Amma

 

Mata_Amritanandamayi

In morning

She rises

To the sound of water

 

In evening

Her repose

Is the clear light of day

 

(and

always always

the innumerable Hum:

of

I AM

flooding her brain)

 

 

One morning, though,

there will be no rising…

One morning, though,

No clear light of day.

 

One morning

One morning

Her children will instantly (somehow) know:

Ah, she has dropped the body.

Ah, the butterfly soul!

 

 

Oh dear sweet mother,

how long are your days with us?

Oh dear sweet Amma,

how long can your hands hold?

How to Use the Reiki Symbols Correctly

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When I first opened my Reiki studio, I believed that the Reiki symbols were tools for healing clients.

During my training, for example, my mentors had taught me that the purification symbol (Sei He Ki) was meant to be drawn atop a client’s body, helping them to detoxify their organs or cleanse “negative” energy from their aura.

As I continued my learning journey, however, I realized something extremely important.

Reiki symbols are meant to be used by the practitioner—for only the practitioner.

Reiki symbols are not meant to be used on/for other people.

Let me repeat that.

Reiki symbols are tools for healing the practitioner. Not the client.

How did I realize this insight?

I began to understand that how I view my client is vitally important to the amount of healing energy that flows through me.

Back when I began my practice, I had a lot of sadness when clients would come to me with their various woes. I showed sympathy, which may have soothed their egos…but, ultimately, my sessions were not that effective at a core, soul level.

Now when I work with clients in session, things are different. My objective is to see them in all of their Divine purity, strength, light, and perfection. My aim is to see them as already healed. As already brilliantly glowing with high-vibrational energy and free-flowing bliss.

I see what is underneath all the drama. I see my client’s soul.

To put it simply: their issue or “problem” does not exist to me.

This is compassion at the deepest level.

This is healing at the deepest level.

Of course, if my clients feel the need to voice their struggles or heartaches prior to the session—that is fine. I will listen with all my being. Yet, once a session begins, I become a pure channel for the energy and all their stories disappear. All their woes and disease vanish. When this energy is flowing, I see only a Divine Being in front of me, already whole and healthy.

I teach my Level 2 students that one of the most important things they can do during a session is to view their client as already perfectly healed. (Acknowledging during the session that there is anything imperfect about them is a subtle reinforcement of the reasons for them coming to the session in the first place.)

We, Reiki healers, are truly masters of manifestation! And we do this manifestation most strongly when we see others as already healed.

When working with another person (or animal, or plant, or whatever), I recommend you visualize their body as brilliantly radiating with golden light. Visualize them as happy, smiling, energized, joyful, blissful, free. Visualize their prosperity, with money in the bank and money overflowing their wallets. Visualize happy relationships for them. Visualize wisdom flowing to them from the Divine. Visualize them skipping through a field or running on a beach. Visualize them laughing with joy. Gaze at their face and see an angel. See the utter beauty in their ankles and toes and every strand of hair. Worship them as perfect.

In this fashion, we have no reason to use a purification symbol (or any other symbol) on them during a healing session. (Note: An attunement is a different story. If you are a Reiki Master giving attunements, yes you will of course place the symbols in your student’s aura. This is good.)

So, if we are not using the symbols on the clients, what exactly is going on during a session?

During the session, there are three main things that are happening:

  1. We simply enjoy viewing the client in all their majestic glory!
  2. We allow our ego to step back and allow the Light to effortlessly flow through us. We breathe, we are present, and we watch the wonders unfold as a witness.
  3. We monitor our own mental/emotional state and keep it as high-vibrational as possible by using the symbols on ourselves, as needed. For example, we would use the Cho Ku Rei when we are feeling a bit tired or doubtful. Or we would use the Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen to help facilitate connecting to the Light during a long-distance session.

The Reiki symbols are very good for helping us as practitioners to gain extra faith, clarity, power, peace, and relaxation.

