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This Is Where We Learn to Trust

This article was first published by Vira Bhava Yoga 

The day after I returned from India, I received a text from a good friend of mine who had been in the jungle of Colombia on a vision quest. It said simply, “can you talk soon, I’m feeling like its important to touch base,” even though both he and I recognized that our profound experiences needed time to be assimilated and integrated before we could share them. But, even in knowing this, he was insistent. “Actually, can you talk now?” And as soon as I said yes, the phone rang. Our conversation was brief but profound. He acknowledged that we weren’t ready to share the details of our experiences, but there was a wisdom that he encountered on the mountain that felt urgent. He said, “The tita (shaman) told me something that I know is true for you too, and I need to share it right now.” He said, “Kel, our religion is trust.”  

We exchanged maybe 10 words after that and hung up the phone. Now less than two months later, we are standing in the middle of the biggest test of trust that we can imagine. In the days and weeks that have followed that conversation, I have been sinking deeper and deeper into that reflection. Rather than moving out in reaction to the immensity of the global crisis at our door, I’ve found myself moving more deeply inward. The world as we know it is crumbling. Our illusions and identities are being challenged to say the least, and our ideas of safety and comfort, of being in control are shattering. So now what?? Do we move on the tide of fear, or slip into the current of trust? Can we release the idea that we are (or were ever) in control, and be present for what is happening? Can we be guided by new notions of what is real and important? What would happen if we release the requirement that the external world is the measure of our safety and security, and move inward to find what is real? What if the whole world learned to listen to the soft and quiet whisper of our hearts, and heed it’s requests. This might just be bigger than us. Bigger than doctors or healthcare systems, bigger than governments or elections.  This might be bigger than conflicts and solutions. What would it take to change our world, truly? I think we are in the middle of finding out. 

Maybe you’ve been one of the ones striving to make a difference, to change the systems, to dismantle the patriarchy. So I ask you, what if this is what success looks like? What if we are standing at the precipice of the “new” world that we’ve been so diligently trying to coax into being?  What if the “new” world is NOT simply a fixed and repaired version of the old one? What if no election, act, or law can bring the change we desire, no amount of success or effort or investment can actually bring about the safety we seek?  What if THIS is it?  A terrifying experience which is bringing us all onto the same team, demanding that we step back from the constant pursuit of happiness and SEE what we have right in front of us.  An invitation to value the lives we have created and cultivated.  An opportunity to STOP or at the very least SLOW DOWN and re-evaluate. It’s true that some things won’t survive, that even with the best intentions, businesses might close, systems might fail, we might lose things, we might lose people. If we are truly committed to a better world, accepting these truths is primary, and feels very lonely and scary. And this, this is where we must remember. This is where we build the container that can hold both doubt and hope. THIS IS WHERE WE LEARN TO TRUST.  Not in the ease, the beauty, or even the battle or fight, trust emerges from the depths of surrender. So the invitation couldn’t be more clear. At this time of urgent and cataclysmic change, will we find the courage to let go of what was and enter the mystery of the unknown?

We have an opportunity right now to live into that change, not resist it. To loosen the grip on what we thought we depended on, and begin to take rest in uncertainty. What if our world will NEVER be the same? Will we fight to maintain the past, to rebuild the failing structures and systems, to turn a blind eye to all that is being brought forth at this time? If we are thinking about how things will go back to “normal” after this time of fear and isolation is over, we might be wrong. Moving into the time of the light doesn’t just mean bringing everything out of the shadows, it means actively engaging in the process of keeping it in the light. The world is ripe for change.  Everyone on every side of the fence or aisle is frustrated, angered by the state of the world, distrustful, afraid. And now, we have been offered something that is out of our control to help us remember what is real, what is true, what is meaningful. Will we cower in fear, hide and retract, will we divide and blame, or will we rise, find new ways to band together and support each other? Can we become the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible?

