New Year's Reflections ~ Staying centered in the midst of personal, national, and global instability and change
December 31, 2018
As we stand on the threshold of a New Year, a government shut down sends its shadow over this country along with the worst economic December since the great depression. Top-level officials are bailing out of what they see as a “sinking governmental ship," commandeered by a leader known to be lacking in discernment, morality, integrity, and compassion. The dawn of a new cold war looms with a new age arms race of hypersonic missiles, while outdated policies on southern borders still divide families seeking asylum.
Many Yoga teachers and students are expressing anger and rage at decisions being made by elected leaders that are divisively impacting people of this nation as never before.
Unless we live in a remote cave in the high Himalayas, the atmosphere around us is influencing our personal thinking and feelings. We take it on! However, just as the collective atmosphere of volatile emotions and fear can negatively impact us, Yoga can reverse this. Regardless of what appears to be chaos and confusion, if we hold the remembrance of the Universal that transcends all polarities, we can beneficially influence the atmosphere around us.
This time of year is a wonderful reminder that Love is greater than anger, and forgiveness is greater than them all. The New Year is a wonderful time to re-evaluate our emotional environment to stay centered in the midst of personal, national, and global instability and change.
How do we do that?
1. Take a media fast now and then, without the Ostrich mentality of totally burying your head in the sand.
2. When knots of anger and injustice gather in your solar plexus do a backbend over a chair, elongating the lumbar spine to stretch and relax the navel center. You will feel a release of emotional buildup that can coagulate in the midsection of the body. Keep extending the spine on each exhalation while keeping the navel passive.
3. Yoga teaches us bilateral balance of the body. Do the same with mind and emotions. Listen to opposing points of view while securely being established in your own. We can develop this by practicing tadasana, the Mountain Pose. The Mountain is known as the central axis of creation and is the central core of all standing poses. As a mountain, we caress the earth with our feet to rise up from the shadows of the valleys to sunlit peaks of consciousness. On the top of the mountain, we can expand our consciousness by seeing what we couldn’t see before. In tadasana, we also learn to stand equally on both feet to balance right and left hemispheres of the brain.
4. Develop the ability to hold two or more opposing viewpoints simultaneously without making one right and the other wrong.
5. Attempt to stay in the Buddhi, or over-mind consciousness by perceiving differences without comparing those differences. Ram Das calls this “choiceless awareness.”
6. Explore fear of the unknown through asana. Practice postures that you have been avoiding and reflect on how this may relate to people and situations in your life.
7. Practice new variations of basic asanas. By venturing into the unknown through exploration of ever-new variations in asana, we can break free of past fears and limitations. When we expand our comfort zones, we in turn expand the periphery of consciousness.
8. Elongate and stretch, moving in and out of the poses only with the breath…preferably the exhalation. As commentaries on the sutras say, “It is through the exhalation that the ego disentangles itself.” The ego perceives separation, not unification. If we move into asana with the exhalation, we move in an egoless state where we do not DO the pose but the pose is done through us. This can bring us into a state of transcendental awareness giving a deep sense of serenity and peace.
9. Meditate and chant AUM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. This is a powerful Sanskrit mantra that invokes the vibration of the universal consciousness through its six syllables:
i) A and Ah represent the beginning sounds of creation. This is the sound that symbolizes Brahma, the creator, who was born out of the lotus stalk of the sleeping Vishnu’s navel.
ii) The second syllable of AUM is U and OO, the vibratory symbol of Vishnu the lord of preservation. In Hindu mythology, this is the energy that sustains the planetary body. It manifests in our body as the beat of our heart, the rhythm of our lungs, and all systems that maintain the life force.
iii) The third letter of AUM is M where the closure of the lips produces the humming sound of mmmm. This represents the end of a cycle not just of Aum but of creation. It represents Shiva, the lord of dissolution, destruction and transformation. This mythological God, is the universal energy that destroys old structures so the new can be born. This may be what we are witnessing in our country and our world.
At the end of the M when the mouth barely begins to open the sound is mng where the top (not tip) of the tongue presses against the cerebral pallet to vibrate the uppermost chakra in the crown of the head. The mouth then opens to make the sound of A… a new cycle, a new beginning, a new era. This A could actually represent…a New Year.
Note: There is a 7th syllable of AUM that is silence where the sound sent out eventually returns.
Shanti means peace and is so powerful for healing. The first Shanti is personal. It sends the vibration of peace to our body, mind, emotions, and soul. It encases our Being with an aura of peace regardless of life’s challenges and health concerns.
The second Shanti sends the vibration of peace and love that encompasses all those within our life. It embraces our families, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and especially those with whom there have been difficulties and challenges. This vibration helps heal our own heart from any past hurts that have been knowingly or unknowingly caused by others. It also helps heal the wounds we may have knowingly and unknowingly inflicted on others.
The third time, Shanti is the peace that radiates out from the central core of our Being. It crosses all illusory boundaries that separate nations, states, and people. It transcends race, religion, ideologies, and political belief systems to embrace all Beings as brothers and sisters of the One Humanity. This Shanti holds all sentient and insentient Beings within the light of Universal consciousness honoring differences as well as commonalities. This brings us to the vast storehouse of the Peace that already is, where Peace is not just a state of doing…it is a state of BEING
May this New Year bring you inner peace and happiness in the remembrance that you have never been separated, and are already One with the Divine Source of all creation.
Love and Blessings to you all. Rama Jyoti