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Fall in love with taking care of yourself = Yoga

By Amy Effendy.

I now choose to rise above my personality problems to recognize the magnificence of my being. I am totally willing to learn to love myself.” – Louise L. Ha

For many of us, the concept of self-love might conjure images of self-obsession, perfection, or even with the label of narcissism. According to study, self-love and compassion are key for mental health and well-being, keeping depression and anxiety out of the windows.
There are huge different between self -love and self-obsessions. It is important to understand the difference between these two. Self-love means acceptance, kindness, encouragement, and care.
When you love yourself, you show kind behaviour to your soul and encourage it. Self-obsession, on the other hand, compels you to compare yourself to other people.

We lived in an incredibly fast-paced world, that is constantly on the move – between jobs, relationship, family, friends and everything in between to be who we are, to accept who we are seems required a big amount of work. With high level stress on demands and expectations, looks, appearances, professional achievements, social elevations that constantly urge you to compete to the need of perfection on everything you do.
Most of the time, when we’re being too hard on ourselves, we do it because we’re driven by a desire to excel and do everything right, all the time. This entails a lot of self-criticism, and that persecutory inner voice that constantly tells us how we could’ve done things better is a hallmark of perfectionism.

“Why is self-love important?” you may ask…

For many of us, self-love might sound like a luxury rather than a necessity, too much investment on your time, money and energy — or a new-age fad for those with too much time on their hands.
Ironically, however, self-care and -compassion might actually be needed most by those of us who work too hard and who are constantly striving to surpass ourselves and grasp the shape-shifting phantasm of perfection.
Studies have shown that perfectionists are at a higher risk of several illnesses, both physical and mental, and that self-compassion might free us from its grip. Therefore, perfectionism and self-compassion are inextricably linked.
We think that by giving our absolute ALL to others was the right thing to do – and in believing this we miss a vital piece of the puzzle. The truth I’ve learned is “in order to be able to serve others we first need to serve ourselves and to look inward and practice loving our own unique spirit”. Going through this stages help me got the conviction that doing so will help me to lead a happier, more fulfilled life.
Self-compassion and self-love are largely used interchangeably in specialized literature. Research shows that having more self-compassion builds resilience in the face of adversity, helping people to recover more quickly from trauma or romantic separation. It also helps us to better cope with failure or embarrassment.

According to the researchers, “Self-kindness entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than flagellating ourselves with self-criticism”. Mindfully trained self-compassion

‘Be kind to yourself in the midst of suffering and it will change.’ Mindfulness says, ‘Open to suffering with spacious awareness and it will change.’”

NOW the question is how to start….

Invest yourself to SELF STUDY, the yogis called this as Swadhyaya….it can be spending time with your holy beings, reading spiritual text, practicing mantra japa, mindful yoga, affectionate breathing, and meditation practice that will cast a light on the mind and reveal its shadows.

Mindfulness exercises that one can do to develop self-compassion are various.
For me studying and practicing Tantra Hatha Yoga have change my life immensely. Moving from Corporate World to being a wife and mother of three beautiful princess, and a Yoga Teacher….

Yoga with no doubt strengthen my personality, to know myself in a deeper and intimate levels, radiate my luminous capacity to love, to heal myself so that I can love and heal others.

Yoga is about cultivating self-knowledge. “It’s a system and methodology to awaken clear perception and the light of both self-knowledge and knowledge about the world we live in”. Yoga allow us conjure an image of a mirror with which we can look inside ourselves.

And in fact all the great texts introduce us to ways of seeing that create opportunities for us to recognize ourselves better, allow us to remember who we are, figuring out (and owning) who we are not. It evolves self-inquiry and inner contemplation. When you do your yoga practice mindfully (this include meditation, because yoga is meditation) you are able to listening to yourself.

It can mean two things :
Firstly, paying attention to how you internally talk to yourself is crucial for learning to cultivate an intimate feeling of self-love.

“What type of language do you use with yourself when you notice a flaw or make a mistake? Do you insult yourself or do you take a more kind and understanding tone? If you are highly self-critical, how does that make you feel inside?”

We are much harsher to ourselves than we would be to others, or than how we would expect others to treat us. So, to replace this harsh inner voice with a kinder one, you can simply notice it — which is already a step toward quietly subduing it — and actively try to soften it.

Finally, you can try to rephrase the observations that you may have initially formulated quite harshly in the words of a kinder, more forgiving person.

With love always,
Ami Effendy

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Octavio's Articles

Dharmic Lives Matter

By Octavio Salvado.

It’s time for us to renounce the lie, that somehow in the eyes of God, certain people are more privileged than others when it comes to finding happiness and success in life. This is the exact opposite of what the Yoga Tradition stands for.

To suggest that race, color, or economic class provide the upper hand when it comes to true liberation and freedom, as certain high-ups in the Yoga world are currently pushing, is a complete dishonoring and distorting of the Yoga Tradition and an indication of lack of loyalty to it.