They can be spontaneously used to center, ground, and focus our mind. They are wonderful for manifesting the internal states we desire during a session. When I use the Sei He Ki, for example, I choose to think of it as a relaxation technique, rather than thinking there is any “dark” or “negative” energy that needs to be purified.

Even if you were taught to use symbols on clients, it is very easy to make the switch.

It only took me a few weeks to get the hang of the new way—and now I cannot even imagine going back!

I see that my practice has gained tremendous strength since making this transition to using the symbols on only myself. I see more miracles. I feel more joyful and happy now that there is nothing “dark” or “ill” to release from my clients. I genuinely enjoy the process of healing sessions more.

And I am now, more than ever before, allowing the Divine to use me as a vessel where only the eyes of Love exist.

 

Funny Yoga

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Lately I’ve been reflecting on my yoga journey. I’ve come to some cool realizations.

One of the things I’ve realized is this: Yoga is always always awesome, but it can be even more awesome when we have wonderful teachers to guide us.

Today I’d like to tell you about one of my humble yoga guides.

Her name is Adriene.

(Note: In case you were wondering, this is not a paid endorsement; I am simply passing along my enthusiasm.)

 

YOGA WITH ADRIENE

On the spiritual path of yoga, it can be all-too-easy to fall into the trap of Mr. or Ms. Serious Pants. We can forget that the practice is meant to bring ease, joy, and even bliss.

During the past year, I’ve fallen absolutely in love with the Yoga with Adriene on Youtube.

What I love about Adriene is the incredible unique light she shines! She makes puns! She talks about farts! Her dog makes random cameos. Her wacky, oddball, irreverent brand of humor is perfect for me, making me laugh and helping me get out of my head.

When we are laughing, we simply cannot be stressed!

Laughter literally brings us right into the present moment.

I love Adriene. She is the Cosmic Clown in my living room, ready at a moment’s notice, helping me smile and breathe from one asana to the next.

For many years, I have tried many, many yoga teachers on Youtube, but have never found a teacher that really stuck with me. I always found in-person teachers far superior.

But now I am hooked on Adriene. I actually haven’t paid money to attend a yoga class in months.

Adriene’s become my yoga pal. Her adorable, encouraging voice is now permanently stuck in my head. “Find what feels good” is her mantra, and that is so wonderful for me, a person who has only recently learn to love her body after a long battle with trauma and chronic illness. For me, it’s imperative I find what feels good and to make my daily yoga “discipline” full of pleasure and lighthearted joy.

And I love Adriene for more than just her humor. Her routines are always unique, fresh, intuitive, and easy to follow. Furthermore, she is simply a master at perfectly describing body placement with her voice so her viewers can stay present with their bodies and keep their eyes off the screen. It’s wonderful. How online yoga should be.

Hands down, she is the best online teacher I’ve ever found. I would bet that someone with absolutely no yoga experience could watch one of her beginner classes and actually begin a solid home practice. (In fact, I invite my readers to watch one of her videos and tell me what you think in the comments below! I want to hear about your experience with Adriene!)

While my beautiful teacher doesn’t dive too deeply into the more esoteric aspects of yoga, such as Sanskrit, kundalini awakening, chakras, or spiritual enlightenment, what she does bring to the table is exactly what I need on those rather stressful days when I have accidentally become Ms. Serious Pants.

Her vibrant, fun energy is a perfect reminder for someone like me (who tends to take life wayyyyy too seriously) to Lighten Up!

Find what feels good!

Daily Miracles: “It will be okay”

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A few days ago, I was typing on my laptop while listening to Estas Tonne, my all-time favorite guitarist. I was feeling a bit stressed, a bit down.

Suddenly, I heard Estas whisper: “It will be okay.”

I stopped typing.

Huh??

What was that?

I’d listened to this particular song a million times before—and I’d never heard him say those words!

How odd!?

With butterflies in my heart, I stopped the track and rewound to twenty seconds earlier.

I listened for the words “it will be okay.”

I listened…

…and I rewound again.

They were not there.

The words were not there.

Sunshine Is on the Inside

inside!

When the sky is gray,
look inside.

When clouds cover the land,
Look inside.

