Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Essence and Authentic Self-Expression

I've had a great time exploring the concept of Essence in my classes over the last two weeks.  It came up from studying the Hendricks' work and they talk about living from your Essence.  For them, Essence is who you really are, like who you are at the core, behind your foibles and ego constructs.  I like to think of Essence as in flower essence, as in the concentrated form of You when you're distilled down to the most pure qualities of yourself.  So I've been thinking of it as a very personal flavor of Essence, ie. my Robynness.  Like how much could I remove and still be me?   Like what is my most authentic form of me?  I love this contemplation.  I love to think of a new born baby and how they are so pure, and yet they very definitely have an Essence, a nature that is unique to them.  We know that this never changes.  We can look in the mirror year after year, and though the outer form keeps changing, there's something inside that feels very much the same.  From Essence, we're drawn to certain types of people, environments, textures, activities; we experience the world from a certain perspective, move at a certain pace.  

I think the goal of our yoga practice is to take us back to the experience of this Essence within, our purest form, before it got layered on with beliefs, stories, catastrophes, ego development, etc.  And how does it feel to be in our Essence?  As Marc Takaha said today in our interview about his upcoming Conscious Loving workshop, when you're in Essence, you have a feeling effortlessness, ease, and pleasure.  It's an experience, not a mental concept.  So, as I see it, you're embodied presence when you're in your Essence.  Movement can take you there, especially conscious movement like yoga and ecstatic dancing.  Meditation can also take you there, as can doing the Hendricks' relationship work.

What I'm learning from the Hendricks is very much like the Yoga of Relationships, as I've been calling it lately, because in their work, we are trying to uncover Essence, fully know it, and then live from this place, and this is exactly what we're doing in Yoga.  In Tantrik philosophy, Yoga is about knowing your true Self as Divine Consciousness and letting it shine through your full expression.  So our Essence is then both our unique personal flavor as well as a Universal presence that ties us all together.    In yoga, it may also be called Essence, but other names are Self, Divine Consciousness, Shiva/Shakti, Spanda, and more.   And if we can live from this experience of Being, as Ekhart Tolle calls it, then not only can we feel more free and alive, but we can also relate to others and the world from this place.  

I think of this as living in alignment with what's true; living authentically.   This is the practice of yoga on the mat as well as off the mat.  For example, if I'm in yoga class and honoring my Essence if what's true for me is that I love gardening, I love dancing, I love studying, resting in the sunshine and deeply connecting to nature, and I'm not doing those things on a regular basis, then I am not living in alignment with who I am.  I'm avoiding it. in denial or not tuning in, etc., and I will not be resonating at a high frequency.  I will not be thriving.   So living from Essence is living your Yoga.

According to Tantrik philosophical teachings, the Divine Consciousness chooses to express itself through each of us, and it's will/desire, known as iccha, is for each of us to then fully express ourselves so it can know itself more fully.  This is known as lila, the Divine Play.  In fact, it chooses diversity by creating each of us to be totally unique from each other, including beings and things, because with more diversity, there can be a greater range of expressions and then more possible self-knowing.   This is very close to what the Hendricks are teaching, as far as I understand it, with the addition of many wonderful nuances and techniques to support skillful our expression through conscious communication, movement, play, etc.  

So this work of sourcing truth, feeling into Essence and then letting it be expressed, is what I've been teaching in classes, and it's been really fun.  It's really the perfect pulsation of inner and outer.  Turn inwards to know the truth, and then open outwards and let it shine as your unique individual expression!  

I'm on a super fun journey of doing both these things, continually refining my understanding and experience of who I really am and exploring how I want to express this in my own unique way.   

I so appreciate all of you who are along for the ride and I'm super excited to gain more skills so I can support you in stepping more fully into your unique expression of You!  

On that note, I want to encourage you to check out the free interview I just finished with Marc Takaha who I mentioned earlier.   We discussed his long background in the Hendricks work and his upcoming workshop in Arcata called The Art of Conscious Loving on Sunday, November 11.  If you listen to the whole call, you'll hear the special offer at the end, but you must act by October 29.  You can listen to the call at this number:  (641) 715-3800 passcode: 34279, extension 23 or download it to your computer at this link: 

You can find out more about Marc's upcoming workshop and sign up online here:

You can find more about other upcoming interview calls here on my website:

I hope to see you soon,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Receptivity of Studentship

I've had a great week of teaching this theme which is dear to my heart.  Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Dan John, who is a creative master in his field of weight training for athletes and special military forces.  Dan is also an Olympic-class athlete and a Highland Games champion.  He is in his prime, traveling the world sharing his foundational system for fitness and strength training.  Patrick has been training with one of his students here in Arcata and feels stronger and more fit than he has  in the last 11 years.

What I appreciated the most about Dan was his receptivity, humility, curiosity and honesty.  He was interested in yoga, and liked the little lesson he got from Patrick, so I offered to teach him a full private lesson before he left on Monday and he was thrilled.   He was a wonderful student;  he took notes, asked great questions, and earnestly tried to implement everything I offered him, which was a lot!  He wanted to know all about the 5 Universal Principles of Alignment of Anusara Yoga, and loved the three A's of Attitude, Alignment and Action.  

I was reflecting later that with all his knowledge, I was quite impressed at his great humility and curiosity as my student.  He was completely receptive and open to all I had to say,  like water receives salt, he took it and let it mix inside of him.  In our yoga school, when we discuss studentship, or what it means to be a good student, receptivity is high on the list.   As the Dalai Lama says, if you're already a full cup, then anything that gets poured in, just spills over; it has no where else to go.   In order to receive, you must empty yourself out and let somebody else, or the teachings, or your experiences, fill you up.  Dan was a great model for this, considering he was so full already of such great wisdom and experience, he could have come to me with a full cup or a strong ego ready to tell me how his method was just as good, impress me with his own facts, etc.  But instead, he emptied himself out so he could let me fill him up.  And it was fun.  

A great teacher must be a great student and I could see that in Dan.  He wouldn't be where he is today without his dedicated studentship.  When we are receptive and open to receiving from others, we can then integrate what is offered into our own experience and understanding.  And I have a hunch this is what Dan will do.  

These qualities of receptivity, humility and curiosity are also paramount in our intimate relationships.   When we are given feedback, if we can fully listen and cultivate wonder (adbutha), then we can ask more questions instead of thinking we have all the answers.  We can open ourselves to the possibility of learning from what we're given instead of closing down with defensiveness or anger.  If we immediately defend or think we have the answers, then our cup is full and there is no intimacy, no connection, no room for growth, just a shield.  

May you cultivate receptivity, humility and curiosity.  May you become a great student of your own mind, of relationship, and of life.  And may all being benefit.