As You Give
While at a local bookstore with my daughter, I was perusing the Spirituality section when I noticed a man crouched down in front of the stacks looking intently at the volumes. I excused myself as I walked past him, searching for a title a friend had suggested. Then I heard him say, “Are we crazy to be lookin’ at this stuff?” I turned to him and said, “No, this is right where you need to be,” which then turned into about a 45 minute conversation.
He told me he had, for some time, been receiving messages and having extraordinary visions in meditation, as well as hearing voices in his active life. He was a bit freaked out by it all, and had recently sought guidance from a psychic, who told him he was a Light Worker. He didn’t really know what that meant, so he came to the bookstore to get more clarity.
As we spoke, he made it very evident this was all very new to him. He was a “regular guy,” a contractor from South Florida, who didn’t understand why he was the recipient of these messages. What did he know about any of this? There was an underlying energy of discomfort within him that came through during our conversation. He expressed he didn’t feel worthy of what he was experiencing, especially because others who he deemed more so were not experiencing anything nearly as profound.
He was also feeling rather alone, as hardly anyone he knew was into "this stuff." He didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. His initial comment to me was very telling. He was really concerned that those closest to him would think he was “crazy,” if he opened up to any of them about his experiences.
Very often, when we embark consciously on our spiritual journey, it feels like we are walking into the wilderness, away from everything that feels familiar. When we begin to walk the “straight and narrow” pathway, we may need to make a complete departure from our old ways of being. People with whom we once felt so comfortable now feel more like strangers, as they may be nowhere near the path, while some may be actively resistant to any such exploration. Those who used to walk closely beside us may begin to fall away. It is important to let them.
As we consciously strengthen our connection to the Source of our Being, we begin to notice our priorities shift, as well. We are likely to discover those things that used to give us pleasure may now seem empty, or simply drain our energy. Clinging to the outmoded patterns will only hinder our ability to fully embrace our transformation.
Consider what is required, when one decides to enter a 12-Step program for addiction. Among the first things he or she must do is to detach from those people and places that served as enablers to the addiction. When we decide to wake up, to become conscious creators of our own experience, we must release everything that no longer serves our intention. We may choose to actively distance ourselves from those who are unsupportive, or they may just stop calling or coming around. As we raise our vibration, and move in the direction of the Light, the true essence of our being, those people, places, and experiences that no longer resonate at the same frequency will feel discordant.
It may feel like we will have nothing left, if we completely let go of these familiar ways, which can be very frightening. What is falling away is only our ego attachment to the illusion (maya) of what we have accepted as "reality." It is, however, only ever the ego that stands in the way of our remembering who we really are, remembering we are fundamentally perfect and complete expressions of the Divine, an integral part of the One.
This fellow seeker and kindred spirit shared that when the messages began, the more he tuned in the more they increased, and the more vivid was his experience. You see, as he was able to let go and surrender, the less of "him" was in the way. The obstruction to the flow of Life Force Energy from Source was diminishing. In his meditation, he had unwittingly reached a state of receptivity, which allowed him to become a conduit. He didn’t “do” anything, he simply opened, and the Cosmic Flow was able to pour through.
The truth is, the flow of Divine Grace is always streaming to us and through us. For some it may be a trickle and for others a deluge. The volume has nothing to do with Source and everything to do with how willing and able we are to receive it.
One Friday morning, while waiting to teach a Yoga class on the beach at a lovely lake in a student’s neighborhood, I noticed something interesting. The leaves on a single branch of a nearby tree were turned over, with their backs, or undersides, facing up. It caught my eye, because their pale surfaces were in such stark contrast to the rich, deep green of the rest. They looked like a crowd of people all hunched over, depressed, and folding in on themselves.
I thought it very curious, so I moved to take a closer look. I touched the leaves, which still retained a level of suppleness, but they were very limp and some had begun to show signs of drying up and falling off entirely. I traced the slim limb back to its source on a thicker branch above. It was then I saw the limb was all but severed. There remained a connection, but it was very tenuous.
With the flow of sap so diminished through the broken branch, the leaves were starving. On those limbs, where the connection was sound, the leaves were vital and thriving. The same thing occurs with us, when the connection with Source Energy, for whatever reason, has been weakened.
The detachment of that single branch had not compromised the overall health of the tree, even though it was home to many leaves, but it certainly affected the integrity of the system as a whole. We might experience this when we have a head cold. It feels like our nose and sinuses are in mutiny, but the discomfort is relatively localized, and the rest of the body is able to function, though, most likely, not optimally.
When we are not fully aligned with All That Is, we can certainly function, but we are only operating at a fraction of our potential. When we are hanging out on a limb that is nearly severed from Source, caught in the illusion we are separate from the Whole, we do not receive the full complement of our Divine Inheritance.