If, on the other hand, what we are talking about here is a soulless, controlled, mediocre existence, then yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Certain demographics definitely have an advantage when it comes to achieving averageness.

Racism exists, as does sexism, fascism and many other ‘ism’s’. There is no denying it. Yet there is a broader reality governing humanity and all of life, called Dharmic Law, that when understood, obliterates all obstacles to greatness and all arguments regarding privilege.

This is a universal truth that applies to all. You will not be happy unless you achieve your Dharmic potential, which is the singular reason that you incarnated onto this planet. Dharma is the ONLY way to find lasting happiness in this world and there are no exceptions to this rule.

As the Bhagavad Gita states:

Life and Death are not nearly as important as ‘How’ we live. Only Dharma gives our lives meaning.

Please hear it again so it penetrates through the layers of indoctrination and conditioning: only Dharma, only Soul-aligned purpose brings happiness and success. No exceptions. No special privileges.

People who are selling the ‘poor me’ or ‘poor them’ narrative and still calling themselves Yogis, are hypocrites and are not helping people, or their students evolve, but perpetuating a limited view of what it means to be human and the gift that it is.

If you truly want to serve humanity, then teach people about Dharmic Law and lead by your own radiant example. Communicate and demonstrate that everyone can be a force of nature, no matter what their skin color or circumstances. Teach people that Life strives to assist those who strive to help themselves.

Personally, my role models have always been black or brown. As a kid and all through my high school years, I worshipped Michael Jordan. Now as an adult (and realizing that I probably won’t make it to the NBA) my focus has shifted.

Now, instead of Air Jordan posters on my wall, I have Pandit Rajmani Tigunait posters on my alter.

The common thread: Dharma

The common thread connecting both of these extraordinary men, apart from their skin color is Dharma. Both men came from relatively poor families, in relatively poor communities. No special privileges. Yet they heard the inner call, as we all do at one time or another and they committed to that mission uncompromisingly.

They endured the storms and hustled, each in their own way, harder than all the rest. More practice, more study, more failure, more growth. They rose above their circumstances.

Its time to evolve the narrative. If you are pushing the pity card for yourself or others, then you are trapped in a self-created, extremely flawed vision of reality that only leads to one place – suffering.

Let me spell it out for you. This is how you succeed in life and the only way you will be happy.

Get clear on what you love – figure out that one thing that lights you up more than anything else. Then ask yourself if by committing to that thing, you can serve the world and make it shine a little brighter.

Now, for the rest of your life, commit to that thing with the full force of your soul and with every ounce of energy that you have, indefinitely and without wavering.

Next, expect ridicule, criticism, failure, un-follows, set-backs and difficulties. Train yourself to be resilient. Train yourself to get up, time and time again, brush yourself off and keep going with increased tenacity towards your goal. Then train yourself to trust in life.

The result, 100% of the time, without fail, because this is Universal Law, will be that the forces of nature and the broader universal forces, such as those governing timing, opportunities and synchronicity will conspire to assist you in your Dharmic mission and provide you with everything that you need to succeed, or at least to get to the next step.

Will you be rich? Maybe. Will you be happy? Undoubtedly. This is true success.

If your path is the correct one and truly aligned to your grandest reasons for being here, then NOTHING can stop this process. It won’t be instantaneous and it won’t be without heartache, loss and sacrifice, but if you commit fully, it must come to fruition. This is the Law.

If you want proof, first look at nature and see how empowered every single creature is to do its allotted ‘work’. This power comes from alignment to the higher design. From this alignment, each aspect of nature is compelled to act with precision and power and life unfolds harmoniously and with immense beauty.

The reason human beings are not connected and empowered in the same way is largely because of free will, which is a gift or disaster depending on how it is used.

When we are not connected to the guiding principle of life, then free will moves us towards experiences of separation and lack. This will ultimately orchestrate our downfall via mediocrity, or self-initiated destruction and is exactly what we are seeing on a major scale across the planet right now.

The real global pandemic is lack of connection to God and to the forces of goodness that sustain all of creation.

If you want further proof of the laws of Dharma at work, research the vast number of ‘true’ success stories that have come from nothing, or very little. Those who have come from poverty, abuse and hardship, overcome the greatest of odds to achieve their own unique version of greatness.

Typically, these are the success stories that warm our hearts, because we sense the truth in them. All succeeded because either consciously, or unconsciously they understood and tapped into the Eternal Law, a law which is incorruptible.

Privilege can be a major obstacle to happiness.

The concept of ‘Privilege’, as it’s being pedaled today, can actually be a major obstacle to true happiness and success. Why? Because it usually goes hand in hand with money and education.

Education is not synonymous with intelligence. Academics are some of the dumbest people I know, because a lot of the time they lack the inner access to their intuition and God-given capacity to ‘feel’ into what is true. Too much time spent in the left brain analyzing things and being told what to think and HOW to think.

