KEEP THE CHANNEL OPEN
I recently posted a three-part blog series on Karma Yoga and selfless service. I have been contemplating for some time what service truly means. For much of my life, I thought of it as something external, to serve “others”, to act for someone or something “out there”.
I am beginning to understand service as being most simply about presence, being connected to the fullness of this moment as it is. When I am present, I feel connected to others and to all things. In that presence, if the energy arises to act in service, I act accordingly.
I am now also finding my own self in this picture of service. The energy to serve arises through this body. It is my job to honour and listen to it, selflessly. I play small when I do not listen to that impulse. I interfere, get in the way, and become an obstacle to service.
I understand more fully that to be in I Am presence is to be in service to the creative flow. To be present is to be our unfiltered, fully expressed magnificence. The great modern dancer Martha Graham, who is said to be like the Picasso of dance, once illustrated this point so beautifully. She said:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. Because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions… You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”
TUNE INTO YOUR SOUL’S ROAD MAP
Parallel to the growth of my musical work has been the evolution of my spiritual practice, which guides every day of my life. I greet each morning with a long meditation sit that gives me the clarity and insight to meet each moment throughout the day with utmost receptivity. Meditation to me is like cleaning the windows of my car before going on a road trip. Seeing the road with greater clarity, I can enjoy the ride more fully and avoid potential accidents.
Through art, I explore the art of being. Meditation, then, is the creative source for all of my products, from conscious music and shows, to YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine DVDs and workshops, to my upcoming self-help book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie. I create, contemplate, reflect upon, am inspired by the very core of life as “beingness”.
Meditation gives us not only a clear window out onto life’s road, but an inward view into our soul-driven guidance, a clear road map of where we are going and what actions are ours to take.
Through my practice, I have met an aspect of my shadow this month that has caught me by surprise. I realize that I have become accustomed to how much hard work I have put in over the years, and at some level feel overly exposed, vulnerable and raw if that struggle were to disappear. Some part of my ego takes comfort in the idea that “at least I tried hard” should my life not unfold the way I envision. I can take false pride in telling others and myself “how hard I am working”. But to what end? These thoughts only come from me feeling less than, not good enough, somehow divided from life, as though life were happening to me. In these thoughts I resist my potential, my fullness, this moment and life itself! What good can come of such hiding?
Bicycle training wheels eventually come off so that we can ride on bigger streets. The struggle that I have known has given me some form of meaning, a way to identify so that I could cope with life’s challenges and feel self-importance. But struggling has been about playing it small, darting from what I perceived as potentially harmful or scary. It served me at some stage of my life. It may have helped me feel safe at some point in my past, or I would not have chosen it. Now, however, it hinders my growth. I have outgrown this way of relating to the world and to myself. I no longer want to meet life this way. In my hiding and struggling, everyone loses. I resist growth. I block the creative flow that wishes to express itself through me. That light is never born to share with the world, for me to witness and for others to enjoy.
So I meet this day and ask myself, what if my life were to move into effortless flow? Am I willing to meet it? In essence, the question really is, am I willing to be a more open, freer, stronger, more powerful me? In this, there is a letting go, even a death of some aspect of my ego, some way in which I have seen myself. I am reminded of this fabulous Marianne Williamson quote from her book A Return to Love:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
ARE YOU READY TO SHINE?
There are no guarantees in life. Despite hard work and great products it takes divine grace to succeed in our efforts. I believe, as Martha Graham so beautifully expresses, that our job is to be maximally open and receptive for grace to flow. Understanding that, I have been asking myself some intimate questions as I move closer to the release of my upcoming Yoga In the Nightclub music video. Try asking yourself the following as you check in with yourself to see if you are blocking your flow in some way:
- Has struggle become my identity? That is, have I become so attached to an idea of myself as needing to struggle that I think it is just part of life and who I am?
- What would life be like without struggle?
- Am I ready for my life to be in ease and flow?
- Am I truly open to that idea, even as a possibility?
- Have I become used to complaining or hiding behind “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve”, feeling helpless as I watch my life passing me by?
- Am I ready to wake up each morning and feel inspired, alive, on path, engaged?
- If life were truly effortless for me, would I somehow feel lost, adrift or purposeless?
I recently saw a BBC interview of a British musician who just broke out on the UK scene. As I watched I quietly felt that someday, maybe in the not too distant future, it would be me sitting in that interviewee chair. I fully welcome that possibility! The TV show introduction quoted Anaïs Nin, author of avant garde novels in the French surrealistic style. The quote struck me deeply. May it inspire you as it did me:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”