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                    [post_content] => Throughout my life's journey I have read several books on Yogic Philosophy that talk about uncovering the True Self. Truthfully, this has always seemed a somewhat nebulous concept to me. I have been a student of Yogic Philosophy and a practicing Yogi for seven years now and was beginning to get bewildered by what I considered to be unconscious barriers blocking me from connecting with my ‘True Self.’

No matter how hard I tried to get in touch with my ‘True Self’ through meditation, the more elusive it would seem. I would often find myself feeling frustrated, thinking that I was failing in my practice. Through a recent flash of insight, I came to see that ‘True Self’ is closely related to what psychologists refer to as ‘authenticity,’ which is defined as 'the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit or character despite external pressures'. Personally, I feel that it means living with respect for our intuition, rather than for our intellect alone. It means listening to the 'inner voice' which speaks the truth.

Staying connected to my True Self, no matter how that is conceived, has always been a challenge for me, as I have always prized intellectual pursuits and prided myself on being a well-read student of various disciplines. But I've come to realize that spending too much time in the intellectual domain can create imbalance and become a breeding ground for the ego's controlling tendencies.

Imbalance and ego-dominance can manifest in a variety of ways often leading to suffering, as we move further away from the vulnerable state required to connect with our true selves and our authentic voices. This intuitive insight came to me after a meditation session and I had uncovered my answer.

The root cause of the struggle, which was blocking me from moving deeper into my practice, was related to control. Understanding this, I began using meditation and extended Savasanas as a means of addressing the issue. Consequently, Savasana holds a much deeper meaning for me now. Instead of simply being a relaxation pose, it has come to represent 'conscious surrender', which previously was not even a phrase that I had in my vocabulary.

The quote by Bronnie Ware from her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying became somewhat of a mantra to me. It goes like this: "Surrender is not giving up and it takes an enormous amount of courage. Often we are only capable of doing so when the pain of trying to control the outcome becomes too much to bear".  Our egos want so much to be in control of situations, people and especially outcomes. But this hyper-focus on control blocks us from staying present, vulnerable and connected to ourselves, which is essential for creating the life we all want - a balanced life with purpose, healthy relationships and joyful self-expression.

A wise person in my life once told me that 'You can direct your life, but you can't completely control it." I have just recently come to appreciate the meaning of those words.

So how do we let go of this strong desire to control and micromanage our lives? How do we remain vulnerable and connected to our True Selves? Perhaps the first step is to cultivate the awareness that there is a ‘True Self’ behind the veil of control or other impediment. Once we realize this, we can begin to work with loving compassion and gently tame that tiger, creating space and safety for a more authentic life aligned with our True Self.

Namaste.
                    [post_title] => Living Authentically: Taming the Tiger of Control
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                    [post_content] => In yogic philosophy the ego is referred to as the Ahamkara. Ahamkara translates directly as “I”-ness. It is the sense of separateness or individuality that we tend towards once we begin the process of taking physical form. As pervasive as this “I”-ness is, however, it is not real, and it blocks us from experiencing our true nature as consciousness (Purusha).

According to yogic philosophy, Purusha is the universal energy that is also called God, or “Brahman”. This energy flows within me, and is the same as the energy within you, within the tree, the dog, the earth. It is the energy called “Chi”, “Prana”, “The Force”. It is everywhere and in everything.

The entirety of the yogic path is focused upon transcending the illusion of this Ahamkara, and moving into the experience of Purusha; that which we truly are. This journey is called moving towards enlightenment – a journey towards the discovery of our own God nature. But because of the pervasiveness of this Ahamkara in our journey towards oneness, the illusion of separateness and therefore hierarchy easily occurs. There is a somewhat humorous story that my yogic father once related to me in order to illustrate the blinding and destructive nature of ego, and I now relate it to you.

The Story: There was once a yogi who knew well the philosophies of yoga. But still he had a great ego. And as such, he walked around beating his chest exclaiming, “I am Brahman! I am Brahman!” for all to hear.

One day, as the yogi walked out of a temple, there was a great commotion in the street. As it happened, an elephant, with its mahout (driver) atop, was stampeding along the street. The mahout had lost control of the elephant, and unable to stop it, was crying for everyone to get out of the way. People were fleeing in every direction, but the yogi stood his ground.