As a result, critical thinking and gut instinct are devoured by memory and book knowledge. Curious minds become submissive, left-brain robots bowing to every command, no matter how unjust or insane, coming from those who they deem ‘above them’ intellectually and higher up the food chain.

Being born into money is another potential obstacle to Dharma. Do you seriously think that money buys happiness? Look around you. Money not earned through hard work often corrupts the personality and makes it weak. Money can also pad us from the necessary blows from life that are meant to shape us.

Furthermore, those who offer the money, whether its parents, or a benefactor will likely have some pre-established agenda for the direction ‘they’ think we should take in life. At the first sniff of rebellion, they will bring the authoritarian hammer down, tell us to get back in line and threaten to withdraw the income flow.

Its time to evolve beyond this worn out idea of ‘privilege’. Its time to evolve beyond fundamental flaws in perception regarding core spiritual truths about life. Its time to evolve beyond hiding behind slogans that allow us to play small, or that keep others small.

We are ALL equal in the eyes of God. Every living Soul has the same potential to be happy and succeed. Therefore, let’s stop whining, complaining and blaming others. Our destiny is in our hands.

Get up. Be brave and go make something of your life.

Octavio is now delivering live-streamed weekly philosophy lectures on Wednesdays at 2pm Bali time. Book your spot online.

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Ellen's Articles

When the mind is still we see ourselves as we truly are

By Ellen Arthur.

Do you experience yourself being confused, conflicted, unsure or doubtful? Perhaps not all day every day, but often enough that it causes disruptions in your life? I was under the impression that once I started practicing yoga these distracted, dull thoughts of mine would disappear. Right?!

When we are in this state of dullness or confusion and we attempt to make decisions from that place, our own mind loses faith in its conviction and begins to turn on itself. Loss of faith in one’s own mind leaves us feeling mistrustful and defeated, and as a consequence we begin to lose faith in the world around us. This unfolds as thinking “the world is against me”, not wanting to socialise, fear of decision making, questioning why everything bad happens to us and forgetting our truest nature, which is one of sublime peace, ease, power and purpose. 

What the yoga tradition says about doubt is that it can single-handedly derail our pursuit of spiritual illumination. Doubt, confusion and uncertainty are some of our biggest hurdles on the path of self-discovery. These qualities arise out of a clouded, unstable mind. A mind that is easily distracted and pulled in whatever direction the senses, manas (reactive mind), the ahamkara (i-maker or ego) and citta (storehouse of memories) decide. 

How do we pull ourselves out of this predicament?

It is essential to learn how to still the fluctuations of the mind, to settle into a single-pointed focus so that clarity and clear vision (viveka) arise. Only once the mind is still, are we able to see its potential, and that is, to be used as an instrument for liberation (moska), connection back to source and remembering ones highest purpose (mahad).

Take the meditation Still lake of the mind, it gives us the clarity and the vision to peer into the still and tranquil nature of the mind. Once we taste that depth of mental ease and stillness, we begin to crave it (in a very positive way – creating positive samskaras). The more we access and rest in that space of stillness and silence, the more our mind merges with that state making it less likely that we dwell and ruminate in our fear and doubt. 

Abhyasa and Vairagya

Our practices act as a spotlight, a device we can use to illuminate parts of the mind that have for many years been steeped in darkness, habit and fear. Through consistent and intelligent practice (abhyasa) and a great amount of surrender/non-attachment (vairagya) we are able to see the tendencies of confusion, doubt and fear, see them for what they are, outdated mental constructs that cripple our momentum forward in life. Through compassion, practice and a desire to evolve we are able to liberate said constructs and turn that dormant energy into something positive. 

Ultimately where our practices have the ability to take us is into a space where even during hardship and challenge, doubt and fear, we can remember and access a still and stable mind. From that stability our mind becomes quiet, introspective, observant and peaceful.

We notice that our minds are in-fact pure consciousness itself, perfectly constructed instruments to guide us back home, back to source. 

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Keli's Articles

Why do I feel so sensitive?

By Keli Dierings

This is a conversation between Yoga and Sensitivity.

The more we practice Yoga, the more sensitive we become. We start to notice things with a greater level of detail, as if the present moment becomes more alive and vivid. Think as if we start to notice life and everything around us like we were watching it through a microscope – observing layers of multi-realities presented within the moments we are experiencing. Whether that be a physical sensation, a thought, an energy and vibration or moments fulfilled with ‘coincidences’, we are slowly open to feel more, see more and sense more.


Things that we can access initially often just in meditation, over time start to flood into our daily lives outside the Yoga mat. Watching nature, a smile, an eye gaze, etc… everything seems to be pulsating with a level of aliveness – it actually is! Tantra tells us there is a level of life force in everything! With Yoga, you become more attuned to that level.

