New Year, New Vision Reflections & Practices: We Are Already Making A Bigger Impact Than We Realise
NEW YEAR, NEW VISION: REFLECTIONS & PRACTICES
We are already making a bigger impact than we realise!
28th December 2017
Christmas Morn. I woke early and looked out to see the dawn just starting to break through the clouds. By the time I got out onto the fields the sun had just risen, daylight had broken. This had been my plan for Christmas this year. To spend quiet time in a kind of home retreat, time for reflection and for replenishing a tired body and mind. Yoga, good food and time in nature are my medicines for this, as I know they are for many of you also.
I’d planned to drive out into the countryside for long walks with Eloise, my dog. In the end, I wanted to be in my home environment and so went onto the fields I walk each week. I headed to the highest point I could walk to and sat in stillness, admiring the beauty of the morning sky. Ancient Vedic chants started to fall from my lips, chants which are actually full of the spirit of the message of Christmas and this ancient pagan celebration following Winter Solstice. They were chants to the sun, the light of the world, and ancient peace chants. And though I have walked these fields so many times, it seemed to me that a different atmosphere hung in the air. It felt as if an atmosphere of love and fellowship, of joy and friendliness travelled out from all the houses across the land, and descended from the skies to fill the environment. It fed a joy and love in my own heart and I felt so blissful being out in this wide open natural space as this Christmas Day began.
On my way home, I saw a fellow dog walker across the other side of the field. I waved. He waved back and shouted “Merry Christmas”. “Merry Christmas” I replied. We would not ordinarily shout such happy greetings across the fields. Surprisingly tears filled my eyes at this simple exchange. My tears were at once tears of happiness and of sadness. Happiness because this simple exhange suggested to me the promise of how life could be on our earth: more happiness shared, more time for each other, more love, joy, gratitude. sharing. I know many of us wish that every day could carry the generosity of spirit that Christmas carries: I’ve heard some of you say it. And my tears were also sad tears, knowing that we have the capacity to live this way and yet we cannot find the way to it. In spite of all our shared longings for connection, to receive caring and compassion when we are in difficulty, to love and be loved, to feel safe enough to reach out and talk open-heartedly to a stranger, we remain defended in a bid to stay safe and free from hurt or rejection, we stay estranged from and guarded against each other in so many ways.
Maybe I imagined that atmosphere filling the air. Perhaps it came from my own happy state of mind and heart that morning. And we all know that in some of those houses in any of our neighbourhoods on Christmas morning are people who are grieving, or lonely, or sick, or in conflict with family members. Yet it can’t be denied, can it, that the spirit of Christmas does touch all our hearts, underneath the commercial madness of it? Nor can it be denied, I would say, that we create collective energy fields in our communities, neighbourhoods, and even in our nations, through our thoughts, intentions and actions. Dr Masaru Emoto, a recently deceased Japanese researcher into power of thought, has shown how our thoughts sent into water can affect the crystal formations in that water when it is frozen. Loving thoughts create beautiful harmonious crystal formations, disharmonious thoughts create less beautiful and more chaotic crystal formations. And we are 70% fluids. Water permeates also our environment: it is in the air. And there is only one water: all water is made up of the same formula H2O. And there is only one air. I’ve heard it said that even when a butterfly in China flaps it’s wings, the air currents on the other side of the globe are affected.Our air carries not only oxygen, we know as yogis that it carries life-force, energy or “prana”. And there is only one prana, The same life-force that animates my body and your body, animates all things in the universe. Our thoughts are energy: hence they could make an impact on the water crystals in Dr Emoto’s work, and when concentrated or repeated collectively in a place over a period of time they create an energy-field. Many of you may have visited places where terrible events have happened and felt an eery stillness or a chill penetrate through to your bones: or a sacred place on earth where a profound peace fills your being. We have all experienced this kind of thing I think. And it is, apart from in some special power points on our planet, largely the energy of the thoughts and actions of human beings that has created the energy-fields we perceive. For better or for worse, our thoughts as much as our words and deeds have the potential to create a force which impacts us all. And so I’d say it was not mere imagination that there was a special and joyful atmosphere permeating the air on Christmas morning.
When I was in the Bahamas, a visiting speaker at the ashram once demonstrated the power of our thoughts to harm or heal quite visually. He asked one young man to hold out his arm and resist his pressure to push his arm down. The man did this well enough. It is a technique of kinesiology. He then asked us all to mentally send negative thoughts to the young man. The young man’s arm became weak and he could no longer resist the pressure that the speaker applied to it.