When we are in a state of “disconnection,” and I use that term loosely, because it is impossible to be completely disconnected from Source, I am not implying we are "broken." At our essence, we are perfect, and, at that level, there is nothing that requires "fixing." It is, however, possible for that connection to become blocked. When we are feeling out of balance physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, this is an indication the flow of the Divine Life Force is obstructed from moving freely though us.
The flow of Infinite Light and Love is like the sap in a tree, it is our life’s breath, the spark that ignites and fuels our very existence. When we believe we must “make it on our own,” that we are the source from which everything flows, we isolate ourselves from the very Essence of our Being.
In this state of misalignment, we can become wrapped up in simple daily survival, all of our thoughts and actions become about meeting or serving our own needs. Dhanurdhara Swami teaches that "Love doesn't flow to or from a person who does things only for themselves." This isn’t because they don’t deserve it. It is not a moral judgment.
When we are so focused on ourselves, we are like an isolated cell or one of those leaves on the broken tree limb. In order for energy to flow efficiently, we must have a closed circuit. The Life Force, like the sap, cannot nourish if there is no clear conduit through which it may run. Similarly, the Love we are at our core has nowhere to flow, when our hands are clutching and grasping to get what’s ours. We must open our hands to serve, and spread our arms wide to embrace our brothers and sisters in need.
In the biblical sacred text we find:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….”…”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 34-40
When we serve another, we are fundamentally serving God, as each and every being is a Divine Expression of the Creator. We can see God as the positive pole and we as the negative pole in an energetic circuit. When we are open and receptive, we receive the full force of Infinite Grace, and when we allow that to work through us in all of our thoughts, words, deeds and creations, in the service of others, we complete the circuit, and so it continues to flow with ease.
Fear is always the basis for any misalignment with Source. Fear is the bedfellow of the ego mind. It is a trap the ego sets for us, to keep us bound in our limited state of consciousness. That fear can take many forms. It may creep in as doubt, like when we feel we are undeserving of the flood of Grace flowing to us. We will very often self-sabotage, by attracting experience that reinforces the low regard we have of ourselves. “I’m not worthy… I’m too stupid… I’m unlovable… I’m a sinner.”
We are continually taking leaps of doubt, and where do they get us? The “what if’s” of our lives chain us to the merry-go-round of limited experience that doesn’t leave us feeling very merry. Why not try taking a leap of faith and see what happens? The faith we must have is in our Self, the Higher Self.
The Hanged or Suspended Man of the Tarot has done just that. He has surrendered the ego, all the beliefs and concepts that upheld the illusion of his separateness from the Whole that previously tied him to the material plane. Yet, he does still hang suspended above the abyss. We see he is tethered to the tree limb above by a pure white cord, so it would appear he is still bound. This rope, however, represents the spiraling Life Force Energy of the Universe, our unceasing connection to the Divine. The Suspended Man knows his foundation is Spirit not physical “reality.”
My friend in the bookstore was afraid of what people would think of him, should he share the messages he has been receiving. When we accept that God is the Source, in whom we live, move, and have our being, to the rest of the world it may appear we have lost our connection to reality. Truthfully, we are never more fully aligned with reality than when we choose to become a clear conduit for the flow of Love, Light and Life.
This fellow’s issue was not a lack of flow. He has opened up and is definitely receiving. But the longer he continues to hold in what is being transmitted, the sooner he will become overloaded and burn out, or that energy will seek release in a way he is less able to control. If the energy has nowhere to go, it will overwhelm the circuit where it is stuck, eventually overheat and ignite!
Many who are open channels and do not yet know how to ground or channel it effectively mistakenly think they are going crazy. These empaths may have no basis of understanding for what is happening with them, or they may live in an environment that is unsupportive of their open exploration of their new experience. It is not uncommon for people in this predicament to suppress the flood of Divine Grace. Many turn to alcohol or drugs, because it brings them some relief from the torrent of energy, images and messages they do not fully understand, though such behavior greatly inhibits the free flow of Source Energy.
While seeking understanding from books or psychics may provide some guidance, the most productive path to understanding is to turn within in meditation. All of our answers are, ultimately, found here anyway. A book or a seer will only shed light on what we already know at a deep subconscious level.
The root of my new friend’s confusion was what he experienced in meditation, not the meditation itself. He had waded into what seemed new territory for him. Though, really, he was simply returning home, opening back to Source and all that this alignment has to offer, by way of peace, wisdom, and understanding.
