How To Take Off The Mask And Be Kind To Yourself

This week marks Halloween. Originally the night before the Christian festival All Souls Day, it commemorated souls that had departed. Today Halloween has become a time of pumpkins, candy and costumes. For many, it is an opportunity to try on a different look or personality, leaving the everyday self our friends and colleagues recognize to explore new personae. I love designing different characters and costumes for my shows that share creative possibilities year-round. Yet, this time of costumes brings to mind a tendency we all have to some extent or another. Sometimes the masquerade is not about what we put on at Halloween, but the masks we may not realize we wear all year. Without realizing it, we may be attached to ideas of who we are that feed our egos while disconnecting us from the full experience of ourselves and life.

In a material world, where success, money, power and fame are common goals, we polish our egos by grabbing onto the temporary high of identifying with “I am the VP of sales”, “I am Miss Reliability”… We all appropriate an identity in some way or another. In doing so, we try to fill up a sense of emptiness by taking on an idea of with someone we want to be. We also feed a restless wanting and sidestep the real work of facing our shadow.

We appropriate things we think of as “better than” to try to get rid of things we don’t like. But just as when we buy a new dress or car to try to fill us up, or when we flit from one relationship to the next in search of the high of “perfect” love, we haven’t gotten rid of the problems we’ve been carrying. We can hide for some time in what seems to be a shiny, fresh glow, until our shadows come calling once again.

Conversely, we may unconsciously be attached to an identity of being worthless, impure, incapable or ugly. Without knowing why, we find ourselves repeating actions that support this identification, such as letting down friends, making unhealthy choices, not getting our work done on time, or living in unkempt and messy surroundings. We may seek anything that promises distraction, so that we do not have to face our own pain.

The spiritual community is not immune to this. When we deem something “spiritual”, we want it, and balk at what we think won’t make us blissful. We spend our time chasing rainbows without considering the ground. Taking on the identity of a yogi, yoga teacher, meditation instructor, churchgoer, pastor, spiritualist, healer or guru has the same potential for ego trickiness as taking on names or titles in the material world. Whatever identity we take on, “spiritual” or not, is based on the illusive sense of having power over others, and ultimately, fuels the self-delusion of having power over our shadow.

Where there are humans, there are shadows. The opportunity to touch these shadows does not spark from condemnation or judgment. Instead it arises from the sincere desire to remember our true nature and consciously rest in the whole as we return to the One.

Though we tend to hide our shadows in the dark or try to outshine them by focusing exclusively on the light, we need to pause for a moment and humbly become aware of them because they are opportunities for awakening. They are aspects of ourselves, severed from our awareness, tied up in holding onto perceptions of separation, helplessness and pain.

By looking at our shadows with compassion and understanding, they provide us with the mineral-rich pond scum from which our inner pure, white lotus can bloom. Roses grow best in manure. The lotus arises from the mud.

We must not judge that which we fear, that which we deem dirty, or unspiritual, because when we accept the gift of the mud, the flower can bloom. It is all part of and within the whole. When we find the self-love and courage to address our shadows, we move, in a more grounded, humble manner, into the fullness of life. We become the unaffected beings of light that we most naturally are.

Until next week,

Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.

Parvati

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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WHAT LIGHT GETS YOU THROUGH YOUR DAY?

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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Let me know how yoga and YEM have touched your life. You can send a link to a video by you if you would like. Comments may be shared on my website if you check the "permission to share" box.
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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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