Why There is No Hustle in Yoga

The difference between a student and a non-student is that a non-student is trying to achieve something and a student is trying to achieve nothing. A student has one understanding: nothing can be achieved. A student knows that there is nothing to be achieved. A student has tried and learned this. She is simply allowing the teachings to be absorbed as they come. There is no hustle about it!

Becoming a Student is a Milestone

Becoming a student is a very important milestone. We aren’t born a student. We have to reach that state and it’s reached naturally. After we’ve tried all our tactics and cleverness and realized that nothing is working. Nothing is working to satisfy that deep deep longing in the heart.

It is after we are burned and burned and burned some more from all our avidya (ignorance of truth) that we reach a point of surrender. We may have cooked (metaphorically) for lifetimes until we are finally done and want the truth and nothing but the truth.

We reach a point when we say, “Money, sex, power, worldly knowledge, fame, respect, etc…nothing is doing it for me. I am not here for all these things, I am here for something else. There’s got to be more to this life.”

This is what makes us willing to drop it all and walk-in empty handed. This is when we are truly ready to receive that which CANNOT BE ACHIEVED.

So, first, we enter each day to become a student. Once we’ve fully surrendered to being a student, then the learning begins.

What Your Yoga Teacher Knows but You Don't

Some ancient scriptures say that “a conscience” gains human form only after going through 8.4 million life cycles (as other species). Imagine if our journey to get here was that long. Imagine the significance of our lives. 

The significance of being a human was what yogis set out to find some 15,000 years ago. What they found was so fascinating that they began writing out a trail for others to follow. They called the map they drew, yoga, a merger with reality. Through years of changing hands of interpreters, the scriptures lost accuracy. As yoga traveled through time and cultures, it lost its spiritual significance. Stripped to its bare bones, yoga turned into a form of an exercise or stretch. But yoga is not just the physical movement of our bodies into different postures. It is much much more than that. 

Yoga was written by people who could see that form was not actually solid. They had realized that everything on earth was vibrating at different frequencies. They weren’t only understanding science, they were experiencing it. They became conscious of themselves “being conscious”. While becoming conscious of ourselves made us more concerned about our conquests and social image, they went beyond this drama orchestrated by the mind. Something about what they learned inspired them to share their treasures with everyone.

If we set out on the same quest for truth about life today, we will find some amazing similarities between our own realizations and this map called yoga. What is most paramount on this journey is our commitment to truth. Truth must be the goal, value, and compass. An absolute commitment to learning the truth helps us not fall into psychological traps that lead us away from truth. This level of commitment to truth is only possible when life “as we know it” begins to fall apart and we are forced to look deeper.

A Fine Balance: How I Learned to Ride the Emotional Waves

I remember when the whole hype for positive thinking started. I just wondered how it made any sense. How was running towards positive thinking any different from our addiction to safety, wealth, and power? Our natural human tendency to hoard all the good things and run from all the scary things would have to take over at some point. Our trust in life would diminish as our faith in ability to control things strengthened. Eventually, we would start using our power of positive thinking to manipulate more wealth and control into our lives. Eventually, we would deny anything we consider negative and only acknowledge what we would “like” to happen. Wouldn’t we become blind to one half of reality?

Reality is both positive and negative. As far as anyone I knew (and still know) no one was given the power to see the future. All I knew for sure was that the next second could feel good or bad, it could be positive or negative. So, I concluded that in order to accept reality, I had to accept both positive and negative. This is how I became friends with my neutral mind. I started seeing its importance and it showed me a whole new world.

Instead of aiming for a positive mind, I say, aim for a neutral mind. The closer we are to neutral, the closer we are to reality. Reality is always neutral. Life is always neutral. The mind fluctuates between high and low. Neutral is right smack in the middle of the two experiences. The closer we remain to neutral, our highs and lows become less intense.

For a simple example, sometimes we use alcohol to reach a high. It takes us to quite a “high” high. When it wears off, life/reality will naturally pull the mind towards itself, a neutral state. The higher the high, the greater the pull, hence the drop will have a higher speed. As we drop towards neutral, the speed will not let us stop only at neutral. It will take us below neutral, hence then we experience what is called depression, a negative mind. What goes up, must come down, and what goes down must also come up.

Alcohol has a high velocity upwards, so the journey downwards will also be quite fast. To avoid the crash, we use more alcohol or stronger drugs. The important thing to understand is that due to the laws of nature, the crash cannot be avoided. Only the length of high can be lengthened.

We may not be able to keep the mind at a neutral state at all times but maintaining closer proximity to neutral will lessen the speed of fluctuations. We won’t be easily thrown around from one state to another because of our circumstances. Basically, we will be able to stand with a better balance. We will experience a more balanced state of mind. A more balanced mind gives us clarity for vision just like a more balanced stance.

