Inspiration

Was it worth it?

Light of Truth Universal ShrineI don’t know how it happened, but all of the sudden I’m back in the city full of its noises, lights, tumult, and excitement.  In my mind I’m still walking beneath a blanket of stars to a dark meditation hall, watching Swamis dressed in orange quietly manipulate their patterns of breath.

At the Satchidananda Ashram inner peace is laid out before you as a banquet for an honored guest.  There is no end to the forms in which it is presented.  Hatha Yoga, pranayama, meditation, selfless service in places like a kitchen or farm, immersion in nature, chanting, study of holy texts, and the loving-kindness of friends are all abundantly offered as pathways to the peace within.

And while it had never been so easy to have a joyful open heart, the sweet Swami guiding me through my month made it very clear; nothing outside will change, only your perspective will change.

Gurudev's KitchenBeing back in Chicago I understand these words more clearly than I did immersed in the sacred space of the ashram.  Everything is the same.  People are the same. Work is the same. The loud noises that wake me when I’m trying to sleep are the same. Even the thoughts in my mind are the same.  But the fog clouding the lens of my heart has been wiped clear so that I can surrender to the infinite love that pervades all things.

Of course while that may sound quite romantic, in practice it isn’t.  It means waking up hours before work to sit cross-legged, feet completely asleep, in the silence before dawn.  It means doing a half hour of poses and breathing even when my mind is asking me to skip it and take a nap.  It means convincing the voice in my head it can have some more chocolate tomorrow, but not today.  It means looking at what is happening with my own mind when someone is upsetting me, and letting go of judgement.  It means relinquishing the misguided hope that something “out there” will make me happy.  (And I still haven’t kicked that coffee habit.)

Loving Friends!Each moment is another chance for this practice.  What I learned living this way for a month is that it is worth it.  There is nothing in this world worth more than inner peace.  And, in the words of Eckhart Tolle, “If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace.”

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Life

Why Not Knowing Is Not Bad

By Peter SperoEverywhere you turn the world will give you a piece of its mind.  Well-meaning loved ones, TV talk show hosts, commercials, and Yelp are all here to help you figure things out.  As we get older we add beliefs on top of beliefs until there are only a few corners of our minds left available to be filled with new understanding.

We are so accustomed to being able to figure things out that a lack of understanding can trigger fear, anxiety, and an immense amount of pain.  If life situations that leave you scratching your head are disturbing to you, that is a sign to let go of your need to know.

Letting go of the need to control life through your thoughts is not only liberating, but it is also your best chance for you to experience your best possibilities.

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Inspiration

Advice I Give Myself

SoulYou are on the right track.

You may not want to hear that, especially if you’re experiencing disappointment, regret, or pain in any form.  But learning from your life situation, however it presents itself, is made exponentially easier when you don’t waste time playing mind games with it.

Those mind games can be wishing life were different, thinking about all of the things you could have done differently, and wondering why other people have it so good.  These are all ways in which the thinking mind distracts you from the task at hand, which is to accept your life situation as if you had chosen it so that you can get down to the business of inner growth.  Because in the end, you’d be learning the same lessons no matter how the outer circumstances of life were presented.

Most importantly, remember that we are all classmates.  We all go to the same school, we’re on the same team.  It may be hard to watch others around you trying and failing, and bumping into you in the hallways.  But we’re all learning.  So no matter where your life situation takes you, arm yourself with compassion for yourself and everyone else.

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You

When Self-Help Books Fail

When self-help books become more confusing than illuminating, friendly advice causes anxiety, and the answers the world is giving you aren’t leading to greater inner peace, you are ready to be taught by the master.

Just as Lionel Richie’s answers lay dormant within his lyrics for years before he was able to hear their messages, everything you need to know came here with you.  The real guru is within your very being.  So if you can’t hear anything yet, and are feeling your way through the mist, don’t worry.  The light that is illuminating your path is shining behind your own eyes.

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