Recognize that the other person is you

So many epithets and accusations are being hurled these days (especially in my country, and I bet you might guess which one that is). What’s the last one you heard online or on the news? “You *&#%!” “Those people are _____!” It’s almost as if the person hurling the insult and the other person it’s aimed at are completely separate beings…. when in reality, we are made of the same spirit and stuff. We are all deeply connected, even if we haven’t yet met or never will. We may have been taught this as a spiritual truth, and we can also experience it for ourselves through our deepening practice.

The other person is you

Judgement and accusations are very convenient ways to get rid of the aspects of ourselves that we are uncomfortable with, what Western psychology calls Splitting and Projection. Here’s this part of myself that I cannot accept, that I’ve been told is bad or ugly or undesirable for whatever reason, so I’m just going to split it off of myself and project it onto the next available person! And this is terribly easy to do, if you experience others as totally separate from you.

Some years ago, I began to notice my judgements about other people. When I was looking around in public absentmindedly, I found myself thinking things like, “She should really _____.” or “He shouldn’t _____ like that.” Instead of telling myself not to judge or that I was a bad person, I was very lucky to get curious about these thoughts! When I got intimate with each judgement, I could sit with it, get good and comfortable with it, and ask myself, “What’s this really about?” When I got really friendly with my judgements about other’s unique or unusual appearances, I found that they were really about my fear of looking different or standing out. When I got really friendly with my judgements about other people talking too much, I found they were about my reluctance to use my own voice. When I got really friendly with my judgements about other people being messy, I found they were about my need to comply with others’ ideas about order and cleanliness I had received as a child. Each and every judgement pointed to a specific part of myself that I was cut off from! This was truly a revelation for me. And, with practice, I could read these road signs in the moment, even as I was making a judgement about someone, asking, “Wait, what am I really feeling about myself that this person is reminding me about?”

Mirroring

Then I had to do the work to reclaim all of these lost and hidden parts, in which my yoga and meditation practice were instrumental. It was a long process, but now I no longer need to think of myself as good or bad, but as a human being, who sometimes does things that turn out well and sometimes causes unwanted consequences, like we all do. And here’s the magical part (not really magic, but it sure seems that way sometimes): When I could tell myself, “I love and accept my body and my weight.” I did not have any need to judge other people’s body weight at all. Accepting myself fully allowed me to interact with others from my wholeness, and that meant that I could also accept them in their wholeness, exactly as it presented itself. There was no longer any need to judge at all. The founding Teacher of my tradition gave us five Sutras for the Aquarian Age, the intense and profoundly changing times we are living in. They are similar to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, short aphorisms that describe how to live our yoga. I never understood and always wondered about this one: Recognize That the Other Person Is You. Now I believe this is what he was trying to tell us, each person we meet is us. We are all one. So my every interaction with you can show me more of myself. And from that understanding, I can do nothing but become more whole and appreciate the whole of others. My prayer is that we may all do this work, to eliminate separation and make our world whole.

Livdhyan, SivaOM Yoga

Dancing with Movement and Breath in Yoga

The dance of breath

Breath-it is the first thing we do when we enter the world and the last thing we do as we leave it. It is something that is considered natural as we go throughout our day to day activities. No one ever really thinks about taking a breath-inhale or exhale, it just happens.

I think back to my first yoga class and don’t recall any specific focus on breathing, just using a mention of Ujjayi breath as we took a pose or moved through a flow. I did my best, but I don’t think I had a full understanding of it. Moving through my own journey I have an understanding of Ujjayi and its purpose~creating heat, warming the body, creating space and bringing focus. The sound that Ujjayi provides, helps us to synchronize breath with movements, making the entire yoga practice more rhythmic. Before, I was only practicing asana, but nothing breathing optimally.

First inhale in Suryanamaskar A

Now, if you have been practicing yoga for a while you may be familiar with the relationship of breath & movement. You may understand that certain movements correspond to either an inhale or an exhale~each complimenting and facilitating on another. I like to look at like a dance….because over time this practice begins to feel so natural the breath and movement flow, similar to the movement of a dancer. You begin to flow as the breath flows and you think less of the specifics. You start to notice that you will breathe in a way that, for the most part, matches your practice.

Practicing the dance

As you practice your breath, there is an important aspect of this relationship that may not be notice right away, or perhaps it is left out. Not only is your breath linked to the movement, but it should initiate it. Even before your arms rise in Suryanamaskara (Sun Salutation), your inhale should start. By doing this, you use your energy of breath to lift your arms. Before you take that forward fold, exhalation guides your descent. Taking time to practice breath initiating movement will change your practice, I know it did for me. I feel that not only does it take me deeper into a pose, but deeper into the practice. It has heighten my awareness of each pose – I feel the movement, I feel the dance.

For those that are just being, you may not be able to initiate every single movement – especially learning Ujjayi breath, but try as much as possible and you will begin to see it become more natural. Taking that inhale to initiate the lengthening of your body, exhaling as you come down to catch your toes in Padangustasana (big toe pose). Take an inhale lifting the head and chest – creating more length and space, exhale coming deeper into the pose. Staying here for 5 breathes-releasing tension and lengthening. Inhale, lifting the head and chest, exhale releasing the pose. Maybe as you get more comfortable your breath will become deeper. Consider experimenting with your breath while you practice and notice how your practice will evolve when you let the breath take the lead.

Breath is life

There is a profound connection between the breath and the mind. Breath is vital. Breath is life. Without any deliberate effort, continuously breathed by our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)- and unlike any other ANS actions in the body, we are able to take voluntary control over our breathing. This can influence our Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System. When we breath Ujjayi breath we transform the automatic into the deliberate and thereby become the master of our internal picture. We can positively affect how we feel be adjusting the length, air volume and sound of those inhales and exhales.

Just breathe!

Like in my own practice and in the classes I teach- I focus more on the breath. In class, I call every inhale and exhale. This sets the rhythm – like a human metronome – which you begin to internalize.

“As breath stills our mind, our energies are free to unhook from the senses and bend inward” – B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life.

Lorie, Team SivaOM Yoga