Safe to be yourself

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.

Brene Brown

It feels vulnerable to be your most honest self. Scary as it is, so is the above list. But one brings you closer to you, and closer to Joy, while the other takes you further away. 

Vulnerability is scary, but it’s also the source of your true power, because within it is the real you, and the real you is powerful by nature. 

Mool Mantra to strengthen your sense of Self. It has the vibration of empowerment and increased sense of security.

Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam
Karta Purkh, Nirbao Nirvair
Akaal Moorat Ajoonee
Saibung Gurprasad Jap
Aad Such, Jugaad Such
Haibee Such, Nanak Hosee Bhee Such

The game-changing practice

In these 11 days leading up to Winter Solstice, our instructors are teaching Surya Kriya in their classes at Urban Yoga Chicago. Surya Kriya is a kundalini yoga set that cultivates the sun energy in you, so while the days get shorter, you may have increased ability to tap into the light within you, and feel hearty, energized, focused, clear, and happier. I encourage clients to practice this at home on the days they don’t come in, and in fact, some take it further and commit to doing this kriya for 40 consecutive days. 

According to the Kundalini Yoga tradition, it takes 40 days to create a habit, 90 days to confirm it, 120 days to make it who you are, and 1000 days to master it. The idea is to choose a kriya or meditation that works on the result you are looking for, and to do it for the appropriate amount of days. If you miss a day, you start over from Day 1.  

The truth is, it matters less which kriya or meditation you choose. The real benefit is in committing to the practice for those consecutive days. When you can commit and follow through with this no matter how crazy life gets, or no matter how bored, or how over the practice you are, it cultivates command, grit and caliber of Self within you. This commitment doesn’t come from the outside, but from inside of you: your highest Self.

Because this is self-directed and with no other perceived external reward (like money, promotion or even a high-five from your peers), it is especially effective in cultivating healthy boundaries and sharpening discernment with you as your own reference point. If you break your commitment, no one else has to know. It’s all you. It teaches self-care and nourishment from the angle of self-mastery rather than self-indulgence. And it’s a game changer. 

Don’t fight it

A client who came to class today had this image of climbing up and up during an 18 minute exercise that looked like reaching up to grab thick rope and pulling down on it as if to ring church bells, alternating hands each time. At the end of it, her image turned into falling down bottomless. Her translation of this last image was of failure, and her reaction was something like “no!” She was fighting the idea of failure after having accomplished the 18 minute climb. 

She had resistance against her own thoughts: a visceral reaction against the idea of falling and failing. 

I asked, “What if you just said ‘so what if I failed?’ or just looked at your visual with curiosity, without conclusion? Or what if you embraced what you perceived as failure? After all, failure could only follow having tried, and trying isn’t failing.” 

The point is, why judge and resist a thought that comes up when you can simply look at it as a release?  

Especially during meditation: things bubble up from the past. And they simply need letting go. No judgment. Just compassion. 

Gifting someone the benefit of doubt

…benefits you more than anyone else.

It makes for a happier life, and you see the brighter side of people.

When there is doubt, and you approach with the assumption that they meant well rather than with malice, then you enter into a more open dialog. You let down defenses. 

If you are wrong, that karma belongs to the other person and you move on. Assume good, and you raise the chances of good. This doesn’t mean don’t do due diligence, but it does mean don’t transfer past experiences onto others, nor unfairly judge others. There is more potentiality in relating this way, and the possibilities open much more in your favor. 

Hearing each other

All anyone really wants is communication. Meaning without the sarcasm, without the bravado, without the hidden agenda, the pretense, the judgments and accusations. Just some straight talk. This requires some vulnerability, asking real questions, making sure you’re defining things in the same way when it seems you’re not on the right page, looking for the commonalities, and choosing what battles to fight and what to let go. 

How else will you be heard? How else will you hear the other person?

May we be privileged

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” 

– Brene Brown

When we give a gift to someone who is so delighted by it, it becomes easy to gift that person again and again. When a receiver barely acknowledges it, or throws it aside, not so much. 

The Universe gifts us at every moment. What do we do with them? 

May we be privileged. 

What we pay attention to grows. Why? That’s the language between the Universe and us. By paying attention to what we pay attention to, we are telling the Universe what we want. That is why with gratitude comes abundance. And when we pay attention to what we don’t have or don’t want, there is more of that to experience.

May we know what we have and see the silver lining in every challenge. May we know our privilege. 

I think it is no accident that Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season bookended by the New Year. We get to go into the season – a gift really – filled with giving, receiving, and coming together, even when completely challenged by our families. We set aside time for them; something many of us won’t do during the rest of the year. Or we get to see how we can create community – a family of choice. There is opportunity for gratitude as we step into the holidays. We get to see and work through the important issues that we bury under a lot of busy-ness the rest of the year. Those issues come alive during this time… effectively setting us up to close the season and start fresh on New Year’s Day with renewed inspiration, determination and intention for new possibility in our lives.

May we embrace the gift of holiday to see what we need to see and harness them to become what we need to become. For we are privileged. 

Sat Nam.