I have always been a person that was hungry for love, to give love and to be loved. Since I can remember the idea that I had of love was like a Hollywood movie, full of drama, romance and high emotions at all times.
With my experiences in my relationships, I think I attracted willingly my idea of love but was it ever so draining and tiring. Living at a constant state of powerful emotions, I love you, I hate you, fighting and making up. The middle was never an option for me, I didn`t even realize that I did have this option available because my perception was not real, romantic novels and movies are not real life. As a true romantic I needed to change my perception and my definition of love.
First came the notion of self-love
With experience comes knowledge and wisdom for all of us and we can choose to repeat old patterns and expect different results but we can also chose to change our patterns and truly receive different results in every area of or life. We can choose to be a victim or the take responsibility for what we have co-created.
My idea of love changed completely and the more I started to honor myself, to love myself, to understand my being, my essence. To nourish my values, my commitments and my dreams. The less I needed to find someone to complete me because I felt complete on my own. The less I searched for love outside of myself. It was all and always was present from within, self-love simply needed to be nourished by encouraging it in my daily practice. I made a clear decision to divorce emotionally and mentally my past relationships and to start practicing new ways of love. This extended in my life, in all of my relationships, family, friends and even work. It has even extended in how I treat my home my things, the productivity of my work and with love we plant seeds, with nourishment we allow things to grow, with care we obtain results.
How I define love now
Love is acceptance, love is patience, love is respect, love is choosing your battles, love is space, love is peace, love is being responsible for you own happiness, love is sweet, forgiving and humble because none of us are perfect and we are all here to learn from our journey on this earth. Love is understanding.
Don`t love like a beggar, love like a king or a queen. What I mean by this is love with elegance, kindness, courage, intelligence, composure and deliberation so the person you are with knows where they stand. No one can guess what you are feeling or thinking so be open and communicate with ease and peace.
Love is taking responsibility for your own insecurities and working on theme so they do not consume your relationships. Love is not blame, it is not using someone’s vulnerabilities as ammo. Words are powerful and they cannot be taken back.
Never settle! You are deserving just like any living creature on this planet.
I send all of you love and hope you enjoyed this article. Please feel free to send me your opinion’s on this subject.
The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is always garnering a lot of attention, and for good reasons. Most recently, he told the world that simply praying is not the answer for the incident that occurred in Paris, as well as other similiar atrocities that seem to happen all over the globe. He stated that humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it, which makes no sense. If we created this mess, we should be the ones to solve it, not God. His comments went viral as they resonated with so many people around the world who realize that action on a mass scale is required at this time to change the direction our planet seems to be going in.
Intertwined with the Paris attacks are the realities of war, and there is a great piece written on the Dalai Lama’s website site regarding the mass brainwashing of human beings. This is something we touch upon regularly on our website, especially when it comes to incidents of terrorism, war, and the creation of these groups who are carrying out these attacks all over the world.
“War and the large military establishments are the greatest sources of violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.”(source)
This (above) statement really hits home. If you think about it, these vast and powerful organizations, and the military in general, “solely exist to kill human beings.” As the Dalai Lama touches upon, we are conditioned and made to believe that military service is something to be proud of. Sure, these men and women may be entering into the service in order to serve their country, with a tremendous amount of bravery and good hearted intentions, but what they do not know is that this global war on terrorism is a complete fabrication. The enemy they are made to believe they’re defending their country from is actually a product of their own country. As Dr. Michel Choissudovsky, University of Ottawa’s Emeritus Professor of Economics tells us, the global war on terrorism is completely fake and based on fake premises. Soldiers have been brainwashed into thinking that they are going after an enemy and defending their own country when that same enemy is fully supported and financed by the western military alliance, and as the Dalai Lama sates:
This is exactly why “we feel that war is acceptable,” because we are made to believe it’s a necessary course of action.
