Meditate and love!

Is this the time of year in which you tend to think about love and romance and make effort to be more loving towards yourself and others? YES! Valentine’s is coming!

As you are reading this, I am enjoying most beautiful island of Bali with my husband and son. It is easier to feel loving and lovable when in the mood for holiday and surrounded by the beauty of nature. What about everyday life?
Sometimes I feel angry or powerless as things get out of control, or I might feel burdened by many responsibilities, or usual routine makes my life feel dull… Under these circumstances can I still feel IN LOVE with myself, my husband, my son, life itself? I say YES! and practicing yoga is my answer. Right, yoga is my answer for most of my questions (as it really does work!).
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When yoga is approached as a practice to deepen awareness, it helps to cultivate the skill for self-compassion and love which is especially useful when your life has become out of alignment. And the practice could be very simple – just feeling your body. Do you know that your body speaks your mind? Your body is a barometer of what’s really happening in your mind and in your life. Breathe deeply and notice how your body feels today. Where do you feel tightness? Any discomfort anywhere? Just bringing awareness to some place in your body stimulates the flow of vital energy to this place. It might intensify your sensations at first but if you keep your calm focus and deep breath, the physical discomfort will gradually disappear and it will release some mental pressure too! This is a practice I’ve been doing more than any other ones since my son was born. The reason is simple – it’s very effective in relaxing the body and mind and I can do it pretty much any time, even while simultaneously taking care of my baby. In this case I choose a smaller area to concentrate on – say, my feet if I’m walking, or my hands if I’m cutting veggies.

Since we talk about it before the Valentine’s day, I suggest you concentrate on feeling your chest and your heart area. Is your heart cold or warm? Open or closed? Soft or hard? Really feel into it. And stay with whatever comes up for you for some time. Keep choosing feeling instead of thinking. Don’t let your mind interfere. Then start exhaling anything that doesn’t serve you anymore. Empty it all out. Create some renewed space in your heart. As the next step, allow your breath get deeper and start inhaling love. Feel warm smooth soft sensations filling in your heart. And feel the well of love which is always in your heart pouring out. You ARE love. That’s what your deeper self is. Just pure love. Once you feel you’ve had enough, finish the practice with sending love, blessings and warm wishes of happiness to your loved ones and all beings. Repeat daily or as often as possible. I hope you will try this meditation for yourself, and will like it as much as I do.
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It’s important to learn to nourish our deeper self first, to feel love, to be love. Only then we can share it with others. It is also great to stay open to the love that surrounds us. You might be surprised at how much you are given when your heart and mind stays open. Giving and receiving freely is so much fun! As you learn connecting to your heart and your true real self – LOVE, you will find it much easier to stay connected and loving to others.

HAPPY VALENTINE’s DAY!

Zoya at http://www.zoyayoga.com

Yoga, love and motherhood.

There were three major events in my adult life that directed me to the spiritual path and shaped my personality and life. First was yoga. It has slowly and gradually transformed my body – relieving physical pain and ailments, then my mind – removing emotional garbage and revealing the bliss of mental peace under the constant chatter, and eventually, my soul – allowing for deep connection to the purpose of my life and my higher self. I’m, of course, not talking about yoga as only practice of poses but yoga in its deepest meaning of Union with its meditative experiences, the feeling of the energetic body and its currents, and ultimately as a conscious way of life.
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The second transformation has started when I fell in love – a true love that has been removing the edges of my ego and opening countless opportunities for self-reflection and self-growth. This real love has been showing like in a mirror my ugliest angles in order to remake them through presence and awareness. Becoming ONE with my husband has been a truly transformational experience as it gives no choice but to allow, embrace, forgive, and savour each moment whether it’s bitter or sweet.