Our tendency is to leap towards the positive and fear the negative. Which probably keeps us afloat but overtime our habit to avoid turns obsessive and compulsive. As long as it’s left unchecked, it will run our decision making. It has power over us. We are enslaved to it. Others can easily manipulate us into doing what they want us to do by dangling in front of us our drug of choice (food, exercise, gossip, entertainment, work, relationships, children, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc).

In order to rise out of our personal challenge, we must understand the importance of a neutral mind. We have got to want it or we will not reach for it. Instead, we will always reach for anything that brings us a quick high. We must understand how temporary the high is and how easily and inevitably the high turns into a low. When we understand how destructive it is to our own life, we will want different, and then choose different. Out of understanding of ourselves, we will create a new habit of returning to neutral mind so our experience at neutral is strengthened and lengthened.

This is not to say that we should not be positive. On the contrary, this makes us more positive because we aren’t putting up unrealistic expectations for the universe to fulfill. Instead, we trust that whatever will happen, no matter how it appears to us, positive or negative, we can handle it. Our motivation for living changes from pleasure-seeking to learning. Instead of using things and people as a means to avoid our fears of safety, loneliness, etc., we are able to “explore” them while they last.

My Price-tag Won’t Stick

Why I wrote this:

First of all, I am not talking about finding a man or a man finding you. A man is not your worth. That belief is exactly our problem. We got this ancient belief system programmed and running in our subconscious that if a man accepts us and marries us then we are worthy. Otherwise we are a piece of crap. I don’t agree with this belief. I don’t think I am crap with or without a man next to me. Men don’t validate a woman’s worth and vice versa.

For me, no one validates my worth. Not my family, nor my friends. I’ve seen everything come and go, and I have existed regardless. In fact, I think if you seriously go looking for your worth, like I did, you will also come to the conclusion that you cannot be valued. Your job title, your income, your hair, your looks, your reputation, your ability to procreate, etc., nothing can value or devalue you. And maybe the value we truly create is beyond these variables. 

When I went exploring into this, many many years ago, at first I looked at myself through the eyes of others. And yes, through others’ eyes, all the above factors could have helped put a price tag on me, but I decided to dig further. Because, even if the tag on me read “$0,” I would still be alive. For some reason, LIFE was still finding me valuable enough to keep me alive.

This is something I have been trying and testing out for years now and it has remained true. I did not think I could have survived this long, but I noticed that life keeps on making sure I do. It or something out there wants to keep me alive. It wants to keep you alive. It is keeping us alive until it says, “Meh! I think I’m done with this one.” I’ve spoken the truth when I arrived late to a job interview and still got the job. I have not competed with anyone for work in the last 7 years yet always got exactly what I was meant to get…exactly what I needed. I have not argued or defended myself to people. Yet, I found that whenever I was coming from love, things would shift in my favour on their own. I’ve faced some major fears and something keeps on coming along and watching my back. For all the people who are gonna take this out of context…I am not talking about walking in front of an oncoming bus and expecting it to not hit me. Will I survive? Who knows? All I know is that we never do walk alone. Especially when we choose honesty and trust life, especially then, the universe walks with us.

So, my conclusion was that this life that I am living, that you are living, that we are all living, is priceless. You can’t price something that’s priceless. It’s invaluable because it’s beyond value. Value is just a concept humans have created for bartering. It does not exist beyond that. While WE all DO exist beyond it.

The Magnificence That Is Your Mind

If you’ve ever tried to change your emotions or thoughts, you know that it can be next to impossible. I spent a great deal of time studying my own mind to see who was really in control, and this is the story of what I experienced. 

Rather than trying to win my mind in a mindgame, I tried to raise my understanding. I found that I couldn’t change my emotions; they depended on my thoughts. I couldn’t change my thoughts; they depended on my beliefs. Since my beliefs were the power house, the force behind “me” being “like me”, I sat down with my beliefs and had a conversation.

Photo by Rafael Guajardo on Pexels.com

Even my beliefs couldn’t believe what happened next. Most of my core beliefs realized that they were fraud— they didn’t even belong to me. They were just hand-me-downs from family, society, culture, religion, etc. Some were so old that they were happy to retire. Others couldn’t withstand the cross-examination.

But there was a whole network of beliefs. Beliefs that didn’t believe that I could survive without beliefs. Beliefs that helped me fit in. Beliefs waiting to replace the old beliefs. Beliefs about love, shame, expectations, etc. Beliefs that had whole life stories dedicated to them, such as, life cannot be trusted, or life is a race. Most of the beliefs were fearful and holding themselves trapped in fear.

Understanding the power of these core beliefs and their lack of validity helped weaken their power over me.

It was the only way to get out of the passenger seat, and into the driver seat of my own life.

I let my mind be free of beliefs as much as I could. Although I couldn’t just get rid of all beliefs at once, the little pockets of emptiness I created day-by-day allowed more room to breathe, experiment, and change. More importantly, it allowed me to hear my own voice— a whisper to trust life and follow joy.

Chan Chara, JaJa – Tropical Bird Club