He then goes on to state that:
“We are so conditioned to see it as thrilling that we talk about this or that marvelous weapon as a remarkable piece of technology without remembering that, if it is actually used, it will burn living people. War also strongly resembles a fire in the way it spreads. If one area gets weak, the commanding officer sends in reinforcements. This is throwing live people onto a fire. But because we have been brainwashed to think this way, we do not consider the suffering of individual soldiers. No soldiers want to be wounded or die. None of his loved ones wants any harm to come to him. If one soldier is killed, or maimed for life, at least another five or ten people – his relatives and friends – suffer as well. We should all be horrified by the extent of this tragedy, but we are too confused.” (source)
The extent of this brainwashing is quite massive, and if we are going to stop the murder of other human beings and war in general, it is that ‘brainwashed’ soldier that needs to wake up. It is a human being pulling the trigger, giving the orders, and thinking that they are doing something good. We are the reason why war exists in the first place, we created it, we participate in it and we prolong it. Just imagine what would happen if every human being on the planet refused to participate in war? This is why we say change needs to come from within, and as more soldiers wake up to what’s really happening here, there will be more of them who refuse to go to war.
“No matter how malevolent or evil are the many murderous dictators who can currently oppress their nations and cause international problems, it is obvious that they cannot harm others or destroy countless human lives if they don’t have a military organisation accepted and condoned by society.” (source)
Some of these soldiers that are used by their corporate/big bank puppet masters are starting to wake up and speak out. Linked below is an article that provides two excellent examples, with some shocking information that many people are still waking up to (graphic footage warning).
The Dalai Lama Then goes on to speak about how expensive war is. This is something many people think about – the fact that the money pumped into the military, and the Department of Defense in the United States alone (including black the black budget) could completely alleviate poverty and hunger on our planet. That being said, money is made out of thin air, typed up on a computer screen and printed at will by the controlling elite.
We are talking about, as X Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer states, “trillions, and I mean thousands of billions of dollars” that “have been spent on projects which both congress and the commander in chief no nothing about.” Welcome to what president Eisenhower called the military industrial complex where, as he warned us, the rise for misplaced power exists and will persist. What would he say about what’s happened today?
The point is, if we are going to use money as a tool, why not take that many and allocate it to provide food, shelter and clothing for everybody on the planet? The defense expenditures of a couple of countries alone could do this no problem.
“We should feel fed up with the violence and killing going on around us. If a human being is killed by an animal, it’s sad, but if a human being is killed by another human being it’s unthinkable. We have to make a special effort to think of each other as fellow human beings, as our brothers and sisters.” – Dalai Lama(source)
Thank you Dalai Lama for saying the things that you have said within the past few months.
Born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, she became one of Mexico’s greatest painters.
Kahlo contracted polio at the age of 6, had an almost deadly accident at the age of 18 and went on to marry Diego Rivera, the muralist and ultimate womanizer.
People who are close to me know the immense place that Frida holds in my heart and in my life. For me, she represents the pain every woman on earth is going through—be it physical, or emotional. Frida has proved to us how strong we can be and how much we can endure.
I empathize with the pain she went through. She suffered from the pain of infidelity. Diego, her comrade, her best friend and the first critic of her art, was never her husband or ‘hers’–-as Frida says. He belonged to many women and mostly he belonged to himself only. This—in return—sent Frida through endless, dire suffering that only the pages of her diary witnessed.
When it comes to art, I am fond of many artists. But never before have I witnessed emotions and thoughts expressed so bluntly and poignantly on a canvas. Not only does Kahlo’s art fascinate me, but also her words. Reading what she said, we can sense the intensity of her agony, yet, at the same time, the greatness of her hope.
Having said that, we can say that Frida is an icon of patience, endurance and strength:
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
“You didn’t understand what I am. I am love. I am pleasure. I am essence. I am an idiot. I am alcoholic. I am tenacious. I am. I simply am. You are a sh*t my love.”
“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I paint my own reality.”
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.”
“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”
“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
“I love you more than my own skin.”
“How can I call him my Diego? He never was and never will be mine, he only belongs to himself.”
