Finding strength within the flames: 3 ways to transform your health and spiritual practice in 2017

A new years self portrait.

A new years self portrait.

I was recently assisting the facilitation of a retreat at Kripalu school of yoga in Massachusetts, and was  struck by three end of year lessons which provided me with powerful medicine to leap into the new year with integrity and alignment with my spirit. Here they are:

1. Be Humble.

Whatever it is you think you know, there is always room for more growth. This is as it should be. There is a great quote which can be applied to business and life which reads, "If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." If you are the smartest person in the room, you have no one to look up to, and no room to grow. When we release our need for intellectual mastery and understanding we begin to let our soul, and its messages through the body, take over. 

In the lineage of kundalini yoga, as our practice deepens and we begin to experience intense or supernatural abilities, we are asked to "bow" before a higher and greater power. This act of surrendering our ego, finite, and limited self before the greater Self is what allows our gifts to blossom for the greater good and healing of the planet. Try this physical or metaphorical "bowing" before and after your daily meditation.

2. Your body loves rhythm. 

One of the pillars of my philosophy on healing is to treat the body as if it were a child. The body loves to have a routine, a nourishing schedule based on the flow of the seasons, the cycle of the sun and moon, and its own unique needs. The more you give yourself consistent, daily space, to eat, to meditate, to rest, to exercise, the more the body learns, the nervous system becomes entrained, and those acts become assimilated into your being with greater and greater Power.

If you want to truly feel nourished, eat at least two nourishing, home cooked, distraction free meals a day for a week, at roughly the same times. After that week check in with your body and notice how balanced and at peace your digestion feels.

3. Share the space of your heart.

When we sit in compassionate listening with friends, family, or strangers, one of the blessings we receive is the sensation of connection to all life, and all suffering. 

"compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded, it's a relationship between equals." - Pema Chodron

There is great strength in sharing the space of the heart with each other, whatever it may contain. This brings us into direct relationship with the needs of the world and the universality of human struggles, which then gives us a clear idea of how we can help to serve and uplift ourselves and humanity.

We often hear that to make positive lasting change in the world we need to start with ourselves, and we can see this in action when we share the space of the heart with somebody else. My suffering becomes transformed by the shared experience of your suffering. My victory and healing becomes the guiding light to your victory and healing. 

Sometimes we may not connect on this deep level with other people because we are afraid of the pain inside us, and the pain in other people. This is okay, be gentle with yourself. Practice connecting with somebody who you genuinely feel safe opening up to. Sit with their emotions, and yours, without trying to change them.

as Yogi Bhajan says,

"If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all."

That means God in all situations, experiences and emotions, not just people.

Now I want to hear from and connect with you. What insights do you have about moving into the year head? How do you feel inspired to apply these practices in your own life? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.