yoga wisdom

Sunday, December 4, 2011

“The worst sin is to call yourself a sinner,” Yannis a Dharma yoga teacher.

Yannis has been a devoted Dharma teacher for 7 years and I could not have found a better person to clear my mind with. We walked out of his Dharma III class on last Friday when I proceeded to ask him  why sometimes our minds has the bad habit to judge us. And why it’s so incredibly hard for us to stop such poisonous repetitive inner spiral.

“Because the mind works on its own and judging is what the mind does best,” he said. “But, once we recognize that this is what’s happening, it’s up to us to make the decision to let it do its little game on its own and not part-take in it.”

I just wish it was as easy as it sounds or as it reads on a blog post! We all know that when we find ourselves in such a mind space where all we can hear is our own self-judgment, it’s often impossible to get ourselves out of it until we let go of the actual judgment of self-judgment. It’s like a dog who bites its own tail over and over again without learning his previous lesson.

You are probably judging yourself right now, as you are reading this blog post, as I am doing the exact same while writing it.

Well, stop it!

Choose to stop this every time you see your mind about to sneek-up upon yourself with its spiteful little voice “you should have done differently. Why are you like this. Think before you act. Do not do that, do this instead…” Just address yourself and recongize this judgment it’s all happening within your head, nobody else is really triggering it or nourishing it, but yourself.

So, choose to view it and put an end to it right there before it becomes this longer and more tortuous analysis of yourself and the whys you should not judge yourself. But, most importantly, do not commit violence upon yourself by being harsh about why you can’t stop the judgment process quit yet.

It will take time, it may take years, it will take many rounds of Kapalabati, Alternate Nostril breathing and even more time that you ever imagine for seedless meditation as well as “walking-though-life” meditation, but in the end you will love yourself more and you will learn to let yourself be and not always push to be someone else.
And, by the way, when you get to that point, they tell me *(the ones who are so serene and self-loving) that you lose track of where your mind ends and your true self begins and isn’t this the whole point of life? Find the truest happiness within ourselves first and foremost.

So Self-love lesson #1: Love yourself even in those darkest moments in which all you can do is hating yourself. Catch yourself judging, step back and before you step forth to analyze why you are judging, quit the thinking and just accept that some days you will feel horrible and unloved and just lost in general and judgment will just make it all worse. Well, instead if you just let it be, you will recognize that it will all work itself out.
My dad once told me, things that come suddenly, also, just as easily will go away. So, here you go… Be patient and wait until the part of you who wants to judge all the time, will take a side and shut itself up. Do not push it one way or the other, you will just do worse and the voice in your head may never quit.

Let the self love begin now…onward we go!!!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lion pose at the end of part II of the Dharma Mittra Life of A Yogi teacher training.

Finally we can say we do what we do “In loving service of Sri Dharma Mittra” as his “full on army of soldiers saving souls.”
What a responsibility and yet an honor!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

“Why do you fight with the mind first? You have no power to wrestle with the mind, yet your wrestle with it, thereby creating a pattern of animosity towards yourself,” pills of wisdom from Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

So, my reading of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika finally started today, as I finally got my book in the mail. I have to get this done for the Yoga teacher training part II in one month time.
Not such an easy, breezy read, but very, very, very inspiring…insightful and motivating for sure.

Really, though…why do we fight our minds and try to think one way or another when we know it is all cosmically decided anyhow. There is no control over anything we do or think to do. We just dwell and dwell in our heads about everything when instead we should just try to let go of this need to control every step and enjoy just the “getting there as slowly and as steadfastly as we can.”

Easy said that done, I know…trust me I know it all and I have done it repetitively all before and controlling our senses *(especially the mind) is absolutely impossible sometimes…but we must try. We have to strive to try as much as we can. Because otherwise we will just subdued ourself to a whole lot more suffering and an unbearable life worth of problems and stress.

Or as other saints and gurus like to say since the mind is overly vibrant and hard to control: “Do not worry about the mind. Ignore it and practice Pranyama!” With the science of breath, if done properly, you can ready a higher level of understanding of the Self and therefore, controlling the mind will become easier. So always purify the bodily part first and then transcend to the intellect.

