Deepen Your Yoga Practice
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AWARENESS- YOGA IS A VEHICLE FOR WAKING UP
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” Buddha
Do you have any recollection of how you perceived new things in your life as a small child? Or possibly do you remember your younger siblings or your children when they were old enough to communicate with you their joyful, inquisitive awareness about all the things they were playing with or experiencing in their little lives? They were aware, so close to their spiritual sides, alive with questions and animated with excitement of the newness of the event or object of focus.
Do you remember when that state of wonderment and presence stopped for you? For me, I remember it changed when I went to first grade. It was a parochial school, very structured and religious.
I had so many questions about God and life. The answers I was given did not make sense to me. I started to conform, and eventually went on autopilot. My excitement for life, my enthusiasm for the natural ways of living and experiencing Spirit in everything diminished. I became detached from my feelings, unable to feel the spark of divine light inside myself I felt as a kid. I lost faith in myself and lost my enthusiasm for discovering the quieter spiritual side of myself. I developed several health conditions, covered up my disappointments and frustrations with partying and over-extending myself. I remained there for well into my college days. And then by the grace of God, I was encouraged to do a yoga class for PE credits at Arizona State University.
I was a physical, emotional and spiritual train wreck. The pace of my life was fast and furious. I did not know how to slow down. I was detached from my emotions and as I entered the first yoga class of my life I was so emotional. First I couldn’t stop giggling, then, I was so angry, which led to tears of sadness. Yikes, I was in trouble, because I had a semester of this yoga to experience. I had been so cut off from myself I had no idea I was in such physical pain. I had abdominal, back and neck pains that I had suppressed and were chronic. What a rude awakening. Mentally, I was negative most of the time. Most folks that know me now have a difficult time believing that.
It took years to change my negative attitude. Yoga was my first naturopathic physician and psychologist. The practice helped me to release the many layers of deep-seated tensions and beliefs that caused me to live a life that was bitter and disconnected. So the yoga practice began. It was painful for a while in both physical and mental ways. But, bit-by-bit I became more aware of releasing the old ways of living and opened to the awareness of a Source which courses through my thoughts, body and soul. As I practice the physical postures, I realized I felt my body in a more intimate way. My breath kept me in the present experience and I could feel an inner essence that was real, visceral. I experienced an energy field that ran through my body, settled me down inside my body. It was as though I was witnessing a deeper awareness and connection with all of life inside myself. I felt lighter, freer and more aware of my goodness and light force. I was the closest I felt to the truth of myself since I was a small child. What freedom!
Over the 30 plus years I have been practicing yoga, this awareness of the spiritual side of myself has refined. I can easily feel my emotions but they don’t cling. I have negative thoughts at times but I find I change my mind to a more positive attitude much faster and more easily. My body is over 50 now but still my energy is strong and stable. The awareness that yoga has brought forward in my life has been life enhancing and a blessing. I trust more and fear less. I give without depleting myself. I enjoy different ways in which people express their views without judgment. The awareness of my inner self has allowed me to feel at home no matter where I am or whom I am with. I feel connected with a deep Presence that courses through all of life. Yoga has deepened my awareness of purpose, joy and commitment to a more conscious way of living and experiencing this life.
Many master yogis over the years have said repeatedly, practice, practice, practice and by doing so, your life will unfold in the joy and love that is your essence. Enjoy the practice, which is to enjoy the journey, and the awareness of your highest Self will be yours.
Awareness begins by taking a single breath with focus and then just allowing the Presence to guide you from within.
Rumi says, “The more awareness one has the closer to God one is”. May you rest in that awareness and peace.
Blessings, Mary Beth
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