Well, we made it through another holiday season — not to mention another DECADE of life on this planet.
High fives, all around!
As I was scrolling yesterday, everyone's "year in review" posts on social media got me thinking... before we close the door on 2019, lets cherry pick a snag from this past year and dig in. Because... why not?
Specifically: What's the one piece of feedback someone gave you in 2019 that really upset you... not because they're a jerk, or because they don't understand you. I'm talking about the feedback that you heard, reacted to harshly, and yet you know deep down... is right. This could have been at a holiday party, or it could have been 8 months ago. Really give it some thought.
You don't have to say it out loud. You don't have to tell anyone else or — gasp — admit it to the person that they were right. (Phew!) Just hold it in your mind, and bear with me...
Rather than go into emotion about the situation as it happened because that doesn't matter, let's pick this one piece of constructive criticism up and examine it from a neutral perspective.
First: If the truth will set us free, then why do we get so triggered sometimes when we hear it?
If you ask me? I think it's because the truth requires us to change. Change is our only constant — to me, it's the definition of life and the only true requirement of us as humans.
But the fact is: Change can be hard.
It's so much easier to stay the same! Sure, our health might suffer. Our relationships might suffer. Our quality of life might suffer.
But hey! It's easy! Remember Easy Street? There's a whole song about it... that's the path we should want to walk. Right?
It should be called Challenge Avenue, because that's life. Forever. And ever. Never-ending challenges. And only through the challenges do we start to become accustomed to the challenges, and over time, the challenges aren't challenges at all — they are, in fact, EASY because we've redefined them as such! The only true way to Easy Street is through Challenge Avenue. No shortcuts.
Sit with that for a minute.
So from a neutral perspective, can you examine this feedback, and resolve to do something about it in 2020 to move closer to your own truth? And before you make an excuse (or five), let this sink in:
If not now, when?
Second: Can you have gratitude for this person?
This part is important. For me, finding gratitude for someone who initially triggered me by saying out loud what I can't say myself helps me reframe the situation — and the feedback.
This person in my life is 100% my husband, Sean. Isn't it always the people closest to us? In moments when he gives me the hard feedback that no one else will give, I'm really working on seeing immediate gratitude for having someone like that in my life. If no one gave me any feedback on my life and the way I live it, I'd lack perspective. I'd be wearing permanent, unintended blinders. Sure, it doesn't matter what other people think... but through the eyes of the people we trust and respect are the gaps we may not see ourselves.
From that space of gratitude and a reframe on the feedback itself, doesn't everything feel a tiny bit better? Consider really digging into the big goals for 2020.
There's nothing like a good holiday party.
Getting together with people who create conversation by asking you the questions you hate being asked... over, and over, and over. Like the universe is beating you over the head with the topic that you LEAST want to talk about...
It doesn't matter what stage you're at in life, there's always those trigger questions that drive you crazy. On the outside? You're forcing a smile, nodding and giving superficial answers, meanwhile wishing you could go home, crawl under your covers and sleep for 12 hours. Holiday time is PRIME TIME for small talk like this.
Recently, a friend asked me how I deal with getting the "When are you having kids?" question constantly at holiday parties. I started to answer him, and then paused... I sat and really thought for a minute. I landed on this answer:
It totally depends on who I'm talking to!
And I'm not trying to cop out of the question. I really mean it — this is totally an opportunity to practice yoga off the mat. Each situation in which I get asked an awkward question requires something new of me. Each person is different, each moment is new.
So I ask myself (in my head): What is "the moment" asking of me?
Some people, I feel their genuine desire to try to connect (not realizing I don't want to be asked about my plans for having kids). I give a short answer and change the subject and spend time listening and laughing with them. I let it go because it doesn't matter.
Some people, I can tell they don't actually care what my answer is because they've made up their mind about me before I've answered. So I give a short answer, smile, and move on to talk to someone else. Then I let it go because it doesn't matter.