Good luck and may the taming of the mind begin!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“He who is humbler than the blade of grass, who has the power of endurance like a tree, who cares not for honor and yet honors others, is fit for singing Hari’s Name all the time,” from the chapter How to Develop Bhakti from the book “Self Knowledge of Swami Sivananda.

I just came out of the Dharma’s Master Class at 2 pm today and, as usual, I was floating. So, I pick-up my “assigned” book and went on with my readings. Then I came upon this passage who spoke to me in a very particular way. I had been worrying about life and our purpose on this Earth for the whole duration of the morning prior to taking the class and my mind was again playing a little trick on me forcing me to see only the negative side of the changes that recently occurred in my life.

Well, opening the book and reading this passage was as if Sivananda was speaking to me directly: “Federica, get rid of your Ego and engage only in the Yoga of action, because there is nothing else that can shed the heavy weight of insecurity. Fix your mind and your thoughts on the Self and nothing else and this way you will rest in it problem-free.”

Yes, of course I thought. But, this is so much easier said than done! We live in New York City the epicenter of chaos and competition and shedding one’s Ego is not a piece of cake, let alone focusing entirely on Self-discovery when all around us people go 1,000 miles/hour. But yet again, once we quiet the mind, it all seems true and it all seems possible. Being humble and enduring the path toward Self-realization through meditation, Sattvic diet and Yoga Asana, is the only way there. Once you discover yourself entirely focused on a spiritual path everything else becomes available and easy to over come. While, if you focus only on self-achievement and self-greediness to by-pass every other human being, then the whole loop is a much bigger roller-coaster as we have imagine.

Now, I am not successful in living this peaceful and mindless life daily, since I often get caught up in my own thinking about failure and life goals, but I am certainly striving for it with all the energy I can because I believe in the long run it will just make me the strongest human being I can be and this way I could serve my life’s purpose at my best. Are you?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

“When the heart is purified, the mind is naturally turned toward God,” from the book “Self Knowledge” of Swami Sivananda.

Which God you may ask? And how is this possible? But, most importantly who cares about God in Yoga?

Well, well, well…I thought this could be a controversial subject matter for my New Year’s Eve Blog Post *(today is Rosh Hashana and I am Jewish so I celebrate the beginning of a new year according to the moon calendar we base our holidays on). In any case, this post is here for a reason: Today I wanted to share a personal experience that has been helping me understanding God or whomever maybe up there or inside our “other heart” our soul and why am I referring to him today on such a random Yoga blog post.

The past two weeks have been a revelation on its own, maybe it has been the intensive 15-hours/day Yoga teacher training I did, or the veggie, raw food diet I have been on, or most simply the most rewarding meditation practice I have experience lately, that has made me all that more aware of myself and of the mistakes I have been making and made in the past that have brought me to a “senseless feeling of malcontent.” I say senseless because I am a healthy 28-year-old woman with all her relatives still alive and I live in a very nice apartment in Brooklyn and I have a wonderful job. So, yes, senseless because it has been based on a million thoughts I had crowded in my mind and I just could not seem to control.
Now, this is not to say I discovered a miracle *(meditation helps you heal and helps you focus on who you really are and what you really believe to be right or wrong…),
but it has been a miracle for me to just sit and meditate for almost one hour every morning for now 18 days straight and not feel the pain of it at all and actually enjoying getting to know me more and in the same way getting to know the Supreme Self or The One that everyone calls GOD.

I am not sure about you, my dear readers, but calming my mind has always been the hardest tasks of all and sometimes, having seen what else I could so easily do, it made me quite upset to figure out I could rock climb, run a marathon, get published in the New York Times magazine, but not get focused on un-crowding my mind from the daily “trash” I seemed to run into.
Any of my friends who seemed just calmer or more sure of how they could control their minds better, drove me up the wall with jealousy.

Why you and not me? What have I done to be so impatience and so hyper? Why? Why? Why?