The last and the most recent biggest change was brought to me through the amazing journey of motherhood: calling for a soul, embodying it, giving birth to it and now taking care of the new human being I call “my son”. To know by experience what unconditional love means, one must become a sage or a parent. The latter could be easier but for me it’s connected to a huge responsibility to be the best person I’ve ever could. What can be a better opportunity for self-improvement then knowing that the little person you love the most in your life will copy everything in you including your worst unconscious patterns? Along my teaching and coaching past I’ve met way too many people with pains and problems all rooted in their childhood. Will I exaggerate saying that 99% of all problems are related to our relationship to our parents? The desire to bring up a healthy and wholesome being simply forces a loving parent to become a better person. It’s still a very new adventure for me but my son Veda has been the greatest teacher I’ve ever had. The spiritual potential that parenthood withholds is amazing. And I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming on the next page of my story.
Life is beautiful! I’m so grateful for it all!

Love and the Ego

Love… this word has been used (and misused) for so long, and people define it in so many different ways, including into the definition a wide range of emotions that includes anything from pleasure and bliss to pain and suffering.

I think it’s interesting to look at how the same idea is expressed in different languages. I like referring to Sanskrit as it presents greater depth of meaning and precision. In Sanskrit there are three different words that we can translate as «love»: kama, prema and bhakti. Kama is love that is based on sexual attraction and lust, and associates with physical craving. Prema is conventional love, which is pure enough not to be counted as kama but yet not selfless to get to the next stage, it will involve emotional craving. Bhakti is the highest form of love, unconditional and infinite, and it is commonly linked to devotion and surrender to the Divine.

It’s important to understand on what type/stage of love a relationship is being based. If we talk about kama, then obviously there is no way the ego can be out of the game. It’s all about satisfying one’s desire. In this type of relationship one can’t find peace and contentment, the ego just won’t let it happen.

In case of Prema, there is deep emotional connection, to the degree when one’s heart sings «I can’t live without you». However, it also operates from the ego platform. That «I can’t live without you» usually is followed with «You can never leave me» or «Don’t you dare treat me like this» (read «you must satisfy ME»). Even if one decides to be loving and compassionate, and to do all possible to serve her/his partner, it’s often just a trick of the ego to get pumped up with «I’m so selfless, I’m so good», and it eventually (if not at once) will get followed by «and you… how could you…» (again, «you must satisfy ME»). This type of relationship also brings lots of suffering as the ego can never get enough, and nothing is permanent, all is bound to constant change and the final ending at one point.

Now, Bhakti… What is this unconditional love that can last forever? As the only thing that never dies is our Soul, Bhakti is love at the Soul level. To get THIS high, we must start seeing our partner as the Soul, the Divine Self, the Cosmic Consciousness (put any other name for the Highest Self to suit your cultural background and beliefs). If there was GOD (again, use any other word if this doesn’t appeal) in front of you, would you make that negative remark, would you not find time to help out, wouldn’t you serve him/her well?…   I hope you got the point. Never expecting anything in return, yet giving the whole of your Self. Without holding back. Constantly. With devotion. With joy. Maybe then we can have an experience similar to Mother Teresa’s who said once: « I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love».

I know we are all far from being saints, yet we can bring more Bhakti into the Prema relationship by learning to surrender our ego in devotion and humility (not humiliation), and treating our partner as a Divine Self (which he/she is anyway, as we all are!). A relationship is the best opportunity for self-development and spiritual growth. Take it!

Zoya Lu

http://www.zoyayoga.com

19th of Dec 2011

Eckhart Tolle about the ego and relationship

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I don’t read many books. Somehow I feel that real knowledge can only come through my own experience. Meditation has proved to be the best tool to open the door to the wisdom source for me. In my life, the meditation came first, and then there were some books that helped me to put into the words my inner experiences and realisations. One of those books is The Power of the NOW by Eckhart Tolle – a great book I highly recommend to everyone who wants to be happy (unconditionally:).

Today I’d like to share a few quotes from this author who never fails to inspire me.

“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease.  You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”

«When you are enlightened, there is one relationship that you no longer have: the relationship with yourself.  Once you have given that up, all your other relationships will be love relationships. »
«As long as the ego runs your life, most of your thoughts, emotions, and actions arise from desire and fear. In relationships you then either want or fear something from the other person.

What you want from them may be pleasure or material gain, recognition, praise or attention, or a strengthening of your sense of self through comparison and through establishing that you are, have, or know more than they. What you fear is that the opposite may be the case, and they may diminish your sense of self in some way.

