Here's an inspiring demonstration video by Certified Ashtanga yoga teacher, Mark Robberds from Australia. He'll be making his way to Stockholm for the first time this October to lead a four day Ashtanga yoga workshop. More details to come soon! Until then, enjoy the video.
Why does the soul not fly
when it hears the call?
Why does a fish, gasping on land,
but near the water,
not move back into the sea?
What keeps us from joining the dance
the dust particles do?
Look at their subtle motions
We are out of our cages
with our wings spread,
yet we do not lift off.
We keep collecting rocks and broken bits
of pottery like children
pretending they are merchants.
We should split the sack
of this culture
and stick our heads out.
Leave your childhood.
Reach your right hand up
and take this book from the air.
You do know right from left, don't you?
A voice speaks to your clarity.
Move into the moment of your death.
Consider what you truly want.
Now call out commands yourself.
You are the king. Phrase your question,
and expect the grace of an answer.
Thank you, Anna! xo
The Deepest Acceptance website
Jeff Foster website
Sitting in Discomfort
The deepest part of realization comes not from trying to become realized – for who would want that, or do it? – but from just sitting with discomfort, sitting with everything you’ve been trying to escape, without expectation, without a goal in mind.
They used to say, “follow your dreams”, “fulfill your destiny”, “achieve your life’s purpose”, “listen to your heart’s true desire”, “follow your passion”, and I never knew what the hell they meant.
So I compromised and settled for less than what was possible and worked in jobs where I felt half-alive and so, so far from the wonder of existence. Life and creativity and adventure and passion wanted to burst out of me, but I had no idea how to facilitate or release them, and besides, I was too terrified to unleash these energies lest they disrupt the status quo too much… or destroyed me completely.
I said to myself, “a life of adventure is not possible for little old me. I’m too introverted, too afraid, too weak, too ugly, not intelligent enough, not brave enough…”
I comforted myself with spiritual concepts like ‘there is no choice’, ‘all is One’, and ‘everything is predestined’ and lived each day waiting for the evenings, the ‘remains of the day’, when I could breathe again and be authentically myself for a few brief moments.
What was my destiny? What did my heart really want? What was my life’s purpose? Where was my passion? I didn’t know where to begin. Everyone else seemed to have answers, and I had none. What was wrong with me?
I felt numb and bored in my jobs, but at least I felt safe. I was hiding from possibility but at least money was coming in. I ‘fit in’, and I had a solid story about myself that I could regurgitate in polite conversation. But there was no risk in it. I was half dead, and only in my twenties. I often thought of suicide. At least then I’d feel alive, if only for a few moments.
What to do with this one precious, fleeting gift of life? That is the question. To be, or not to be, or to be but only half-heatedly, living out of the ‘shoulds’ of others?And the answer is simple, because life is short. Do whatever makes you feel passionately alive. Find a way – however much you have to struggle at first – of making a living from truly living. Honor your unique talents and abilities. Do what moves you and connects you to the deepest truth of yourself. Trust prosperity and passion over profit and comfort and the approval of others, because all the approval in the world is empty if it is for something your heart was never really in.
Breaking out of the known can be terrifying, and you may lose what you thought was yours, and your trusted images of yourself may melt in the fire of newness, and you may face fear and trembling, uncertainty and doubt, rejection and even ridicule. You may have to learn the hard way to open yourself up to more pain and life may become more uncomfortable than ever… that is, until you fall in love with the deep comfort of insecurity, and the security of doing what makes life worth living.
You will be swimming in the unknown, but you will be vast and alive. You will feel life running through your veins once again – as it did when you were young and you hadn’t yet settled for a life of compromise and clock watching and justifications for your quiet desperation – and you will channel this aliveness back into creation, and the cycle of prosperity will keep flowing, and yes, you may even make a good living, better than expected.
But however much money you make, or don’t make, you will be making a unique contribution to the world, doing something that nobody else can do, at least not in the same way as you, creating something original and fresh, giving something back to life, honoring your total uniqueness and your own talents, and so you won’t feel second hand, a slave to others, a piece of wood, and a deep trust of life may replace your fears of failure and poverty, and your cynicism and jealousy of others may die completely.
Sometimes you will doubt what you are doing, and you may romanticize the old days when things were easier and more predictable, but then you will suddenly remember that the old way was false and never worked for you and that’s why everything had to change.
Yes, it’s a risk to donate your life to what you love and what moves you and brings you joy, but I can only speak from experience and say that it’s absolutely worth it, because having a comfortable and predictable life pales in comparison to feeling deeply, passionately alive and meeting each new day with fresh eyes and an open heart.
If, many years ago, someone had told me that one day I’d be traveling the world, holding meetings and retreats, speaking my intimate truth in front of people I’d never met before, having published several books which had been translated into several languages, I would have laughed out loud – perhaps in disbelief, or perhaps out of the fear of the overwhelming vastness of life’s possibilities.
Honor this life that is trying to express itself in and as and through you. You are not nearly as limited as you may have been led to believe by those who have not yet come alive.
