It feels like everyone I know is unraveling, going through major transitions, experiencing great loss, pain or feelings of frustration and the list can go on. I have found myself holding space a lot lately, listening and seeing patterns, the bigger picture and understanding how the larger energetic forces are playing out on a personal level. I see my own internal dialogues being reflected in the conversations I'm having.
Lucky for me, I had been re-reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali all of last month and guiding my students through the first book: portion on contemplation, so the teachings are fresh in my head. Why we practice yoga (Yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ), what are the mental modifications (pramana, viparyaya, vikalpa, nidra, smrtayah), how to train our minds to sort through them (abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah), which is done through practice and non-attachment. Patanjali teaches us that effort towards steadiness of mind is practice (Tatra sthitau yatno'bhyāsaḥ) and that practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness (Sa tu dīrghakālanairantaryasatkārāsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ). Patanjali also breaks down non-attachment, too. When we are free from craving of objects seen or heard – that is non-attachment. And the supreme non-attachment is when there isn't even a thought of attachment (Tatparaṁ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇyam): so in other words, in this higher non-attachment you don't even think about attaching yourself from the start.
Let's explore the idea of non-attachment a little bit deeper and it's connection to our ability of being accountable to ourselves. But first a side note :: detachment & non-attachment ARE NOT THE SAME THING. I like to define and view non-attachment as being unattached to any and all things, not having expectations, letting things be – to come and go without clinging. It is not aloofness, spiritual bypassing or a lack of caring. It is having an awareness of your whole experience, appreciating it for what it is and not clinging to them. A simple example: I walk by a gorgeous rose that smells amazing. I stop to enjoy the smell, the color, the petals and marvel at any other creatures doing the same. Instead of ripping the flower off its stem so that I can keep smelling it as I go about the rest of my day, I leave the rose as is and enjoy that moment for what it was.
So holding this nugget in our hands, let's ask ourselves, what does it feel like to have our minds or bodies attached/clinging to something? When my mind is attached to a thought I find myself going down a rabbit hole, I may get a headache, I can't think clearly and/or my head will feel foggy. When my body is clinging to something it shows up in all kinds of ways – tight muscles, tiredness, fatigue, stomachaches, lack of appetite. Taking this a step further, we even hold on to events that happen around us; our surroundings impact us with vibrations via our senses and at times we restrict the movement of those vibrations, which then lower our overall resonance. That shows up in similar ways like feeling off, or feeling exhausted, etc.
We now have two nuggets in our hands. The first is the concept of non-attachment; the second is how attachment can show up in our mind, body and energy levels. Let's add another nugget in our hands, the concept of resonance, vibrations and our expression. From the book Eastern Body, Western Mind: Resonance is a state of synchronization among vibrational patterns. All vibrations can be thought of as wavelike movements through space and time. Each waveform has a frequency that rises and falls. When two or more sounds from different sources vibrate at the same frequency, they are said to resonance together. This is also known as rhythm entrainment or sympathetic vibration. The rhythmic entrainment of various frequencies within our body and consciousness forms a coherent, central vibration that we experience. Understanding the principles of vibration and resonance helps us increase the coherence of our basic vibrational experience and realign our basic rhythm.
Now that we have three nuggets in our hands, let's dip them in some BBQ sauce and chew on these things a bit. Yoga is a practice to help us contain our minds from being in control. It teaches us how to find a steadiness so that our resonance is in alignment with our Higher Selves, our purpose, our life path. It gives us tools like the asana practice (the physical poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), mudras (hand locks) and more so that when we come to sit in meditation we are able to go through the process of training our minds. It's a practice we can take beyond the mat and cushion. We use these tools so that we are able to recognize when we are becoming attached to things, thoughts, places, people, experiences, etc in our daily lives. We use these tools so that we can allow ourselves to become accountable to our own resonance; so that we know when we feel off, when our energies are low and being able to recalibrate ourselves.
What I have been witnessing a lot lately is an overwhelming desire to fix things. There are a lot of things being thrown our way that is really fucking us up – on all levels. Here is my proposal and inquiry to all of you: how are you accountable to your energy levels? Do you understand your own resonance? While I think it is super important to be aware of what is happening in our society, our communities, our friends and families, I also know that we can become attached and caught in certain loops or hamster wheels, which then spirals us into low energy, headaches, despair, etc. How can you actively stay with what may feel like overwhelming feelings, thoughts and emotions and not jump to the desire to fix it right away, nor let it overpower you to the point of it becoming debilitating? Here are things I do:
• Put my phone on 'do not disturb'
• Stay off social media – set alerts (IG will alert you when you’ve spent a certain amount of time, of your choosing, on the app), log off (I find that if I log out of FB then when I go to open the site and see the prompt to sign in it deters me from spending time on the app)
• Roll around on the floor
• Sit on the floor
• Sit in the sun
• Let out deep sighs with my exhales
• Shake out my jaw
• Drink liquids
• Listen to soft music, drone music, mantra music, Orisha music
• Cook myself food
• Get tasks done
• Be silent
• Snuggle with my dog
How can I be more accountable to my energy levels?:
• Am I being honest about how situations, people, spaces make me feel?
• If certain things leave me feeling depleted, what do I need to do to ensure my resonance isn't impacted?
• What are ways I can be more loving with the stuff happening inside my body that impacts my energy levels? (what am I eating/drinking, am I pooping well, can I stop beating myself up for doing/thinking/feeling something, can I ensure I get more sleep, etc)
• When I find myself attached to something can I break it and do some of the things above so that I'm not spiraling downwards?
Last week on the 'gram, a dear friend reposted a meme I put up and added this gem one of her dharma teachers said and I wanted to share it with y'all: "you know it's working when you are more peaceful despite more clarity which allows you to see more chaos"
Happy New Moon in Libra mi gente. Here’s a playlist I made with the intention of recalibrating my internal resonance, enjoy!