Yet this greater level of awareness, as magical as it sounds, can also overload the senses, and make us overwhelmed with feelings. It is not a surprise that we or others start to go deep into Yoga practices, then at one point it feels like things are going crazier, as opposed to a more serene path. Sometimes, we question if this ‘Yoga thing’ is really working because instead of peace, we feel more overwhelmed. That is when we start to feel unable to handle suffering or life uncertainties…

As beautiful as this world is, we also must acknowledge that there is darkness in it: poverty, hunger, crime, violence. How can we live in this world, becoming more and more aware of the totality – and at the same time exist in a way that helps the healing of it, while also not becoming overburdened.

It has happened to me! It has happened to many students that I know of!

On sensitivity

I remember a couple times being asked to not be so sensitive. Well, that is not possible.

Firstly, being more sensitive is part of the process. When we ‘switch on’ the light, we are not able to switch it off anymore.

How could we possibly choose to go back to ‘sleep’ and become unaware?

Then, if we choose numbing practices like smoking, alcohol, or when we abuse the senses with loud music or sounds all the time, and even with lifeless food – we create a filter of perception which clouds our sensory systems.

Yoga asks us to stop numbing and welcome the fullest spectrum of life and all its feelings.

Yoga suggests sitting with what arises, without looking for distractions or escapism. The goal is to be able to do this and remain calm, so that all the information does not send the mind into a spin.

Here is the million-dollar question… How? How can we remain calm, spacious, and mentally stable with all the new presented info?

As we become more powerful with our Yoga practices and thus more sensitive, it is necessary that we:

  • Welcome stillness: Stillness is the foundation to understand deeper layers of the mind and its tendencies.
  • Practice Yoga in a non-competitive way. Rather than a muscular workout, which is more superficial, we turn Yoga inwards as a practice of self-knowledge: with pranayama & meditation and Svadhyaya (self-study).
  • Choose a balanced lifestyle, where we can simultaneously connect with people, not hiding from the world. The key is to be able to enjoy life without the need of numbing experiences or looking for distraction.
  • Don’t rush into ‘spiritual awakening’ practices, let this be a gradual and slow process so that assimilation can happen.

Ultimately, we want to shine the light of awareness in everything in life. What initially might feel too much, or negative, can always be seen as information to be processed. We want to become more aware of the things that we previously could not notice, because that opens life to a richer and more meaningful experience. The key is to remember integration and time and space enough to re-adjust back to life.

It is like starting each day as if it were the first time you were to encounter it, with less judgements and more curiosity.

Practice with Keli online via The Practice Online.

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Adam's Articles

Practice!

By Adam Mahmoud

What I love about this Practice is its ability to create a shift in your state of being. You feel one way when starting a Practice and, in the end, you are completely transformed by it. I think everyone remembers the first time they had a Yoga class that woke them up to a feeling they’ve never experienced before.

However, the longer we practice the harder it can be to find the motivation to get on the mat or cushion. But at this time, it is essential to practice more. 

At this moment in time our world is changing, the foundation of society is potentially crumbling. Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, domestic abuse, businesses closing, corruption, riots in the streets, wildfires, and global warming to mention a few… we just need aliens to top things off!

The greed and wealth imbalance has hit an unbearable high! If you’d asked most people before all this happened ‘are you happy with the current global situation?’ most would have said no.

As a global society, we have been using, indulging and taking too much from the world without giving back. We all asked for major change and here it is whether you like it or not. Now it’s time for a radical transformation of our species.

Dealing with it all can seem to like an overwhelming task to bare or undertake but the solution is much closer to you than you think. If you want to create change in the world it must happen within you first, from the microcosm to the macrocosm. How? Through committed daily Practice.

Mastering your inner states of being

The lesson here is that once you master your inner states of being you will be able to remain cantered and grounded no matter what happens to you in life. You are able to go from reacting to responding, from judgment to compassion.

When they were nailing Jesus Christ to the cross he was not blaming, or screaming for his life, He said “forgive them, father, for they know not what they do”. That is the ultimate act of not letting your external world determine your internal state of being. Even at that moment, he was in such deep communion with the Purusha!

Remember we are all spiritual beings having a human experience

Whatever you are going through is an experience. Every day you experience millions of sounds and see countless colors. Be mindful of what you are consuming. Your news, social media, conversation, and who you spend time with… because all of these things become a part of you in some subtle way.

We don’t just practice for one or two hours a day and the rest of the time we are unconscious of our mental fluctuations. We are constantly practicing off the mat as well so that when we do enter on our practice it’s that much easier to meditate. Now is the time to take your Practice to the next level!  

Practice with Enthusiasm!  

Enthusiasm is intense enjoyment, interest, or approval. The word was originally used to refer to a person possessed by God.”

It is such a beautiful word, it has such an uplifting and passionate energy.

Being embodied is a gift!

Remember that life is short, we are only here for a brief moment in time. How about making the most of that time wisely! Master your energy, meditate at the heart, find your Dharma, and live your life to the fullest, in service to your teachers, the world, and humanity. Rod Stryker talks more about Dharma here. 

