Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Importance of Community


What a lovely and humbling experience to write a blog announcing the opening of Sangha Yoga Studio in historic district Loveland Ohio. Becky Morrissey and I have joined hearts and hands, in service of a quaint little community space for spiritual aspirants to commune and grow together through the ancient teachings of Yoga.

Sangha (san-gha), which means "community" "company" or "association" in sanskrit, is the foundation of this sacred space. Community is one of the fundamental aspects for living a dharmic, righteous life. It is the essence to our life, the support we need in times of trial. Sangha is the cord that binds each of us together, it is the Source of that which illumines.

Every individual inherently seeks to commune with someone, something. We are drawn to the power beyond the individual one and to the power of many and we seek that communion through relationships with others or even through our relationship with the Divine.

As a human species however, we seem to have lost the interest for deep, sincere and intimate connection with others. Modern technologies have introduced us to the idea of superficial relationships and we have blindly complied, nearly becoming addicted to the machine. With facebook, twitter, emails and texts we have evolved into a time where we connect with others through superficial and emotionally-cold means.

How much can you really feel through a text message or email?
How deep are your relationships with others through facbook or twitter?
Do you seek deeper, more authentic relationships in your life?

The ideal of an authentic community is possible. It sweetly requests your willingness to reach out, to open, to connect. Community is your nature. Community is real.

How willing are you to connect?
How much do you long to be a part of something bigger than yourself?

Join us at Sangha... and join us in creating a sustainable and spiritual community. Every member is an integral part of the whole. Come and share your Self with us... we look forward to illuminating and glowing together.


Opening this December, website coming soon.
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Sangha Yoga Studio
112 North Second Street
Loveland Avenue on SR 48 - historic downtown
Loveland, Ohio 45140

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Gift of Shattering


Once in a while, if you are lucky, the Universe will ask you to shatter... shatter your preconceived ideas, fears, identities, imaginations... all things not rooted in Truth. At various times, Life will challenge your thinking, your habits and your identities about who think you are or who you think you want to be. "Divine Shattering" offers an opportunity to relinquish old perceptions about yourself and an opportunity to step into a more Divine You.

Shattering happens when our current frequency needs adjusting for our highest spiritual evolution. Shattering is a forced shifting and a forced change in frequency. Shattering is a Divine act that pushes us in the direction we know we need to go, but for some reason, have not taken the necessary bold steps forward. 

On the spiritual path, it seems that if you want to experience the peace within, you must be willing to shatter, shatter the ego, shatter the veils of self-identity, and shatter all beliefs.

When you allow the shatter, not fighting or resisting it, all that is not real falls to the ground. All that holds you back is released. Fears, relinquished.

The beauty of the shatter is that once you relinquish your old identity and story, what remains in the core of who you are... that part of yourself that is your authentic being. All the negativity that surrounded you goes back into existence. This process of dissolution allows for rebirth and spiritual transformation.

For the next two weeks (especially on Mondays), it is the time of Shiva, the destroyer. This is an auspicious time to let go of the old and make way for the new. A beautiful time to recommit yourself to your spiritual evolution. To continue to turn over the leaves of life and investigate what lies under each one.

Remember, shattering gives you the ability to live freely in every moment. It allows you to redefine who you are in every  single moment. It is the key for personal transformation and spiritual Truth.

Ask yourself...

"How willing am I to step out of the drama and step into the Light, into a world beyond names, forms, adjectives, and even roles? How willing am I to redefine myself in every moment? How willing am I to intimately know every nook and cranny of the totality of my being, right now, in this moment?

Shatter beloved. Shatter those identities and ideas... for what remains is only space, only God, only Light.

Monday, May 27, 2013

5 Tips to bring God into your Life

In today's modern and fast-paced world, it is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of responsibilities and the cycle of life. We know that Yoga is a path to feel more connected with God, Divinity and Life. But how does that transmit to every day habits and patterns? How can one connect to the Divinity during the chaos of daily life?

