find your sangha, no hang-over necessary!

people often speak of falling off the wagon that shameful act of doing what you said you would not do (or conversely, not doing what you said you would do).  as yogi’s this line gets a bit blurry.  does success lie in doing all of your practices, all of the time, sitting in a cave alone? we set out with a lot of practices and protocols and if we fail to meet these self imposed expectations, then what?

despite popular belief yogis are not aiming towards monastic life of rule following and route living.  yogis are aiming for Enlightenment, for Samadhi, for our sādhanā (the wagon we hitch ourselves to) to lead us towards satchidananda—existence (sat), knowledge (chit) but really mostly bliss (ananda).

yesterday i was able to sit in on a lecture touching on the Bhagavad Gita with Pranotthan Yoga Teacher Devarshi. he asked the question, what are you afraid of. the responses were varied;

losing my job, being perceived as other than i am, my children being abused. . .

to each reply he posed a question;

why is that scary?

this question was most often met with a blank expression;

it just is, i don’t know, it’s a feeling, how can i answer that, because it is. . .

finally an answer emerged that everyone could agree with;

because i am not in control.

are daily practices just a way to feel in “control”? personally speaking, if i go a day or two without practicing (for me this is referring to mostly yoga asana, meditation and ballet) or if i eat cooked foods outside of my ordinary realm of eating, falling “off the wagon” i feel it in my body and mostly my mind. it is my thoughts that are most affected, almost as though there is something blocking my vision. my thoughts are muddled, i get headaches, feel lethargic and bothered.  my practices of being appreciative  and of helping others in every moment of Enlightenment, become more and more difficult. this feeling lasts for quite some time, much longer than the action that created this reaction.  according to Newton, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, falling off the wagon, is no different.

i’ve grown to think of straying from the path as a helpful tool in bringing an awareness and deeper understanding of WHY i have chosen this particular wagon to take down the path with me. when i stick to the practices i have found positive for me, i feel unbounded energy, joy and insight.  if you make your life your sādhanā (conscious spiritual practice working towards the awakening of cosmic consciousness). if you don’t stray from the path every once in a while you forget the potency of the path.

but there is a better way to be reminded! without the side affects of falling off the wagon.  the best way i have found, across the board to remember why i’m doing what i’m doing is by surrounding myself with like minded individuals!

to surround ourselves with like minded individuals, we don’t actually need to be in physical proximity. as mentioned in my previous blog what do you consume? the online groups, the movies we watch, even the blogs and books we read create our satsang, our community. if you need a good nudge along your path i recommend Simple Recipes for Joy more than just a cookbook, this book serves as an expression of how compassionate spiritual activism can be put to practical use. in the book Sharon Gannon shares insight on personal practice and walking the path of Enlightenment through compassion for all beings.

The most courageous act any of us can do at this time is to dare to care about others—other animals, the Earth, and all beings. To be more other-centered than self-centered is the first step to happiness. Choosing vegan ingredients and cooking them yourself with a pure intention will not only help you create tasty meals but will help you start your own radical movement of peaceful, joyful coexistence with all of life.

Sharon Gannon, adapted from the book, Simple Recipes for Joy, September 2014kindness

to note, when you pre-order the book, Sharon will generously include additional classes and teachings, all aimed to re-hitch that knot keeping you and your wagon happily connected!

when surrounded with others, i work towards bringing their existence towards knowledge and bliss (satchitananda), eventually, but inevitably this brings me closer as well.  one way i have created this satsang in my life is through the Vegan Power Hour, both an online presence and a group that meets weekly to eat together and discuss ethical vegetarianism, health and lifestyle. in hosting this group, i am submerged in questions from all sorts of perspectives. i invite you to join the discussion, from near or far. find ways to stay devoted, but take your practices (even the rigorous ones) less seriously. let them take themselves seriously! the fairies and the bees know, the only way to fly is to take yourself lightly. in the simple act of taking the time to talk about these issues, i find myself completely dedicated and inspired. find your sangha, no hang-over necessary!

 

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