The MOST Influential teaching.
Recently I was asked to teach a class on Vedic Philosophy and Yoga Sutras for a large group of Yoga Teacher Trainees in Seattle. It had me standing outside the usual curriculum of my own 200 hr Courses and asking the question:
What is the single most influential teaching of traditional yoga? And how do I give practices that help people unearth their patterns of thinking to reveal how powerful yoga truly is.
The single most influential teaching I have received from Yoga is:
drum roll please..
True happiness comes from learning to elevate yourself, then others.
Notice that I didn’t say happiness comes from self-care, then taking care of others.
It doesn’t. You can be fit, pampered, privileged and on vacation and still suffering immensely!
That’s because at a SOUL LEVEL we aren’t seeking self care. And for a huge population of the non-white, non-privileged world, self-care isn’t even part of the vernacular.
Yoga seeks to serve ALL beings, in all space and all time. And therefore it must be accessible to all. (Important to note that when I say yoga I mean the teachings behind the poses).
At a SOUL LEVEL we are seeking elevation, union with source energy - unlimited potential - the part of us that isn’t bound by culture and time and gender and race and religion. Not to negate that gorgeous, part of us that is our humanity, btw. It is just that, we seek more still.
Elevating yourself is NOT; making money, having a great partner and a perfected diet. This idea that “I need to be successful in the world to be of value or help anyone else” is false.
Showing up in your perfect imperfection, before everything is “well branded” is a vulnerable, humble and brave thing to do. Take it from the Dalai Lama;
“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”
On the path to having it all - aka. Happiness that doesn’t come and go - we have some awareness work to do. #awarenessfirst
We all have unique, powerful medicine and turning your work in soul medicine for the planet requires you maintain clarity around the value of your SOUL.
I know because, of course, I’ve made the mistake of equating my net worth with my soul worth. Which society loves, as it creates a consumer out of me.
Releasing the resistance to present circumstances is precisely the key that opens the floodgates for a new kind of experience in the future. It requires you ALLOW for elevation to take place. Not necessarily that you ‘make it happen’.
Swamiji used to say, “You certainly won’t get more if you aren’t thankful for what you see now.” He was precise. What you see - your observation of circumstances can be a point of complete “bottoming out.”
Witnessing yourself or others in hard or painful circumstances can be where the whole process of elevation stalls. We see suffering and we can’t see the end of it. We decide subconsciously that it will repeat, and this is debilitating. We perpetuate the circumstance instead of coming back to THE teaching. ‘associate with what elevates the mind’ in order to get present and open the door to a new future.
Ever notice how you dream about what your mind cycles around during daytime hours? The people, places and feelings you have show up in dream because the mind is trying to ‘unpack’ its content. What you give your ATTENTION to becomes your intention. Intention always gives way to attention. I might intend to live a joyful day, but give all my attention to a negative hiccup in my lived experience. When I give my attention to something repeatedly - it ACTUALLY REPLACES MY INTENTION as the most powerful force in creating my experience.
Elevating yourself is noticing the vibration of your thoughts and being able to choose thoughts that make you FEEL better than the thoughts that drag you down. It is a PRACTICE to pay attention to HOW THE THOUGHT MAKES ME feel Vs. IS THE THOUGHT RIGHT OR TRUE (in my perception). If we hang on to and recycle thoughts that bring us down simply because they are “accurate” based on present time perception - we will go unconscious.
I repeat. We will go unconscious.
At which point, solution orientation, connection with others and peace evade us.