded and stable in who we are and learn to connect to our inner luminosity and joy. This is our nature and Ishavara is at the heart. Only then can we can understand that we already have everything we need within. “Everything you seek, you already are.” In fact, our capacity for contentment is limitless and its source internal. This inner knowing and connection will make even the shittiest of times less intense and more bearable. Knowing that we are not only able to connect to the Divine, but to become one with it. It’s not surrendering to a higher power, it’s recognizing we are that higher power. If you wholeheartedly believe that, Ishvara will always have your back!
Tantric Hatha Yoga is what has given me the precise tools and methodology to put those cute post-it note mantras into actual embodiment. I’ve felt it change me. And I’ve seen it change my life in a major way. Helping me remember my true nature, one of pure love. And self-love is the source of all love. I know part of my Dharma is to communicate what I know, to share the practices that have transformed me. If self-love is a chocolate cake, I want to offer each one of you a slice. To let you taste how incredibly sweet it is to love yourself first.
The Yogi’s say that each of us posses a light in our heart that can see no suffering. It’s called the Vishok Jyotir. It’s described as an almond size flame in the center of our heart. And this fire can burn so bright it will light us up from the inside out. Gifting us immense feelings of peace and joy in every moment. We ALL have this light. Yep, even you. However, we must get to know who we are first. Peel back the layers that have dimmed this shine. If we don’t take the time to consistently slow down and sit in stillness, (pssst…meditate) this flame will be extremely hard to detect. We have to be willing and open to tap into this light of self-knowledge. We have to desire it. To discipline ourselves to work hard for it.
My teacher Octavio says that self-knowledge is the precursor to self-love. We need to take the time to remember who we are, to look into our darkness and light candles in its place. To let go of our attachments and the experiences and people that made us forget. To connect back with the Mighty One, Purusha. If not, how the heck are we supposed to even like ourselves, let alone fall in love and humbly bow down in reverence to our own divinity? That’s why we do the yoga things, to connect back to source. To absorb into the Infinite. Yoga gives us the practices and guidance to do just that, fall in love with ourselves, our weird, tremendous, beautiful selves. To surrender to the divine and simultaneously become it. To recognize Ishvara is you, and Ishvara is also me. Only you can do this work. No one else is to blame or be relied on to practice and expose this knowledge for you. When you decide to make this choice, to journey down this windy road, Ishvara’s still got your back!
Ok maybe you’re intrigued and I’ve managed to reel you in for this long, so I get it, you want answers NOW. We live in a gimme results quick kinda world, I hear ya. Yet, this path is one of patience and stability, but before you get back to work, aka scrolling through Instagram, let me first share with you a few simple things you can start doing right NOW that can put some hearts in your eyes for lil ole you.!
- Express gratitude. Brené Brown says “There is no joy without gratitude.” So if you wanna get happy, start practicing gratitude. From the moment you blink your eyes open and right before you blink your eyes shut, basically be grateful everyday for
something! (Even when that seems impossible, especially then).
- Wake up earlier. Give yourself time in the morning before life sweeps you away to ground and connect within.
- Go to bed earlier. You’ll start your day off so much more energized if you get some ample rest. Sacrifice a little Netflix time for a book and remove screens an hour before bed for some nourishing zzz’s.
- Scrape your tongue in the morning. Practice an Ayurvedic technique for purification in the am and rid yourself of physical toxins. Then watch your thoughts and vibe follow suit.
- Eat mindfully. Take away the distractions that interrupt the digestive process. No emails, phone calls, hey maybe even slot in #1 into this moment: “Thank you food, I’m so grateful for the nourishment you provide my body to stay healthy and strong so I can live out my purpose.” You’ll find that you enjoy your food more and actually notice when you are full rather than over eat. (Bye diet! I don’t need you when I’ve got consciousness and self-worth on my side.)
- Get off the damn phone. As my teacher would say, soul or scroll bro. (Ok maybe I added in the bro.) Find more reasons to put the electronics away.
- Get in nature! Surf, garden, walk the dog, get a dog…just go outside and connect with Mama Earth. If you can turn that into some form of physical activity as well, extra gold stars!
- Journal. Simply acknowledging your feelings can transcend them.
- *Practice some form of asana, pranayama and meditation daily. (The real juice is in the meditation, at the very least sit down and shut up for 5 minutes, and I mean that in the sweetest possible way.)
Maybe this wasn’t the quick fix or good time you were hoping for, this will take effort and will power. But dude, it freakin works! And the key is consistency. A little goes a long way and staying disciplined and dedicated even on the days you don’t feel like it, that will promote some legit self-worth. And once we deem ourselves worthy we can be more accepting of love. This path is not easy and it is not always fun, but ya know what is fun? Not being a sack of anxiety wrapped in skin, not falling to pieces every time something doesn’t go as planned. To meet tough situations with patience and tough people with compassion. To connect back to Purusha, to get a glimpse that we are pure love, to be one with the Divine. To be patient and remember that Ishavara’s always got your back.
If you don’t already have a daily practice, and are ready for one, here’s an opportunity to deepen your connection inward and experience this light for yourself. Join me for a free talk on Tuesday November 27th at 7:45pm at The Practice about “Moving Towards the Light in Your Heart.” And then you just may be so inclined to sign up for my one day workshop called “Yoga is L.Y.F. ~ Loving Yourself First” on December 2nd from 8am-5pm, also at The Practice in Canggu, Bali. You will leave with a daily practice and will have the chance to commit to a 40 day challenge with me. You’ll take away a deeper understanding of the Samkhya Philosophy, Patanjali’s Yama’s and Niyama’s, learn how to chant the Gayatri Mantra which helps to weaken obstacles that are preventing you from shining. I’ll teach you bandha and kumbhaka and how to use it safely. You’ll even get two guided practices with me that will include pranayama and meditation. I mean, what are you waiting for?! Put yourself first and focus on your mental, emotional and physical well being. All levels are welcome. For more info click here. If you aren’t in Bali I plan to post the workshop on The Practice Online platform as well. Regardless, just practice, practice and remember you are here to share your radiance!
Om Shanti friends!