I really enjoyed this dialogue with Finnish, Ashtanga yoga senior teacher, Petri Raisanen. Since I live in Scandinavia I've had the pleasure of meeting and practicing with him on a number of occasions when he teaches in Stockholm twice a year. The talk goes into many various avenues such as traditional Finnish folk healing to of course the practice of Ashtanga yoga. This is a lengthy video but one worth watching when you can carve out the time.
You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and that is where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s plenty.”
(Courtney A. Walsh)
Thank you, Joanie! xo
Hello Spring!? With today marking the vernal equinox spring has a funny way of showing itself in Stockholm. Luckily, by the time I wrote this blog post my pictures weren't so accurate anymore. The snow has thus melted, but it did come down with a vengeance Wednesday evening leaving a beautiful scene in the city. It's easy to scoff at it when ready for warmer temperatures but the better of me had to admit there was something charming about it. At any rate, it didn't last long. March is the month where the two seasons battle it out. Hopefully winter will weaken its hold. We'll see. One may never know with how wacky the weather has been lately.
Wishing all of you best wishes as spring valiantly makes it's debut! Happy Vernal Equinox!
Last weekend I traveled to Athens, Greece for the second time conducting an Ashtanga yoga workshop. I loved the Greek people and the country before and this second time it only reaffirmed my experience and love for this amazing place. Of course the land is beautiful, but even more so are it's people. Warm, open, fun-loving, it really brought into perspective how important it is to look to the brighter side of life. A reminder we can all use from time to time.
The weekend went entirely too fast. As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun and on so many levels I did. Honestly however, sharing this practice no matter where I go is a blessing. Leaving Athens I felt as if my heart was bursting by the kindness, generosity and enthusiasm of the people there. It goes without saying, the practice has a way of connecting us together in way that goes deeper because we are actively discovering our higher nature. One that we all share.
Thank you House of Yoga!
A BIG thank you to Saavas and Sofia at House of Yoga!
Friend, from the very beginning, you were not broken.
You were not born into sin. You were not destined for the spiritual garbage heap. There was never anything fundamentally missing from your life.
You just thought that there was. Others tried to convince you that you were not good enough, because they too felt not good enough. In your innocence, and with no evidence to the contrary, you believed them. So you spent all those years trying to fix, purify and perfect yourself. You sought power, wealth, fame and even enlightenment to prove your worth as a ‘me’. You compared yourself to other versions of ‘me’, and always felt inferior or superior, and it all became so exhausting, trying to reach those unreachable goals, trying to live up to some image that you didn’t even fully believe in anyway, and you longed for the deep rest of yourself.
But you were always perfect, you see, from the very beginning. Perfect in your total imperfection. Your imperfections, your quirks, your flaws, your weirdnesses, your unique and irreplaceable flavours, were what made you so loveable, so human, so real, so relatable. Even in your imperfection, you were always a perfect expression of life, a beloved child of the universe, a complete work of art, unique in all the world and deserving of all the riches of life.
It was never about being a perfect ‘me’. It was always about being perfectly Here, perfectly yourself, in all your divine strangeness.
“Forget your perfect offering”, Leonard Cohen sings. “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
The one who makes you laugh until your stomach hurts and you snort like a pig is your guru.
The one who brings tears to your eyes, the one who makes you weep your secrets out, is your guru.
The one who challenges you, triggers old pain in you, makes you face your deepest fears and longings, helps you tell the truth, is your guru.
Every breath is your guru. Every beat of the heart. Every sound. The morning breeze caressing your cheek is your guru.
The car that won’t stop, the missed opportunity, the broken promise, the shattered glass, these are all your gurus.
The ones you love, the ones who frustrate you like anything, the ones who bore you to tears, the ones you don’t want to remember, they are your gurus too.
This entire life, so fleeting, so present, so rich with blessings, is your guru.
You can go seek your guru in an ashram in India, but the true ashram is where you stand.
You can go find your authority in a cave on a mountaintop, but, friend, if you look deeply into the present, you will find you are already there. Presence is closer than the next breath.
The Kingdom is spread out over the earth, waiting for open eyes.
There is no fixed path to enlightenment.
Enlightenment is not a goal, the resting place at the end of a long journey -that’s the mind’s version of enlightenment.
Enlightenment is the lighting up of where you are right now.
This is very good news. It means that nobody is the authority on your path – no teacher, no guru, no religious leader. It means that nobody can tell you the right ‘way’ for you. It means that you cannot go wrong, even if you think you’ve gone wrong. It means that nothing that happens can ever lead you off the path, for the path is whatever happens, without exception. Nothing can take you away from the miracle of life, or bring you closer to it for that matter, since the miracle is all around, already shining brightly, as every thought, sensation, image, feeling, smell, sound, and as the deeper miracle of the one who is aware of all of this.
Be the awareness, shining on the moment, whatever its contents. Doubt, fear, sadness, anger, intense confusion – maybe, just maybe, these are neither enemies nor blocks to enlightenment, but expressions of a deeper intelligence, the same incomprehensibly vast and awake intelligence that gives birth to stars and moves the ocean tides and sends each and every living thing off on its paradoxical journey towards its own being.
