Hello amazing being,
Last night I gave a talk at the studio about the spiritual side of yoga. What a great group! 10 of us in all...that's pretty much woodstock for me.
Today being Spirit of Life Saturday is the perfect opportunity to touch on what I presented. This a loaded topic because history of yoga is so rich and deep.
I have been studying yoga for 15 years and over the past 6 years I have delved a deeper into the mantra aspect. Those of you that come to yoga have heard the music playing in the background, some of you may have picked up on the repetitive nature of the lyrics, typically in sanskrit. If your like me you may have made up your own words because you have no clue what they are saying! Once you know the words it's a lot more fun:)
Yogic mantras are a way to connect us to the millions of gods and goddesses of India.
I know this freaks people out a bit, especially if you have been raised on western religion, as I was. It is a common misconception that cultures with multiple gods/goddesses also worship multiple gods/goddesses. This generally is not true, in fact the common belief is that their is one God and the gods and goddesses represent the many aspects of God which we can then relate to ourselves by drawing on the qualities and nature of the archetypes.
For instance, last night during the talk I introduced Shiva and Shakti which embody the masculine and feminine, the lover and the hero, the yogi and the saint, the stillness and the energy. The mantra associated with Shiva is OM NAMAH SHIVAYA. The mantra is a reminder to cut through the ego, balance the masculine and feminine within, to become more aware of our thoughts, words, and actions. The mantra invokes those qualities from the inside out.
We can learn so much about our inherent qualities by taking a deeper look at the qualities, archetypes, and symbolism of almost any culture and religion and connect the dots of similarity. A very common theme is fearlessness...
Bringing it all together, how can we on spirit of life saturday be inspired to invoke the qualities of stillness, balance, and fearlessness? My personal answer is simple...breath and faith. What's yours?
On Tuesday January 12th around noon, my best friend of 14 years took his final Samadhi (final rest). Murphy, my dog taught me kindness and patience like no other. From the first days of his puppy hood until an hour before his death he would not stop barking or asking for treats. It's just what he did. I remember when we first saw him in the pet store (it was before the animal rescue days), he was the cutest thing ever and so quiet and so sweet! No training required...until we brought him home. There was no amount of walking, running, playing, looking at him that I could do to appease him. It was never enough attention and I was the worst dog parent because all I ever did was hold him, carry him around, and spoil him. He was so freaking cute!
He was also my constant companion and saw me through the birth of my 2 kids, through 2 deployments, and countless other times of begin alone with the kids while my husband was away. He was there by my side when I looked and felt my worst and when I looked and felt my best. He barked me out of bad moods and sadness, and barked me into irritation and anger and then into the present moment with him.
His barking was his way of telling me to just be here now, with him and no one else but present nonetheless. Murphy made a name for himself all across the country. Everywhere we lived people knew Murphy because when people came over he had to be a part of all of it by you guessed it, barking! THE ENTIRE TIME!...until he got tired.
I will give him some credit, when he got a little older and my kids were really young he knew to be quiet from time to time while they were napping or in bed, as long as he was near me.
Murphy also loved nature, specifically rocks in bodies of water. There was just something about fishing for rocks that he loved. He would dunk his entire head under water to grab the biggest rock just to come up for air and to drop it again, kick it, and find it again. However, he could not swim and was more of a deer jumping in water type of dog if you can imagine a deer jumping in water, or maybe more of a kangaroo?
We did rescue Ruby our Boston Terrier when Murphy was about 5 or 6 years old. Ruby was a disaster, literally the worst rescue in a group of 300 dogs. They told me I could give her back if need be and that she would never be able to live in the house. They also waived the$300 adoption fee and told me she liked cheese and other dogs and sent me on my way. So she got Murphy and cheese! I deemed Murphy a Saint the day we brought Ruby home. She was literally attached to him from that point on, literally would walk under him would lay on top of him or curl right up next to him by his side or under his chin and he just went with it. He never lost his patience with her BUT if a dog could roll their eyes Murphy would have looked like he had a twitch from rolling his eyes so much at her.
Murphy took Ruby under his wing, or hind leg, or neck and taught her how to accept love and you guessed again...how to bark, beg for treats, and be generally annoying. Although she has been very quiet since Tuesday.
Murphy was my son's first friend and first broken heart. He was my daughters protector. He was my constant. My heart hurt on Tuesday when he took his Maha Samadhi. I can't squeeze his face anymore, or hug him, or hear him bark, or cry to him, or meditate with him, or feed him toast, watermelon, and tomatoes anymore, or play with him, or anything that requires being in the body.
At the time of Murphy's euthanization and earlier that day when he was struggling to breathe I silently sang the Gayatri Mantra, the oldest prayer in existence and a blessing as people or animals pass on.
“OM BUHR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT”
We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of Ignorance;
May our hearts be opened enlighten our Intellect.
When his heart was about to stop beating I closed my eyes, the light was shining brightly into the room and all I visualized was Murphy young and free again. I felt his soul leave his body.
I sent a silent blessing of an easy and guided passing and asked that he be greeted by loved ones.
