Archives for posts with tag: Vedanta Advaita

Teresa Durga Divadas Schoendorf

Since I have been back in my Brooklyn apartment I have meditated and chanted and done pranayama and asana as a first priority, daily. The responsibility of owning an apartment in a coop in New York City and being on the coop Board can feel very heavy. Before I left Brooklyn last January to live in the ashram I wanted to meditate and chant and do pranayama and asana daily, but I could not. I was not connected. I did not have the inner strength. I did not have the support. I did not feel any power.

In my mind the choice to live in the Bahamas for an extended time was financial and spiritual. I wanted to lower my cost of living–thereby lightening the load in order to be able to deepen my yoga practice. I also wanted to learn how to do service, to understand what it means to do service.

While living in the ashram doing Karma Yoga I realized just how hard it is to do service. I found out in my first Karma Yoga position that doing service can mean giving up control–to someone else who has the power (and the right) to tell you what to do.Yikes! And just how did this person get the power and the right? Because she had given up control to be of service on a larger scale in service of the ashram. No one who lives in the ashram gets paid any money. Everyone from the top down is doing service to keep the ashram running. That means offering satsanga twice daily, offering programs with international lectures and performers year-round, offering accommodations that include two vegetarian meals daily. An ashram is run by people who are doing service as spiritual practice.

I began to understand that doing service meant acting from a place without any thought of personal gain. To “do” not in order to get something like approval or money or favors or goodies. Just to “do” because someone has asked you to “do”. Doing service is about letting go of your own sense of “doership.” It is about “doing” as a part of a spiritual practice, i.e. doing for the the greater good of all. To serve you must rid yourself of all personal preference. It is not about you. It is about what is needed. And when you do this, it is easy. When you stop trying to control and just be with whatever is happening each moment, to the best of your ability, a certain weight falls away. There are no decisions to be made beyond each moment so a lot of thinking subsides. The mind gets quieter. The breath calms. The body becomes more at ease.

Each time I meditate I honor the spiritual initiation I accepted at the ashram. Meditation is in itself an act of surrender. I surrender to each moment to be with whatever is in my own mind,  with loving kindness in every breath–even when the vrittis (thoughts) are running wild!

Power, I am discovering, comes from letting go, from surrendering to what is happening in my life–in each moment. And to having an attitude to be of service to the duties that are being presented. We think we have chosen. Actually, it has all been chosen for us in order to help us awaken to who we really are: eternal existence, knowledge and bliss.

PS The first coop Board meeting of the 2012-13 term went very well. I followed my own directive as the new President and presiding chair to begin with a moment of silence (my heart was pounding in this moment and I had to gather all of my strength to focus on the Om Tryambakam mantra). I facilitated by keeping order and listening to the other members of the Board, only speaking at the end of discussion on each issue. We accomplished what we needed to and ended only 10 minutes over the hour time frame we had established. Jaya! (Victory)

Peace

As the last days are passing here at Sivananda Ashram the satsang lectures continue. There have been some interesting points of view for me to evaluate and to see what comes up. And what comes up are the still unresolved feelings and beliefs around the car crash. Not surprising! There  is quite a bit of work to be done to clean up the mess, and I find myself more than slightly annoyed and distracted. Though I decided not to pursue any legal recourse over the harm done to my property for reasons I explained earlier, my mind, heart and pocketbook still feel the pain. (See https://soundyogatherapy.com/2012/05/13/life-lessonsquestions-the-car-crash-and-yoga-ethics/The honest truth is that I have been feeling a large resentment toward a whole community of people who I feel have let me down.

Along comes Kathy White, long time student of Byron Katie. Katie is a non-dual (Advaita), consciousness guru. Her story in becoming who she is now is extreme. The result of her “awakening” is her ability to accept what is happening exactly as it is and remain completely peaceful. Her students attest to this fact. Now doesn’t that sound nice?

