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.
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."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Breathing into the Heart

In the heart of all beings rests the essence of the soul. The seat of all virtues; compassion, unconditional love, peace, contentment, honesty. The heart is the foundation of who you are. Your heart center is your direct connection to the Divine.

As you enter the heart-center, allow your breath to expand the space of the heart. Each time you inhale, notice how your upper abdomen initiates each breath. Notice the rise of the lower, middle and upper chest and the expansion of the lungs and rib cage.

As you exhale, notice how the abdomen gently draws back towards the spine and the air is released from the lower, middle and upper lungs. Let go of any areas of tension or tightness. Let the exhale release negative thinking habits of separation and judgment.

Visualize each inhale as an opportunity to recall the Divinity which is the essence of who you are. Reclaim your True Nature. Remember your Divinity. Thrive in the strength of conscious breathing.

Allow each inhale and exhale to take you beyond name and form, beyond identity and personality.

Breathe in Love.
Breathe in Light.
Breathe in God.

Merge with all that Exists and...

Just Be You.

For you are worthy.
You are special.
You are Divine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Forgiveness: are you ready?

On Sunday afternoon, I am offering a beautiful workshop about kshama, or forgiveness. As I am studying and preparing, I was deeply inspired by the words of Swami Jyotirmayananda.

"There is a well-known saying that 'to err is human and to forgive is divine'. The goal of spiritual movement is for a human being not to remain 'human,' but to become divine–to rise above normal human limitations and unfold the latent magnanimous qualities within his heart. One great quality that truly makes a person divine is forgiveness, known in Sanskrit as kshama.

To become forgiving in nature, you do not have to forcefully plant the virtue of forgiveness in your heart. You need only to clear away the impediments that prevent your inherent goodness from unfolding, to allow that virtue–which is already in your heart–to express itself. The soul in its essence is the embodiment of all virtues."  ~ Swami Jyotirmayananda

Known to be one of the greatest virtues of the soul, forgiveness is the key to unlocking our divine potential. It is the the by-product of an ongoing healing process and an internal process of recognizing that we do not need our grudges and resentment, or hatred or self-pity anymore.

How many little grudges do you carry? 
How many big grudges do you carry?
Do you find yourself able to forgive others?
Do you find yourself able to forgive yourself?

These questions are just the beginning steps in actualizing the areas in your life where forgiveness is needed. The sweetest nectar of Grace is forgiveness. "To err is human and to forgive is divine."

Which do you choose?
Who do you need to forgive?

Forgive. Breathe. Let go. Move on.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wonderful Natural Flu Remedy

A couple days ago my sweet husband came down with the flu. He didn't experience any "purging" but he did have fever, chills, achy body, and a nasty cough. When he arrived home from work that evening, I immediately knew he had caught something.

So I went to my trusty The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy book for the influenza remedy I had seen several times but never put to practice.

Within 36 hours he felt better and by the beginning of the fourth day he went off to work, and his job is quite physically demanding. It's the first time I have turned to oils for the flu, since I rarely have gotten it, but I was thrilled to witness their powerful affects. I previously have experience with homeopathics (see below) and knew their healing power, but incorporating the oils add another layer of support.

Here's what we did:

Day 1 (time of onset) - draw a steaming hot bath with the following essential oils: 5 drops tea tree, 2-3 drops lavender, 2 drops thyme. I didn't have any thyme essential oil so I boiled purified water on the stove and added 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme and then poured the hot water into the bath. Then I covered my husband with heavy bath towels to keep the heat in. He soaked for 20-30 minutes as I continued to add hot water from the stove to the bath water and then use my hands to pour the bath water over the towels.

I then prepared a massage oil to apply after the bath. Begin with an 1/8 cup+/- sunflower, jojoba or any other carrier oil for the body. Add 3-4 drops tea tree, 2 drops eucalyptus oil. Rub over your entire body including your face. Avoid the eye area as eucalyptus can burn. Be sure to dry off completely before applying the massage oil remedy.

Then I made an essential oil spray (purified water & essential oils) that I sprayed in the room every 2-4 hours. It consisted of 2 drops tea tree, 3 drops lavender. It was for a 3oz spray bottle.

Then we put him to bed.

Day 2 - That day after teaching a yoga class, I finally made it to the store for some homeopathic assistance. I bought Oscillococcinum and Umcka cold & flu. He took one vile of oscillococcinum around 12pm. Then in 3 hours I gave him a dose of umcka. We alternated as directed with more time between since both fight flu.

That evening he took another bath (like above), we oiled him down and he went to bed. That was the night the fever broke with a furry. I "randomly" woke at 3am to find him, and the bed, sopping wet. We changed his clothes, the sheets and blankets and put him back to bed. All the while he was ingesting homeopathic medicines.

Day 3 (really less than 36 hours later)  - He woke around 9am feeling much better. He laid around the house during the day, took a shower and was actually up and about a bit. By the next morning he went back to work.

Hope that this helps you to find healing comfort this winter from any nasty viruses that may cross your path. As I mentioned earlier I was surprised by the healing power, beauty and good scents (and sense haha) that flowers & homeopathics can provide for us as we begin our road to recovery and health. 

Thank you Mother Nature for your Grace and abundant medicines... we are eternally grateful for your compassionate heart.

Happy healing.