Other people, I realize that perhaps they have NO IDEA that there are more options that simply getting married, having babies, raising kids and retiring... even though that's a perfectly fine option too! So I explain that we've tried, it didn't pan out, so we keep buying dogs and are loving life being day-long parents to hundreds of kids with type 1 diabetes every year at Riding On Insulin camps. It works for us right now. And then after we close the conversation and move on, I let it go, because — you guessed it — it doesn't matter :-)
This is all we can do when we're living yoga — it's all we need to do. Ask ourselves: What is the moment asking of me?
From that space... that pause... we move through life with more ease and less frustration. And then at the end, we let go, we move on because at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. (Which is exactly what we're going to learn how to do in the 40-day Challenge this January.)
So mid-holiday 2-week extravaganza, lets all take a deep breath, yes?
If you would have told me even 2 years ago that I would someday have a daily 30-minute morning meditation practice, I would have laughed.
How would I ever find time for that?
Turns out, I didn’t find the time. I had to enroll myself into an immersive training in a super foreign country with no way out, where I had no choice but to maketime. And then it stuck!
That’s the thing about me… when it comes to personal development, I can read books, take notes, listen to podcasts, and get all the intuitive readings and astrology forecasts in the world. But in the end, it comes down to me, and what I’m willing to do for myself… and if we’re being honest here, I realllllllly need to be pushed out of my comfort zone to get it done.
I guess some would call me stubborn. Others might just call me human! And whether it’s meditation, or eating better, or (insert healthy habit you avoid) the question is:
Why is it so easy to avoid what we know is good for us?
With all this time I’ve spent in meditation, I’ve gotten a little perspective on this. My theory? Our mind is too full. We have a big ole’ case of “mindfulness” … and all we need is a little space.
Wait — did I just say mindfulness is the bad guy?
Hear me out: Mindfulness… meditation, same thing. Different word.
But the word mindfulness is sort of silly, isn’t it? Do we really want to be Mind Full? Personally, I prefer my mind half full. Or even a quarter full. And the truth is that 95% of the thoughts running through our mind are the SAME thoughts we had yesterday.
Let that sink in for a moment: 95% of the thoughts running through your head RIGHT NOW are the same exact thoughts you had yesterday. And most of those thoughts are subconscious thoughts — just running in the background with (or without) your permission. Those are the thoughts that keep us the same, day in and day out. Those are the thoughts that prevent us from easily taking a leap and doing something good for ourselves. Those are the thoughts keeping us from evolving into a brighter version of ourselves!
So this Mind-Full Conundrum… if we’re going to have a mind filled with something — even half filled with something, don’t we want to have a say on what it’s filled with?
If you’re interested in re-writing the stories that fill your head, then meditation might be a good fit. Specifically, Japa Meditation — using a mala necklace (108 beads strung together with knots in between to help you keep count) and a Sanskrit mantra that you say silently in your mind over and over, 108 times… and then repeat the mala, again and again… to start filling your mind with mantra instead of all the other unconscious thoughts.
Studies have shown that chanting in a non-native language not only helps with memory retention, but also improves brain health. Not to mention, you’re re-writing your subconscious programming and creating new neuropathways! And Sanskrit isn’t native to anyone — it’s a language specifically created to communicate yoga. Sanskrit words have powerful vibrations and resonance that cuts to our core, and thus, can have powerful effects on our psyche!
Japa Meditation is an incredible way to fill your mind with mantra so that you can disrupt the patterns of thought in your subconscious mind and start making positive changes in your life.
Me? I've just taken on a 40-day sadhana (practice) of my own. I'm committed to saying a particular mantra 19,000 times in 40 days. That's about 196 rounds on the mala, or 5 rounds on the mala per day for 40 days straight. WHEW! Day 4 just began, and I'm loving it.
I read something posted in a Facebook group the other day that immediately caught my eye. Even though I wasn’t tagged and hadn’t spoken to that person in months, within a matter of seconds, I made the entire post about me.
And this is how incredibly creative my mind is.