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”
“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” ~ Marty McConnel (about Frida Kahlo)
“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”
“I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity. He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband.”
“I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.”
“I want to be inside your darkest everything.”
“I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”
“… and I hope never to return.” Written on the last pages of her diary, Frida bluntly affirms she has no intentions of reincarnating in another lifetime. Her pain was too great to want to experience physical life again. She physically left Diego, her lovers and her friends. But up until today, Frida is still here. She lives in every painting of hers, in every portrait hung on the wall. She lives in the spirit of every woman who is going through miscarriage, physical pain and emotional difficulties.
Frida gives us the hope that we will overcome any calamity we might face. She tells us to laugh, to love hard, to survive no matter what. Frida shows us the importance of drinking tequila, lighting a cigarette and living as if we are dying tomorrow.
Frida kahlo, a woman, an icon, forever in our hearts.
I’ve watched this documentary and not only is it only scientifically interesting. It is funny, radically kitchy and inspirational.
It just shows that anything in life is possible if you have focus, perseverance and a vision. Rome was not built in a day. Our time on this earth is short, let’s try to create the unthinkable, the unimaginable and manifest our hearts desires!!
I used to dream, wish and hope for an amazing life—not just an okay life, but a ridiculously amazing life.
When I was younger, that dream had me rolling in style, of course, with fabulous clothes, a big house and a fast car.
As I grew older and wiser, the material wants and needs of my dreams changed—I simply wanted to be inspired and excited to get out of bed.
But that wasn’t happening…I was living within a shell of myself.
Sleep, wake, crawl out of bed, work, eat, sleep and repeat. And repeat. And repeat again. Snooze alert.
I found myself caught in a vortex of boredom with my dreams of a different life on hold. I was stuck. Not unhappy, just stuck, like a pot of overcooked pasta, heavy, uninspired and pasty.
That heaviness was not only settling on my ass, it was finding its way into my heart. And, all I wanted to do was sleep. And eat. And then sleep some more.
The problem was that this wasn’t the first time I experienced this; it was not a new story I was creating where I could put the blame on all the supporting characters. This was my own fault; I had built a decently successful business, had wonderful clients, friends, family and all that fun stuff. I was living in suburbia heaven with a nice car, good home and it was killing me.
Slowly and surely, I was dying inside.
I had worked myself into exhaustion and the stress I put on myself to succeed gifted me with a lovely autoimmune disorder—which was ironic, considering my business was teaching others how to create healthy lifestyles.
I was unmotivated, uninspired and unfulfilled; a walking, talking empty shell. Like a pretty puppet, I moved, acted, responded, but if you had taken the time to knock on my shell, you would have heard a resounding echoing emptiness inside.
So what did I do?
I woke up, took a hard look at my life and told myself to snap out of it. I made the decision to step back into my life, to take the bull by the horns and take charge of myself. No more excuses. No more blame.
It was time to start living from the heart…and it was then that my life started to become a bit more amazing.
It was then that I started to become a bit more amazing.
And, yes, it was that simple. The decision, that is.
I realized that the only way out of my spiraling vortex of un-fulfillment was through me. In order to create the life I dreamed of, I had to be the one to change. I couldn’t blame anyone for my choices, my dissatisfaction or my growing ass. I had to turn the mirror around and face myself.
And at first I peeked, not wanting to face myself. But, as time went on and I did the work needed, that mirror started to shine and reflect a happier me. And now, I can proudly say that I have fully and completely stepped into my life. And I try to do at least one thing to make my life ridiculously amazing each and every day.
Five ways to step into your life and make it ridiculously amazing:
As in, move, breathe and sweat.
You can’t be ridiculously amazing burrowing a hole into your couch or glued to your computer screen. (I know this because I tried. Massive fail! And what makes matters worse, that decently successful business I ran was a fitness business. How sad is that? I was inspiring others to move but couldn’t get myself on board!)
