Reality is reality and this is the teaching of most importance. Because to find peace in life, we must accept it as it is. Too often we allow ourselves to feel saddened by something which did or didn’t happen in the past, or something we hope will or won’t happen in the future. Yet life is always now, we are only alive in this moment. When things don’t feel right, when we are resisting life, we should try to understand why. We can change the way we are feeling. We can uplift ourselves! When we encounter a feeling of imperfection, it will be found that a thought is taking our attention from this moment into another, past or possible reality. So learn to stop comparing experiences, and abandon expecting something from life. Life owes you nothing, it has already given you now. And challenging as it may be to accept this is your path to peace, what could’ve been, what was, or what may someday be, is not. All you have is now and this is the teaching of most importance.
Energy is stored in spaces in the form of memories. So when we are in a space we’ve been in previously, be it a room, building, outdoor space, or even a city, we may feel a certain way because of how our past experiences in the space impacted on our life. Yet when we’re away from the space, the memories seem less realistic, more dreamlike. Therefore, if we remain in the space we are easily united with the memories. And if we remove ourselves from the space, we more easily detach from the memories. In any case, memories are not now reality and simply because something happened previously in a space, does not mean it could ever happen similarly again. The energy we encounter within a space moves us in a certain way because of our perception of the way the space feels, not necessarily the way the space actually feels. Sometimes spaces convince us to believe what once was is still reality, because the energy of the memories we revisit while in the space are so realistic, moving.
Respected Thai photographer Jaturong Hirankarn released his second book “Living Ink” recently which features photographs of tattoo lovers living in or who have recently visited Bangkok. I am privileged enough to be featured in this beautiful collection of portraiture and encourage any fans of black and white photography or tattoos to check it out. There’s currently an exhibition of the work being held in Bangkok or you can find some of it by searching online.
The practice of yoga asana brings much joy into our lives. At a certain time during the day, life speaks to us and says: “Come on, stop worrying about the past, forget your future plans, and just be here now.” So we accept life’s invitation, making our way onto our mat. By focussing our awareness on the breath, we are reminded of our life, by being directed to the minute we are living through; by feeling the sensations produced in the body as the asanas are performed, we become aware of the physical body, our vehicle in this world; and by encountering the stillness found only by quieting the thoughts, we reunite with the ever present universal spirit held within and all around us. This is what yoga is, merging of the mind, body and spirit with the present moment. To be at one with the present is to experience total inner freedom, bliss.
When I was younger and people asked what I wanted to do when I got older, I never answered: “Live in Bangkok and teach yoga for 5-year-old Japanese girls.” But this happens some days and it feels completely awesome. Children are so awake. They are experts at falling into the moment and forgetting their thoughts. If we can learn one thing from them it should be to embrace the minute we live in, rather than sleepwalking through life. In the presence of children I feel more awake, and more aware that I’m alive. Could it be that we all do?
Ignore beginnings and endings. They’re often awkward, or empty. Life’s about the in between moments. Getting so lost in what’s happening you have no knowledge of life outside this time. Be assured it will end. Everything does. Just enjoy your journey. It is finest in the in between moments.
The greatest obstacle on the path to freedom is the belief there’s a path. The belief that freedom is not yet available is a myth; you are choosing to believe it. Freedom is available here and now because being free is simply embracing your own true nature, without wanting to escape this moment, to change something, without waiting.
(Photo: Buddha statue at the Golden Triangle in Northern Thailand)
Don’t attach the word “mine” to anything…people, places, objects, conditions. The feeling of ownership is used by ego in the hope of verifying its existence, strengthening itself. The stronger it becomes, the more pain it can potentially experience. Yet as all aspects of this life are temporary, nothing is ever really owned; things are just borrowed. When what’s “mine” goes away, becomes no more, ends, to greater or lesser extents, ego suffers. The feeling of “mine” allowed ego to believe what it had may somehow have overcome the law of impermanence, although nothing in this world ever has or ever will. Has this point been made clear? If you want to avoid suffering, do not attach the word “mine” to anything.
The experience of total inner freedom is the supreme feeling. And it’s accessible to all of us if we simply unearth it. Let us not fool ourselves, however, no feeling which will be experienced in life remains unchanging. So the feeling of total inner freedom like all things, is temporary. We begin by including activities in our days in which we allow ourselves to become immersed fully. To become one with what we are doing we slip away from thoughts of past and future. Many of us already engage in activities which allow us to enter the present moment, even if we’re unaware of it. Some examples include cooking, running, seated meditation, swimming in the ocean, having sex, playing music, painting, snowboarding and practicing yoga. But the feeling of total inner freedom is not found solely by engaging in the activity. In order to encounter a true experience of total inner freedom, we must make a conscious decision to try and avoid thinking constructively about the past or future while we are in this moment. By doing so, we may eventually discover it’s only in the mind we’re not free.
We include back bending poses in our yoga practice to open up the space between the shoulders on our chest. Upon completing a back bend, as the energy settles, our body is flooded by a surge of love. By expanding the space at the front of the chest we are intentionally offering our heart forth to the world. After our yoga practice we witness within us a greater capacity to feel love for ourselves and others. The word yoga itself means ‘union’ and one of the goals of the practice is overcoming the sense of being separate from others which dictates our days. People with open hearts are more willing to share themselves with others as they feel more connected to all those around them. We don’t need to live life feeling inadequate and unwilling to reveal our inner beauty to the world. One of the great miracles of yoga is assisting us in learning to love ourselves unconditionally. If it’s hard to believe this is true, simply begin practicing back bending poses (with a teacher’s guidance) and witness what happens within. Thanks to yoga, your whole life will be transformed.