I reasoned (in seconds, mind you) that this person had thought about me specifically, gotten angry, posted this post, in hopes that I would see it, and that I would read it. And then I would feel the bad vibes and become emotionally affected by it.
And sure enough, there I sat, for approximately 1.5 minutes, emotionally affected by something that was NOT about me.
Even typing it, it sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? My teacher Anand put it best — I was so grateful to find this nugget in my notes on what he says about taking things personally:
“Taking judgements personally is like watching people walk around with knives, and taking someone’s knife and stabbing yourself with it.”
I would add that we tend to give the bloody knife back to the owner (energetically) and thus, surrender our power to rise above the situation.
Did I just talk about stabbing in the Yoga Hive newsletter? You get the idea.
What makes this even more potent is the Full Moon which happened at 12:29am this morning, Mountain Time. I subscribe to an astrology newsletter called Mystic Mama, and she writes this incredibly poignant paragraph for today's Full Moon in particular:
"It's easy to focus on others, but if we keep our focus on our Self and do what we feel moved to do, we create space for others to be informed and inspired by our actions and be led by their own free will, rather than through any kind of pressure or intimidation.This Aquarius FULL MOON encourages us to witness what is being illuminated and unhinge from the ties of public opinion to continue to unfurl who we truly are."
Join me this week in being acutely aware of judgements we’re taking personally… and if we can’t stop our creative mind, just NOTICING it is a great first step! Second step is meditation. Third step is meditation aaaaand fourth step? You guessed it. Meditation.
Today, we usher in a New Moon — which means it's time for intention setting. And it could be the intensity of the heat this week... it might be all sorts of planetary retrogrades... it might be a teensy bit in my head.
Whatever it is: July was NUTS... wasn't it?
I know I'm not the only one that felt the gravity this last month. I was challenged in all sorts of ways... and I felt so many emotions I haven't felt in a long time. And not just a little bit... I was feeling things with intensity!
At some point, I had to just surrender. I resolved to just feeling all the feels — and using my experience as a laboratory. I could clearly see the contrast as I would pendulum back and forth, and I used that information to decide how I want to feel, and how I don't want to feel on a day to day basis.
I'll give you an example.
I was driving back to Whitefish from Staples in Kalispell this afternoon with a stack of Kids Yoga Training manuals (for tonight!) and Aerial Yoga Training manuals (for next week!).
I'd grabbed a handful of supplies from the store as well... including a massive pad of chart paper for lecturing. I had all my windows down in the car because my air conditioning has been broken for months (not complaining — I fully recognize it's within my power to get it fixed) and the top sheet on the giant pad of paper started to flap in the wind in the back seat.
And then the second sheet started flapping.. and the third... now violently.
I reached back to stop it, worrying about how I just spent $34 on a pad of chart paper that was going to be *gasp* wrinkled for the training, and as I was reaching, I realized I was swerving out of my lane like a crazy person on the highway so I put my hands back on the wheel. I tried to close the windows so it would stop (and I nearly melted in the heat) so rolled them back down... allowing the paper to flap, reaching back one more time to try and re-adjust while going 70 mph.
I could feel the frustration rising and all of a sudden I was yelling. Like, ARRRRAHHHHHHHHH!!! And then it felt good... so I kept it up for a minute (or two).
And that's how my July went out with a bang... or rather, a roar. There were so many instances this month that required me to roar like a lion — many of which took place in my own head. All of that built up to yesterday when I feel like I was able to release it, out loud!
Just in time for the New Moon, and my new intention: To maintain the same fierce, productive high energy of July, with softness.
Truthfully, this is what the Yoga Sutras teaches us as well. Live your life fully, with intensity. Life on this incredible planet is filled with sensory experiences and we're all just looking for more intensity, whether we try Paddleboard Yoga for the first time, swim naked for the thrill of it, or book a yoga retreat in Montana because we need a reset. What matters is our consciousness around the choices we make, and our evolution as we decide what works and what doesn't.