When you make the present moment the focal point of your attention — instead of using it as a means to an end — you go beyond the ego and beyond the unconscious compulsion to use people as a means to an end, the end being self-enhancement at the cost of others. When you give your fullest attention to whoever you are interacting with, you take past and future out of the relationship, except for practical matters. When you are fully present with everyone you meet, you relinquish the conceptual identity you made for them — your interpretation of who they are and what they did in the past — and are able to interact without the egoic movements of desire and fear. Attention, which is alert stillness, is the key.

How wonderful to go beyond wanting and fearing in your relationships. Love does not want or fear anything. »

Eckhart Tolle

The Way to a Happy Marriage

Celebration time – it’s been 7 years since I’m married! I am certainly not an expert on a man-woman relationship. After all, it’s only 7 years. But somehow I feel that if we’ve made it through these 7 years of marriage, and came out even more in love and in tune with each other than before we tied the knot, maybe it’s worth sharing a few points with those who are in love and want to keep it up.
I have to admit that for the first years of our life together (which coincided with the first years of our marriage, as we jumped into it barely knowing each other) we constantly argued and fought our way to happiness. Now when I look back, I don’t even understand how we survived through these intense times filled with blame, guilt, anger, grievance and hurt. But look at us now! People often think we are just dating, or have married recently. No one believes we’ve been together for so long. So what’s the secret of keeping it gentle and perky?

Other than loving each other, it’s primarily important to have determination to stay together, no matter what. I am lucky to have an example of my parents who are still together after 40 (!) years of their married life. So from childhood I’ve always thought I’ll be married once and forever. If one enters marriage with the mood of trying it out, «to see if it works», the divorce is guaranteed. Every couple goes through many troubles and hard times, and that’s where determination makes a huge difference.

Not less important than determination is our willingness to change, to constantly work on ourselves. And this starts with learning about yourself through your loved one. That’s why we come together, I believe, a life after life, we use our partner as a mirror that perfectly (and permanently!) reflects all we have to show. And if we might know of our pleasant sides, or love to find more of them at any time, we commonly find it difficult to accept our shortcomings, especially when this awareness comes through someone who is so dear to us. However, the moment we get closed for self-improvement, we jeopardise our marriage. Accept where you are, and do your best to become a better husband/wife.

The rest is just common sense but many of us are far from doing it. (Excuse me writing only about the way you should treat HIM, it works the same way in relation to HER (in case you are a man and reading it))

  1. Try to please you loved one! Don’t you love him? If the answer is yes, the truth is – you can only be happy when he is happy.  So make him happy, it equals to making yourself happy!
  2. Don’t expect him to make you happy. In fact, just don’t expect anything. Period. When there are expectations, there are disappointments. Wouldn’t you rather be surprised with something nice, than expect it and didn’t get it?
  3. Find joy in your family responsibilities. Transform it into your love meditation in action. May everything you do for your partner remind you of your mutual love. Serving him equals making him happy, which equals…? If you didn’t get the answer, look at point 1.
  4. Make him your best friend. Trust is crucial in any relationship, especially in such intimate one as with your life partner. Talk about what matters to you (any thoughts, desires, dreams) and ask your partner advice on all you do. Also listen closely when your partner shares with you his heart, and never betray him by talking about it with others (unless he advised otherwise).
  5. Never complain about your loved one to anyone except those people who can help to see the solution. Judging your loved one behind his back never brought anyone happiness. Instead why not try and see positive things in your relationship? Then talk about those things and make them bloom!
  6. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: «Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction». Dream your future together, make time (and mood) to talk about things that make you both thrive so you can choose and agree on direction that you are moving towards.

I didn’t realize I’ve got so many points, and I could have continued:) But that’s all for now.

Well, just one more point – if at any time you’ve got a desire to do something opposite to recommended above, please stop and ask yourself:  Is at this moment the amount of ego in me is overpowering the amount of love?

That’s what love is all about. Loving someone as yourself. Or even more! To be able to truly love (yourself or someone else), you must put aside your ego. (How to? that’s a long topic for another post). But dealing with the ego is absolutely essential to finding your true self and your true love which lasts «happily ever after».