Come out of the story of time and space and progress towards a future goal, and trust a sacred moment. Take any moment. Any moment at all. This moment. For any moment is the access point.
There are never any blocks – only access points.
You are not some separate entity on a long journey towards a future completion.
You are pure poetry.
If offered a one way ticket to Mars would you go? I found this short film fascinating about those who would and their thoughts about it. With that being said, I'm happy to stay here on Earth. Nonetheless, I can't blame those who would want to discover the great beyond.
Here’s some very good news.
Right here, right now, in this moment, you don’t have to ‘figure out’ the rest of your life, no matter what anyone says.
You don’t need all the answers. They will come, in time, or not, or perhaps the unnecessary questions will fall away.
There is no rush. Life is not in a hurry. Be like the seasons. Winter is not trying to become summer. Spring does not rush towards autumn. The grass grows at its own pace.
The choices that will be made will be made, and you’ve no choice about that. The decisions that will happen will happen, events will unfold, but right now perhaps you don’t need to know the solutions or the outcomes or how best to proceed. Perhaps not knowing is a welcome guest at life’s banquet. Perhaps openness to possibility is a beloved friend. Perhaps even confusion can come to rest here.
And so, instead of trying to ‘fix’ our lives, instead of trying to neatly resolve the unresolveable and quickly complete the epic story of a fictitious ‘me’, we simply relax into utter not knowing, unravelling in the warm embrace of mystery, sinking deeply into the moment, savoring it fully, in all its uniqueness and wonder.
And then, perhaps without any effort, without any struggle or stress, without ‘you’ being involved at all, the true answers will emerge in their own sweet time.
Need a quick healthy fix? My favorite rice salad does the trick. A healthy, vegan meal that is light and at the same time satisfying as well as simple to prepare. As we are blessed with more light entering into March, it feels good to lighten things up and this does the trick! Bon appetit!
2/3 cup wild rice
1/3 cup brown rice
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 celery stalks
4 spring onions
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup cashews
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook both the wild rice and brown rice separately according to instructions.
2. Meanwhile, chop veggies, cranberries, and cashews to a consistent size (1 centimeter chunks). Put in large bowl, mix vinegar and olive oil.
3. When the rice is cooked, rinse in cold water and drain well. Add to bowl with the vegetables and dressing, salt and pepper to taste.
"Freedom is not necessarily exciting; it’s just free. Very peaceful and quiet, so very quiet. Of course, it is also filled with joy and wonder, but it is not what you imagine. It is much, much less. Many mistake the intoxicating power of otherworldly charisma for enlightenment. More often than not it is simply otherworldly, and not necessarily free or enlightened. In order to be truly free, you must desire to know the truth more than you want to feel good. Because if feeling good is your goal, then as soon as you feel better you will lose interest in what is true. This does not mean that feeling good or experiencing love and bliss is a bad thing. Given the choice, anyone would choose to feel bliss rather than sorrow. It simply means that if this desire to feel good is stronger than the yearning to see, know, and experience Truth, then this desire will always be distorting the perception of what is Real, while corrupting one’s deepest integrity."
February was an interesting month coming off our annual two month trip to Mysore, India. I had a few ups and down during our stay in Mysore but as always the daily practice was our rooting force and of course the primary reason for being there. I started to get an itch in my throat our last few days which inevitably turned into full blown flu when I arrived back home. On top of that a sore shoulder that has been off and on over the past 8 months. Practice in Mysore no doubt always holds a certain amount of intensity and this year was no different if not more so. My practice was epic, meaning long. No doubt extremely strength building both physically and mentally. When I arrived home the hammer fell and I was held at a stand still in terms of the momentum of practice acquired in Mysore, so I thought. Let's just say I was laid out, worse than I had been in years. No practice for nearly a week. Afterward it left my body feeling weak from days of fever and muscle aches.
Reacclimatizing from humid, warm weather to cold and dry, and coming back from flu the practice felt like I had to start from the beginning on a certain level, at least physically. Mentally what I found was the stability established from months of focused practice in Mysore still carried me even though the body wasn't quite there yet. Although, I can't say it felt like a honeymoon. For whatever reason it didn't feel like the body wanted to bounce back as quickly as I have experienced before. Humbling and one that takes attentive awareness around the rough edges. This go around it felt like there were more rough edges than usual.
On the flip side I've had more energy so it has been an interesting mix during the healing process. Sometimes things are unexplainable. One reason to keep the overall scope and perspective of the practice at heart. I've learned how detaching ourselves to how we felt for a period before or even the day before is important. Every day brings a new beginning. Every day there is something new to learn and discover. An unfolding that isn't always what we thought it would be or should be.
"To have genuine sincerity is absolutely necessary in the spiritual life. Sincerity encompasses the qualities of honesty, genuineness, and integrity. To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact, the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage. If we are constantly trying to hide from ourselves, we will never be able to awaken from our illusion of self."