So to August 2019, WELCOME! I'm looking forward to having a more devotional, gratitude-filled, sweet zest for this incredible life I live. And I invite you to join me on the softer side.
The first yoga class I ever took was awful.
It was 2008, and I was living in Wisconsin post-graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was working a desk job writing for a women’s magazine, so I spent a lot of time sitting at a computer. I knew I needed to move.
I joined a gym and tried out every type of fitness class I could get my hands on, just to see what I liked, and what made me feel good. I tried it all… Body Pump, Body Attack, spinning, weight lifting… and then, there was yoga. I had zero expectations. It was just on the list, so I figured I'd try it out.
I was running late, and I walked into the room and the only spot available was right at the front. I couldn’t see anything without turning my head around because the instructor was walking around the class. There wasn’t any time for niceties after I got there — I dove in.
It was HARD! Hard in ways I wasn’t ready to deal with… so many shapes. Staring at everyone around me. I was uneasy because I wondered if the rest of the class was judging me, the slow one who clearly didn't know anything. And coordinate with my breath? FORGETABOUTIT. And then my instructor gave me a physical adjustment in Happy Baby Pose.
Physical adjustments can be so wonderful when you’re in a space of trust with the yoga instructor. They’re meant to help you access a deeper release. Happy Baby is a particularly vulnerable pose where you’re lying on your back, feet in the air, knees bent and wide, grabbing the outsides of your feet and rocking side to side, like a happy baby.
The instructor walked over to me, placed his hands on the bottoms of my feet and pressed down. In any scenario today, with an instructor I trust, this would be perfectly respectable.
But it wasn’t back then. I walked out after class and thought to myself: Never doing that again… and that was that.
Today, as the owner of three yoga studios and counting, people often ask me how I got into yoga, and I laugh when I tell them this story. I go on to explain how I really found yoga. I moved west to a tiny town in the mountains to be closer to my (now) husband, and we worked at a college prep boarding school. I needed friends ASAP.
This one woman on campus — Brittany, who taught dance — was always trying to get groups of women on staff to practice yoga using audio recordings in her classroom after work. And so… ONLY because I needed friends, I agreed to practice yoga again.
Turns out, yoga made me feel amazing! And I discovered that NO ONE was thinking about me during their practice. They could care less what I was doing on my mat. I could just be myself. And I would practice on and off for years afterward… and every time I’d practice, I’d write in my journal: Yoga makes me feel so good! I need to practice more. (And it did help me make friends… Britt and I are still best friends, and both own yoga studios!)
But, it wasn’t until I took a yoga teacher training that I truly dove into the depth of the practice beyond just physical poses, and applied it to all aspects of my life. I didn't have 25 years of experience before the teacher training... quite the contrary, and that was the beauty. I had my life experience prior to the training, had a profound experience in the training, and my life has never been the same. Yoga has stuck with me through all my work and life experience — especially applying what I learned in my non-yogi work with the nonprofit, and my relationships with friends and family. Forget about instructing yoga classes (that is a beautiful byproduct that I happen to enjoy immensely)... what I really learn more every day is how to LIVE yoga, especially in all the dark nooks and crannies of my life I tend to avoid.
If you're curious about the experience or perhaps you've even considered that you might want to take a teacher training, I would love to tell you about what Yoga Hive offers in our 200-hour program and (new for 2020!) our advanced 300-hour training. Our programs are facilitated and shaped around this idea: yoga — and yoga training — is for everyone, regardless of shape, size, age, knowledge-base, religion, background, etc. We believe the practice and the lifestyle should be approachable, it should challenge you, and it should meet you where you're at right now. That's what makes yoga so relevant over time and that's exactly why I guarantee it will change your life.
So I’ve been getting headaches more frequently than normal the last few months. At first, I chalked it up to stress or the travel. And then I got frustrated... distraught... I went through denial that it was a thing. And then came the day I allowed myself to wonder the dreaded question: Could it be coffee?