What I love most about this practice is its depth! You are never done, there is always something to learn and more to practice. It’s a ritual I perform every day to honor the divine within me all around me, to reconnect to the sacredness of all of life and her beauty. My goal as a yoga teacher is simple: to bring more love, kindness, and compassion into the world through sharing these teachings.

Take a life-transforming teacher training with The Practice in Bali in July to take your practice to the next level! Find out more about our 200hr YTT program here. 

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Ellen's Articles

Faith and Devotion

by Ellen Arthur.

I’ve always been very devoted. As a child I remember sitting in the church pews, head bowed in respect and honour, holy communion, eulogies, older people hugging and kissing you saying how much you had grown. We were a devoted family, to community, tradition and faith. Then came school and my friends, relationships and work, all with their own kind of devotion.

Throughout our lives faith is present, in many ways it is what binds one moment to the next, one thought to another. Faith and devotion are often spoken about together. With faith comes devotion, when we have faith, the devotion we need in order to commit to something is taken very seriously, our spiritual evolution depends upon our faith and devotion.

As soon as I was exposed to mantra I knew it was something worth exploring. I connected instantly and deeply with its purity and the way it somehow (magically) fulfilled me. It was as if I was being summoned, mantra was an elixir, a clear voice guiding me down a path I recognised, the path of devotion.

This path of yoga is called Bhakti Yoga and it comprises many different aspects of devotion from the gross to the subtle, from the outwardly expressive to the internal and silent. To western yogi’s, Bhakti yoga is synonymous with Kirtan, but it is so much more. This path is all about devoting oneself to seeing God everywhere, listening to scriptures, meditating upon and acting in service of God.

True Bhakti Yoga or true Bhaktas (those who practice Bhakti Yoga) see God as a personified form, something the devotee can relate to like a mother, a father, a sister. That way the devotion can be sent directly to God or to divine love.

Our true self can only find fulfilment once it has merged with divine love. How do we do this? It is said this union is made possible through the gateway of the heart. If practice is persistent and earnest the portal of the heart opens us to an all pervasive universe that connects us both physically, energetically and spiritually to an inner knowing, to the big idea of life, of dharma. Here the development of sweetness and devotion unfolds.

To invite this sweetness in, it is best to surround yourself with people who sing to God, pray to God and devote themselves to the divine, because naturally and overtime our own hearts begin to blossom. True devotees have hearts like flowers, they are constantly pointing their hearts and their devotion toward the sun, toward Source. This then, enriches and sustains their very lives. Increasing their level of faith and their ability to draw more and more abundance toward them and those around them.

Bhakti Yoga is said to be one of the most accessible forms of yoga due to its simple requirement of opening the heart to God. However this simplicity can be misleading. Throughout our lives we have developed many preferences, opinions and ideas about ourselves and the world. Which in turn begins to hardened the wall around our hearts making the journey toward that sacred place turbulent. Our ego can persist and deny our entry, our fears and doubts can halt our expedition. So the message is to go simply and to go sweetly. To remain the witness, the curious traveller. To honour emotion and any discomfort as new territory, new terrain for you to explore. Over time and very subtly our hard exterior begins to soften.

For some of us this softening takes months, for others years, and for most of us decades, even life times. Don’t let this deter you, we must remember that it is not the pace of our awakening that determines our “success” but our dedication and unwavering commitment to showing up for ourselves again and again. For the sake of clearing and cleaning the heart and living from that place of compassion and divine love. Let your prayers be simple and humble. May we pray that the grace of devotion touches our lives and purifies our hearts.

The heart is limitless and, because it has no form, it can contain totality.” – Ramana Maharshi

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The Truth About Tantra

by Octavio Salvado.

What is Tantra?

To answer the question ‘what is Tantra?’ we would need a thousand years just to begin, so vast is the span of its constituents. Instead I will offer a few insights gleaned from my own personal Tantric sadhana and a few others that have infused themselves into my heart through proximity to my beloved teachers.

What I know for sure is that our bodies are living shrines sporting internal architecture adorned with luminous alters that exude beauty the likes of which outer eyes will never see. Tantric sadhana offers us the precise road map to pilgrimage deep inside of ourselves, plus instructions on the appropriate etiquette required to lay our flower-offerings at the feet of the Lord. As a result we become a light unto ourselves, and a light to others, learning along the way that we can only give to others that which we already have.

Tantra is the relentless inner pursuit to be with Her, that great Shakti who lives inside of us and the subsequent desire to bud open and share Her light with the world, which is an out-petalling of our own soul. Botanists claim that flowers open for selfish reasons; to attract insects and pollinate. Let the scientists have their morbid lists about how selfish nature is. We know the truth! Flowers bud and open for the pure joy of it. The blossoming is unconditional. A flower shares its beauty and aroma for no other reason than to give of itself, because sweetness and beauty are its nature.

Similarly, Tantric practice ultimately leads us to our own inner blossoming and to an understanding of that goodness and beauty within us and what it is here to offer the world. If a flower can share so much purposeful light and life with the world, imagine what we can do with our advanced nervous systems, dexterous limbs, spinning chakras and free will!