These are radical times, many are saying unprecedented. We are being called to let go of our illusions, release our misunderstandings, and learn to trust the ground on which we stand. Learn to love, cultivate real and meaningful connection, return to a sense of what is essential and lasting. Make love, laugh, dance. Trust our hearts to guide us, challenge ourselves to move into the discomfort of the situations at hand. Stretch the lens of our own perceptions, and surrender the attachment to control. Can we find refuge in the real, the here and now, and stop hiding and running? Can we defy the endless striving and arrive where we are?  The world has caught up to us, what will we do with it? The challenge now is to explore TRUST with a force that is as unprecedented as the times in which we are living. Dare to discover the place that can hold our fears and doubts alongside the power of our desires and dreams. Enter into the scary places willingly and without expectation, and see what we find. There is no better time than NOW to try. NOW might be all we have. 

 

 

 

 

This article was written by Kelly Golden, the founder of Vira Bhava Yoga. These times of uncertainty are strengthening our practices, our commitments, and our TRUST. We truly believe in what we practice, and we are ready to offer it from an unwavering desire to share the tools that support us in the chaos of the unanswerable questions, the fears, and the insecurities, and may be able to support you too. Though we cannot predict how things will evolve, we have spent the last year moving our programs onto a digital format, which means we are ready to meet you where you are at. We have been training mentors to meet students virtually, and provide support in times of struggle. We have created an online “studio” where we are collecting practices from Vira Bhava Yoga teachers across the country to provide support and steadiness when you feel wobbly. We have opened access to our much of our online content (via the website and Facebook), and are prepared to move our in-person trainings to a virtual format if necessary. We are equipped and ready, and truly believe that this work is more important now than it has perhaps ever been. We are living experiments of the teachings of Tantra, and are finding the ways in which these teachings and practices support us on every level. We want to share them with you. If you are ready to try something different, to trust beyond the tangible, to dive headlong into the unknown to seek the truth, you’re in the right place. At Vira Bhava Yoga, our religion is trust. We commit to elevating our practices, cultivating steadiness, and leaning into trust for ourselves and for you. So, if you need something or someone to lean into, we are here for you.

 

Discovering the Self Through the Breath in Mysore

I was in Mysore, India, for a month studying with Saraswathi Jois, Guriji’s daughter. I found myself full of emotions, thoughts, feelings. Mainly, my heart was full of gratitude. Below are some of the reflections I wrote down while I was there.

First of all, the breath.

The breath is a powerful and inspiring tool for grounding, discovering the self, exploration, and trust. In our daily life, we rarely pay attention to our breath. Yet, it is there, happening as an unconscious miracle, every day.

In our yoga practice, the breath is also there, just happening. It persists with unrelenting tirelessness. The practice gives us a chance to become familiar with it, to look closely at our inhalation and exhalation, to listen to the sound of our own personal breath.

Through the practice, we learn that a long deep breath gives us more stability, sense of grounding and introspection. A shallow breath may, instead, be the expression of an unfocused mind, a sense of impatience, or of a physical/mental tension.

During the practice, with every single inhalation and exhalation, we are given a possibility for self-exploration. Why is my breath shallow today? What are the thoughts coming up in my mind? What are the physical and mental tensions I am carrying with me on the yoga mat? What prevents me from being totally focused and grounded in my yoga practice today?

By simply asking these questions and observing the feelings (and answers!) that might arise – without bringing in any form of judgement or any intellectual reasonings – we undertake a journey of self-discovery, through the breath.

The mind is there, ready for judging whatever arises. Our inner “enemies” (competition, anger, fear, and so on) are also there, ready to take control. Yet, our challenge is to maintain an observer’s disposition, acknowledging with gratitude and acceptance whatever arises.

If tension or discomfort arises, we can consciously decide to change our breath and make it deeper, longer and steadier, contracting the glottis to produce a gentle sound of ocean. Through the breath, we instill in ourselves a sense of grounding and focusing.

We learn that the breath is there to help us be present. We experience that, in the moment we intentionally decide to breathe deeply and steadily, this will change our practice and our focus.

The presence of the breath as a tool for self-exploration is available in each posture. Every inhalation gives us a possibility to go inwards, to notice our personal “reaction” to the posture. How is our body in that asana? How is our mind? Any specific emotions arising? Any tension? Every inhalation gives us also a new chance for further lengthening, opening, twisting, folding, so we can reach – even with just one more inch – a totally new different space of self-exploration.

