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5 Qualities of Your True Nature

“  May we live like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters”

May we live like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters”

I’ve just finished teaching my class series, which centered on the first facet of the eight-faceted yoga path, the Yamas. The Yamas are reflections of our true nature as humans. Knowing that these ancient teachings are as relevant in my class today as they were when first taught 5,000 years ago emphasizes this practice’s inherent wisdom and power.

 

The Yamas show us that the essence of our humanity binds us together, inextricably. All of us. All 7 billion of us. The Yamas sum up the truths of who we are with five qualities:

यम Ahimsa – compassion and reverence for all

यम Asteya –  generosity

यम Satya – truth and integrity

यम Brahmacharya – the desire to live in balance

यम Aparigraha –  acknowledgement of abundance

 

In her book The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Joy Devi wrote,

When we revere all as ourselves through ahimsa,

the other four qualities … are naturally present.

 

Remembering this message – that in our truest form we’re all the same and share these qualities – leaves me filled with peace and hope. When other messages impinge, I know I’m simply identifying with mind muck…mine or someone else’s, which are neither the real me nor the real them. When we see the ‘shadow’ side of humanity, it’s evident that we’re out of alignment with our true nature. This gives me hope, because recognizing it means I have a choice to align with the truth: our essence, our common humanity.

 

If we all extend toward and look for compassion, pause long enough to listen to our truth, generously give someone (and ourselves) the benefit of the doubt when they, or we, are mired in mind muck that sometimes trips us up, step back when we need to rest, and express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives, we’ll align and be elevated by this truth.

 

This seems simple: focus on our truest essence and common qualities as humans, and life will flow effortlessly. I suspect that the ancient yogis knew that what appears simple, isn’t; that forgetfulness is also embedded into our humanness. Hence, the value of continued practice of yoga, the choice to remember.

Cultivating Joy

Simple Steps to Bringing More Joy to Your Life

Finding Strength in Vulnerability

Finding Strength in Vulnerability

I love helping clients find their inner strength, especially because I know that it's something we all have even though we aren't always aware of it.  Six months ago, I was in a car accident that left me with minor injuries, whiplash, and a concussion for which I am still receiving treatment.  I was grateful that the damage wasn’t worse and that I have access to talented healing professionals; however, the time needed to devote to healing challenged my patience.  I was scheduled to sit for the first ever National Board of Medical Examiners’ Health and Wellness Coaching exam a few months after the accident and was signed up for a business plan competition.  How I was going to pull this off with my head in a fog?  I had no clue.
 
I’m reminded of what I love about being a health coach and a yoga teacher.  -  Self-Responsibility & Self-Love, two pillars of wellbeing that I help clients tap into, served as guideposts and reminded me that I had what I needed to heal. I felt vulnerable not being able to work or think clearly, and being vulnerable isn’t a place I’m comfortable with. I found that some of my usual strategies for dealing with emotional discomfort didn’t work, like running or riding my bike, and that I can’t always outrun vulnerability.  I learned that embracing, not turning away from, the feeling of vulnerability is key to helping me not only heal, but to succeed in living life in full authenticity.

When I feel vulnerable, healing practices like aromatherapy, gentle yoga, nourishing and mindful meals and grounding in nature nurture me back to health.  Asking for and accepting help even when I can’t reciprocate is hugely vulnerable for me, and well worth doing.  Dedicated daily time in meditation practice, planting seeds of intention and deeply listening to my heart helps me embrace the start of the day. Reflecting on Pema Chodron’s teachings about the fundamental uncertainty of life, I realized that the uneasiness that was floating to the surface of my being was a sign of health and wholeness.  Life is unpredictable, sometimes painful and always changing. Chodron refers to the constant state of flux and feeling of uneasiness as groundlessness.

In her book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, Chodron says: “By fully touching this relative moment of time . . . by being fully present to your experience, you contact the unlimited openness of your being.” She sums up her advice for embracing groundlessness as:

Be Fully Present

Feel Your Heart

And Engage the Next Moment Without an Agenda

 
I’m practicing this way of living.  Instead of trying to push away vulnerability, I’m acknowledging it and giving it space. While there’s much I don’t know about the future, I do know that I’m okay with that. I did pass the Board Exam and submitted the business plan and won third place.  But my biggest accomplishment was the realization that regardless of how vulnerable I might feel in any given moment, if there’s one thing that’s certain – it will change. And that’s OK. I’ve got my tools. I’m ready.  Bring it on!