Cringe with me: “Nooooooooo... NO! It can't be! I can’t give up coffee!”
But after the last migraine, I decided it was worth a shot to not have to experience headaches like that anymore. As I write this, I’ve spent over two weeks without coffee (and I’m still living!). And this small example in my own life reminds me of something the great Yogananda once said to a student.
A tiny bit of background: Paramahamsa Yogananda's autobiography — titled Autobiography of a Yogi — is one of the most iconic books in yoga today, about his life spent bringing the yogic teachings from the Himalayas to the west in the early 1900s. (You'll even find it on our yoga teacher training required reading list because his Kriya Yoga practices and Meditation Technique are from the same lineage as what we learn in Yoga Hive's YTT!)
In Awake, the documentary about Yogananda’s life, there’s an interview with one of his students where he recalls a conversation with Yogananda — the one that popped into my head this morning. The student was asking his teacher what he's not allowed to do as a student of yoga.
Yogananda: Do you smoke?
Yogananada: You may continue. Do you drink alcohol?
Yogananda: You may continue. Do you enjoy the opposite sex promiscuously?
Yogananda: Well, you may continue!
Student: Wait a minute. You mean, I can come up on this hill ... with all these wonderful people ... and study these teachings, and I can go back down there and do all these things?
Yogananda: Absolutely! But I will not promise you that as you continue to study these teachings that the desire to do these things won't fall away from you.
That’s just it: On the path of yoga, over time, our preferences change. What charms us refines. Sometimes the people we surround ourselves with changes, too.
At first, this can seem abrupt and unfair. Why is this happening to me?! Why am I the one that has to live without this person, this food, this drink, this activity? Or in my case: Why coffee? Why now?
What I’ve learned through yoga is that change is ultimately good in all its forms, and that life doesn't happen TO us. It happens FOR us. Looking at life that way shifts everything — and it doesn't eliminate the inevitable pain of being a human sometimes... but it does eliminate unnecessary suffering. Change becomes a surefire sign we’re moving forward, and everything is (always) working out.
This is a yogi's evolution.
It’s not that I don’t love coffee anymore — I had a delicious decaf Americano at Coffee Traders this past weekend. (And conveniently, all the studios are stocked with my favorite, subtly caffeinated Green Tea!) The point is that coffeewas becoming a crutch. Yoga teaches us to release attachment, and that’s exactly what I knew my body needed.
Although my body's demands don't stop at merely giving up coffee; this decision has led me down another path of self-discovery, changing my skincare and makeup routine to non-toxic products, creating new essential oil blends, employing the healing modalities of functional medicine, acupuncture, and chiropractic to adjust other things happening within.
My point is: The body knows.
I bet you, too, have heard that voice in the back of your mind begging for something you know is good for you. Or begging you to stop a habit you’ve had for years. Or a deep desire to try something new.
And like me and coffee, who knows! It’s not: I’m giving up coffee as long as I live. If I looked at things that way, I’d go crazy… and I can be super stubborn, so I’d probably have a coffee just to spite myself.
Rather, giving up coffee and walking this path is just for now, until I — or my body — feels like I need a change again.
So wherever you’re at, maybe this will be the nudge you need to make that change your body has been asking for.
I'll never forget the day: I was 16 years old, and it was four days after I'd gotten my drivers' license.
It was early evening, and I was driving my car, listening to Softcell - Tainted Love. The beats were on full blast, and I can even remember the sunglasses I was wearing. I'd just earned a lead role in my school's musical, so I was headed to an evening rehearsal. The midwest September sun was just on the horizon at eye level — not a cloud in the sky. The sun was blinding.
So blinding that when I turned left to cross what appeared to be an empty lane of on-coming traffic, I didn't even see the motorcyclist I accidentally cut off... until he crashed into my car.
The series of events that happened after this moment set the course for a pivotal direction in my life. The man lived and recovered, thank God. The guilt I felt, the pain he dealt with, and the actions taken to rectify the situation aren't relevant to this story.
