Last night, over 100 million people watched the 100th Super Bowl. I wasn’t there to catch every last detail of the game, but, I did happen to catch the opening in which 100 of the most outstanding players and 10 most influential coaches were honored. I felt overwhelmed with admiration by their clear desire and choices to keep showing up, again and again, leading them to shine their own extraordinary greatness. In a commercial that followed, the last tag line read:
“Greatness is a Choice.”
I smiled as I read those lines. Yes, this is a beautiful message to share with that many people, I thought to myself, may we not forget that our choices matter. The message is not new, in fact, yogis have been saying and living by a similar concept for thousands of years; we become our habits, our actions create reactions (the laws of karma), and we can choose to live more awake and in conscious relationship to how we interact with ourselves and the world (the code of ethics – yamas and niyamas).
I heard a similar message shared at my sons’ martial arts program last week. I was lucky enough to catch the last 15 mins of their class. I walked into a room full of fifteen 5-9 year olds outfitted in black Gis with white belts. At the teachers’ request, the group dropped down onto their knees, closed their eyes, and sat in meditation and breathing for a minute.
The teacher then asked, “how many bodies do we get in this lifetime?”
“One mam” the room responded
“And how many of you want to have a healthy and strong body?”
All the arms in the rooms raised.
“Having healthy and strong bodies takes discipline. How many of you are willing to work hard to be healthy and strong?”
All the arms raised in the room.
I watched in awe and inspiration. YES! I said to myself. This is the reminder I speak of in every yoga class I teach, may we wake up to this unique moment and life with reverence, honor, and remembrance for the gifts of being here now. It was so affirming hearing this spoken out loud to children and seeing her ability to coach them into stirring up their own desire.
The Dojo leader proceeded to share the outline for the next ten minutes, “this is going to be hard work – 100 jumping jacks and 3 minutes of plank holds.” Another giant internalized shouting of YES! happened inside me. I was their silent cheerleader from the sidelines.
Instead of watching the rest of the game last night, I sat back and reflected both on what moves us towards our greatness and what steers us away from our own greatness. As I say us, of course, I mean me, but, in my mind, those two words are really interchangeable… we are all one, mirroring each other, but, know, I was reflecting for myself as well. If this message of choice has been broadcasted for a very long time from yogis, sages, Nike, coaches, athletes, professionals, dojo leaders, why are we all not making great choices for ourselves? Why is it that we choose degenerative habits that create negative stress patterns in our bodies, minds, and spirit? Why is it that we chose habits that move us further away from Nature’s easeful rhythms (think to turn the lights on once the sun has set and staying up late, or not allowing natural cycles of full and empty to happen in our lungs, our guts, our minds). When we are not in rhythm, we fall into degenerative stress patterns and fall out of integrity with what we want and what we truly need in all our relationships – to time, to food, to money, to connection, etc. As a result, we sit with confusion, fatigue, fogginess, undereating, overeating, over caffeinating, overspending, stirring up drama in relationships, and so on. When this fogginess sets in, it feels like we are locked into these habits, and, not able to change. My teacher Cate Stillman said, “Rigidity, such as saying, I do not have enough time, or, this is how it has to be, is a sign that spirit body needs more attention.”
What Cate is referring to when mentioning, “spirit body” is that our bodies are not just flesh and bones. The yogis spoke of the human body having 5 layers or bodies (koshas): Physical, Breath, Mind, Intuitive, and Spirit. Our western culture puts a lot of emphasis in both the physical and mind-body, holding less space for breath, intuition, and spirit.
So, how do we become more? How do we step into extra-ordinary states of being? If you are thinking will power and drive, perhaps sit with that a bit and question how long will power alone has lasted for you to reach a goal? Typically will power is driven from our minds, and, like muscles, will power gets fatigued and overworked. Overtime will power will decline. Our minds think they know what our bodies need and want. If the goals come from our minds, then often these goals can be challenged, overlooked, and met with resistance. What if, instead, there was more space in your day to listen, to feel, and to hear your deeper desires of what your body and soul are trying to ask for? Think time sitting in silence, feeling your breath move in your body, listening to cues of fatigue, hunger, or the need for movement.
Cate Stillman, goes on to say, “Desire is how the intuitive body speaks.” So often, however, we hear the desires of our minds over the part of us that knows what we need to best nurture.
In order to hear what our intuition is saying, we need more space and the ability to allow change and evolution to take place.
We become more by inviting in more self-knowing, listening, space, and more light. The word guru can be interpreted as someone who is heavy with light; someone who is so rooted and grounded in lessons learned, discerning for themselves based on what they know is true for all their bodies: physical, mental, breath, intuitive bodies. Our spirit’s essence is expansive and ever-evolving, not limited, rigid, or fixed. When we are rooted in our own knowing and deeper desires, we can meet challenges and resistance with more ease and allowance. We remember our innate sense of self is ever expansive.
I believe we need all our bodies – physical, breath, mind, intuitive, and spirit, to be seen in order to flow with ease into greater levels of being. I have heard some describe states of supernatural performance or experiences as living or being “in the zone” – I think being in the zone is when all 5 layers of our bodies are open, clear, connected, and expansive.
What helps you unattach from thoughts that are distracting you from this moment right now? How often do you sit and just allow yourself to feel your breath? When you are hungry, do you allow time and space to really ask yourself, what am I hungry for? What taps you in to your spirit? What helps you gain perspective and see life as threads of connectivity?
Be awed by the rise of the sun;
Take a deep breath and feel the YES of life flowing in you;
Move, shake, dance, run… let your body feel alive;
Sit in silence;
Sleep when your body is tired;
Eat when your body is hungry (and don’t eat when your body is not hungry);
Be inspired by those living in their flow – artists, athletes, chefs, furniture makers, children, etc.
A path of conscious choice-making can create a life that is more in rhythm with innate greatness; the pulse of life. When we are in the truth of knowing how our actions create reactions for ourselves, our communities, and our planet, we can feel into a larger pulse of life that fuels us with ease, spaciousness, and well being. Our discernment for what we need and when we need it is clear. Our choices are clear and conscious and healthful for ourselves and everything around us.
What are your habits? Where are they leading you? Are they meeting the needs of all your bodies? Are your desires clear?
To us all becoming more clear and attune to our own desire.