When we meditate we enter a receptive mode, once the idle chatter of the mind falls away. When in this state, all of our questions are answered. We must put forth our questions and then let them go. They may not be answered immediately or even in the way we expect. So, we must have the discipline to persevere and the patience to wait until the answers are revealed.
When we are feeling disconnected from Source, our meditation serves as a suture that threads its way into the gaps and realigns us more fully. Once aligned, we freely receive the grace of the Divine that pours unreservedly to us and through us to enrich our lives in infinite ways. Meditation is, just like our breath, a mainline to Source. Our breath provides nourishment for our physical body. Meditation allows us to receive nourishment for our heart, soul, and Higher Self.
"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:38
When we give of ourselves in service to others, without expectation of something in return, we complete the circuit between us and the Divine. When we open in meditation and give ourselves entirely to the experience, we go beyond the limitations of our ego mind, and the Divine Connection is again made functional.
In these days when technology is opening up pathways of communication and making it possible to effortlessly find the answers to our questions, we may think there is no need to turn within, especially because it requires the effort of discipline, and we are unlikely to experience instant gratification. It is important to remember the Internet can only offer answers to questions regarding the realm of the physical. When we seek answers of a spiritual nature, they can only be found by tapping into Spirit.
It is said life is all about making connections. Indeed. If we were not connected to the Source of All That Is, we would have no life. When we strengthen our connection with the Divine, through service and meditation, the return is a thousand fold.
Around that time, I happened to be struggling with discipline in my own meditation practice. As I sat one day, I asked my guru, Her Holiness, Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi, what I needed to do to become more consistent in my practice. Without pause, the answer came. “Practice. The discipline comes through the practice.” Ask and it is given. The answer, whatever the question, always comes, when we get quiet long enough to listen and hear what our inner guidance, our soul, is attempting to convey.
When we offer our focused intent to our meditation, the answer will be made clear. In that clarity, the “crazy” falls away, and we experience peace of mind. As we give so shall we receive. When we give our self fully to the Divine, we receive its Infinite Blessings.
Contact Katrin For Intuitive Spiritual & Life Guidance, Astrology, Tarot and Destiny Card Readings. email@example.com (315)289-3831
YOGA - BENEFITS OF THE PRACTICE
Yoga is a discipline that currently enjoys renewed awareness and interest. It has become rather ubiquitous. It is now quite mainstream, showing up in commercials and numerous television programs, even occasionally as the topic of controversy in the news. Studios have sprung up like mushrooms in a damp forest, and one can practice in a group class or with a virtual instructor via various apps, YouTube videos, and online classes.
In the West, most people view Yoga as an alternative to, or a complement for their regular fitness regimen. Although Yoga does offer extraordinary physical benefits such as increased strength, flexibility, stamina and balance, as well as enhanced cardiovascular and metabolic functioning, to name only a few, there are additional benefits of which many people may not be aware.
Traditionally, Yoga encompasses many disciplines, all of which are seen as paths toward greater awareness. These ultimately lead to liberation through our expanded consciousness. What we know of today as the asana, or physical postures seen in magazines and videos, are only one aspect of the Yoga practice, called Hatha Yoga. These postures were actually introduced as a means for the earliest yogis to sit in meditation for longer periods of time, in their efforts to reach these higher states of consciousness.
In Sanskrit, “ha” means sun and “tha” translates as moon. In this form of Yoga there is a bringing together of these two vital energies, present in the body and in all life forms, seen as the active or outward moving principle, and the passive or inwardly receptive principle. This is analogous to the Yang and Yin energies of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The word Yoga derives from the root “yug,” meaning to yoke. The implication is one of union, of joining two seemingly opposing things together. Not only are we unifying the active and passive energies in the body, but we are also bringing together and harnessing the mind and the body, through an awareness of the breath.
Let’s imagine that we are farmers with the intention of plowing our fields in springtime so we may plant seeds we will then harvest when they come to fruition in the fall. We also have two great oxen we use to plow our fields, but those mighty beasts are on opposite sides of the field and are highly uncooperative.
Unless we introduce the discipline of the yoke, not much plowing will get done. This sturdy wooden yoke will join them together, so we can steer them in the direction we want them to go. Then will finally be able to plow straight and uniform rows.
Now lets look at this scenario as an analogy for our life. We are indeed the farmer, but in this case, we wish to plant the seeds of our desire and ultimately reap the harvest of our creation in the form of the experiences of our life. The two oxen represent our body and mind. When they are working at cross-purposes, it is very hard to achieve our intentions, but when they are operating in harmony, our life runs in a far more smooth and orderly fashion, and we can achieve our goals with greater ease.
So what then is the yoke, the key to manifesting our desires? Well, the tool that we all have at our disposal is the breath. That seems rather easy, you might say. All I need do is breathe?