Below are five simple tips to remember Divinity (God) throughout your day:

1. Honor Life (God) first thing in the morning. See your alarm clock as a gentle nudge from God to be present to the Divinity within the moment. Avoid using alarm clocks that sound like they are signaling danger or create an "ugh! not again" thought upon waking. Instead, find a calming alarm that reminds you to wake to the beauty of the day. Upon waking, give thanks for another day, this moment and this life. Take a conscious breath and cultivate a sense of gratitude for life as it is... in that very moment. Then, get up out of bed and begin your day.  :)

2. Honor food and drinks before and during consumption. Many spiritual people pray before meals, honoring the edible morsels from God. Well, let's take this beautiful principle a step further and expand its teachings. Begin to take a moment of gratitude before you consume every drink, morsel, snack, meal... anything. Instead of praying just over the meal, be conscious and grateful for every drink and every bite. By doing this your begin to sense the Oneness within all of life, reduce the power of the ego and develop devotion.

3. Take conscious breaths throughout the day. At various times throughout the day, take a moment to breathe consciously. Gather the rays of the mind and shift your awareness to the present moment. Close your eyes. Take a slow deep inhale through the nose, and slowly exhale through the nose. Slow, deliberate, honoring. Connect to the peace and love that exists within each breath. Open your eyes keeping the same awareness. Then continue your actions feeling more vibrate, connected and peaceful.

4. Prepare meals for God. Everyone loves a good meal and many people know there is something special about mom's cooking. Dedicate your meals not only to you and your family, but also to God. Allow cooking to become your personal meditation. Slowly and with great care, prepare your food. Use simple, natural foods and techniques in preparing meals for the sacred Temple which hosts the Spirit. Honor the process of how the food appears before you now. Consider the entire cycle of each item from birth to consumption - birth, growth, harvest, packaging, transportation, placement, selection, purchase, preparation and finally consumption. See the beauty of your own process until today. Sense the unity in diversity of all who have been a part of the process to make sure you are nourished.

5. Conclude your day in Remembrance. There is something so special about honoring the play of life, Lila lee-la in sanskrit, before you fall asleep. Take a moment to honor the sacredness of being alive. Give gratitude for all that presented itself to you in that day - the good, the bad and the ugly. Embrace it equally, knowing it is all present for your highest spiritual evolution. Let go of everything preparing to rest in the purity and lightness. Know that you are also a part of the Divine Cosmic Play and there is a much brighter, wiser and peaceful Essence that is your very nature. Consciously breathe with awareness of the Eternal Light. Acknowledge the Grace within the moment. This is a very sweet and precious way to fall into the dream realm and enter the beginnings of another day of Divinity.

May you ever be blessed with Grace, Love and Light.



"Thou art Divine, Live up to It."

~ Swami Sivananda
Rishikesh India 1887 - 1963

Monday, May 13, 2013

Know that you are Divine

Upon finishing my morning Sadhana, or spiritual practices, I typically draw a daily inspirational reading from a few of my favorite books. The other day I chose Swami Chidananda's Daily Sadhana book and randomly opened to a page.

The page was titled "Know that you are Divine." It was so inspiring I thought I would share with you a portion of the reading...

"Beloved children of the Divinity! Radiant Rays of the eternal Light Divine! No matter what state of unfoldment you find yourself in, essentially, inwardly, in truth and in fact you are Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, even at this moment. Nothing can rob you of that. In your essential nature you are That. You are eternally linked with that infinite ocean of Joy, Bliss and Wisdom. If you realize That, your whole life blossoms forth into a radiance of love, bliss, happiness, peace and serenity.

Every day try to make it a point of being conscious of what you really are. Make yourself God-centered. Become one with the Existence Principle, which is even in a blade of grass, a speck of dust, a wisp of cloud, and every mode and expression of life.

Verily, you are children of the Divine. You have come here to live like gods, talk like gods, act like gods. Know that you are Divine. Grow day to day into a greater realization of that joyful Awareness. The Divine Life is the sole task of your mortal existence. From Divinity has your being been brought. In Divinity let your life be led. Eternal Divinity is your ultimate destination. Know Thyself and be Divine! Let our life be filled with supreme Fulfillment."

