All posts tagged shadow

The Gold in February Blues

Image credit: Mitya Ku I am in some ways a typical Capricorn. I am practical, a natural builder, and grounded. I can also be a bit of an old goat, crotchety, cynical, sour and critical – mostly towards myself. These shadow aspects of my character seem to show themselves around February, when I feel particularly starved for sunlight and warmth, things that my orchid-like flower nature needs to feel vibrantly alive. That is not to say that the weather is responsible for my recently more bleak mid-winter state, nor is anything outside of me, for that matter. Winter by nature is barren, and in its emptiness can come great gifts of clear insight. The way I choose to perceive the world and this moment is entirely my own choice. The choice may seem muted, hidden, hard to see when I am feeling less vibrant. But deep down I know that temporary blues reflect my shadowy habits back to me. They illustrate ways of perceiving that keep me feeling disconnected and small, that stem from my childhood and tendencies that I carry from previous lifetimes. The way I choose to engage with this moment, receive it or reject it, is entirely up to me. Like many people, when I feel low energy, I can lose the glimmer…

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Karma Yoga: Spiritual Pride and Selfless Service

SHANTI OM: Living and Acting in Peace, Part 2 I saw a fabulous post on Facebook today. It read: “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” A beautiful sentiment, to which my friend wisely added: “and they never know who you are.” She, a dedicated karma yogi, continued to write, “Nothing as dangerous as ‘spiritual’ pride!” This made me think about the many shadows along the spiritual path, especially when our spiritual lives inspire us to act in selfless service, or along the path of karma yoga. Our ego is a tricky thing. We ceaselessly – driven by our ego – consciously or unconsciously look for opportunities to feed our wanting self, until we wake up to who we really are. When we become enlightened, that is, when we are permanently established in the reality of divine love, we no longer identify with separateness and no longer maintain a separate sense of self. But until such time, for the sincere spiritual seeker, vigilance is required so that we may witness our ego’s tendency to feed, so that we may choose otherwise. Not that far removed from addicts who believe that a drink of alcohol will solve their problems, our ego habitually fools us into feeling fulfilled…

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Shanti Om: Living and Acting in Peace – Part 2: Karma Yoga: Spiritual Pride and Selfless Service

SHANTI OM: Living and Acting in Peace, Part 2 (Part 1: Is Peace Passive?) I saw a fabulous post on Facebook today. It read: “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” A beautiful sentiment, to which my friend wisely added: “and they never know who you are.” She, a dedicated karma yogi, continued to write, “Nothing as dangerous as ‘spiritual’ pride!” This made me think about the many shadows along the spiritual path, especially when our spiritual lives inspire us to act in selfless service, or along the path of karma yoga. Our ego is a tricky thing. We ceaselessly – driven by our ego – consciously or unconsciously look for opportunities to feed our wanting self, until we wake up to who we really are. When we become enlightened, that is, when we are permanently established in the reality of divine love, we no longer identify with separateness and no longer maintain a separate sense of self. But until such time, for the sincere spiritual seeker, vigilance is required so that we may witness our ego’s tendency to feed, so that we may choose otherwise. Not that far removed from addicts who believe that a drink of alcohol will solve their problems, our ego habitually…

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Mind Body Spirit Festival and Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie

Dear friends,   I leave early Monday morning for London, UK where I will be performing and teaching at the Mind Body Spirit Festival. Waiting for me in London will be the freshly printed copies of my new book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie. I thought you might like to read another sneak preview:   In the yoga community, we have come to a place that is like spiritual adolescence. We know the basics and we are out in the world. Wal-Mart sells yoga mats and Costco sells Eckhart Tolle’s books. We can express lofty ideas and speak beautiful things. But in order to grow, we must go deeper. We know how to fool our parents, as many teenagers do. But we cannot fool nature. Eventually the teenager realizes that to be responsible means to understand the consequences of his actions, just as the junkie needs to discover the wanting at the root of their addiction in order to heal. If we are to address the pervasiveness of greed and wanting in our lives, we need to start talking about and becoming aware of our shadowy habits that support them, including the ones lurking in our yoga practice. We need to mature as yogis and as people. We are not being truly honest with ourselves if…

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Coming Soon: Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie

Dear friends, Today I am busy at work finalizing my upcoming book “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie”, about the pitfalls I experienced on the yogic path and how you can avoid them. The book will make its debut at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in the UK later this month. In the meantime, though, here is a teaser for you to enjoy: We use the word “junkie” loosely. You can hear it uttered with enthusiasm when someone expresses particular zeal for something. They may be addicted to that thing. But the offhand use of the word can easily mask what may be a shady underbelly lying in the darker recesses of their psyche. The word “junkie” ultimately refers to someone who is an addict. As such, it points painfully to a human being who erroneously identifies with some elusive external substance, person, place or thing as his or her source of permanent happiness. There are many forms of addiction deeply interwoven into the fabric of our culture. Addiction is somehow a part of the modern, human psyche. The popular, casual use of the word “junkie” seems to give us unspoken permission to broadcast our compulsions in a way that does not ask us to look more deeply at them. Inadvertently, the word illustrates how we…