No matter whether raindrops fall
or blizzards large and small—
Look inside.

There, there is where
you will find the sunshine.

Sunshine is on the inside.

Transcending Your Comfort Zone

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Comfort zones. We all have them.

A comfort zone is part of being human.

A comfort zone may last a few weeks or a few years. From a spiritual perspective, it is a plateau of evolution. A place where we feel stuck. Things feel slow, boring, blaaaa.

We know there is more—but what? When?

We know there is a beyond—but how to get there?

A comfort zone might be an addiction. An unhealthy eating habit. A pattern of wasting time and not going for our dreams. A relationship that no longer brings joy. A job that grimly “pays the bills.”

What is your comfort zone?

Spreading Our Wings

As we begin to walk the path of transcendence, let us consider a lesser-known definition of the word transcend.

To transcend means “to become independent of.”

What does it mean to be independent? Well, to become independent of something, we become free. We spread our wings and we fly away from the plateau, up up into the beautiful sky.

If you have found this article, then, chances are, you are ready. You are ready to transcend and find your freedom.

In my experience as a life coach, I have found that transcendence tends to occur in two major steps. Both steps are equally important to the process.

 

Becoming Free in 2 Steps

Step One: Ask the Divine for help.

 It takes humility to recognize that we, as humans, do not have complete control. One of the reasons why the AA program is so effective is because it begins with the basic premise that in order to transcend alcoholism, we must first ask God (or a higher power) for help.

Indeed, change does not happen without Divine intervention, aiding our efforts.

Make no mistake: every time something miraculous happens to someone, every time some great change or good fortune occurs, there is Divine assistance at play.

Our egos might want to resist this timeless wisdom, but if we can momentarily detach ourselves from our ego and simply feel with our hearts, the truth becomes clear.

It does take humility to admit we need help. This is not always easy. Nevertheless, once we can tap into that open space of humility, we open ourselves as a channel for the Divine to work miracles in our lives: to bring us the right people, resources, information, and energy that we need in order to transcend our comfort zone.

Do not skip ahead to the next step before asking for help! Most people skip ahead to step two without fully feeling step one.

Indeed, step one is vital! If we want to change, but do not humbly ask for assistance from the Divine, then the action that we take is often unfocused, ineffective, frustrating, or it may take incredibly large amounts of sheer willpower that may eventually drain us. We may even eventually quit, because we are burdened and exhausted by the heavy weight that comes with falsely believing that we are in 100% in control.

 

Step Two: Take Inspired Action

 Yes, my friend, you do have a huge part to play in your evolution. You must take action in order to succeed. You can’t simply stay in your pajamas all day, praying and begging God for a miracle.

However, the action you take must be inspired by the Divine.

What does this mean? Well, acting from a place of inspiration means becoming more and more in tune with our intuition. We must cultivate intuition in order to know which action is right action and which ideas are just a waste of our precious energy.

How do we cultivate greater levels of intuition?

The answer is simple. We meditate. We do yoga. We read spiritual books. We find spiritual community. We engage in spiritual practice. We turn off the TV and we get out into Nature. We turn off our phones and breathe. We slow down. We be.

As we cultivate greater levels of simplicity and calm through spiritual practice, our ability to tap into our intuition increases.

And through Divinely-guided intuition, we can know the precise action to take that is most efficient on our path of transcendence, out of the comfort zone.

By combining powerful action with humble recognition of the Divine powers that assist us, we become free. We move into a future that is more filled with light and joy. We shed the heavy burdens. And we see that being “stuck” was, ultimately, an illusion.

In truth, there is no stuck.

The Universe wants us to evolve.

The Universe wants us to grow.

And it will help us if we ask.

Open your heart. Cultivate a firm faith that the Universe has got your back. If you do these seemingly simple yet profound things, your evolution in this lifetime will be incredible.

Many blessings xo

 

Power in the Practice of Yoga

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I think about how we define yoga.

I think about what it means to say, “I do yoga.”