“I am Brahman!” the yogi exclaimed. “Why should I get out of the way? Let the elephant go around me! I am Brahman!”

The mahout continued to shout for the yogi to get out off the way, but he would not. And so the elephant trampled the yogi and continued stampeding on.

A vagrant who had been nearby when this all happened walked over to the yogi, who now lay trampled in the middle of the street. Looking upon the yogi, the vagrant in his wisdom and deeper understanding of the yogic way said, “Yes, you are Brahman. But wasn’t the elephant also Brahman? And wasn’t the mahout also Brahman? Then why didn’t you listen to Brahman when He told you to get out of the way?”

The story illustrates what yogic philosophy teaches: We must strive to see the divinity in all beings. There is no hierarchy; no one is of greater or lesser importance. What blinds us from this shared divinity and commonality is our pervasive sense of ego. To serve the ego, we separate ourselves from all others, and in the end, we suffer for it.
                    [post_title] => I am Brahman ... and so are You
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                    [post_content] => In November 2015, the topic of Yoga and cultural appropriation in the West come into high consciousness in Yoga classes across Canada as news spread that free Yoga classes at the University of Ottawa were cancelled due to 'cultural issues'.  At the Red Door Yoga studio alone earnest discussions arose in Teacher-Training courses. Clipped articles were also left with notes from students asking for my thoughts, at times with their opinions  attached.  This question of Yoga and cultural appropriation in the West has been very disconcerting for some, particularly those who deeply value Yoga as a practice and a path, but are now unsure that they are welcomed to it.

As a result of this rise in the collective 'media-conscious', I was asked recently by a teacher-in-training about my thoughts on "western culture appropriating yoga, which has deep religious and cultural roots in India." At this point, I thought it might be helpful for me to share my answer: When Yoga is taught with a thorough understanding and focus upon its philosophical purpose (enlightenment, or the experience of one's state of Union with all reality), there is no appropriation, no matter the culture from which you come.

Appropriation takes place when one takes the name of yoga while teaching without this understanding and focus. An excellent example of appropriation can be seen in the recent “Rage Yoga” classes. This is a great example of appropriation because the cultivation in this practice is that of the practitioners’ egos ("Ahamkara" or sense of individuality/separated self). This practice moves directly against the yamas and the niyamas outlined in yoga philosophy (non-violence, moderation, self-surrender, contentment, etc.), thereby leading to a stirred-up mind, not to union. There appears to be little to no understanding of yoga philosophy in this practice.
It should be understood therefore that appropriation of Yoga can occur not only in the West, but in the East as well. This is part of the reason that I teach as much Yoga philosophy as I do in the Red Door Yoga Teacher Training program and in my classes.  It matters not that I am of East Indian descent or that I come from a lineage of traditionally practicing yogis, it matters only that when I practice and teach this path, I do it from a place that is deeply and consistently rooted in Yoga philosophy.
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I have been a student of Yogic Philosophy and a practicing Yogi for seven years now and was beginning to get bewildered by what I considered to be unconscious barriers blocking me from connecting with my ‘True Self.’ No matter how hard I tried to get in touch with my ‘True Self’ through meditation, the more elusive it would seem. I would often find myself feeling frustrated, thinking that I was failing in my practice. Through a recent flash of insight, I came to see that ‘True Self’ is closely related to what psychologists refer to as ‘authenticity,’ which is defined as 'the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit or character despite external pressures'. Personally, I feel that it means living with respect for our intuition, rather than for our intellect alone. It means listening to the 'inner voice' which speaks the truth. Staying connected to my True Self, no matter how that is conceived, has always been a challenge for me, as I have always prized intellectual pursuits and prided myself on being a well-read student of various disciplines. But I've come to realize that spending too much time in the intellectual domain can create imbalance and become a breeding ground for the ego's controlling tendencies. Imbalance and ego-dominance can manifest in a variety of ways often leading to suffering, as we move further away from the vulnerable state required to connect with our true selves and our authentic voices. This intuitive insight came to me after a meditation session and I had uncovered my answer. The root cause of the struggle, which was blocking me from moving deeper into my practice, was related to control. Understanding this, I began using meditation and extended Savasanas as a means of addressing the issue. Consequently, Savasana holds a much deeper meaning for me now. Instead of simply being a relaxation pose, it has come to represent 'conscious surrender', which previously was not even a phrase that I had in my vocabulary. The quote by Bronnie Ware from her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying became somewhat of a mantra to me. It goes like this: "Surrender is not giving up and it takes an enormous amount of courage. Often we are only capable of doing so when the pain of trying to control the outcome becomes too much to bear".  Our egos want so much to be in control of situations, people and especially outcomes. But this hyper-focus on control blocks us from staying present, vulnerable and connected to ourselves, which is essential for creating the life we all want - a balanced life with purpose, healthy relationships and joyful self-expression. A wise person in my life once told me that 'You can direct your life, but you can't completely control it." I have just recently come to appreciate the meaning of those words. So how do we let go of this strong desire to control and micromanage our lives? How do we remain vulnerable and connected to our True Selves? Perhaps the first step is to cultivate the awareness that there is a ‘True Self’ behind the veil of control or other impediment. Once we realize this, we can begin to work with loving compassion and gently tame that tiger, creating space and safety for a more authentic life aligned with our True Self. Namaste. 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DIGITAL PRACTICE - The Yogic Way® Magazine (Tag: Spiritual)

