Off The Mat.
How's your "off the mat" practice going?
When I practice yoga, it's just that - an opportunity to practice how I'd like to be in my actual life, OFF the mat. The challenges that we are presented with on the mat give us opportunities to discover the deeper wells of wisdom, stillness, courage & joy that lie within, and hopefully an insight in how they can be practically applied.
The path of the average Yogi is the 8 fold path. The idea is that we can climb up the ladder of consciousness, all the way to enlightenment, but as we move up that ladder we must keep one foot (or 'limb') on the current & previous bars, at the same time as moving up. This means that in order to climb to the top of this ladder we need to grow some extra limbs! Let me try to explain that again...if we neglect the lessons we have already learned (keeping one foot on the previous bar), and continue the climb, it is inevitable that we will fall - and frequently do. For example, the very first level for the Yogi to master is the Yamas & Niyamas (the do's and don'ts of conscious living - the Yogis code of ethics), they lay the foundation for every Yogi's journey. These are essentially how we behave in our daily lives; how we react or respond to seemingly mundane situations, the choices we make - how we practice life 'off the mat'. Neglecting these will almost certainly lead to a fall, and likely a bruised ego.
The very first (and arguably the most important) Yama is Ahimsa - loosely referred to as compassion or non violence. I've never really been satisfied with those translations and Iactually think a more appropriate word is reverence. Whilst planning the themes for the BHB Creativity Retreat today I was asked what reverence really is, and it made me think....
Reverence is engaging beyond the immediate surface, right into the essence of life. Reverence is a deep respect for life - to the point that the seemingly mundane has an essence of the sacred. When everything is sacred it is impossible to cause any harm. Reverence is not to be confused with respect - respect carries tones of judgement. It is possible to respect one person & not another but it is impossible to revere only one person without having reverence for all life. With reverence comes awe at this physicallife and a very deep sense of gratitude.
Making a lot of time for deep immersion in meditation & feeling right on top of my 'on mat' practice is lovely of course - but it's what happens off the mat that really matters.
Looking forward to seeing you soon.
ps - I'm teaching the next 2 mondays (see below) but will then be off to Bali for a month to teach on 3 retreats. Due to popular demand we have decided to run a 2nd Big Hearted Business Creativity Retreat in November - see the BHB website below to apply.
Due to a cancellation there are 2 places left for my 7 day Yoga Immersion (6th-13th September, info below) due to the late notice I am offering these places at a heavily reduced rate so please let me know if you are interested.