Blessings to you and remember today and always "Thou art Divine, live up to it."

Monday, May 6, 2013

I am God-Intoxicated

On my recent visit at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch in upstate New York, one day I was doing Karma Yoga. As I headed to the marketing computer to do some work on the website, laying on the keyboard was a poem by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh India, our main Guru. I began reading the poem and quickly realized it was a poem he wrote while fully illumined, fully enlightened. Here is the poem...

I am God-Intoxicated by Swami Sivananda
"I have realized the Atman
Through the grace of the Lord and the Satguru.
I am unattached and free.
All doubts and delusion have vanished.
I am free and ever blissful.
I am free from fear
As I rest in that non-dual state.
Fear is due to duality.
I am God-intoxicated
I am Brahman-intoxicated.
I have attained perfection and freedom.
I live in the Pure Consciousness.
I have won the game of life.
I have won, I have won!"

This left me really contemplating "intoxication." I began investigating intoxicants in general and why our society seems to be bombarded with them. And more than just drugs and alcohol, there are numerous intoxicants that pull us outside of our own personal suffering. I believe that caffeine, gossip, drama, shopping, material wealth, etc can also be intoxicants.

It seems that by our human nature, we seek intoxication in the sense of "loosing ourselves." While we are intoxicated we seem to go beyond the mind, beyond the limitations of our beliefs and enter the world of the unknown, the land of the free... or so it appears.

But really how free are we in that state of temporary intoxication? How conscious are we during intoxication?

It's interesting that someone may be innately shy but give them a few alcoholic drinks they begin dancing with pure abandonment. It's something about intoxicants that gets us hooked. I think this is where addiction comes into play. The person desires to "loose" him/herself in the intoxication, only to realize later that it is a temporary experience. And since that intoxicant provided a temporary opportunity to step out of personal suffering, then we become addicted to the intoxicant and have to have more of it in order to experience the "loosing ourself" aspect again. The problem is, the suffering never ceases to exist.

But what if we actually decided to become God-intoxicated. What if we removed our temporary intoxicants and put our energies into "loosing" ourselves in the peace, love and light of God? How do we even do that? I think its related to another insight I had a a couple months ago with my blog "Living a Spiritual Experience Every Day." Its about how willing are we to experience the Grace of God in this very moment. Beyond the veils of life. Beyond the veils of intoxication. Beyond the veils of suffering.

So I ask you to personally investigate your relationship with intoxication.

Why do you seek intoxication?
What intoxicants do you use in your daily life to "loose" yourself?
Do they provide eternal peace and happiness?
Do they give you the ability to truly be free?
How willing are you to step into a life of being God-intoxicated?

Remember, you are a Divine Being already intoxicated with God's Grace and Peace. Be willing to loose yourself in the abundance of Grace that surrounds you and consumes you in every single moment.

Stop seeking intoxication in an empty well. Search for the infinite well of Love and Light and be one with all that was, all that is and all that will be. That infinite well is only found within you, not in the external world of temporary pleasure.

Seek within and you will be set free.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Living a Spiritual Experience Everyday


In today's world, a material land of distraction, spiritual experiences seem to be a rarity. Or do they? And if so, why is that?

It seems that so many people put much energy into trying to create a spiritual experience. We spend thousands of dollars on pilgrimages to Holy Lands, on healing modalities and even new age personal libraries. But does all this energy we put into something, all the planning that goes into something... actually bear fruit?

As I contemplated this exact thought one day, it was revealed to me that spiritual experiences don't happen because of a certain amount of energy, or money, that we invest into a specific experience. Spiritual experiences happen when we are willing to relinquish the mind and the ego, and step beyond the identity of the individual self.

So knowing this, how do we have spiritual experiences?