As a process, committed Tantric sadhana provides us the intelligence and empowerment to access the primordial pool of healing required to mend our inner scars from this life and all others, which is the highest service we can offer to this world. It is easy to get emotional over the trees, oceans and animals, but fixing one problem will simply cause another to spring up. Until we cut out the root, which is ignorance and fear, oppression and greed will live on.

To truly serve this world, which is the highest Tantric motivation, we must first overcome our own inner poverty. Then, effortlessly, like a blooming flower we will enrich the lives of all who enter our field.

Knowing this, practice becomes service, a way to light our own lamp. Only when our own lamp is lit are we able to help light the lamp in the hearts of others. In luminosity, everything we do then becomes purposeful; all actions, thoughts and words express our inner essence, our sacred aroma, the beauty of our Soul. We walk in freedom and give others permission to do the same.

Tantra today – innocence robbed

Today, Tantra’s innocence is being robbed by charismatic perverts, fooling the masses that Sex is Tantra and sensuality can lead to enlightenment. Maha Maya in Her most dazzling cloak, even enveloping the remedy in poison. Such fun She has! Eventually we will come to understand that sex can be sacred, sex can be conscious and beautiful, but for us, it cannot be Tantric.

The ritualistic rigours of the Left-handed path are far beyond the reach and capacity of people like us. Dabbling in that façade will only increase our addictive tendencies and weaken the mind.

But let’s not dwell too long on dull discussions of delusion, there is only one Mother and She who conceals also reveals. All mothers let their kids play in the muck for a time.

True Tantra teaches us there is no substitute for ‘personal’ sadhana

Tantra, true Tantra, teaches that there is no substitute for ‘personal’ sadhana and there are no shortcuts to Samadhi. We must do the work ourselves. Tantra offers us the framework; a precise science that when practiced and understood, leads to a sacred life marked by spiritual and worldly joy and success.

What I know for sure is that your body is the living abode of the Divine. A vortex of Shaktis! To be born is freedom, if we choose to live in constant remembrance of this. All practices, arts, sciences, disciplines and human endeavours are an outgrowth of this desire to experience oneness with Her. Tantra then, is where the consummation of this desire is finally fulfilled.

Jai Maa.

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Ami's Articles

Changing Our Outlook, A Practice to See Things as They are

by Ami Effendy.

Yoga begins in the present moment, and the present moment begins in silence.  From that silence, words are born.  In the Yoga-Sutra attributed to Patanjali (third century B.C.E), considered to be one of the core text of yoga psychology, we begin with a simple sentence: “Atha yoganusasanam.”  This is translated as ‘in the present moment is the teaching of yoga. 

The first word in the Yoga-Sutra – atha- literally means ‘now’, ‘what is here in this moment.”  Yoga begins in the present moment.  Yoga is the present moment.  We could more concisely translate this opening line as: “Yoga begins now”.  The teachings of yoga orientate us towards this very moment, rendering the future invisible and the past no longer in reach.  Many scholars and practitioners translate yoga as a manifestation of the verb yuj – ‘to unite” – which turns yoga into something one does, a form of willful activity.  Yoga is the act of uniting one thing with another (breath with movement, body with mind, self with other). 

Yoga is a way of being and a mode of existing.  Existence is a play of interconnectedness, and the more we clarity our perception and ways of organizing our experiences, the more openness and compassion we bring to the profound and sometimes confusing undertaking of being in the world.  The authentic practice of yoga is an unremitting attention to present experience, weather in mind, body or heart, with a baby on the hip, preparing breakfast, or balancing the breath in a headstand.

According to yoga philosophy and psychology, the only place to begin an investigation of yoga – or of anything for that matter – is the present moment, because this is all that is actually occurring.  The future has not yet arisen, and the past is passed; the only thing there is to investigate and the only way to begin paying attention is within this very experience as it unfolds right now, right here.  That is why an investigation into the nature of reality and the true nature of the mind begins in this life, this body, and this moment.  The mind, with all its fantastic, distracted and creative potential, is so used to weaving conceptions and preferences all over the present moment that we are often relating not to what is actually occurring in life but reacting to life with our perception which is likes and dislikes.  That is why psychological inquires in the service of awakening begins with what is happening in the here and now – a form of present-centered attention with acceptance.

The mind has a hard time watching anything for very long, especially its own nature that is constantly moving, looking for something that is more interesting and challenging.  The mind has a hard time being present as the breath moves in the body, or as sensations arise and fall away in different yoga poses, and as a result, we are not often here most of the time, we are so easily distracted or interrupted.  This is true not just in relationship with our own bodies and emotions but interpersonally as well.  Other people interrupt our ideas about the way things are supposed to be.  This interruption is precisely what yoga is all about:  becoming flexible enough to have our preconceptions and our elaborative tendencies interrupted.  We usually discover a lot more in the silent space between thoughts and through all the interpretations, ideas, and views our minds generate.  Moments of psychological stillness remind us that there are ways of knowing other than intellectual or habitual.  Yoga practice, both on and off the mat, opens up the heart by revealing our patterns of grasping and inflexibility.  Through a disciplined and appropriately designed yoga practice, we not only see clearly our conditioned ways of living but we learn how to let go of those patterns so that our questions radically outnumber our answers, thats when we arrive in the present moments of life free to respond with an open and creative heart.