I think about it because I feel a conviction about re-choosing it before every practice in order to practice purposefully. And, more and more, I feel obligated to find authenticity in my practice and in myself.

 

Defining Yoga

If you open Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, you will find these words in Sutra 1.2: “Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah.” While the Sanskrit may seem complex, it actually helps us to define what yoga is.

There are several ways of translating this phrase, and yoga scholars toil over translating it precisely. Here is one way that I particularly like: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga” (Satchidananda, 2007, 3). In other words, through yoga we learn to manage stillness in the mind.

But achieving this stillness is no simple task.

Here in this post, I want to cast a light on yoga that illuminates its connection to power. Power has many meanings, but, simply, it is the ability to manage thought and behavior. Specifically, I want to discuss how, in mastering the fluctuations of the mind, we are facilitating and strengthening a flow of power within us.

To clarify, I am not referring to powerful control over others; rather, I am referring to the mastery of one’s own mind.

Why is it useful to have this discussion of yoga’s relationship to power? It is useful first because power is both elusive and necessary: it is difficult to define, and yet it is a force that we all need in order to move freely and kindly in our worlds. Secondly, it is useful because yoga may not only help us to recognize the presence of power that exists already—for it is often the realization that power is even present at all that is a first step in channeling it—but it may also help us to strengthen it in our lives.

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Power imagined

As an idea, power may be known to us by the dream of what we could do with it, or by how we feel “without” it. We may believe that power will help us to rise above or push through the difficulties of anxiety, chronic illness, conflict, unhappiness, or pain. In so doing, we may believe that it will bring us the energy, strength, motivation, or courage to negotiate those difficulties.

On the other hand, and rather than reaching for the dream of power, we may find ourselves feeling a deficit of power: downtrodden, weak, frightened, at the mercy of something else. In all of these aspects, we are right about how we imagine power.  For each of us as individuals, purposeful and nurturing power is both needed and deserved.

 

Power and protection

A few years ago, a friend asked me how I could possibly commit to practicing first thing in the morning every day. She said, “I would much rather just let my day unfold, to see what happens.” To her, I responded: “That is why I practice. I want to prepare myself for what might unfold.”

Before I began my journey with yoga, I had adapted over decades to awakening in fear and compulsion. It was a ritualistic stress inoculation that I developed as a small child in a stormy, inappropriate grown-up environment. My power took the form of a clenched-hearted surveillance: what could possibly happen today that I won’t expect? What mistakes might I make? How might I upset someone else, or become upset because of someone else? Whom might I disappoint? What if I become hungry? Or tired? Or confused? What if my world is unsafe today? My unending anxiety was a power-draining illness. It presented in my little body with physical symptoms, and it stayed up all night in my dreams.

Of course, we can get used to almost anything, and this form of power stayed with me for many years as if it were my own skin. To be sure, it consistently felt much more like prison than power.

 

Power re-imagined

As many do, I stumbled into yoga. And the shift was immediately palpable. Through yoga, I felt a quieting in the mind. Some days subtle, some days profound. Each day a relief. But also a fear: would this relief take away my power as I had known it? Would I become vulnerable without it? Could I even survive?

“The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” As Pattabhi Jois said, “Do your practice, and all is coming.” Over years, and with dedication to practice (a daily leap of faith), my power has been transformed. Indeed, it was a kind of power that gave strength to the vigilant fear-noise, the angst-ridden fluctuations of mind that aimed to protect me from what might happen. But the quieting of the mind has freed a dynamic flow of power that is composed of:

~the endurance I have always had and the fortitude I have built,

~the spirit I was born with and the wisdom I have developed, and

~the dream of self-love that has stayed with me and the realization of worth that has emerged over time.

In practice, power feels like breath, balance, courage, calm, strength, love, patience, acceptance. In my life off the mat, power is a graceful presence that weaves together the mind, body, and spirit into something not needful, but rather abundant and authentic.

In as much as it is these things, it is also—always—the relief of that hypervigilance that I remember viscerally. Sometimes it feels like floating in the absence of anxiety. And it takes some time to realize that the floating is not vulnerability, but power.