My heart was so sad and heavy. When I awoke on Wednesday that same feeling remained. I decided to talk to Murphy and ask him to teach me how to heal from this. Within a few hours I felt lighter and thought about the yogic ways in which to open our hearts to the ever present love that surrounds us both seen and unseen. When I looked into my heart I could, in my minds eye, see him in my heart. That is where he lives, blissful and free. The guru with fur that symbolizes unconditional love, loyalty, patience, and kindness.
Paramahamsa Yogananda's last words before his final Samadhi were "Where ganges, woods, himalayan caves, and men dream God- I am hallowed; my body touched that sod." He then rolled his eyes upwards with a beautiful smile upon his face, transcending into his Maha Samadhi and passed away in front of a crowd of more then 100 people.
I watched the documentary "AWAKE" last night and have read "Autobiography of a Yogi and "The Yoga of Jesus." The documentary brought it all together for me. Hearing his powerful voice and his message of self realization that he brought to the west in the 1920's was inspiring to say the least.
It was Yogananda's guidance and dream to bring the teaching of self realization to the west, to teach people that it is imperative to recognize the connection of our supposed waking reality and the connection to spiritual existence through meditation. He taught hatha yoga as a means of preparing the body for mediation which I believe is part of the reason hatha yoga was brought to America. I know for many including myself it is a challenge to take time to sit for meditation when there are 100 things left to do in that day. Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga prepares the the mind, body, and spirit by opening and clearing the 72,000 nadis and the 7 main chakras which relate to every aspect of our physical being including our muscles and systems of the body. You could say Hatha Yoga is a purification process. I have always felt drawn to the purification process. Purification of mind and body to connect to the soul, that is the great transformation of a more traditional yoga practice, purifying the mind and body over and over again to new levels of awareness in body, mind, and spirit.
Without awareness we remain asleep. The life and teachings of Yogananada, of Neem Karoli Baba, of Sri Swami Satchidanada, of Jesus, of Buddha, of the Dalai Lama, of Thich Nhat Hanh, of Mahatma Ghandi, of countless others teach us over and over again that WE are peace and love. That we as humans posses the means to connect to the energy of the universe/God, within ourselves because it exists in every cell of our being. Connect is not even the right word because we are always connected but to heighten that connection through forms of meditation and self awareness and self realization. It is our duty to recognize this and genuinely care about this life that has been given to us and the lives of everyone else we share this planet with. You are unique in your own right. It's up to you to figure out what your uniqueness is through some form of meditation and create from that point while continuing to hone your awake-ness, and awareness.
Ram Dass says "We are all god dressed in drag and we are all just walking each other home."
I am so excited about becoming a Registered Yoga Alliance School. I freaking love teaching yoga. That would be part of the reason I opened a wellness studio with my main focus being teaching yoga. It's been a love of mine for the past 15 year now. Even on the days I think I might not like it anymore I step onto the mat and I'm instantly in love again.
Now teaching people to teach others is a beautiful thing! I have my first class graduating next weekend. They are all fantastically amazing in their own unique way of being human and in teaching yoga.
February 20th marks the start of the next Journey Om Yoga 200 hour training that is ONLINE! I've been working on the material and I am so pleased with what I'll be presenting through videos, live classes via livestream, the community emails, skype sessions and more. Yes it will feel like a community. A modern community that does things electronically. It is ok in my book!
It took me a little while to be ok with offering this training online but the more feedback I received from people all over the country that wanted yoga teacher training and just couldn't find 30 whole days to immerse themselves in a picturesque yoga teacher training experience (although it's on my bucket list), or even finding time to make it to a physical class 4 times per week while taking care of a family and working full time. That's why I created this training and it will be awesome. No doubt. AND it will feel like a community. Teacher Trainees will be connected, will have to communicate with one another and will have to teach a live online class. Of course if you live near J.O.Y. Wellness my wellness studio then yes you are required to come take classes in person!!
Yoga Teacher Training is one of the MOST magical things I have ever done. My teacher, Vimala Ren Fields was absolute pure mother earth peace and not in a hippy kind of way but a swami kind of way. She is the real deal, with 40 years of practice and teaching. Yes it was a magical experience but don't mistake my magic for unicorns and rainbows. It absolutely transformed me physically, but what it did for my mind and spirit is almost impossible to put into words.
Life hasn't always been easy to say the least and that shit gets stored in our cells for sure. Yoga has a way of coaxing it to rise to the surface. I almost put the word gently before coaxing but it's not always gentle but it is always what you can handle. It just depends on how much you surrender to what lies within. I wasn't always ready to face what was within so I may have felt like I was going to die from time to time. But die in a good way and to be honest, parts of me did die and were re-born into something much better.
Getting back on track...this upcoming yoga teacher training will transform lives, it will create great yoga teachers, it will inspire and encourage teacher trainees to dive deep, to develop, to become what their souls yearn for IF they are up for the journey.
So are you up for it? And remember yoga teacher training does not necessarily mean you need to teach yoga to large groups or at all, it can also be used to learn about what your purpose is on this earth, it can be used to create a meaningful personal practice, it can be used to just learn more about yoga and all of it's wonderful benefits....