The Yogic Way

Living Authentically: Taming the Tiger of Control

By Janine Daniluck Posted May 16, 2017

Throughout my life's journey I have read several books on Yogic Philosophy that talk about uncovering the True Self. Truthfully, this has always seemed a somewhat nebulous concept to me. I have been a student of Yogic Philosophy and a practicing Yogi for seven years now and was beginning to get bewildered by what I considered to be unconscious barriers blocking me from connecting with my ‘True Self.’ No matter how hard I tried to get in touch with my ‘True Self’ through meditation, the more elusive it would seem. I would often find myself feeling frustrated, thinking that I was failing in my practice. Through a recent flash of insight, I came to see that ‘True Self’ is closely related to what psychologists refer to as ‘authenticity,’ which is defined as 'the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit or character despite external pressures'. Personally, I feel that it means living with respect for our intuition, rather than for our intellect alone. It means listening to …

I am Brahman … and so are You

By Kavita Maharaj Posted July 8, 2016

In yogic philosophy the ego is referred to as the Ahamkara. Ahamkara translates directly as “I”-ness. It is the sense of separateness or individuality that we tend towards once we begin the process of taking physical form. As pervasive as this “I”-ness is, however, it is not real, and it blocks us from experiencing our true nature as consciousness (Purusha). According to yogic philosophy, Purusha is the universal energy that is also called God, or “Brahman”. This energy flows within me, and is the same as the energy within you, within the tree, the dog, the earth. It is the energy called “Chi”, “Prana”, “The Force”. It is everywhere and in everything. The entirety of the yogic path is focused upon transcending the illusion of this Ahamkara, and moving into the experience of Purusha; that which we truly are. This journey is called moving towards enlightenment – a journey towards the discovery of our own God nature. But because of the pervasiveness of this Ahamkara in our …

The Cultural Appropriation of Yoga

By Kavita Maharaj Posted July 7, 2016

In November 2015, the topic of Yoga and cultural appropriation in the West come into high consciousness in Yoga classes across Canada as news spread that free Yoga classes at the University of Ottawa were cancelled due to 'cultural issues'.  At the Red Door Yoga studio alone earnest discussions arose in Teacher-Training courses. Clipped articles were also left with notes from students asking for my thoughts, at times with their opinions  attached.  This question of Yoga and cultural appropriation in the West has been very disconcerting for some, particularly those who deeply value Yoga as a practice and a path, but are now unsure that they are welcomed to it. As a result of this rise in the collective 'media-conscious', I was asked recently by a teacher-in-training about my thoughts on "western culture appropriating yoga, which has deep religious and cultural roots in India." At this point, I thought it might be helpful for me to share my answer: When Yoga is taught with a thorough …