Well first, let's just explore the idea of a spiritual experience. What does it mean to have a spiritual experience? Literally ask yourself, "what does a spiritual experience mean to me?" (answer before you read on)

Over the course of two weeks I inquired and discussed with fellow Yoga aspirants this exact question. The most common definition was "its when someone experiences the essence of his/her spirit, or soul." From a Raja Yoga perspective, a spiritual experience is when one is able to experience the essence of the soul by completely calming the vrittis, or thought waves. You could say a spiritual experience is when someone consciously embodies that which is beyond the mind.

As the great saint Swami Sivananda says, "that which stands between you and God is the mind."

Only when you are fully able to release the ego and transcend the mind can you have a spiritual experience. So if that is the case, that means that you should be able to have spiritual experience in any action within the human existence - while rock climbing, doing Yoga, meditating, working, cleaning the house or even going through your morning ritual on the commode.  :)

Remember, it's not about WHAT you do... it's about the attitude you have while being in action. Spiritual experiences happen when you are willing to relinquish the ego and follow the inner calling from within, giving awareness to your Divinity. Yoga teaches us that we are a Divine Spirit having a human experience... not the other way around.

To have a spiritual experience, the only thing you need to do, is remember who you are at the very core of your Being. Beyond name. Beyond form. Who you really are.

You see, the moment we add name and form "I did this. I am so great" we have lost our spiritual connection and entered the land of the ego. The more you are willing to let go of this individual identity, to let go of your ego stories and the negative thoughts that pull you down... the more you are empowered to reveal the Eternal Peace which is who you are, at your highest potential.

Always keep in the front of your daily experiences:
"That which stands between you and God is the mind."  ~ Swami Sivananda

This simple quote can help you to have spiritual experiences 24 / 7. And you don't even have to leave your home.  :)

Spiritual Experience = Soulful Experience
Mundane Experience = Mind Experience



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Steps in Peace of Mind


I just received an email from Swami Sitaramanada from the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm. I loved her article so much about peace of mind, I decided to share it with you all... 
"One has to understand how the mind works. Like a pendulum, it swings between likes and dislikes. When the mind is in this mode you say, I like this and I am on top of the world, then I dislike this and everything is terrible.
You like and you dislike, back and forth. As the mind swings between likes and dislikes, the emotions also swing between extremes. Understanding this is the key to understanding the mind. As the mind swings, you become unhappy. In other words, what makes you unhappy is your own likes and dislikes and your own lack of stability of mind or peace of mind. 
One of the guiding principles of yoga life is that you do what is needed, regardless of whether you like it or not. You do not just do things you like and avoid the things you do not like. We do not allow that. If you continue to only do what you like and avoid what you do not like, this encourages the tendency of the mind to swing and you become caught in the pendulum. I like this person, I dislike that person, I am only going to hang out with her, I am not going to talk to him, I like this food, I dislike that food, and so forth. When the mind is allowed to do that it becomes weakened. It is weakened because it has been jumping. In order to work with the mind, one has to decrease its swinging. Instead, tell yourself, It’s ok, I really don’t like this too much, but it will be fine. Or, It’s ok, I like this and I am not going to have it, and it will be fine. When you do this you are training the mind to be strong.
Do not dwell on the bad things, do not hate them so much. Know that if you do, your mind will swing into the opposite and begin liking something too much. Similarly, if you are going to dwell on liking something, you will then swing into disliking something too much. That’s where addiction comes in. The addictive mind is very much like this – constantly swinging between ups and downs, reacting based on its past experience of likes and dislikes. To stop the addiction, you have to stop reacting to the preferences and aversions of the mind. You begin to stay steady and swing less, and eventually the mind stays stable in the middle; your happiness is no longer predicated on getting what you like and avoiding what you dislike. In this way your mind becomes independent from external objects.
You begin to focus instead on the subject, on who you are and the happiness, stability, and perfection within you. Then you become free. This is why the yogis train the mind to remain steady, not allowing it to swing. If they like something, they will not allow themselves do it. If they dislike something, they will do it anyway. In this way, the mind becomes strong. If you train your mind like this, eventually you can no longer be bothered by external circumstances – weather, food, people, etc. You stay the same regardless, and at that time you become free."