And then, the beautiful miracle of the exhalation comes, reminding us to let go of whatever we encountered, to simply acknowledge, with a sense of acceptance and gratitude, whatever was there in our path, present in that specific moment. What is coming up to the surface is most probably what we have to work on. Observing, acknowledging and accepting it, is the very first step for “progressing” in our spiritual path towards the discovery of the Self.

Finally, the breath leads each single movement throughout our yoga practice. When the inhalation begins, we open, we lengthen, we rise, at the pace of our breath, with a sense of being fully present in the moment. At the exhalation, we fold, we twist, we release. How reassuring and calming it is to wait until the very end of the inhalation/exhalation before changing posture, with no rush, no impatience. How beautiful it is to embrace the magic of the moment in between the inhalation and the exhalation and vice versa. A moment of quietness, when we are completely confident that the next inhalation/exhalation is there, about to happen. With no rush, we follow the dance of the breath with trust and patience.

 

Valeria is a freelance consultant in gender and international development, a yoga teacher and practitioner. She has travelled to and lived in several countries. She strongly believes in the power of yoga to empower communities and to inspire social change.

Trust Your Process

After a pretty sleepy December we’ve finally started to see some solid surf strolling through this little corner of Rincon, Puerto Rico. Tres Palmas woke up, and from the 413 just above the cow fields people stopped their cars and whipped out their iPhones to take witness of the beautiful, blue mountains of water rolling across the sea (and I only say this because I did it, too). It was simply majestic and something that this surf town hasn’t seen in a little while.

Over the past year I’ve noticed an urge to get out into some bigger waves. As my surfing armbalanceworkshopis improving and my confidence getting stronger I’ve felt a desire to start pushing my limits, mindfully that is… but surfing bigger, heavier waves is something I thought I’d never want to do. And now it’s actually starting to feel more like a reality. It’s kind of a personal thing, I guess. Because surfing has been and always will be for fun. But I’m ready for it, I think, and sometimes it feels good to really see some growth and transformation, ya know?

Anyways, I got out there a couple of times. I managed to catch a few smaller waves, and I took a few on the head as well. I experienced fear, elation, frustration, and anxiety. I was humbled. And I didn’t even paddle out on the “big day,” because I was flat out scared shitless. And you know what I did? I beat myself up for it. Thoughts like, “You should have been out there. You’re such a wimp. You’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough,” started pouring through my mind. I was super harsh towards myself. And I caught myself getting sucked into the vortex of negative energy and limiting beliefs.

I wasn’t practicing the one thing that I always preach – and that was compassion.

Just as I’ve learned compassion towards myself on my yoga mat, I must apply that same compassion towards myself in every other area of my life – surfing, work, teaching, relationships, – and just as I couldn’t expect myself to nail Crow Pose during my first-ever yoga class, I can’t expect myself to be an expert in bigger, heavier surf within just a few sessions.

Compassion reminds us that we must place our trust in the process and allow our journey to unfold exactly as it should. Not how we think it should. Because really, in yogaseq2 or surfing or life, what is the final destination? Well in life I guess it’s death, but there is really no prize for being the first one there. So as long as you’re kicking there is always an opportunity to expand – to go bigger or deeper or further. There is always room for growth.

But there’s no finish line. So why rush?

This awareness of a need to prove myself, or prove my self-worth, through big wave surfing, seems to shine a light on where I am trying to prove myself in other areas of my life. I want to be the best surfer that I can be. I want to be the best yogi I can be. I want to be the best yoga teacher. I want to be successful and well-liked and always going 110%, full-throttle every single day. But that’s not always the case, because life is life. It has its ups and downs, flat spells and mackin’ swells that come through and rattle you, shake you up a little bit… So whether it’s my surfing, my teaching, my personal yoga practice, or my relationships with others I’ve committed to returning to the practice of trusting MY process: slowing down, doing the work that I need to do, letting go of the rest, and just enjoying the journey that I’m on.