Well, if you know what I mean, the why does not do it. Asking yourself why you are a certain way, just aggravates the whole situation that much more. Just sit, cross your legs, breath in and out. Then focus on the space between the eyebrows and feel the attention only drown to there no matter what (I mean it, just think of that spot, not at the grocery list or the paper you have to still write or the boyfriend you want to find). When you start feeling a weird vibration on your forehead or see some sort of colorful light…then keep on going. Focus there and only there. If other thoughts arise, push them aside, if you can’t, do not get discouraged, one day you will and it will make you feel very powerful. For now, just keep focusing on that one point and listen to your breath go there, loose your senses *(eye sight, hearings, touch, smell) there in that one point…only that point remembering that the mind to stay calmer and be more efficient must be focus only on one thing at the time. So you have to practice this one-pointed meditation to succeed. It’s hard and strenuous, and annoying and depriving and it will take you days to get it, but you will because I did and I am the most impatience person you may know.

Just trust me and my experience. And know that once you get this little trick, you can use it all day, everyday in any circumstances. Without looking like a psycho in your subway ride to work, you can simply close your eye and look inside or not look at all and just listen ( yes, listen why your other eye, the third eye, that space between your eyebrows, the one that can listen and feel without having to use your ears and eyes). Ok, if you think this all sound very “hippie weird” well, you are right, it took me years to believe it myself before I tried it. But, one day I said, what the heck, everyone swears by it, I have to try if it could work for me and, sure enough, I felt those vibration. At the beginning I got very scared because I did not quite understand why my whole body felt like it was about to burst and yet I was not moving *(I opened my eyes during meditation and looked).

There is only so much I can write to convince you. You have to try it yourself to believe it. It may be for your or it may not, but do not give up too soon.
And if you can calm the mind once do not stop there, keep on doing it daily and you will see how else you can take full control over your wonderful thoughts.
Enjoy. Namaste!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011-New York

“Rest your mind on me alone. Rest your thoughts on me alone. And in me your will rest years after. Of this there is no doubts,” reading from the “Bhagvada Gita” by Sri Dharma Mittra during the “Life of A Yogi” teacher training at the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City this past week.

Sometimes, says Dharma we get too caught up in life’s external stimuli and temptations that we forget to go within. We lose touch with our true self and we somehow disappear in these robot-like doing beings. We do, do, do. Worry, worry, worry. Never pause for a second to just lift our heads and look at the sky. We just march on from one task to the other, we never care to take a breath or two to reconnect every once in a while. And then we wonder why we suffer from “over thinking!” Of course we do, because our minds just take over our own selves and does not allow you to just be. You become convinced that the only way to be happy is by doing something else, something more, something extremely complicated or just to try being someone else.
Well, this is the first and biggest miss-conception.

Dharma Yoga Sadhakas after the first half of their teacher training

Obviously, this is not to say you should do less in your life. Being busy is great, it keeps you interested and prevents you from falling into the void of laziness. But just make sure to be aware of what you do when you do it and be always “steadfast” in your path. Do not let others lead you astray. If they do, you are probably not to have to be with them. Choose your companions and friends wisely.  Our bodies are not wired to continue living is constant angst and hurry. We also need our dose of spiritual knowledge to continue living an honorable and content life. If we are ignorant about who we truly are, we can’t but keep on stepping on the wrong path and keep on making the same mistakes over and over again. But, once we focus on listening to ourselves from the deepest of our inside, then we can face anything with a more detached mind. This is the way to avoid extra sufferings. In a nut shell this is what every humans should strive for if he/she is in search for peace and contentment in this crazy world we live in.
It is not the high-definition TV, the organic Sushi, the love of your new boyfriend or your new shoes that will make you “happy,” it is knowing you are sufficient to yourself  and you are the main cause of your contentment, your most severe eye-witness, but also your own best friend who will accompany you where the boyfriend/girlfriend may not come, or will support you when all of your harbors will be closed. And, in order to realize so, you will have to get to know you first. To do so you will be force to by-pass the mind’s million thinkings and this is no easy task…but once you calmed your mind once, and you are brought to clarity, you can get it again and again you just need to keep on focusing on the bigger picture. And this just feels so empowering.
This is what these 8 days at the Dharma Mittra “Life of a Yogi” teacher training have meant for me. What a week. What concentration of positive, inspiring energy. What peaceful environment. What a magical way to wake-up early every morning if you know you will meet your 32 meditation friends interested to reconnect with reality after a long time of confusion as much as you are.
It is not even fair to explain in a Blog the way I felt because words are not a strong enough vehicles to explain how the practice of Yoga *(not intended just as the physical exercise), can’t change your outlook on life and make you a much more serene human being if only you are receptive to the grace of self-knowledge.
The feeling of fulfillment and peace that you gain once you realize that the life force your were given goes way beyond the physical body, and that you can *(with practice and exercise) control it to your inner most pleasures, are indescribable.
So, I now just can’t wait to see all my Yogis friends once again in two months. In the mean time, though, I will just send them great vibes for an easy and controlled dieting and meditation period.

Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti… goodbye, but see you very soon!


Thursday, September 8, 2011–New York City

“Or the concentration on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind,” Yoga Sutra 35 Book One “Samadhi Pada.” 

Well, last night in the final Shavasan of the Dharma Mittra 6:30pm class I experienced just that. I entered the class with that sense of crowding of the mind I have been having now for the past 2 months. Yet last night it was unbearable, and the fear of never being able to come out of this obsessing thinking was starting to kick in loud and clear. I felt helpless through out the entire 90-minute class, trying to quite the wandering mind was impossible. As soon as I saw it a bit more relax, it will jump back to thinking stronger and stronger about whatever she felt like it. It was utterly out of my control and this really upset me.  I even started getting angry at myself for not getting what I wanted: Calm and peace of mind, when all of a sudden, Dharma said to focus on the third eye and to get lost in the dark spot in between our eyebrows. If we did it enough, we could have seen an orange-like light that later would have become pure white light. I was a bit skeptical to begin with. White light, I do not believe in no white light? This is fantasy…yet I read it in the scriptures and I heard it all before so many times, I had to try.

Well, after lots of shaking, twisting and turning, I tried it. And guess what? The mind focus where I told it to focus, it became still on the darkness between my eye brows. And, after an almost painful dwelling between where I wanted to focus it and where she wanted to continue focusing, I won. I saw the orange-like light becoming whiter and whiter. And I felt my head lighter. And after that all was calm. Unbelievably calm. No thoughts in mind. No vibration in my body. Silence and stillness. Priceless.

I believe it now. Skepticism is gone. We are all capable of controlling our thoughts as oppressing and obsessive they may become sometimes. And this feeling I have had after I managed to calm myself completely was very empowering that it made me fear no more.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011– New York City

My student Amy Arundale in resting pose after a backbend series, Virginia.

Good morning to all of you Yogis who are dealing with a rainy New York city today. But good morning also to the other Yogis around the world who may have woken-up with a sunnier and warmer day.

While I was sipping my coffee before heading into work this morning, I realized there was something still missing on this Blog: A Yoga Column. I used to write one for the online magazine I works for during graduate school (“The American Observer”) and I also secretly keep another one on my personal Journalist Blog (www.federicaville.com), but I had to create one for Yogaville as well. It just felt right this way. And so, here we go!

As my first post I wanted to share with you one of my favorite Yoga Sutras *(for people who may not be so familiar with these, the Sutras are common laws for a Yogi to follow in his daily life). Some resemble life discipline postulates that could also be true for any other religion or creed. Some are more focused on the Yoga practice itself as this path to self enlightenment.

“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retain its undisturbed calmness,” Book One, “Samadhi Pada,” Sutra 33.

Well, of course you may say! This is common sense! And in fact it most certainly is, which is why the Yoga Sutras are so timely today as they were many years ago.
But for this first week, I encourage you to try practicing this Sutra daily. Be truthful with yourself and see if you feel any change in your moods being nice to people who are happy, understanding to the ones who are down, amused by the ones who hold pride and careless toward the morally bad.

Notice changes in your daily strength or in your relationship with others. Notice your reactions toward people, are they calmer, do they change? Just notice also if you see no change at all! It is all part of this wonderful Yoga Path we are all embarking on.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!!! Om Shanti 🙂

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