As 2012 comes to a close, some of us celebrate the good that has entered our lives and reconcile that which has brought sadness, insecurity, or anger. This kind of emotional (vichara), or self-reflection, is a powerful way of releasing the past and making space for new life to flourish. I often celebrate the New Year by making a list of my intentions for the year to come — writing down what I want for myself, using affirmative language, and, of course, making it all sound yogically kosher: "In the year to come, I'll serve my students with joy. I'll experience abundance in my spiritual, emotional, and material life. I'll live within my heart and center and respond through love." Stuff like that. This year I intend on spending more time consciously recollecting my words and actions of the previous year... Something that's not always easy, but I find that it is exactly what I need sometimes.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says that Vichara/Self-Reflection is a way of clearing the underbrush out of our inner field. When we make up our mind to look clearly at our own unconscious actions, or the inner murk that can hide our less savory motives, we dissolve a lot of the sludge that we carry around in our heart. The miracle of (Vichara), or self-reflection is that it creates a current of self-awareness that can bring transformation all by itself. The process of recalling a charged event, bringing it to consciousness, feeling remorse if appropriate, and then letting it go is the precursor to letting go of the negativity and self-judgment embedded in the memories of actions we might regret.
Looking at ourselves honestly is not easy for most of us. Often it's downright uncomfortable. Our habits of self-justification, blame, and denial are sometimes deeply rooted. Some of us have a hard time admitting our successes. Most of us have an even harder time admitting our mistakes. One reason for this is that we identify so closely with our usual way of doing things that we don't believe that we can change. Sometimes we don't want to! However, the more you get in the habit of looking back at your day, week, or month and clearing your discomfort, the more automatic it becomes.
And so this morning I spent time rearranging my alter and my inner-self to reflect my new focus and intention for the upcoming year -- Gratitude and Self-Healing. The essence of an altar is to honor Divine energies, express gratitude, give offerings and ask for blessings and protection. My last alter was focused on opening my heart and so it had pictures of people I hoped to forgive or send love and compassion and peace towards... My new alter includes a picture of my grandparents and of my love, Mike. Other little things are here and there. A mala that I gave to my Grandma about a year before she died. Flowers and a rose quartz mala that Mike gave me. Crystals, incense, and pictures of deities that create a loving feeling in my heart... A quote that moves me, which I posted in the last blog entry, but you can read it here if you like.
While I was adding a few finishing touches on my new space, I became just a little bit sad... The idea of purposely spending time meditating on my own self-healing and continued gratitude for everything, well it's a little bit intimidating. And then, this song came on my iPod (Into your arms - Ashana). Perfect timing. I closed my eyes, naturally fell into a meditative position, my left hand went into Gyan Mudra, while my right hand rested on my heart... and I surrendered... to myself, to my past, to the future.
I sent love to my past, present, and future self and to everyone I love... Despite having a following moment of slightly wet lashes, it has been a good day. This new alter seems to create a feeling of peace and harmony with the way my life is at this moment. I feel more gratitude for the people in my life, the memories I have, whether good or bad; the experiences I've endured or thrived in... So today, I adjusted my alter, spent about 25 minutes in seated meditation, practiced Anusara Yoga and then went running/frolicking with my dog Gracie. I feel really whole and happy today. I hope you do too.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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by Amy Ippoliti
Enlightenment Is Your Nature: The Fundamental Difference Between Psychology, Therapy, and Meditation
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"From Aldea Yanapay (great school of love to children), to the incredible homely hostel la boheme, to the food at mercado san blas and at greenpoint... My 6 weeks in Cusco/Qosqo/centre/gravitational centre were all truly well balanced out by Ashley ● I have been doing yoga for five years in London, Lisbon and NYC and I was wonderfully surprised by the teacher Ashley in Cusco, Peru. From her words, to the sense of opportunity, helping, the pace, the getting everyone's names and brief "why am I here", taste for music and simply those oils... vinyasa gained a new look for me. ● You made me feel so balanced out, just when I needed that push. May your excellent work continue and your knowledge be taken further." ~ Yours, Ana Maria (portugal)
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