February 20th! Let's Journey Om...
Peace and Love
Full Throttle Thursday has arrived! Are you up to the challenge of pushing yourself a little bit more today, within the realm of deeply listening to the body, mind, and spirit? Maybe that is the challenge (deep listening)?! How often do we ignore the signals our body gives us? Today let's take steps to be pro active with listening to the signals of the body.
For instance, if you are starting to get a headache instead of ignoring it, take a moment to drink a full glass of water and breathe deeply for 1 full minute. Or when you are hungry take a full minute of deep breathing to check in and listen to what your body is craving.
How about when you are practicing yoga today you hone in on the small subtle movements maintaining the connection of smooth easy breathing with easing your way to the depth of the posture...tune into bringing the vital life force known as prana into the 72,000 nadis or pathways, places where the vital life force moves through each and every cell in the body connecting mind and spirit. Now there's some food for thought. But don't think too hard:)
Thursday Classes at the studio are designed to encourage you to find your edge. Join me (Jennifer) today:
I know it's tough to take 5 minutes to read through something these days with all the videos and pictures there are to view. I'm the same way but lately I've been forcing myself to finish, completely finish what I start reading whether on FB, a book, an article. It's nice to remember I can do one thing at a time. So just read it and share it would you:)
We have arrived! It's New Years Eve. WOW! Although I'm calling bull shit on NYE and you'll see why later.
How was 2015 for you? I read things each year where people say it was the worst year ever and that the next year WILL be great! As if they can stop the things that are painful from happening.
Can you feel joy without knowing what pain feels like? Haven't you ever felt joy and pain simultaneously? I have felt that so many times this year.
The beauty and pain of life are intertwined in this dance bringing tears to my eyes. The older I get, the more I practice meditation, yoga, awareness, life, the more I realize I have no clue how this life thing goes, and in turn I am able to let go of "trying" to control everything.
That is a big LAUGH OUT LOUD!..control. The more I let go and live from my heart, the more life reveals itself in subtle beautiful ways. My heart is literally bursting with love despite the fact that I do not have it all, that is, all the things I think I want.
There is so much pressure to set goals, to make changes, to make it the best year ever...Like I said in the beginning of this letter to you, I'm going to call bull shit on NYE. Are you really scrambling around on this one day to figure out what we screwed up this past year so we don't do it again next year?
How about you stop. Just STOP. You are perfect just as you are in this moment. I know the ball hasn't dropped yet and you are perfect right now...imagine that. You are exactly where you are supposed to be right here and now. Maybe it sucks? That's ok.
Let go of the pressure to set goals, intentions, visions and what not. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS...just simply act as if those goals, intentions, and visions, have already happened. What do those things feel like, or look like on you?
Or don't. It's up to you. Life will still unfold one way or the other. Although I'll admit working toward an awakened life is much more fulfilling than floating through life waiting for stuff to happen. If you decide to one thing, let it be faith. Faith in yourself and Faith in something greater...like GOD. I know it's a loaded word but get over it and figure out what God is to you. That's all. Faith is a beautiful thing, because it allows you to live from the heart, wish, dream, set goals, work toward intentions and then give up control and trust that it's all being synchronized in some amazing way that we could have never have dreamed up even if we tried.
What ARE you ready for in 2016? I don't think any of us really know and if I look back at my life experiences I recognize that things pretty much never turn out exactly how I imagined them to be and things happened that I would have never imagined.
If you decide to act "as if" all of your goals, intentions, and visions are here now, be ready to let go of outcomes and see how it unfolds. It's fun. Life is meant to be fun.
HOLD ON for one more minute...Let's go even further. Let's take the Yogic path...it's the only path I know, or maybe it's the only path I like?
Let go of all the pressure of acting "as if", of setting goals, intentions, and visions. I know it sounded so exciting (so do it if you love it).
But...are you Ready for the this?
Make beautiful wishes, visions, and dreams for other people, people you know and love, for strangers, for people you think you hate. Wishes of love, happiness, perfect health, abundance, prosperity. Wish that they lived in a big house with a loving family. Visions that they can travel to exotic places. Wish for ALL the things you would wish for yourself. Wish for them to be relieved of suffering from the past, present, and future, wish that the earth is a peaceful loving place and that the hardened hearts soften, that trauma be lifted and healed, that each person receives all the things they need in life and then some. Dream that all children feel unconditional love and joy. Visualize that each person awakens from the slumber of scarcity, from the slumber of disconnection. Wish that each person recognizes the light in each other and themselves.
AND THEN...recognize, embrace, sit with, breathe...THAT WHEN YOU ARE IN THAT PLACE IN YOU AND I AM IN THAT PL ACE IN ME THERE IS ONLY ONE OF US, the meaning of Namaste.
Get lost in Namaste. Lose yourself in love. In peace. In JOY.
jennifer is a mother, entrepreneur, artist, writer, peace activist, yogi, holisitc wellness and body work expert, and just a general lover of life in all its forms!
224 N Broadway
Salem NH 03079