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Mancora, Peru
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Yoga Retreat Deposit and Fees

Yoga Retreat Deposits and Fees

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Realization of Happiness

A friend asked me the other day, “How do you know if you are really happy, or just afraid of being unhappy?” At first I laughed, but the question stayed with me and led to some interesting reflection.

The core values that the United States of America proposes to offer her citizens are “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. This concept came to mind as I considered my friend's question. We are in constant pursuit of happiness, or avoiding being unhappy. And often that happiness seems to hinge on something that we are pursuing; more income, recognition for our work, the love of our beloved, a well-behaved child, more free time, etc. Even while we recognize it as illogical, who among us does not have the thought that once we meet our soul mate, or buy our dream home, we will then feel fulfilled?

However, the more that happiness hinges on something else than what is present here and now, then happiness is inherently outside of you, beyond you. In other words, spoken by Reverend Michael Beckwith “the more that you pursue happiness, the more it will run away from you.” Rather than pursue happiness, he says, we must have a realization of happiness, here and now.

Sound difficult? This is completely within your capacity, if you want to try the following exercise, which you can repeat as often as you need, in order to practice bringing yourself, moment to moment into the realization of happiness. Take a moment to be still, close your eyes and go inward. Focus a moment on the sensation of your own heartbeat and the awareness of your breathing, your awareness that you are alive here and now.

Call into mind a few things that you are grateful for in your life here and now. You could start with your own body, and the fact that you are breathing effortlessly, and then expand outwards to loved ones, home, whatever it may be that you are grateful for. Notice what this sensation of gratitude feels like in your body, especially in your heart. Now try to expand that to fill your whole body. Take a few deep breaths, making a cellular memory of gratitude and happiness.

Happiness is found in moments, such as this one you just experienced. And life is lived from one moment to the next. So how can we realize happiness if we are not able to be in the present moment of our lives? Each day has the potential to hold infinite moments of unexpected pockets of joy and appreciation, and it is my goal to live inside them. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being The Source

In my short visit to the US a few weeks ago, there were particular aspects of the culture that show up as a great contrast to the lifestyle that I live outside of the reaches of the “modern world”. One thing that struck me particularly is the amount of distractions that we are constantly bombarded with and thus become desensitized to. I was floored by this as I sat in a restaurant, keeping company with other human beings who were engrossed in looking things up on their iphones. I looked around me only to realize that everyone at the surrounding tables also had their iphones and Blackberries out on the table, and a large percentage of them were more engaged with checking their phones than the personal interactions with the live audience that they had in front of them. With this technology, we have access to the virtual world at our fingertips, and can seek the answer to most of our questions yet we we have no access to the most important answers because we have to be quiet enough to listen to our own questions.

During the last several months, I have had the experience of living removed from the stimulus of the modern world, and have found that perhaps for the first time in my life I am understanding what it is like to be present with myself and focus on what is happening in my life here and now.. I can hear my own questions, and the thoughts and emotions that arise are in my face, to be felt and processed with nothing to distract me from experiencing them. Initially this is, in a word, intense. However over time I have realized that the rewards of being present, without distractions, are mighty. I am beginning to hear the answers to the questions that I wasn't aware that I was asking. I feel more grounded than I could have ever imagined, more clear minded and certainly more comfortable with myself than ever before. I have the space to be present this way with others and the joy of engaging deeply with others brings profound levels of connection. With each conversation I find that people are hungering for this depth of connection just as I had been and marvel in the sensation of being “seen” and “heard” perhaps for the first time in a long time.. I have observed in my own experience and with many other people how the process of transformation begins with the ability to be with what is.

The contrast to this was striking in my re-immersion into American multi-tasking culture. It highlights for me the profound depth of connection that has been lost in our society, not just in our relationships with one another but also within ourselves, and our awareness of our own strength and inner guidance.
We are equipped and ready to seek answers to all of our potential questions outside of ourselves, further distancing us from our own resources. Mistrust, alienation, and loneliness, boredom, anxiety, the inability to stay focused and centered all arise from the disconnect from our own grounded alignment with our inner guidance.
Am I suggesting that Americans rise up, throw their Blackberries out the window of their SUVs and move to the Amazon? Some of them perhaps. But of course there is a middle ground in which technology supports us in our deeper connection to ourselves and to others. However in order to find that middle ground, you might have to step away from your channels of distraction and turn to the source within. Be forewarned that the next time that there is a silence, your fingers may start itching to reach for your phone, but if you can hold out off for a few moments and be with yourself, something new and exciting will arise. Try it yourself, and let me know what happens.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coming home to ourSelves

Do you know the sensation of coming home? The way that your mind, your body, your spirit can relax, knowing that this is where you belong? Can you imagine feeling that way in every moment, with every step you take? How far do you feel from that in this moment?

On the first day of the workshops that we run at the temple where I work ( we sit in a circle and introduce ourselves and each of the participants explains what it is that brings them to the jungle, and what sort of answers they are seeking from the workshop and from ayahuasca. One of the most commonly repeated phrases that I hear from people is, “Since very early on in my life, I knew I was different”, or “I knew that I didn't fit in,” or “I knew there was more out there than what I saw in the world around me”. This leads me to reflect on the idea of “consensus reality”, and the “norm” of human nature. We are indoctrinated with the belief that things like jealousy, greed, competition and other scarcity based behaviors are simply “human nature”. None of these behaviors make us feel good, we are constantly seeking ways to “fix” or heal these attitudes in ourselves, to escape from jobs, relationships, even societies in order to get away from those energies, nevertheless we continue to affirm for ourselves that this is “the norm”. Is there not something a little backwards here?

I realize, listening to these circles, that each time that we say to one another, or to ourselves “ well that's just how people are”, we are strengthening the legitimacy of that belief system that we must act in these ways in order to Survive, or even “get ahead” in the world. We have swallowed this idea that the world “IS” a certain way, and that we must adapt our ways of being to fit into this norm. At the same time, we acknowledge that we create our own realities and the world “IS” the way that we see it.

In this moment of my life, I live in a community that is removed in many ways from the pressures of modern society, and I see this as an opportunity, as though in a laboratory experiment, to create with others in my community the “new norm”. This means that our actions and our interactions are guided by our values and our hearts, rather than the ways that we feel we are “supposed to be”. This is not simply a Utopian ideal, it involves constant self-reflection and evaluation. I find in myself that the layers of fear and mistrust, the beliefs that I must protect myself, and compete with others to get ahead, have been woven deep into my psyche. This type of reevaluation occurs in the most subtle ways, and can show up even as a sense of resignation, of “why bother”, when confronting a situation that feels out of alignment. I recognize that each time that I feel resigned to accept that “that is just the way things are”, I am denying my own power to create the type of relationships, community and life that I believe in.

Unlearning this is of course a process, a daily practice that requires a deep level of faith in my own values, a commitment to living from the heart, and finally a trust and openness to co-creating with others in my community. I have no doubt however, that this is the only way for me to live.

Every time that I move in the world with this trust, speaking from my heart and allowing others to respond from their heart, my body relaxes, my breathing deepens, my awareness and I come closer to home.

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