WITNESSING AS A PATH TO FREEDOM

Parvati | WITNESSING AS A PATH TO FREEDOM

Image credit: Hartwig HKD

THE GIFT OF WITNESSING

(Continued from Willingness to Disarm the Ego)

The meditation practice known as witnessing provides powerful insights into the ways in which we are attached to our perceptions. It has shown me the parameters of my active ego with extraordinary clarity. Witnessing has provided lasting shifts in the way I think and perceive. It has helped me move from being attached to painful thoughts, to living with greater freedom and joy.

Witnessing is an essential part of any sincere meditator’s practice. It is at the heart of yoga and spiritual development. Witnessing is not the same as observing. Because witnessing is rooted in non-attachment, it flowers from the understanding that our senses are limited and do not contain the full picture of reality. Our perceptions are temporary, as they change with circumstance and are subject to our moods and whims. What and how we perceive is coloured by the ups and downs of our ego’s dramas.

Through witnessing practice, we meet the moment as it is, without any overlay of how we want it to be. This occurs when we move beyond our attachments to our perceptions, which happens only once we understand that they are not the whole truth. There is a substratum, a deeper unchanging truth, that runs beyond our senses.

Observing is not witnessing. When we observe, we are still attached to what we experience through a running narrative. For example, when we observe a flower, we see it for its colours and size and empirical qualities. Our mind may come up with a story for it, such as a memory of similar flowers in a garden behind our childhood home, or getting flowers like it from a past love. Through this, feelings related to our memories – nostalgia, grief, resentment – may arise. Those emotional associations are then projected onto the flower, which has nothing to do with them.

When we witness, no story accompanies the moment. In the case of witnessing a flower, we would meet the flower’s essence as it is, and harmoniously be there with it. We can note its colour, shape, smell, but there is nothing more that comes with it. The flower simply is, and so are we.

It is easy to confuse witnessing with being numbed out, indifferent or disconnected. When we are in a state of witnessing, we are fully present and rest in a deeper substratum beyond our perceptions. When this happens, life turns from monochrome to technicolour. We feel more connected, more alive, more engaged with life, because we are no longer bound by our limited perceptions, that are coloured by our ego. Even situations that once were painful for us become light and effervescent. Through witnessing comes tremendous spacious vitality. Witnessing feels rooted, vital and expansive. Like a new consciousness muscle, the more we practice witnessing, the more freedom we experience.

I share an incident when witnessing provided me with tremendous grace. I was around someone who decided I was the source of her unhappiness. As I practiced witnessing, I saw her pain. I was with it as it was. It felt like a mass floating in space in front of me. Remaining in a witnessing state, her upset did not become against me, for me or about me in any way. Nor was it really about her. I saw her pain. I knew that pain, because I too have felt suffering. From where I was standing, we were both resting in the perfect now. Her pain came from her attachment to not seeing the love that is here right now. The greatest gift I could give us both was resting in that reality without any agenda. Eventually her mood shifted like a storm that passed through a sunny sky.

Being able to be present for the fullness of life is one of the blessings gained through witnessing. The skill grows through practice. I like to this of it as going to the daily meditation gym. The more time you put into the practice, the more benefit, joy and freedom you gain.

PRACTICE:

Start your witnessing practice today. Take a few minutes each morning and evening to come to a neutral place, where you can allow yourself just to be. This alone can take practice when you are habituated to doing and wanting life to go your way. But that habit creates tremendous strain, tension and unhappiness. Freedom and joy are only found when you rest into the whole and flow in harmony with the rhythm of life. Nature’s power is so much greater than your limited ego or will, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.

Find a quiet place. Sit on something solid like a bench, chair or floor, with your spine straight, with the intention of just being. Breathe in and out for a few minutes. Simply focus on your breath. Let your body settle into being right and now, exactly where you are, on your cushion or chair. Allow your spine to take root through your seat, feeling the weight of your body, and your connection to the ground. Feel the crown of your head float, noticing your upward connection to the cosmos. Let your spine feel like a neutral conduit of energy between these two points. Breathe in and out.

When you mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. When you breathe in, simply say to yourself, “in”. When you breathe out, simply say, “out”. No big effort. No big drama. Just one breath at a time, in and out.

Should you notice thoughts arise, just say hello, welcome them in. Let them be there with you, rather than getting pulled into them. For example, should you notice the thought that your shoulders are tense, welcome the thought as though it just joined you in your inner living room. It may take a seat beside you. It may come and then quickly leave out the door. Either way, it does not matter. You remain sitting, breathing in and out. Breathe in, say “in”. Breathe out, say “out”.

The practice remains the same, whether you welcome tense shoulders or painful thoughts. Make room for it all, without getting entangled in any of it. Rest in your breathing and allow yourself to expand into the now. Practice this as often as you can.

JGP_9231__naturalI post a Being Love Letter every Sunday from my heart to yours. If you have enjoyed this, you may wish to listen to my musical works, check out my upcoming book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie: A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker, and find out more about me at www.parvati.world.

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Love,
Parvati

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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