Yoga is an investigation into who we are and what we are.  We are looking into the nature of existence by starting with mind, breath, and body.  This requires the ability to be patient and accepting of what is occurring in our mind-body so we can see something clearly enough to study it. 

In yoga posture practice we dissolve the technique of moving the body into pure feeling and then dissolve the mind into that deep experience of feeling.  Then, that is all that is there.  In, chanting, as another example, we dissolve seed syllables into pure sound, and then sound into quite, and then quite into stillness, and then stillness becomes nothing other than a contented mind that is open and receptive, sharp and still.  When the mind returns to this natural state, anything can arise in mind, body and heart, and there is no pushing or pulling, just arising and dissolving, one form becoming, in turn, another. 

If our practice is creating flexibility over the body without a corresponding flexibility of the heart, we need to flag the way we conceive of and engage in practice.

Yoga begins with an honest meeting of our present experience, which means seeing as best we can all aspects of ourselves and our world, including what is most difficult or painful. How much suffering we have felt through our inability to tolerate and live in the midst of change?  How much difficulty do we experience from our reactions to the interactivity of feelings, thoughts, movements in the body, and memory?

In the Yoga-Sutra, Patanjali initiates the path of yoga with two first steps: practice (abhyasa) and letting go (vairagya).  Cultivating more wholesome intentions and actions of body, speech, and mind, and letting go of historical and ensnaring attitudes, is a constant throughout the entire path.  Cultivating positive qualities and letting go of negative factors in our psychophysical makeup gives us a clear starting point for our practice, without which we risk getting lost in the futility of undirected movement.

After a few years of consistent practicing contemporary yoga, I began asking questions.  Many of the classes I commonly found in Yoga Studios were not represented in ancient texts, with the absent of psychological understanding in yoga communities and the eventual vanity that comes on the heels of superficial practice.  I saw around me, people accomplishing great feats of flexibility and wonderful posture practices, but those same practices did not guarantee psychological or spiritual insight.

What do we aspire to in practice? What motivates our practice? What is the reason for practice? Some say we practice for no reason.  But human experience seems always constructed within the context of purpose or meaning.  How does one live a good life? What is enlightenment? Is yoga just about physical accomplishment, and if not, why are the ethical and psychological underpinnings of yoga so under spoken? Does one have to finally hold their own heels in back bends, practice arm balance in full lotus, or is there some other test for the liberative validity of practice? 

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Keli's Articles

From Addiction to Mission

by Keli Dierigns.

The opposite of addiction is connection– says the writer Johan Hari’s (author of “Lost of Connections: Why You Are Depressed and How to Find Hope”). Johan suggests that the reason people are depressed and turn towards unhelpful habits is because of loss of connection. Many studies have shown that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, but this is not necessarily what Johan suggests.  

It is my understanding that depression can show up in different layers, but his statement made me think much harder. He makes valid points when he mentions that life has moments of grief, uncertainty, confusion and if we understand those emotions better, we do not need to go under medications to numb those feelings. Johan Says in his book;

Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away.”

When I was seventeen years old my parents’ divorced and I had to see a doctor. After only two or three questions the doctor prescribed me anti-depressants. Thankfully, I was surrounded by people who advised against me taking them. It was a long road — often not easy — but I found joy in connecting with my body, exercising and working in fitness.

How can we understand these emotions better, without defaulting toward our diagnoses? By allowing ourselves to feel them.

Through meditation, silence and contemplation, we sit with the emotions rather than pushing them away or masking with distractions. This empowers us to make the clear choices of what is truly helpful to healing. 

Allowing ourselves acknowledgement and experience the emotions is the first step of healing… and… it is not comfortable. 

Stillness and the methodology of traditional Hatha Yoga helps us to understand non-reactivity, which supports us to not rush into unconscious choices.

Even with the rapid growth of information and widespread communication in our modern age, we do not know enough about mental health. As a collective humanity we are undereducated about mental health and our resources which makes it harder to understand how to support ourselves and society in a way that there is universal compassion. I became very curious about the state of human mind both because of my own struggles and as a Yoga teacher (because Yoga initially is about the mind). I wanted to know how I can understand myself and support humanity in more depth. I believe people are depressed for not feeling worthy or meaningful. It does not help that we live in a society and culture that displays happiness in form of material goods, looks, what it seems perfect relationships, etc.. but does happiness really comes from that? 

For so many people, the comparisons to these ‘supposed happiness’ actually leaves a feeling of not being good enough, of being unworthy. Why do we feel this way? How can we help ourselves and also the collective to feel more joy?

