I just finished teaching my very own first Teacher Training. It was an amazing, and overwhelmingly rewarding experience. One of my students gifted me a Hanuman statue. I was so touched and when I asked her why, she said I talked about him a lot and seemed to really love him. Hanuman is the Vanara (half man/halm monkey) who helps Prince Ram save his love Princess Sita. If you come to my classes you have probably heard me tell stories about him. In Indian lore he is the manifestation of surrender, humility and love.
Lately, I’ve been examining my beliefs and belief systems. I notice I tend to think of my beliefs as hard, cold, truths. I become so attached to my thoughts, merely just for having them, that I am sure they are true, as opposed to some random or not so random story my mind has constructed.
The practices of yoga and meditation ideally bring us deeper into the present moment. When we are in the present, we are involved in shravana, listening or being receptive. Being present is the ultimate state of non-judgement. Presence transcends beliefs. It transcends right and wrong. When you are present, you ARE. Which means you become less interested in your past, future or the stories you have built around yourself. In fact you are too absorbed to even be able to think about those stories, you are completely in your flow. It implies that you are available and open. Truly. It is a state of being. Not a thought process. It is a space of complete absorption and deep listening both to ourselves and the other. It is what some philosophies call the “third space”- the space in between two people. In yogic philosophy, you could say it is Ishvarapranidhana, complete surrender to the divine.
Over the years I have watched my grandparents age. Each of them has dealt with it differently. How they have lived- which is a practice- has greatly influenced how they have aged. And some of it has been quite harrowing to watch when it manifests as the height of becoming impossible and rigid. It is so easy to get rigid around beliefs and ideas.
Personally, I try to use my daily practices to chip away at them and deconstruct them to create space, softness and a greater sense of ease. I don’t want to get harder and more set in my ways as I get older, even though I feel it encroaching. I want to be more easeful, joyful and sweet. It is a very tough practice. Beliefs are very sticky stuff. I have to come back to it again and again and relearn that my beliefs are as movable and changeable as the flow of life.
Through asana, we can see where we cling to beliefs that do not serve our growth anymore. When you start at the physical level, it is very easy to see because it is gross, as in big. Some of us have been injured. Sometimes the body heals, but we struggle to catch up because the samskara, the scar and the fear, it leaves behind is so potent on our psyche. Sometimes we think “I don’t do that!”, “My body doesn’t move like that.”, the list goes on. If you practice long enough you get more information and start to see that even those things change, sometimes on the daily. I once had a very broken heart and a friend of mine asked me, “How long are you willing to walk around with that?” and seeing my face she said, “Sometimes you have to for a while.” Talk about truth talking. I realized my heart had moved on, but my belief was so sticky that I had a hard time accepting that it had healed.
So I’m not saying that we don’t get injured and that we sometimes can’t do certain things and that these things are not very real. I’m not saying life is not scary and that it is hard and sometimes involves hurt and suffering. All of that is true. I’m saying that we are slower to catch up and see change. We are the worst at realizing that we can do something, that we do feel good. Being able to witness and take on this change is not only extremely empowering but highly uplifting. The more we practice staying present, the less all these successes and failures, these mind stories, matter. We start to realize that the peaks and valleys go and come back and each step along the way is just as worthwhile and full.
What are your beliefs? About yourself, your life, your partner? It’s good to think about and examine once in a while so you can let go of that which is no longer current and which might be keeping you trapped. There’s that great little quote by Nova Knutson “Hint: the cage is not locked.” I bow to this practice of surrender and letting go for it is something I am not good at and constantly, constantly having to learn. Good luck team. Keep walking the walk.
Also, I am teaching a new class at Kula Tribeca on Mondays at 12:15, you should come. If you have any requests for anything that you want from me as far as workshops and trainings go, let me know, I am having a bit of time now to dream up new projects.