 

Power manifested in practice

Yoga allows us to sense power in multiple forms. Maybe it manifests itself as the audible, palpable release of breath through discomfort, whether it be in the physical body or deep within the emotional or spiritual realm. Perhaps, while we struggle with feeling overtaken by chronic illness, our practice reveals to us a power to maintain strength or comfort or even resilience in the body.

At other times, power manifests as a kind of will, as in a challenging pose: the body wrestles with fear or memory, but the will convinces the fear to abate. Sometimes, power manifests as a peaceful overthrowing of accumulating anxiety: the storm of anxiety rages, but peace floods in and reigns over it with calm.

Or, the presence of power can be as simple (and as challenging) as finding the strength to pull oneself out of bed, into the uncertainty of the day, and onto the mat. To be sure, many days of early morning Ashtanga practice have begun that way for me: on those days, it is enough just to find the ability to push through the morning melancholy and aching desire to hide from myself, in order to find my feet standing in Samasthitihi. Sometimes, I don’t know quite how I got there at the top of my mat, other than to trust that I must have transitioned from bed to mat by a gentle power that I have cultivated over time.

All the while on this journey, the memories of transformation remain steadfast and continue to accumulate. Perhaps they do for you, too. This presence of power—still fleeting—can itself be a reminder of the difficulties we have experienced, and might still be experiencing. Why didn’t I discover yoga as a child? Where was this power when I needed it? And worst of all: what if this power goes away? Although the anxiety is painful to remember, painful to process, yoga is there for us to take its shape in the body and find the breath.

And as we transform, we can hold our memories with some warmth when we consider the wise words of Richard Freeman, who has said, “Yoga ruins your life.”

It does. It ruins it beautifully.

 

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Rebecca Ingalls, Ph.D., BSN, RN, is a former Associate Professor of English, and is now a registered nurse and a nurse-midwifery student. She is a mother of two, and she has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for nine years. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.

See You Later, Summer

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Fall has always been a very challenging time of year for me. I routinely joke with friends that I was “born in the wrong place.” For my particular body type, eighty-five or even ninety degrees Fahrenheit feels just right. So, in northern Ohio where I live, when the temps begin to drop in autumn, it’s challenging to stay Present with all the different sensations in my physical form.

As I watch the trees shift from green to yellow to brown, there is often a feeling of dread. I watch, day by day, as the grass dries, the flowers curl and blow away, and there are fewer and fewer children playing outside in the park near my home.

Each year at this time, the courage within me must rise again. I must find it within me to accept the choice that I have made to remain living here and not move south (there are many good reasons). I must find it within me to bade farewell to the beauty and the comfort of summer. I must breathe deep and find, somehow, the gratitude for life that lies within me.

As a friend of mine, Unity minister Claudia Tambur, writes in her recent blog: “Now is not the time to cling to what has been.”

Indeed. Now is not the time to cling. Not the time to look back.

Now is not the time for allowing the old paradigms of sadness and grief to overwhelm and engulf the heart. Now is not the time for fear.

Instead, what is called for now—for me and for all us who are facing challenging life circumstances—is a gentle letting go. A feeling of gratitude for what is passing. And a feeling of trust that the future is, indeed, going to be wonderful.

I am reminded of a Native American tribe, The Lakota. They do not have a word in their language that means “goodbye.” Instead, the tribe uses “toksa,” a term meaning “see you later” or “see you next time.”

The Lakota remind us that there will always be a next time, whether in this lifetime or the next.

There will always be another summer.

It may be easy to forget the Truth, in this dense world of appearances…but the Truth remains the Truth: We are infinite, immortal consciousness. We are light.

We are souls, temporarily inhabiting a body, a form.

We die, and then we are reborn. We love, and then we let go.

We spin and spin, on this wondrous cycle of life.

As we each take a moment to usher in the fall season this year, let us bow our heads and say, “Thank you.”

Let us not say goodbye…let us say “toksa.”

Let us smile, even at the dying leaves.