When we trust the process, our process, we know that we are on our right path. Enjoy the place you are at, because it’s exactly where you need to be. Trust that growth and transformation is happening, especially during the times that you don’t see it. Because it’s there. It’s happening. And when we let go of our story as to how the end result show be, that’s when we usually end up surprising ourselves. Trust YOUR Process!

 

 

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Caitlin Lawson: Professional Surf Bum. Yogi. Teacher. Student. Ambassador of Love. Usually a little sunburnt, always salty, and currently living in Rincon, Puerto Rico. I love this island. The ocean keeps me grounded and I can never turn down a good adventure.

 

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Trust the Universe and Go for it!

If you are entertaining the idea of traveling and teaching yoga, let me be the first to say,

“Go! Do it! Trust the universe and go for it!” 

For some it seems to not be a question of concern as to whether or not they should embark on a journey of teaching yoga around the world, and for others it takes a bit of prodding and pushing out of their comfort zone. Take a wild guess which mind frame I was in. Yes, you guessed it! I was extremely comfortable in a job that I didn’t truly enjoy, yet I had just completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and felt a bit stuck in my comfort zone. Gratefully, the universe was working in my favor to manifest my desires to explore the world while teaching yoga.

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Fast forward two an a half years later. Here I am in Guatemala at The Yoga Forest, a beautiful sustainable living resort on Lake Atitlan in San Marcos as the resident yoga teacher, happy to be teaching yoga in a beautiful space with amazing visitors at every turn. Getting out of your comfort zone is not always easy but it is worth taking the leap.

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Follow your heart and the road will truly rise to meet you!

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Shamika believes practice is the key to improvement and transformation. Shamika’s optimistic attitude, adventurous spirit, and nurturing qualities assist her as a teacher that can relate to her students on a soul level.

Facebook: Yoga with Shamika

I Believe In Mermaids

I took this picture quite a while ago, at the beach where I grew up. When I was a little girl, my mom always took my sister and me to the beach and we would see this mermaid engraved in a rock, right at the water. It has something beautifully mysterious, peaceful and a sense of freedom to me. Especially because my sister and I would pretend to be a mermaid and swim through the ocean with our feet crossed over, pretending to have a tail and thinking one day we will be able to breathe under the water.

I still believe in mermaids. I was convinced one day I will meet one and she will teach me how to be a mermaid and then I will be able to live in the ocean with her….When we are young, we believed in everything that our mind told us but when we grow up, reality checks in on us and we get to realize that the truth is rarely pure and never simple.We stop believing in mermaids, unicorns, fairies and that there is a treasure at the end of the rainbow. We get older and realize that parents don’t know every answer to our questions (although they still try) and that some people can be mean, unfair, use you and will hurt you at some point. This is the moment in our lifes, we stop believing. We get distrustful, build up doubts and fears and once in a while lose hope in ourselves and our goals. We stop believing in good things happening to us.

Why? Why do we get so fragile and insecure when all that the universe wants for us is to be happy? You can’t blame anyone for your mindset but yourself. Your brain is a such powerful tool and we never stop comparing us towards others. We always want more until enough is never enough. Stop this. Stop it right now. Why would you not have the right to live a happy, successful life, full of possibilities and positivity? Why? There is no reason! Don’t stop thinking big. Do think BIG! Have dreams, be creative, let your mind go crazy with them and let your brain be unlimited into believing you can go further. Trust your instinct and only because the success isn’t spoon fed to you by a teacher or exam, it doesn’t mean you won’t get there because once you actually, with all your heart, start believing in yourself and your abilities, step by step you will get there and you will look back onto your path and realized how easily society can brainwash you into thinking your not worth it.

Yes, you will get hurt and yes, someone will probably break your heart at least once and yes, maybe someone will try and pull you down or stop you from doing what your instinct told you and be so mean that you reallydsc_1790 start doubting yourself again all over, but don’t ever, ever, ever stop believing in mermaids, unicorns, fairies and treasures at the end of rainbows.

Danae Borsani a German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate blogger (soulseekergirl.com) about what she does best; The Art of Food, Fashion, Travel, and Health. She inspires her readers towards a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.