A Journey to the Heart
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are the guiding light on our experience and journey of yoga. Yoga means Union, to bring together, to yoke. What is it that we are bringing into union? Nichala Joy Devi offers a beautiful interpretation:
“Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.”
One way we can think of consciousness is as the container of our thoughts. As we still our minds and slow down our thoughts, it is then we can abide in the heart and experience our true nature.
Where do we begin? A beautiful practice for living in the heart is acceptance. Love begins with acceptance. It is in self-acceptance, in each moment, that the mind can find stillness and rest. In fact, unconditional acceptance IS Love; we no longer need to choose for or against what is present. At this point, our consciousness begins to rest in the seat of loving awareness, right in our heart space. Our practice is simply noticing, accepting, and allowing for what is showing up in the space of awareness.
“United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature – joy.” – Nichala Joy Devi
This month we invite you to share the intention of self-love, compassion, and acceptance. We can cultivate this practice on the mat during our asana practice. When self-judgment arises, we guide our breath and consciousness into our heart space. It is here that judgment and resistance melt away into compassion and acceptance. As we nurture this practice, the conditions we typically lay out for self-acceptance begin to disappear. When acceptance of ourselves as we are becomes unconditional, this deepens our practice into one of self-love and compassion. Love for what is, as is, starting with ourselves.
When you’re able to practice self-love and compassion on your mat, you’ll begin to notice more acceptance for what is off the mat. Of course, you’ll also notice when you’re not practicing compassion for yourself, but you’ll have more awareness around negative self-talk and catch yourself. And please understand that each time you catch yourself, it’s a victory! It takes a tremendous amount of awareness and practice to gain the ability to notice the negativity and step back from it: you are cultivating self-compassion; hooray for you!!
During this month of Love and Valentine’s celebration, we invite you to start with yourself. We know that chocolates, cards, and roses are wonderful, but we promise you there’s no better gift than self-love and compassion.
Happy Valentine’s Day and Much Love Every day to all of You!