At the end of last night’s satsang Kathy gave us a page titled: Judge-Your-Neighbor Workshop. She had already explained that in The Work (as it is called by Byron Katie) there are four essential, starting questions related to each and every belief around any stressful situation in life. For example, in regards to feelings around the car crash I write:

I am angry at (name of person) for breaking his agreement to take care of my car.

Next I ask myself these questions:

1. Is it true? Yes. He did not take care of the car. He crashed the car due to his own negligence and then he refused to make any reparations. Only a yes or no answer is allowed here which keeps you from falling back into the details and complexities of the story in your mind–but of course more beliefs arise as you can see in what I just wrote. Each of these beliefs may need to be dealt with separately, eg, I am angry at _______ for being negligent. Or: I am angry at _____ for refusing to take responsibility for his actions, etc.

2. Is it absolutely true? Only to be answered if you answered Yes in No. 1. Doubt about having absolute knowledge and wisdom may start in No. 1 or it may not.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? You list all your feelings and attitudes, eg I blame, get angry, feel disgusted and judgmental, am deaf to any excuses or explanations, only want reparations paid NOW!

4. How would I be if I did not have this belief? Eg. I would be open, supportive, able to hear and to listen to his story, generous about finding a solution together.

Doing The Work with the worksheet has helped me get clear about my feelings and beliefs. I actually emailed the person asking him if he would speak with me to share his thoughts and feelings and to hear mine. Whether or not he responds is not the point–and I really doubt that he will respond. Writing the email asking only for dialogue without any agenda, allowed an opening of the tight space in my heart. With this opening I began to look at promises I have made to myself or need to make. And how I may be being negligent in life by taking obvious risks and not taking care of myself responsibly. And how I might take better care with myself.

I may not be taking good care by putting trust where it does not belong. Or by having unfounded expectations. Or by not asking directly for clarification. This is hard stuff. Most people –myself included–do not like to be held perfectly accountable or to think things through. Most people do not care to strive for such clarity. It takes time and effort between people. It is rare in life to find people who are willing to take the time and spend the effort for such honest, clean and clear communication.

As I grow in my ability to care for myself by keeping promises to myself, by being responsible to myself for my well-being and by paying the dues I owe to myself when I make a mistake, I will be more able to see in others the level and quality of care a person is able to enact in a relationship with me. Those who have learned that self care is an essential part of loving others begin to offer freely, and more selflessly, yet with boundaries that are appropriate for themselves. I know as I grow in my own self care I will be able make better choices about with whom and in what way I entrust my life (and my “stuff” such as a car) to others.

Life is a process we are all learning.

Om shanti

When I left Brooklyn last January 11th I knew I was taking an incredible journey just by the act of committing to being at Sivananda Yoga Retreat Center for over three months. It turned out to be over four months and now the journey is winding back toward life in Brooklyn.

I say “winding” because the path as I have experienced it in these past months has not exactly followed the original, outward intention I set, to do Karma Yoga for three months. It has followed the intention I held within myself to “re-group and see what appears”. There have been some remarkable appearances.

The Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course was and continues to be life altering on a daily basis for me. Just the aspect of 28 days of such a rigorous discipline of schedule and activity opened the mind to let go of much of the unnecessary. To further connect through the lineage of Swami Sivananda by mantra initiation has brought wisdom and knowledge of the master into my work in Sound Yoga. The openness to the receipt of a new name for myself has given me a support and inner strength through the Hindu Mother Goddess Durga beyond what I could imagine possible.

The Path took me to these places. The Path or Self does that, I am beginning to understand, when the mind  begins to let go of all of the thoughts, beliefs and patterns that we believe to be our life and our self.

The greatest teaching I have received is that I am and my life is, so much more than I imagined. We all are so much more than we imagine. And by surrendering to and embracing a lineage and tradition of gurus and teachers, there is the possibility to be supported and to discover our True Nature within the form of our limited self.

There is no greater gift than such a recognition that we are all on the Path, winding as it is, forever connecting the True Self Home.

Shiva’s Sunset