7 Ways to Transform your Life… from 7 Expert Yogis
How can the concept of “being yoga” apply to personal transformation for the everyday person – not just the avid yogi?
Here’s what I found out from seven expert yogis at the Omega Being Yoga Conference Retreat at their beautiful Rhinebeck, New York campus:
1. Deprogram ‘Your Story’ – The question seasoned yogi Peter Sterios poses is “How do we deprogram the way we respond to situations in our life… all of the emotional stories that we tell ourselves?” His answer is self-awareness: “What’s cool about this is once you become self-aware that this is a story, you can rewrite the script. The way you can test whether you are successful or not in making transformative changes is that the quality of your friendships start to change. The so-called ‘problem people’ in your life start to fall away. You start to see these incredible, dynamic people showing up in your life — and it’s a snowball effect.”
2. Be Clear On Your Intention – Jivamukti co-founder Sharon Gannon shares: “We should remember that the intention underlying an action, whatever that action may be — standing on our heads, jogging, washing dishes, making dinner, or making love — will determine the outcome of that action. What is on our minds at the time we are doing whatever it is we are doing is more important to the outcome than what we are actually doing physically. Be careful what you wish for, because your thoughts are the most powerful force working upon you.”
3. Stop Doing – Yoga Shanti Owner Colleen Saidman Yee added, “It’s really hard to be if we’re doing, doing, doing, pushing, producing, trying to become somebody or something.” She emphasized, “stepping off the treadmill and letting that be a routine every single day. Minus things from the schedule instead of adding things to the schedule.” She acknowledged that it’s really easy to say but really hard to do. I asked her how we start. She said, “To know that silent point I think you need to sit with it for awhile to become intimate with it to get to know it before you can go out and keep that connection.”
4. Take Time To Connect To Your Center – Acclaimed teacher Rodney Yee shared: “When we can physically and mentally begin to associate ourselves to these still points we can in some way take this impermanence that is running around as busyness a little less serious and it then doesn’t hook our spirit. You can do a lot in the world but you don’t have to be crazy. We have to practice staying connected to that center once we find it and once we continue to find it so it’s a moment by moment process.”
5. Bring Your Attention To The Present – Veteran yogi Beryl Bender Birch emphasized: “As we use these tools like the breath, a gazing point … learning to be aware of alignment, and mindful attention — all of these things are training us to pay attention — to be present — and that’s where life is lived, in the present moment. Where else can we be? There is only now and so the more we’re able to bring our attention to the present moment the less stress we create in our lives — the more fully we’re present. That leads to greater happiness, greater health.”
6. Face Your Friction – OM Yoga Founder Cyndi Lee shared: “There is a notion in yoga called ‘tapas’ which is the seed of transformation. It refers to fire. I think of cooking or alchemy. It’s the idea of bringing your whole self together and sometimes that is easy and delightful and sometimes it’s not. I feel sometimes an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The devil is saying ‘have a cookie and lie on the couch with a cappuccino and your dog and read a murder mystery.’ And the other is like ‘oh no you must do your yoga.’ When those two get together there is some friction and if you stay with that, that is where the magic happens — where the transformation happens.”
7. Be Compassionate – Yoga Life Society Founder Rev. Jaganath Carrera shared: “Compassion is the most important symptom that we are experiencing connection with other people. If we don’t have compassion it means everyone else is ‘the other’. Compassion can only grow when we start to experience connection. And of all the virtues, compassion is the one that actually gets stronger in times of sorrow and strife because it feeds on that. So we can carry that with us even from the beginning of our spiritual quest.”
Transformation is about moving closer to who you truly are. Anything that helps you do that is good. It could be music — like the soul-stirring sounds from Masood Ali Khan and Sheela Bringi, or simply the act of going on retreat to get away from your normal routine. The practices of yoga — from the physical asana to the more subtle seated meditation — can facilitate that process. It can make you more aware of everything that makes up your life. As yoga teacher Elena Brower said: “We become wherever we put our attention. If I put my attention on nature for 10 minutes of time, I become one with what I am looking at. If I put my attention on some really serious drama I will become one with that drama. If I put my attention on love and presence, I will become love and presence.” There is always a step you can take to move you closer to the life you envision. Choose one place to start and begin again every day. Life is in the living — not necessarily the planning or doing — but simply the being.
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy.
Photo credit: Eun-ah Lee
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a Harvard Business School-trained Strategist, Mind-Body Expert, Award-Winning Author, Keynote Speaker and Activist. She is Founder & CEO of Power Living and creator of Elder Dignity. Selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, her mission is to unleash human potential and create a more just and sustainable world.
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