You have to get up and get your ass moving! Get the blood flowing, muscles fired up and the energy levels inspired. And the million excuses you have will come up, shelf them. If you can walk to the fridge, you can move.
I’m not asking you to hop off the couch and run a marathon, go for a walk, dance, do yoga, something. Just move. While you’re at it, move on to number two.
2. Check in and take notice.
One thing that is consistent is that life is continuously changing—and it will pass you by in the blink of an eye if you don’t take notice of it.
Start by checking in and paying attention to the little things that happen on a daily basis. I take the same route everyday to teach and each time I notice something different; it didn’t used to be that way. I used to drive mindlessly to client’s homes or to appointments and find myself 10 km down the highway with no recollection of what just passed me by. I had created a cozy vacuum of numbness that had me periodically checking out of life.
Now, I pay attention. I check in and stay present. Even when I’m doing something I do everyday, it’s become a mini adventure. I’ve noticed that anything can and will happen, but it’s up to me to take notice. So open your eyes, ears and mind. Rediscover your senses.
When you pause and actually notice the little things, what you see might surprise you.
Sweet, juicy, love.
Get the love juice flowing for your friends, family, partner and pets. Basically, anyone or thing that shares your space. Try to sweeten the pot with some unconditional love. Pets, easy. People; maybe not so much so try to practice first and foremost on yourself. Drown yourself in a giant pot of love juice. Be kind and nourishing to yourself in deliciously healthy ways because when we start to treat ourselves as though we are worthy, we set amazing things in motion.
After all, we can’t tap into love if we don’t love ourselves first.
Remember that four letter word?
If you don’t, seek out a niece, nephew, your child or a friend’s child. Watch, listen and learn. Life has enough serious moments without us purposely adding to the mix.
It’s okay to let loose and let your inner child come out and play once in a while. Be silly, dance, sing and laugh a lot. Don’t let anyone dampen your silliness. I did that and it wasn’t fun.
Now I play, a lot, everyday, with my crazy dogs, in the beautiful sea, on my yoga mat and with my boyfriend. They nourish my quirky side and allow me to be me. Which makes me smile a lot.
As a bonus, they’re helping me develop gorgeous laugh lines… much prettier than the frown lines I was working on before.
5. Leap outside your comfort zone.
Don’t think. Get like Nike and just do it! Leap, jump or dive into something that takes you outside your comfort zone, something that scares you a little or a lot.
I did this when I first arrived in Tulum. Shy, deathly afraid of house parties, I became a bit of a hermit back home. Once my shell started to crack open, I forced myself to do things that took me way outside my comfort zone.
The end result was I became more social, less afraid to attend parties or events solo. And it was so extraordinarily freeing, terrifying at times, but once the sweat stopped pouring, I noticed that I was not alone. And no matter what the outcome, I embraced every experience as an opportunity to spread my wings and grow.
Amazing things happen when we open the door to life and let our senses explore. When you step outside your comfort zone and try new things, visit new places, create new adventures, you give back to yourself ten fold. Embrace what comes up when you take a chance on life.
The good with the bad because it will help you grow as a friend, lover, mother or father.
Take charge of your life.
If you’re unsatisfied, do something—your life won’t change unless you create the change.
So get things moving, go dance in the rain, kiss your partner deeply, try a new taste, take the road less travelled, open your eyes and drink in the sights.
There’s beauty to be found in simplicity.
Make the choice to step up to the bat and hit a ridiculously amazing home run in this fabulously messy thing we call life.
can recall so often hearing questions around the meaning of life.
I have to remind myself that there was a time when I didn’t know.
In all areas of my spiritual evolution, there was a time that I was too far from the truth to see it. When the understanding comes, or returns, it’s so penetrating that you forget that you were once lost. This concept itself is a huge part of the meaning of life: remembering.
Life is suffering.
As has been so often pointed out by my teachers: you suffer over what you want and you suffer over what you don’t want. When we get what we want, we suffer when it changes—which is inevitable. When we don’t get what we want, we suffer due to our craving. When we get what we don’t want, we suffer due to our aversion to what is.
