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Teachings

"Attention is the Beginning of Devotion"

"Attention is the Beginning of Devotion"

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In deep respect to the brilliance of this quote (from my poet hero, Mary Oliver), I have spent the last few weeks watching how upside down and right side up our world presents itself as pure confusion and how quickly we shift perspectives. Years ago, I had a close student and friend who struggled with her embarrassment.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.
— Mary Oliver, 1935-2019

She was nervous to share that she worked for the branch of government called the TSA. She was ashamed and carried a belief that people were judging her for this job. She assumed she was a nuisance to the public as she endured endless long days of abuse and frustration from the many travelers annoyed with her required duties. I would listen to her and try and shift this perspective by helping her see the value in what she was doing for those many years of hard work.

Today, because of the government shutdown, the role of TSA is now seen as an unsung hero. There were cheers of gratitude and exchanges of “thank you” as I waited through the long and tedious lines back from California during the shutdown. I marveled at how public opinion can change and how our learned bias opinions are simply a perspective that can be shifted by holding the opposite.  

Yoga is a system of tools that help the mind hold balance in opposites. A state of yoga is a mind that is balanced. If I follow only what I like, it will without doubt lead to future pain. All addictive behavior starts with pleasure seeking, until the pleasure turns to pain.  If I avoid what I don’t like, I will remain in my pain and actually create more pain.

If the mind actually moves into attention of its habits, it allows for a space of grace for me to reveal a discerned choice. This glimmer of consciousness is the beginning of devotion. To be able to witness and hold opposites, and move in the direction that is going to serve the highest good for all, is the beginning of devotion to something greater.

Avoiding fear and discomfort is the path of a mind unwilling to let go and expand its consciousness. By making an effort to move into another thought and actually experience a shift of habit, is the practice of yoga. The ability to see from another perspective, and with compassion, is the opening of LOVE.

Love is not a striving (or a doing) of my constant desire to get love. It is a willingness to BE LOVE.  The pure action of love is opening, expanding and the willingness to let go of judgement, bias opinion, and the fear of not getting love. Survival is fear. Thriving in life is the gift of feeling the profound joy of being love.

I only know that to use fear as a manipulative vehicle is not in the integrity of this vibrational Truth. For example, trying to inspire health, by promoting fear of disease, is not going to change the mind to move to respect for life. To teach yoga as an outcome to win, or to be better than someone else, is also not in holding respect for the tools.

 I can only smile more, hug more. Let’s just commit to attention for a practice of being kinder to ourselves and see how little it takes to be the kindness you want to experience in the world. Attention to this vibration is the beginning of something that words cannot explain or understand. The intelligence of life is love and it is felt. Live, laugh, love and let go as you move forward through the heart. Thank you, dear Mary Oliver, for being this voice of devotion for me. 

2o years of Sharing the Teachings of Yoga

2o years of Sharing the Teachings of Yoga

“When you receive whoever comes into the space of NOW as a noble guest, when you allow each person to be who they are, they begin to change. To know another human being in their essence, you don’t need to know anything abut them—their past, their history, their story. We confuse knowing about with the deeper knowing that is non-conceptional. One is concerned with form, the other formless.”
—Elkhart Tolle

This is the path of sharing the teachings of yoga:

  • to meet and greet the pure essence of one’s inner being;  
  • to hold a safe place where the little mind can let go of the form and experience something perhaps unfamiliar and awkward;
  • to allow an awakening of something greater that has no form but moves us forward into the pure gift of life.

This has been and will continue to be the way we can teach self love. This is our community at Yoga Among Friends.

I am today and everyday grateful that I followed an inner voice that tapped me on the shoulder and brought my ego to the knees. The depth of going into the dark night of our soul is not to harm but to offer the gateway to our inner light. I pray for the courage to live beyond my story, my fears and bias opinions—to live without the striving for the outcome.

I had no idea that inner knowing would lead me to establish a yoga center in a town call Downers Grove—to hold a space that would become a community safe haven for so many.

On Saturday, September 22, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary as a yoga center with a party. An event that could not happen without all of the many beautiful individual lights that have participated in the journey of yoga.

Without community, nothing can thrive and grow, and so we hope you will join us in celebration. Come honor your teacher who has helped to see you not in form, but in the place of acceptance that everyone matters as radiant life. Come fete your fellow yogis who have journeyed along with you. It might take one vision to plant a seed, but to help nourish and care for the plant takes a combined effort of loving commitment. We are community and belonging is where we can meet with our differences and be seen for our true self.  

We are all teachers for one another, and we at YAF have learned much from you, our students, and we are truly grateful. May each day offer another opportunity to continue our learning together. 

Learn more about our anniversary party and RSVP here.


Blessings,
All of us at YAF
 

New Early Morning Drop In Class: Yoga Commitment

New Early Morning Drop In Class: Yoga Commitment

Start your morning with our new drop-in yoga class!

Yoga Commitment

Marina Lisjonok

Marina Lisjonok

Tuesdays & Thursdays | 6–7:30am | $18/class or use your class pass
Led by Marina Lisjonok

Asana • Pranayama • Meditation

This inspiring daily class is a complete practice of classical Hatha Yoga with the elements of vinyasa. This means classes will consist of warm-ups (including Sun Salutations), followed by the classical static postures with variations for all levels. Each class will end with pranayama and short meditation. This will help you to awaken and energize your body, obtain a yogic mind, and connect to your spirit to fully show up and attend to your daily activities and responsibilities.

Develop a regular practice and take control of your life. Commit to meet your higher self each morning, and your decisions and your life become original… Start each day with a powerful practice and every challenge becomes opportunity.