Ritual is such a huge part of our center’s daily practice. For me, it’s my daily walking up the many flights of stairs, opening the door, turning on the light, watering the fountain and the plants, answering the messages, sweeping up the floor, and sitting down on my mat.
I enter into the sacred space of our yoga room and say, "Thank you.” Gratitude fills my heart for all of you many wonderful souls that have made the effort to “show up” and commit to the integrity of revealing your true deeper selves. You arrive and go inward with the only intention of falling in love and letting go—letting go of the outer need to get everything that our world today sells with such gusto.
Yoga is not something one strives to “get”, but instead it is a practice that is constantly being explored through the actual ritual of making time and space and by allowing and creating an opportunity for witnessing something greater.
Ritual offers a new beginning everyday to say "yes" to the moment, the day. Saying “yes” is surrendering into love and experiencing the pure joy of feeling. This joy of feeling might bring up emotions that the ego finds uncomfortable or awkward. It’s not familiar with experiencing our anxieties (or tensions) by being asked to just breathe into the body. We should try to look at this as a gift. The gift is to be able to release the patterns that hold us prisoner to our moods. Now the joy takes us by surprise as we start to feel and experience the presence of our awakening.
This is the ritual called life. It might present itself through release with laughter or tears, but it’s so sweet to feel one’s pure aliveness. In a world, where we have bullied ourselves with self loathing, cut off our deeper emotions, and told to “buck up”, we fall into the ritual of numbing and distraction. It takes a desire for self love to move into new directions inspiring true kindness and compassion. Being taught that the job, the relationship, the material world would offer happiness only created a vacuum for the soul to feel enough.
Living is full of challenges and frustrations. This year was filled with sadness, heartbreak, and deep grief for many of our students. To be human today will always rub against our fragile behaviors and deeper wounds.
In living fully, we cannot escape grief. But I can make the effort of my daily ritual to observe the thought as pure habit —and not identify that I am the fear, or the worry, or the pain of sadness. In my practice, I can witness that fear is being revealed, doubt is being observed, or sadness is being exposed. But while staying present to the quality of my breath, I choose to feel the actual sensations that are arising from those learned thoughts as they move through. I then choose to grasp on to something stable (or solid) as a foundation to a new awareness. My breathing is deeper, my exhales become longer, and my tensions in and around my body are relaxing. I choose to focus on the pulsations in my physical body, moving with breath, and note something in my nervous system has shifted. My overall mood starts to shift, and the effect is clearly calming. I am able to step out of the spiral of negative thought. I am willing to let the feelings arise in me without judgement, and experience the effect on the physical, emotional and mental layers of my being. My chest is not as tight, my jaw is no longer clenched, and my pulse has slowed down. I am feeling a sweet release in my stomach, and I am aware of a lightness in my heart. The word that now arises into my consciousness is ease. Life is ease.
To choose a better thought is the greatest sense of freedom—by actually choosing the quality of thought. I can choose life to be sweeter and lighter. The ritual is to feel those qualities, not to just think them. My intellect will never get yoga, so to even read this blog post may confuse the little mind. I want to feel these words as sensation in the presence of my ritual practice. I must feel my “yes” as a pure quality of knowing my heart is directing my actions of service.
My new beginning is my ritual as an everyday practice. To me, it’s the beginning of my new day, my new year! Happy New Year! Let go of thinking the outcome of a goal will offer you happiness. Either getting it or not only feeds the little mind of need. Instead, just set your intention and create your daily “yes” around the desire to shine! You are already enough and MAGNIFICENT. Now choose to experience the yes of life. Embrace the joy of living. Blessings for another beautiful and adventurous year of growing brighter.