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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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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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So Hum: “I Am-ness”

by Keli Dierings, artwork by Alex Ruiz,

Your self-worth cannot be defined by what you do or accomplish. These are temporary, while who you are is infinite. When you identify who you are with what you do, you set yourself up for disappointment and heartbreak sooner or later. If we think “I, and what I do, are not enough,” we can end up doing more and more to always be chasing a sense of temporary worthiness. And then what happens if one day you cannot complete a task or goal for some reason? Do you then think that who you are is a failure? The reality is, the things that you do won’t always be a success, and sometimes you won’t be able to accomplish them all or in a way that you initially wanted. This will never mean that you are not worthy, or not enough.

SO HUM is a Sanskrit word meaning “I AM – I am that/he.” I am that which is eternal, that which is one with the Source. When we embody So Hum, we begin to understand that our bodies, minds, careers, tasks, and accomplishments are just temporary in this human life and constantly changing. It becomes crucial to choose carefully the word we put after “I AM” because it becomes our identity, our reality. If we attach to or identify with something that we can’t always control, we can end up creating for ourselves an enormous amount of pain. We as infinite, divine, and luminous beings limit ourselves when we our identify ourselves to the things that are finite and temporary. Of course we can have goals, do things, and follow our passions for thriving! But we must remember that these things are parts of our lives, yet not who we are as beings.

When we experience ‘negative’ emotions such as anger, insecurity or jealousy, we tend to tell ourselves “I am an angry person” or “I am a jealous girlfriend”, rather than saying “I am experiencing the emotion of anger, or jealousy”, which is temporary. We tend also to have thought patterns like “I feel worthless, therefore I must be worthless.” When we learn from society that there is no separation between doing bad and being bad, it leaves us with the feeling of shame, and we may tend to compare ourselves with others or identify with others’ opinions and reactions that we can’t control. We might think that if you don’t do certain thing, you are not worthy of others love and appreciation.

So how should we start to identify with the divine beings we are?

Begin the journey of self-knowing. Meditate! Meditation is the key for self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the key for finding growth and freedom. You come to own your growth, and understand too that the journey is not perfect all the time. In the tradition of Tantric Hatha, SO HUM is one of the most potent Mantras to meditate on for self-realization.

Practice contemplation of all the reasons you ARE enough. If you focus on lack and insecurities, you get more of it. But if you focus on the things in your life that you feel good about, this will shift into thoughts of appreciation for yourself. For example: I value myself because I care about others, humanity, or I value myself because I am loyal.

Speak to yourself with love! Give yourself words, advice, and guidance that you would give to a dear friend. When we can show ourselves kindness and compassion, we rewire the brain and our patterns of self-talk, self-love and self-worth.

And attune to being in gratitude by searching for appreciation in your experiences. Begin to see that being defines you more than doing and being goes way beyond anything that is subject to change in this life. The essence of who you truly are it is beautiful, wonderful and even beyond your experiences.

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Taste of Joy

by Keli Dierings.

Recently I have done an immersion training with my teacher Rod Stryker, it was five days immersion in Tantra and five days in Yoga Nidra. Again, it changed my life. It made me to remember why I started and how Yoga always up level the way I chose to live my life on every moment and day by day or year by year.

It bought me back to think how important is to go deep into something that you want, to emerge yourself, to learn, to experience, to feel the challenge, to overcome it and understand it deeper.

My teacher mentioned that he never spent a lot of time with his teachers, but he would visit them around every six months. I understand we don’t need to “live” with our teachers to go deep into our practices so that we can change our lives. We can simply spend some time with them, experience the depth of their teachings and then be committed to continue the work as we carry on with life. Because in fact, Yoga is not an escape from our reality, Yoga is a tool to deal with reality and in a skilful way that we can be more happy and fulfilled on every day.

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Dissolving Illusion

by Keli Dierings.

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special ability, relationships, personal and family history, belief system and often nationalistic, racial, religious and other collective identifications. None of these is you.” – says Eckhart Tolle……. Ouch! A fundamental rule of Quantum Mechanics states that there is a difference between what the world is and what we see when we look at the world. Most people think what they see with their eyes is the only reality that really exists, and by default, identify themselves with this material reality. It is also common for people to identify with the roles and judgments placed upon them by others, letting others perceptions form their reality.

Many of us have heard of the saying that “Life is an illusion.” Especially at this age the sentence “Let it go” has become one of the most used phrases in Yoga classes. If everything is an illusion, we are faced with a dilemma. If we are to constantly let go of the ego’s attachments referring to the examples of Eckhart Tolle’s quote that I mentioned above. Well, what does it mean to be human then? What remains? Do our experiences really exist? Or are we creating a delusional story in based of our brains ability to process what is the truth? Sometimes it can feel that the goal is to detach ourselves from the human experience. If that is the truth, why do we even need to focus on self-development to thrive in this human life? What is the point?

According to the Yoga traditions we all have one main purpose in this life, which the ancient Vedic teachings calls it Dharma. Dharma translates it back to “the longing for purpose and to fulfil our unique destiny”. Dharma is an invisible universal intelligence that sustains and organizes all forms of life. This purpose is not to create only our own happiness, but yes to contribute to the greater good and ultimately serve the entire fabric that intertwines us all. Give up yourself interest, be selfless. Rod Stryker says on the book The Four Desires “We are each a single cell in the greater body of this world, with a unique role to play in the service of sustaining and advancing the whole of which we are part.” There is a very unique purpose in every single one of us and that is why your Soul is experiencing itself in this temporary human body. We are here to serve each other. Your long term happiness is to fulfil your personal dharma, so you can serve the world and only you can do that! Now, if we are living a life that doesn’t support our Dharma, than that is living an illusion.

