I am writing this from the Buchi Bar in Asheville while taking a Yoga as Therapy training with Doug Keller. After the morning session, another student asked me if I found the lectures overwhelming with the breadth of information being presented. I was reminded that if we aren’t careful some of the teachings can increase the divide between the mind and heart by wanting to do poses “anatomically right” while lacking an inner connection. This can make the teachings dry and flavorless which detracts from their intended purpose of improved mood, energy and connection! I scanned myself for a moment before answering that I felt more inspired and excited to teach than ever! I felt elated and thirsty to know more, and I started to consider how mood can affect our experiences.
Everything we think, say, or do contributes to the generation of bhava or mood. It is also known as our “true feeling state.” I like to think of it as the heart and soul of our life, what inspires us to create and connect deeply with others. To find bhava, we can begin by practicing awareness. Awareness allows us to discover connection, learning to truly savor what life is presenting us.
I write this as I am sipping on an interesting Kombucha blend at the bar. I notice the unique flavors of vanilla, clove and apple harmonizing on my palate. Simultaneously I can smell the fresh pine of a holiday wreath and enjoy watching the sun dancing on the remaining leaves of a maple tree outside. There is joy and fullness to be found all around us if we remember to listen.
As the pace of our lives quicken, we can forget this awareness and life becomes dry, tasteless, and void of meaning. For me it was the experience of a flavorless existence that made me yearn for something more. That is what (unbeknownst at the time) brought me to the practice of yoga. I discovered my mood after I did yoga was lighter, more vibrant, and I felt elated and inspired to do more! Through yoga I found the “juicy” quality of life.
Now that I have an awareness of which activities promote bhava, I find myself seeking out those activities and elements of those activities while I am doing other things, like cleaning out my car. Where can I find a juicy quality of life even while doing seemingly mundane tasks? This reminded me of a lesson I learned during my 200hr teacher training of an important characteristic of Tantric yoga philosophy, the “householder path.”
One of the greatest gifts Tantric philosophy gave to the practice of Hatha yoga is the “householder path” or the concept that we can simultaneously dedicate ourselves to a path of spiritual unfoldment without needing to remove ourselves from society and all the responsibilities of daily life. This was a revolutionary concept because it revealed we need not move to a cave to find enlightenment, but that enlightenment can be found in every moment, even the seemingly mundane tasks of house chores and driving in traffic.
To find the juicy quality of life in all moments, we can begin by recognizing every aspect and layer of embodiment is an expression of spirit. That all layers are expressions of the divine, and that there can be no distinction between spiritual and mundane. We have to do the work to transform the way we see the world, to transmute our perception of the world through the lens of divine Consciousness. I invite you to fall in love with the whole of reality exactly as it is. This does not mean we fall into the pitfall of complacency and dull dryness. In fact it’s the very opposite! We acknowledge the sacred is all around us, and begin to treasure our existence and embark on a journey to know our Self fully.
Sankalpa or intention is what creates a mold for Consciousness to know Itself. I invite you to start with a Sankalpa at the beginning of your asana, pranayam, or meditation practice. You don’t have to remember the intention throughout the duration of your practice. It’s not so much about a mental construct as an energetic orientation, and you can pour your practice into this mold. Fill it with light! Finding purpose unlocks your ability to let go of fear. Consciousness is always seeking to know itself and must know itself until the intention is realized. One of my spiritual teachers, Hareesh Wallis, taught me about Bodhi Citta or the mind bent on awakening. It means that when something in you says “yes” it is already accomplished. That really stuck with me because I need to be clear on what I am saying “yes” to! Having a clear intention helps funnel energy towards replenishing the juice in life so that we remember we are drinking from a well that can never be dry.
I am pondering these concepts as I drink the last of my Kombucha, realizing that almost everything in life can be depleted except the inner well of Consciousness. Spirit will always abide. I can trust in that and choose to be present with the intention of promoting bhava, even during the next 3 hours of Yoga anatomy lecture. Of course, if you know me, geeking out on anatomy and physiology is one of my favorite things to do!
Peace and Blessings y’all! ~Hayley