What's relevant for the specific purpose of this email is how subsequent events shaped my view of the world for the next 15 years of my life.
The day after the accident, hand-written signs appeared around my high school that bashed me (by name) for what I had done, including cruel, personal jabs about my character and my family. I was mortified, ashamed, and devastated.
I can pinpoint this as the moment I started unconsciously worrying about what other people thought of me. Not the people who matter (the man, the authorities, etc.), but people who are irrelevant to the story. The people who anonymously write signs and plaster them all over our high school. The people who made comments at me under their breath in the hallways. The people who have no idea who I am, or what exactly happened — who have never spoken with me, face-to-face.
When I went to college two years later, it was like I got a blank slate — no one knew me and my stories. I could start fresh. But things like this don’t just get flushed down the toilet of existence. They get tucked into a corner until the time is right to overflow. Unbeknownst to College-age me, I spent those years living with that same underlying “truth” that it matters what people think about me.
It wasn't until I started walking the path of yoga 10 years ago (not just making shapes with my body, but yoga as a way of life) that I began to see the impact of this event. I may not have been physically injured in the crash, but I had stayed so deeply entangled with this idea that other people's opinions of me matter to my success or failure.
For so long, my problem was my past. "I'm sorry for what I did. The signs people made about me screwed me up." But what took me so long to realize was my role in the creation of (and continued power given to) that problem by allowing it to screw me up. The isolation and guilt I felt as the wrong-doer, fear and unnecessary concern of what others were saying about me, and seeking validation to support my position… all of those things aren’t me. I am not defined by my past. I am only right now.
Let me say that again, because it’s so freeing:
I am not defined by my past. I am only now.
This is Self Realization—the ultimate goal of yoga.
What's mind-blowing is that Self Realization cannot be pushed on anyone. We see this in action every time we watch a loved one suffer (and incessantly try to help "fix" the situation, to no avail). Self Realization couldn't have been forced on me back in high school... or in college. And can't be forced on you simply by reading this email. That’s why it’s called SELF Realization. It’s the Realization of the Self — through no other means other than the SELF. Whether it takes 15 years or 15 minutes to see the Truth, it needs to be self realized.
Looking back, am I incredibly sorry for what happened? Yes, always have been. Can I make it go away? No. Did the entire situation shape my world which has brought me to this place I am today? Yes.
And that’s how we change our past. We simply change the lens through which we look. Every experience in our lives shines a new value as we look into the review mirror… and at any moment, we can use that lens to change course and drive in a different direction.
And you know what? I think that's the point.
When I think about trust, I imagine little building blocks, stacked up in towers. Each person in my life has their own tower. And each block represents trust.
I've been listening to Brené Brown's latest book, Dare to Lead on Audible lately, and she talks a lot about vulnerability and trust. I love how she reminds us that long-lasting trust is not necessarily built by big, sweeping accomplishments or acts. Trust is built in the small moments over time. The little blocks we stack on top of one another, showing the depth and height of trust we have for another human. It's the little things... when someone remembers your birthday, or notices your new haircut and gives you a compliment. When someone does something they know you need before you even have to ask. Trust can be built by someone just showing up for you.
And just as easy as it is to place a block on top, you (or someone in your life) can knock that entire fragile mountain over with one swipe of your hand. And then we begin again, from scratch.
For our purposes in studio classes, workshops, and especially with programs like BeYou, BeStill and Yoga Teacher Training, we are building trust within. We are slowing, stacking the blocks (maybe blocks we've never stacked before!) one on top of the other, building trust within ourselves that the shapes we're making with our body, the thoughts we're journaling, or what we're feeling is OK. That what we're digging into is a good idea.
And then the ultimate: We get to a point with our mountain of blocks that we simply trust. Everything in our life is always working out — even when it seems hard... no, scratch that. Especially when it seems hard. Somehow, someday, we'll see the light in those moments of darkness.