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From Resentment to Forgiveness – Part 2: Unveiling Resentment

UNVEILING RESENTMENT: SEEING CLEARLY Last week, I shared how I touched in my meditation practice a place of resentment I had not been aware was there.  As I continued my meditation practice, what I saw, as I opened gently and lovingly to my uncomfortable feelings, was that I was ultimately hurt because the other person was not who I wanted them to be. I had projected my expectations onto another. What happened did not measure up to my idea of how they “should” behave. We want others to be the way we want them to be, because in some way we are attached to the idea that they are the source of our love. But to do so, is to not see the other person clearly. It is an unfair expectation that we have created and imposed upon another.  There is a story of a Buddhist master who receives a gift from his student of a glass vase. They admire the beauty and enjoy it. Until one day, the vase breaks and it is no longer. The student was distraught, whereas the master was undisturbed. The student thought perhaps that his teacher did not like the vase. He inquired, asking his teacher, “Master, did you not like the vase? Why were you not disappointed when it…

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It Is Up To Me: Cultivating Self-Love

From Self-Betrayal To Self-Love: Steadiness and Gratitude On The Path Part 3: It Is Up To Me Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing here what I learned when I recently found that I was being unkind to myself. My last post was during the first period of Lent, as Christians prepare for Easter. Today I post this blog entry as we enter into the week of Passover, a Jewish festival that celebrates the miraculous release from slavery. To some extent, we all have parts of ourselves that feel enslaved, whether we are conscious of them or not. It is also a tendency for most of us to want others to free us from these painful places. But as I was reminded in my recent experience, when I saw that I was turning myself black and blue, it is not for anyone else to “save” me, take away my pain or fix my perceived broken bits. I need to face my inner demons just as you do, just as the next person does – on my own, in my own time, in my own way. It is a kind of miracle to realize that we have the ability to free ourselves in this way. By turning on our inner light, we invite grace, transformation…

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Beating Myself Black And Blue

From Self-Betrayal To Self-Love: Steadiness and Gratitude On The Path Part 1: Beating Myself Black And Blue A couple of weeks ago, I watched myself react dramatically when I felt I had made a mistake. It was not a big thing, but I made it into one. The situation triggered me. I became so angry with myself and felt like a failure. I dove into the deep end of beating myself up, talking to myself with such aggressive criticism that inwardly, I was turning myself black and blue. I reached out to my partner for help. But he did not stand a chance to get through to me, faced with my attachment to auto-destruct. So then I reacted and blamed him for not giving me what I wanted. Ultimately, I was hell-bent on feeling that everything in this moment, including me, was not good enough. I was so attached to feeling this way that I even cleverly used my partner’s response to me to fuel how I was feeling. So I felt worse. Now I was not only feeling not good enough; I also felt alone. Then I remembered something my spiritual teacher Amma teaches. The words rang in my being as though a meditation bell had been struck within my soul: “Progress is being made when…

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Tantra Yoga: What’s Sex Got To Do With It? – Part 2: Hatha Yoga, Sex Rituals and Tantra’s Shadow

(Continued from Hatha and Tantra Yoga)   I love the descriptions of Tantra by the widely respected yogic scholar Georg Feuerstein who penned one of my favorite books, “Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy”. For those of you who have seen me perform my song “Yoga In the Nightclub” in my current show “Natamba” (and if you have not yet, please come out!) you know that I use elements of the following quote from Dr. Feuerstein in my extended version of the house music track:   “What Tantric masters aspired to was to create a transubstantiated body, which they called adamantine (vajra) or divine (daiva) – a body not made of flesh but of immortal substance, of Light. Instead of regarding the body as a meat tube doomed to fall prey to sickness and death, they viewed it as a dwelling-place of the Divine and as the caldron for accomplishing spiritual perfection. For them, enlightenment was a whole body event.”   As such, the body is more akin to place of alchemy, a caldron to transform the base metals of crude desires into the gold of spiritual perfection. Tantra was not an endorsement of bestiality and debauchery, but a highly ritualized practice that keenly witnessed the nature of desire and a fiercely confronted it at its root…

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Yoga Scandals, Light Chasers and Shadow Boxers – Part 1: Duality and Denial

Hello friends, This week I feel the need to express some thoughts about recent press regarding scandals in the yoga community, in particular, regarding John Friend. The details of the scandals are not important to me, but the general reaction to them in the press more so. We are all flawed and beautiful as we walk this Earth together. “Yoga and “scandal” seem to walk hand-in-hand these days. It’s a “union of opposites” that’s growing more comfortable with time.” – Stewart Lawrence, Huffington Post It saddens me to see a beautiful life art-form and science-of-life misunderstood and misinterpreted. But I guess that is what we humans tend to do. If we are a people that can crucify a holy man, we can also easily throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Scandals in the yoga scene are nothing new. We could cite here pages of stories depicted in ancient yogic texts such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana that illustrate the twisted acts of human folly while on a spiritual path. Yet the media, spearheaded by journalists that are clearly not impartial reporters doing thorough research, seems to proudly point fingers at seeming rot at the root of the sacred, while conveniently ignoring the fact that scandals are created by imperfect humans, not the eternal divine.…

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