Today, I had the comment of one of my student: “Ah, it seems that our yoga teacher (me) is not so zen.”
So first, let’s define ZEN:
One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.
Well, if I take this definition, I am not zen. My body and mind are not aligned. And I am definitely the prisoner of my own, negative thoughts. As we are creators of our own destiny, negative thoughts bring negative perception of the reality, so I see the world as a difficult and hostile place. But wait a moment…saying this, I am aware what is happening, and this is probably what it means to be on the yoga path. Who said that yoga teacher is always zen? We have our own ups and downs, we are searching our way, our Truth, and what we do while teaching, is sharing our own experience and learning permanently from our students.
What I learn in past years is that there is one issue common to most of us, and it is the lack of self-love. It is the issue regularly coming back in many disguised. Usually it starts with “I have a problem.” With friends, bosses, kids, husbands/wives, job, money…whatever. But asking questions, we arrive in the point when the answer is: “Because I am not good enough.”
Recently I reopened the book of Louise L.Hay “You Can Heal your Life”, and I will share what are the ways we don’t love ourselves according to her:
We scold and criticise ourselves endlessly.
We mistreat our bodies with food, alcohol, and drugs.
We choose to believe we are unlovable.
We are afraid to charge a decent price for our services.
We creat illness and pain in our bodies.
We procrastinate on things that would benefit us.
We live in chaos and disorder.
We create debt and burdens.
We attract lovers and mates who belittle us.
Well, you may find a lot of variations of all above, but I found that those are very common symptoms. What exactely happen when we don’t love ourselves and we are harmful to us, and by extention to others? We are not having a Trust, because love means trust. So we don’t trust ourselves and we don’t trust others. We live in separatness and the world look as a dangerous and unhappy place. We usually blame others for our unhappiness and we are trying to change the exterior factors (if only she/he could change, if only i loose the weight, if only I have a better job…), but nothing works. We cannot change anything if we don’t acknowledge first where the real problem is. Not outside, it is inside of us. We suffer, and we are in denial of the true cause: we suffer because we don’t love ourselves, we live in the state of self beating and self accusation. Now, where is a suffering, is the Ego. Who really suffer? Our Ego, because our true Self is free of suffering.
Don’t blame the Ego. His job description is to pull us down and make us feel different from others. The difference is in our personality, in our individuality, the true nature of all of us is the same. We are Love beings, with human experiences, and we just forgot it.
So how to find the self love? This is the question.
If I answer as a yoga teacher, it is quite simple: yoga is union of body, mind and breath, so let’s work one by one.
1. Body: clean your body. Move (asanas), detox, more water, less coffee, alcohol, junky food and medicines. Easy to say, hard to do. But it is the first step to start somewhere, and this part is accessible to all of us. We don’t need the years of training to kick out the unhealthy food or drinks from our kitchen. The results are visible within few days. Not that we loose the weight, but we feel LIGHTER. As all is connected, lighter in the body, lither in our mind!
2. Mind: it is more tricky part. Clean your mind…and the immediate question of my students is HOW???? I call the process THINK PINK. Cultivate the opposite. Catch the negative thought or emotion, watch it, and replace it by the positive one.
I am not good enough….I m good enough as I am right now.
I will never get the job …. I will have this job.
The people around is really horrible….. The people is nice and everybody wants to be happy .
It sucks… It is ok as it is.
One important part of the mind cleaning is the forgiveness. It is very powerful tool, but most of us struggle with the concept. Well, one thing is clear. Without forgiveness, we poison ourselves with the anger and the resentment. Can you imagine that the person we are having such a painful thoughts against is probably living happily ever after and don’t even dream that we could be so upset with? So who suffer right here and why?
There is famous sentence of Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them because they don’ t know what they are doing”. Can we admit for little moment that we get hurt in the past because the people who “hurt us” was ignorant not only about what they are doing, but about whole concept of who they are and why they are here? Are we hurting others because we don’t know what we are “doing”? Ignorance ( avidya), is important concept in yoga and it is one of the causes of suffering. Ignorance does not mean lack of the knowledge, but lack of the wisdome to see the reality how it is. We all see the world trough the colored glasses and the coloring is our own life experience and conditioning by education, society and people and experiences we meet. If we cannot easily to clean the coloring, we can at least realize which shade is paying the games with us:)
So practically, how to forgive? How to clean our mind? We can sit quietly for 5-15 minutes. We calm our body and the mind will follow after the while. I use also the visualization of the person I need to forgive as somebody who is leaving on the big boat , and I am staying at the dock and smiling, with love, moving the white scarf wishing good bye…. and I just let go:)
3. Breath: the breath is of vital importance for us. It is source of life and energie. No doubt. But it is also the powerful tool to cleanse our system (CO2 out), and controle the mind.
Yoga says: “The Mind is the king of the senses, but the Breath is the king of the Mind.” If we can control our breath, we can control our mind. Try to breath deeply, trough your belly, for 4 minutes. Consciousely. Magic, right?
With the consciouse breath, the consciouse part of our brain expand. And what happen when it expand? We are more aware!
Awareness is the clue. It gives us the lightness and freedom in our actions as we know exactly what is happening outside and inside. By breathing consciously, we create a happy space in our body and in our mind, which makes the place for the acceptance and self love. With awareness, we can understand that we are living in the fear of being not good enough, in the fear of the judgment of others, and where is fear, is not love. Once we see this, we can transform our lives by having clarity about ourselves, our motivations and emotions. And the final transformation is the realization who we really are: Love Beings!
Acceptance – Transformation – Self Esteem – Self Love – Unconditional Happiness = Bliss