As you're working through your own yoga practice, meditation or just trying to survive your week, remember: You've spent weeks, months, even years building that mountain of trust in your life up to this point. So changing that way of life to practice more yoga, eat healthier, or spend more time in silence (or any other shifts you're working on) might feel hard. And you may feel defeated, just as often as you feel elated. Keep those building blocks in your mind, and remember that as you learn to trust, you place another block on the top. While I wouldn't say to you "go easy on yourself," I would say: Don't dwell on it if you've missed something, or if you've knocked your mountain of blocks down in one swoop.
Accept it, and begin again. Every mountain begins with just one block.
You've heard it before. You might have seen (or used!) the hashtag #BeHereNow. Maybe you have a T-shirt with that phrase written on it. Finding moments of pure presence is something we all strive for, isn't it?
(And forgive me for a longer email today... I'm in teacher training mode. Our YTT starts in just two weeks, and I geek out on stuff like this!)
I'm going to let you in on a secret: "Being fully present" to a yogi isn't the end-goal. Rather, it's the means to living an enlightened life... every single day, every single moment. Let me explain.
One of the most important bodies of work in the yogic tradition is Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. (His name is pronounced Pah-TAHN-jah-lee.) The sanskrit word Sutra can be thought of similar to our English word suture, which the internet says means "an immovable junction." And instead of referring to something medically related (as we would in English), the Yoga Sutras are the stepping stones for how to walk the yogic path, and they build on one another. Each sutra cannot exist without the sutra before it.
So it stands to reason that the first of 196 Yoga Sutras is the most important one: Atha yoga anushasanam. It translates to: Now, yoga begins.
And here, when Patanjali says "yoga," he doesn't just mean striking a warrior 2 or a down dog. Yoga — as Patanjali intends it — refers to a way of life that is all yoga. In fact, in the entire Yoga Sutras, he only mentions asana (meaning poses that we practice on our mat) three times! Thus, yoga truly is a non-dogmatic way of life we can all walk within ourselves, for ourselves, as part of this great collective consciousness.
Before my recent trip to India, I understood this first sutra... but I don't think I truly felt the depth of its power. My teacher, Anand Mehrotra describes this powerful NOW in a podcast I was listening to this morning, and I wanted to include a snippet for you. Anand says:
"You see, it all begins now. This is the most powerful moment that exists in time. For that's the only time you will ever experience: This moment, here and now. So if there has to be a beginning, it can only be now. Just like the wake of the ship; when you look behind the ship, you see the wake. But realize that the cause of that wake does not lie in the past. The cause of that wake is the ship in the present moment. It is THIS moment that is the cause of the past and the future. It is not the past which is the cause of this moment. You have to realize that. That it all begins now."
And that nugget about the past not causing this moment is HUGE! Let's read that again,
"It is not the past which is the cause of this moment."
How is that possible? Our lens.
We each have a lens that we're viewing the world through. An ever-changing lens, that can morph when you have an epiphany, or come to an understanding. Your entire worldview shifts. We even have a lens when we're clouded in a state of emotion, rather than a state of stillness.
Let's look at an example: Imagine people who were once proponents of smoking cigarettes. Today, we know this is wrong on many levels, and smoking is a direct cause of many aspects of dis-ease. But years ago, for many, smoking was the "now."
After we started understanding smoking was bad for our health, our lens changed. What once was right was now wrong. The fact of cigarette smoking happening didn't change... the idea ABOUT cigarettes changed. Thus, we can change our lens and thus, our view of past in the blink of an eye.
Or, for some, that lens is still in the process of changing over the course of many years, battling addiction, understanding, disease, and so on. For others, knowledge of the facts of smoking hasn't changed the lens at all; the smoking goes on.
Knowing that the past does not cause your now (remember the wake of the ship!), is it possible to — in the here and now — shift your lens and view moments in your life through a different lens? Even if your answer is no, I would encourage you to think instead: Not yet. And know that everything — even our shifting worldview — is happening in perfect time. Be gentle with yourself... and enjoy NOW!
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.