We are not islands. I have used the analogy of us being like pebbles dropped in a pond a number of times on workshops this past year. Our thoughts, words and actions have a ripple effect that extend far beyond our own body, mind and place in time and space. They send ripple effects into the environment. We can say something to someone, kind or unkind and forget that we ever said it, but that person will never forget if it made a positive or negative impact upon them. The pain our words have caused might have moved someone also to cause pain to another in reaction: our kind words and deeds might inspire someone else to share kindness. And collectively as local and regional communities, and as nations it is the same. When collectively we are living in states of stress and fear and worry, it’s as if we create an energetic stress-soup that we move, live and breathe in. When we all awake in a spirit of love and harmony, giving and sharing as many of us do on Christmas morning, then that is the atmosphere that will fill the air and support us all to live and move in the world in that same spirit. And that is what I believe I felt on Christmas morning, so joyfully.
I have been blessed to have spent much time in spiritual communities and ashrams and their harmonious and loving vibration can feel almost palpable on arrival from the city and the hustle and bustle of every day life. When people gather with a particular intention, an energy field of that intention is created. I still remember the feeling when getting off the boat and walking up the path into the ashram I lived in in the Bahamas: a sense of peace, ease and safety that invited me, and I believe very many others, to take a big breath and come to rest within, to come home to myself. We would all say that this place felt was our home, in a way no other place we had found on earth yet was. I believe this was the result in part of the collective intention of yogis and yoginis living together with a wish to” come home to themelves”, to awaken to their true nature, and also the result of years of dedicated Yoga and meditation practice in support of that intention that created this energy-field. Places like this become a forces for awakening. I have seen it and experienced it first-hand. The environment not only supports the awakening of consciousness, but speeds it up. Old pains locked in the unconscious rise rapidly to the surface in a way they might not have elsewhere to support the healing of spirit.
And so as we approach the end of 2017, and I prepare to meet with some of you for the first workshop of the year on New Year’s Day, let’s reflect on the fact that we all really can be a force for “the change we want to see in the world.” We can be a force for change and for good. It’s not easy. Much will arise from within and without that will take us away from being our best selves and from living our new year vision for our families, our communities, for the world. We have to do the work. Mere intention will not change habitual patterns and tendencies – “Old habits die hard” is of course a very true saying. Classical Yoga points the way for us, to break out of self-limiting patterns so that we can cross vast ocean of samsara (Illusion, suffering) that we live in, toward the realisation of our best selves and so our highest visions. Yoga shows us very simply and step-by-step the path of inner transformation.
The Yogis say that there are three blessings in life and they are to have a human birth, to have a longing for Truth and to come across the teachings that help us to realise that Truth. And in 2018, this is what I hope to share with you: these teachings that support us to reawaken to who we really are – beings with infinite potentiality, and to live from that Truth; to find refuge in it as the understanding it awakens in us reduces the suffering of body and mind. Awakened to the inner heart, where Yoga teaches us our higher self dwells and our true nature exists, we become happier, more contented human beings. As such we live in greater harmony with others. Then perhaps, dwelling more and more from that place of inner harmony, we are moved to live for the healing and happiness of others – of our families, communities and our planet. Knowing that higher part of ourselves, also exists in each human being, we are inspired to do our part toward a brighter future for humanity.
I hope you’ll join me this year on a journey into the transformational power of Yoga. I hope to share it with you in written reflections and practices, workshops and retreats. Let’s move into the heart of being, and learn to see and love again that one heart in all. My prayer is that we can explore the inner world together through 2018, and make it a little brighter and a little more beautiful for ourselves and for and for all those whose lives we touch.
My love to you all as this year draws to a close and my very best wishes for a healthy, happy and peaceful 2018.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantih
AN ENQUIRY EXERCISE:
Let’s get started already…..a little taster enquiry!
Sit in a quite place with note book and pen, and ask yourself “What is stopping me from living and moving in the world from a place of love, sharing and happiness? What is distrubing me?” Allow your pen to freely flow without sensor. And it’s much better to actually use pen and paper than write onto a screen for this kind of enquiry work. Once you have finished, close your eyes and ask that the lessons in any difficulties you are facing be revealed to you, and that the difficulties then be removed from your life so that you can fulfill your highest purpose unhindered.
BREATHE & HEAL:
After the enquiry work, place your hands on your heart centre at the mid point of your chest. Feel the breath rise and fall beneath your hands. As you turn your inner gaze into your heart centre, in your mind’s eye visualise yourself in your heart centre, in a place and time when you felt happy, well and at ease in life. As you inhale and the area around the heart centre expands, feel yourself opening to how you felt in your life and in your body in that place and time, as if you breathe those feelings in and literally imbibe them. And as you exhale, feel yourself relaxing into and merging with this “you” in your visualisation, in your heart centre.
In the next post and workshop, we will build on this enquiry.
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