But first, what is taking our Joy away? — This is something Johan mentioned in a podcast with Joe Rogan and I loved: “One of the cruellest things of society is to take away what someone loves doing”. For example: to sing/ perform, dance, contact with nature; something that makes people feel alive and connected. Psychology often says that we are all a five year old little boys and girls with dreams and hopes. If society starts to take these experiences away from us and sell that happiness comes from external or superficial things, it will encourage creating a life that will be never enough and fulfilled. External happiness will never feel good enough and perfection is not something ‘achievable’.

This makes more sense to me after watching the movie Joker, which is my favourite movie of all times. I think it’s a masterpiece that reveals when a collective society is unhealed; it creates more traumas and pain (like a chain), one hurting another. I left the movies really touched by it and could not stop noticing ‘pieces of the Joker’ everywhere. It impacted me to reflect deeper on how am I adding to the healing or suffering to every single person that I interact with every day. We are all healing from something and must think how can we support people to keep working or believing in their dreams.

So…what makes us to FIND joy? In that same podcast Rohan says:

“Depression can be minimized by making other people happy”

He also added that many studies have being done in countries that support a culture where happiness is when we serve others. What do you think? I could not agree more! 

We might think…What about myself? I should fix my depression first before helping others? Not really. The act of supporting a community, giving and participating will leave a sense of worthiness, and difference that brings joy to the heart! Serving others is how you find purpose in life and when you find purpose, you find more meaning in it. Yes it requires effort…but it could be something simple. Take friends for coffee and listen to them, bake muffins to someone, clean up the beach, help to rescue a puppy, plant a tree, drive kids to school, help someone to move home, create a simple piece of art and give to someone… truly, we never know where this could lead us. Starting something small can make a world difference, in your world and someone’s else.

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Ellen's Articles

The Source of Your Fear

by Ellen Arthur.

The river of spirituality must have love and devotion woven into its flow. Without this inner experience of reverence and sweetness our practices become fruitless and we lose interest. Practice wholeheartedly, unattached to the outcome is something to be done on a daily basis. What I know to be true is that no one else can work with our mind for us, no teacher or therapist can clean our mind of confusion and make it one-pointed. Even the scriptures say “light your own lamp, no one else can give you enlightenment”. This implies that we are our own guides, our own teachers.

As I practice, both my physical teacher and my inner teacher ask that I dive deeper, into the realms of mind and habit. What I am continuously coming up against are my insecurities and doubts. Some days they are little ripples upon a quiet lake, other days they are all consuming waves of emotion which overwhelm my ability to see clearly. Within these emotions, whether they create large waves or small ripples is fear. Fear is what stifles our growth, keeps us living small and is the source of all our pain and suffering.

This is where yoga steeped in knowledge and Tradition comes in. The intention of the practices are to aid in deep healing and inner transformation. It asks us very specifically to analyse the source of our fear. The judgements, anxieties and resentments and get to the root of them. Only once we acknowledge the source of our fears are we able to liberate them.

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, says that we should contemplate two main themes. The first is to be careful of fear and doubt. These qualities are like an army of termites chewing away at our foundation and causing the entire structure of spirituality to collapse. The second theme centres around ego. Our greatest enemy. It is in charge of emotions such as anger, hatred, jealousy, greed and the desire for revenge. Every one of these emotional enemies cause great destruction both internally and externally

In my analysis I have come up with this question, why do patterns repeat themselves? Patterns of self sabotage, unworthiness and confusion. Until recently I never knew to ask these questions or realise that they had remedies. Now that my current practices are informed by contemplation and self analysis. I am beginning to notice incremental shifts through practices such as mantra japa, emphasis on self compassion, self love and also techniques that guide us toward releasing negativity. I can viscerally and mentally feel the transformation talking place within my consciousness. I am less reactive, less driven by egotistical desires and more interested in moving toward things, people and places that inspire, excite and enable me to grow in happiness and unconditional love.

Not wanting to diminish the challenges faced coming up against the lower mind. I try to remember that what I am going through is a process of healing. Of moving away from fear and guiding myself toward love. A process that requires trust, compassion and the permission to heal. To acknowledge our negative and harmful traits and have the tools and support to gracefully move beyond them.

Blessed are we with the grace of the inner teacher, to be able to move through life in this human form, with a mind that is able to discern, decide and act. However, the great Yogis realised it’s not enough. It is important that we expose ourselves to the other three forms of grace.
Grace from the scriptures, revealed knowledge, The Grace of God,
and the sweet, nurturing Grace of the Guru.

With these four forms of Grace, really nothing can stand in the way of our liberation, our desire to evolve and meet the higher Self, the all knowing one, where we are reunited with our Soul.

All we can do is practice in an informed and honest way. To be easeful in our approach to our own wounds and desire to heal. To remember that the source of our fear is the very thing that CAN liberate us from all ignorance and suffering.

All blessings,
Elle