In our modern world, we seem to have lost the art of ritual, the honoring of certain major life passages and events as well as more frequent moments such as new and full moons. To truly honor events, such as births or the changing of seasons, is to mark them in a sacred way with blessings of intention and invoking of spirit. Our ancestors living more closely aligned with nature and its rhythms had rituals, both big and small, for many occurrences which kept life infused with a sense of the sacred.
Have you ever found yourself lost in thought during yoga class? Don’t worry, you’re not a bad yogi and you’re definitely not alone! For the most part, we spend much of our waking hours absorbed in thoughts about anything other than what we’re doing in that moment, including during yoga class. Although, the practice of yoga is meant to bring us into the present moment, and usually does, we are human, after all, with minds that like to wander.
What feeds your soul? What makes you come alive? So often we look to something outside ourselves to do the job. But what if we could access that type of nourishment and inspiration from within ourselves? In fact, we came into this world equipped with just such tools, however it seems we forgot how to use them.
Breathe in. Breathe out. It’s so simple. We do it all day, every day without thinking about it, even when we’re sleeping. However, the breath, when approached consciously, is one of the greatest tools we have. When we begin to breathe with attention, with intention, an ordinary breath becomes an extraordinary opportunity for transformation.
I was recently asked by someone wanting to try yoga for the first time: what could they gain from doing yoga? Indeed it is a practice that has a seemingly endless supply of lessons, revelations, insights, ways to open, stretch, and strengthen the body, and so much more. But really all of those benefits come about because of what has been removed, purified, let go of, or released.
I had the opportunity recently to see the Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery in southern India create a stunning sand mandala. They spent four days constructing the intricate masterpiece, and then swept it all up in a ceremony symbolizing impermanence. The tradition dates back centuries and reminds us that in life we can put our all into whatever we do and remain unattached to the permanence of a particular outcome; that nothing lasts forever and that letting go is a key component to working with the laws of nature.