Most Illusions are a by-product of the suffering created by not being in balance with the invisible universal intelligence, in another words, not being in harmony with life purpose. Suffering is caused by remaining attached to the ego and the ego is a fascinating thing that will try to convince you that you are separated from the whole. Individuality is an illusion. Illusion is learned and then passed on. If I believe that my happiness come from the external fulfilments that ego holds on to, what happens if suddenly one of those things is ‘taken away from me’? Would I suffer for not having a career anymore, or a house, or a partner/family? The suffering that burdens us comes from separation to those things or people we once thought that were parts of ourselves or our stories. To be clear pain and suffering are different from each other. While pain is inevitable, we will get a little hurt time to time, but is the holding onto pain for too long that becomes suffering. Learn to rest your awareness as the one who observe the situation, process the experience and evolve from it. This is a mind game.

We could blame society for feeding our ego, forcing us to remain insecure about who we are, or blame the government for feeding our fears that keep us blinded under the rules and operating on survival mode. But it’s time to evolve, and the real change starts within, not without. By changing what see about who we are and how we see life, we change our world and that might inspire the change in other people too.

One, if not the main goal in Yoga is to awaken the brain. The knowledgeable spiritual teacher Swami Satyananda Saraswati says “we can say the brain has ten compartments, and of these, nine are dormant and one is active. Why are these other compartments inactive? Because there is no energy.” What that means? That we are actually just using that small percentage of our brain capacity, to survive in this world. But remember we are not here just to survive, that is an illusion. We are here to awake to the most magnificent version of ourselves so we can serve our dharma and support the entire Universe. By doing the correct Ancient traditional practices of Yoga (which by the way has a lot more to do with pranayama and meditation than fancy acrobatic yoga poses) we begin to switch on the brain and send energy to the parts that are inactive. That’s how we expand our consciousness and by doing that we remove the veils or layers of mental conditions creating more clarity to understand our dharma, which is the total reason why we are here.

All our experiences are perceived in the mind. So is it true that all the human psychological suffering (or Illusion) could be ended by simply shifting perception? YES! We came into this world absolutely perfect as we are. You are God, God is within you and in everything else, and in this level all things are perfect. Even through the life of inevitable painful losses, heartbreaks and conflicts, believe it or not, it’s God manifesting itself as a lesson to endure to teach us about something that we did not know before. Once we shift this perception, everything is then sacred and the unconditional consciousness becomes the presence of God. There is nothing scary about life, if you are not attached to results.

If the conscious state you are in this moment is the same thing as we call the Divine state, that means you know and recognize God, if you do anything to make it different, might show that you don’t understand it so. Most people struggle to see, but this is the real deal, you are enough! You don’t need external validations or obtain more. What most spiritual traditions tell us is that despite the majority of humans spend their lives looking for outside fulfilment and answers, it all exits inside us. Everybody is looking for something they already have. Our job is to reconnect to that thing and remember who we are before society told us who we should be, and then bring true meaning to this human experience. There is a truth that exist inside your heart that can only be known by a still mind.

The following fable from the Vedic tradition serves as a beautiful reminder of something essential that is all too easily forgotten in our reality “Let the wisdom and love in your heart show you what and who you really are, then let it guide you. Present your heart with a vision of what you know it longs for and it will help you fulfil the aspirations that have been in it all along. Make these steps your life’s practice. In time, you will be richly rewarded and discover that for every step you have taken toward fulfilling your dream, your dreams have taken a step towards you.”

Sourcesc of Inspirations:
Paragraph 1: Eckhart Tolle Quote – The Power of Now
Paragraph 3: Rod Stryker – The Four Desires
Paragraph 6: Swami Satyananda Saraswati – Kundalini Tantra
Paragraph 7 and 8 : Allan Watts – Online video lectures
Paragraph 9: Rod Stryker – The Four Desires

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Hatha Yoga Basics with Keli Dierings

Not only is this presentation about Hatha Yoga Basics, it is even more about what it means to PRACTICE the philosophies of yoga, moment to moment and day to day.

Keli starts her presentation – her first that she has delivered at The Practice and was nervous about – by saying that, “Today (because of a personal situation) was perhaps the worst days she has experienced in 10 years.”

She then went on to deliver a very heart-felt, raw, informative, engaging and even humorous presentation on the basics of hatha yoga, but even more so on how to use yoga as a tool to navigate your way through life, and its trials and tribulations, with as much ease and grace as possible.

For those of us there that witnessed this; it was a moving experience and as vulnerability expert Brene Brown talks about, Keli’s vulnerability in the face of heartfelt pain, was a sign of pure COURAGE. Thank you for showing us how Keli.

Keli fully encapsulates what The Practice is all about. Using conscious traditional yoga as a way to evolve into an even better human being.

Please enjoy.

Love from The (very proud) Practice Team

Below are some of the visuals from the presentation. We think you will understand when they come up in the presentation. 😉

Or download the complete presentation slides by clicking here.