“To offer our hearts in faith means recognizing that our hearts are worth something, that we ourselves, in our deepest and truest nature, are of value." ~ Sharon Salzberg
It’s common at the beginning of a yoga class for the teacher to ask the student to set an intention. “Why are you here? What is it that you want to embody in your life?” As students we set our intention on something physical; strength in the body or openness. Or something mental; clarity, focus, wisdom. Sometimes emotional; balance, peace. Spiritual; such as connection, oneness, or the desire to know who we are at our core. Even if you have never before stepped onto a yoga mat you may have a dream for your life or a desire for how you want to show up everyday in the world.
I have come to know for myself that if I were to dissect any of my current intentions what I would find underneath is LOVE. The desire to know love, be love, act from a place of love and to remember that I am loved; always. Even if in that moment I’m coming to the mat to heal my damaged knee what is at the root of wanting to be healthy and free and strong and capable is love. Love for my body, for the life I’ve been given and quality of how I want to live it.
I was recently inspired by an article that a friend shared with me titled “Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love”. It’s so interesting to me that in the year 2016 we seem farther away from love than ever. The author Bell Hooks said “Fundamentally, the practice of love begins with acceptance—the recognition that wherever we are is the appropriate place to practice, that the present moment is the appropriate time. But for so many of us our longing to love and be loved has always been about a time to come, a space in the future when it will just happen, when our hungry hearts will finally be fed, when we will find love.”
I realized as I read those words, that if we are not thoughtful in our habits, each time we embark on a new way of eating, join a gym, begin a yoga class, change our hair color or pick up a self help book the intention that we set for these for these seemingly wonderful additions to our life can be a subtle form of aggression against who we are now. The tendency is to think that as we sit now is imperfect. That we could possibly be better than we are now, fixed, made whole. We think that we are only one yoga class/juice cleanse/silent retreat away from being worthy.
In essence we are at war with ourselves.
This internal dilemma is the dormant volcano we sit on as we experience the world around us. With our insides bubbling with displeasure we frame the world around us with the perspective of annoyance, frustration, not good enough, imperfection and my personal favorite…..they should know better.
The article went on to quote Dr. Martin Luther King who said: “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace.… If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
Bell Hooks continued “In cultivating love, we remember one of the most powerful truths the Buddha taught … that the forces in the mind that bring suffering are able to temporarily hold down the positive forces such as love or wisdom, but they can never destroy them.… Love can uproot fear or anger or guilt, because it is a greater power. Love can go anywhere. Nothing can obstruct it.”
Our meditation practice speaks to this. It’s only in the stillness of the present moment that we can know who we are at our core. That we can experience the love that is our truest nature. Once we are able to let the anger burn through, the frustration to unravel in our brains, the anxiety to well up to the point of shaking, we can move through it all. We will see what exists on the other side. We have to stop thinking that because we have have anger we are angry, because we have frustration that we are confusion. NO, we are love.
It has to begin with the sweet self that we see in the mirror every day. And if you can’t possibly believe that you are worthy or deserving or if you are spending your days blaming someone else, like I did for far too long, then I offer you a tool.
Try meditation. There are apps you can download that will play chimes to bring you back when you get distracted. Take a walk without any electronics. My favorite is to sit first thing in the morning, cup of tea or coffee in hand, set the timer and enjoy. I just sit. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Just sit, take a sip, watch the breath. I often repeat my intention over and over, sometimes I allow the the negativity to boil because if it doesn’t I’ll spread it out into the world and I’m trying really hard to spread love instead of hate. It really never matters how I show up to my meditation, the practice meets me right where I am every time. Eventually I’m reminded of how good things really are. Over time I'm able to hear that "you, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection." ~Buddha
Here are two of my mantras I repeat:
“I am……” (because whatever follows this phrase will find you. Make it fabulous.)
And a loving kindness meditation:
May I be happy
May I be well
May I be safe
May I be peaceful and walk on this earth with ease
May you be happy
May you be well
May you be safe
May you be peaceful and walk on this earth with ease.