Well, the body and the mind might not come together so willingly. The farmer must bring the oxen close enough to place the yoke around their prodigious necks. They are stubborn; they clearly have agendas of their own. The one tends to be like Ferdinand, indolent and loathe to do anything but lay around and smell the flowers, or he is gripped by his passions, pinning away for a cow in the other pasture, while the other is restless and high-strung, bucking and chaffing at anything that would restrain it. It requires perseverance and a tremendous force of will to light a spark in the one, and to quell the inner unrest of the other.
So the farmer must utilize another tool to coax the oxen into alignment. That tool is the ox goad, or, in the case of our efforts, concentration. When we can bring the mind and body into balance through the focused awareness of what is occurring in both, at any given moment, we may harness the power inherent in each and create a vital, harmonious, bountiful life, and continue on our path toward expanded consciousness.
So with Yoga, in order to achieve its greatest benefits, we must dedicate ourselves to the task. We call it a practice for just that reason. We don’t “do” Yoga, we practice it, just as we would a musical instrument or sport. A committed musician or athlete understands to become a master requires one very important thing - discipline. In this discipline of Yoga we fine-tune our instrument, the body, through a focused practice that is firmly anchored in the breath, which vitalizes the body and keeps the mind centered in the present moment.
Yoga provides us with a disciplined practice that allows us to concentrate our awareness fully in the body and with the breath, so we can train our consciousness to a single point of focus. The physical benefits like increased strength, greater flexibility and enhanced lung capacity are a bonus of the practice, like icing on the cake, as it were; they are not its main purpose. Though surely, when body and mind are in balance, we do function more optimally in all areas of our life.
We are all well acquainted with mirrors. Most of us in the western world utilize them on a daily basis. Using a mirror we must engage our sense of sight, which requires light be present. In Yoga, we are developing our sight as well, but this is an inner sight, what we call our intuition, which simply means inner knowledge or knowing. We begin to illuminate the inner landscape in the exploration of the body and the mind, through the physical postures and through focused breath awareness. Eventually, we don’t need these physical mirrors to reflect back to us how we appear to ourselves. In Yoga, we develop an internal awareness, one not contingent on anything external for our sense of self. But more importantly, we gradually discover the true nature of our mind, and we gain control of it, instead of it being in control of us. We are now driving the oxen….
An effect of Yoga is this ability to reflect our thoughts and actions back to us, as if in a mirror or a pool. We observe our thoughts, mind, consciousness and actions and begin to correct them, bringing us into a greater state of balance and equanimity.
The ancient Indian sage Patanjali, who created the first treatise or "handbook" for Yoga over 2500 years ago, said the practice of Yoga is: “Citta Vrtti Nirodha.” Citta means the mind or consciousness, vrtti can be seen as disturbances or fluctuations in the mind, and nirodha translates as “to restrain or subdue”.
If we visualize citta as a lake, its movements (vrtti) are the ripples and waves on the water. In the practice of Yoga, we attempt to still (nirodha) those ripples. When the water is calm, we can more clearly see our true reflection, our true essence. From this place of stillness arises our inspiration. When our mind is still, we can more readily tap into this limitless fountain of Creative Energy.
The practice of Yoga can be described as a process of unlearning. Over the course of our lives we create patterns of behavior and thought that begin to solidify in our bodies and minds (samskaras.) These patterns are what block us from tapping into the stillness. So the continuous flow of this Life Force Energy (prana) is restricted. Yoga clears the obstructions in our bodies and minds, and melts the crystallizations. It softens and releases the blockages that hinder us from tapping into the full power of our creative potential, and manifesting what we desire. Once there is a certain level of mastery, we can eventually move into higher states of awareness and consciousness.
Ultimately, Yoga is a journey of discovery. We are more concerned in this discipline with the process than we are with the product. When we are fully committed to the process, the product cannot help but be beneficial and inspired.
So are you ready to embark? You don’t need to pack anything for this journey, you are far better off coming empty handed, or rather empty minded. So drop your baggage and let’s begin…
Katrin, E-RYT, currently teaches Alignment Based Yoga and Restorative Yoga at CNY Healing Arts. She also offers private instruction and workshops.
Katrin Naumann worked for 20 years as a Theatre Artist, both behind the scenes as a Costume and Scenic Designer, and on stage, film and TV, as an Actor. She has been a lifelong adventurer on the path of Self discovery, which has led to her current role as Director of Inner Balance Life Works. Her holistic healing practice focuses on offering pathways toward (R)evolutionary Self Transformation. Katrin serves the community as an Energy Healer, Intuitive Spiritual Guide, Qigong & Yoga Instructor, Author, Public Speaker, and Workshop Creatrix.