All of this suffering stems from our relationship to what is occurring in our lives. We create the suffering because we attach ourselves to externals that are guaranteed to change.
My previous article touched on the absurdity in our practice of creating our identities out of externals that are, by nature, impermanent. Nature has seasons: life and death. And everything on this plane of existence is subject to the laws of nature.
We choose to sign up for suffering when we cling to what must—by nature—change.
The meaning of life is in dancing with this suffering. We cannot avoid it, so we must learn to engage with it in a manner that evolves us as beings. Only in the human existence do we get the privilege to consciously work through these episodes of suffering.
And yes, it is a privilege.
Every bit of suffering that comes (or that we create) in our lives, is there for a reason. We are to work with it. And how well we work with it determines the meaning of this life.
There is no external puppet master determining what the meaning of our lives is; we are the creators. We design our own heaven or hell based on how well we dance with our suffering. If we teach ourselves to dance with suffering with the grace of love and compassion, we create heaven. If we choose instead to dance with the darkness of fear and anger, we create hell. These are not places we are sent to based on the accumulated behaviors of this lifetime, these are places we create within every second of every day.
The meaning and purpose of life is love.
We are to spend our human existence learning how to better love ourselves, and then to love others (as ourselves). While this may sound like a romantic notion, it is exponentially greater than romance could ever be. It is not a sappy, surface-level concept, it is truth. This realm of love is not tied to the humanization of the term, as God is not what our limited minds have conjured. They are one-in-the-same. You want to get to God? Learn to love. You want to learn to love? Be God.
We’ve been given the music of love to dance to, we only have to get quiet enough to hear it. We know all the steps, we simply have to look deep enough inside to remember them.
The meaning of life isn’t something we must find, we are already it.
We must experience the body for what it is-an accumulation of sensory perceptions and a mind that has created an ego-concept that it is separate. This body and mind are not who we are. We are love. And the meaning of life is to find our way back to love, to God, to ourselves
The Beatles had it right when they sang “the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Bhakti is about making more love—putting it out into the world, not just in principle but also in practice. There is no one “right” way to do that, but bhakti yoga offers a number of tools to point the heart in the right direction.
One of the best known of the traditional practices of bhakti yoga is kirtan—the devotional chanting of the names of God. Other classic Hindu methods focus on prayer, japa (repetition of mantra), and devotion to the Divine—in society, in nature, in the capital-S Self, and in all of creation. The path will look different for every being that walks it, says the singer-songwriter Jai Uttal, who created the bhakti yoga 101 audio program “It’s so individual, and that’s what is so beautiful about it,” he says. “Each person has a different emotional landscape, and in bhakti yoga we can let our emotions be our internal compass. Nobody can tell us how or whom to worship, but we can draw on techniques that act as keys to open our own hearts.”
What’s the ultimate bhakti practice for when you’ve suffered a loss, romantic or otherwise? Brooks has a ready answer: Be willing to do it all over again. “Fall in love again, and never stop. Bhakti is not a zero-sum game. You never run out of love. You must expect that you will find love again, and even if you find more heartache, there will always be more love.”
That was certainly the case for Cornell. “I went to India for six weeks after my breakup, and during that time I invited a sense of fullness to fill my aloneness by imagining a life in which I was loved and in love,” she says. “I had begun dating, but I somehow knew to hold out for what I really wanted in a partner. Two months after I returned home, I found him.”
Married in 2009, Cornell credits her earlier breakup with creating the openness and compassion she needed to find a more lasting relationship. “Believing in love gave a sacred purpose to the pain I was going through,” she says.
That’s as it should be, Brooks says. Since you can’t transcend heartache, you should embrace it. “We were all created out of love but born into separation the moment the cord was cut,” he says. “That’s what it is to be human. Heartbreak is not the end of love. It’s the beginning.”
Connect with the Divine
In its most literal translation, bhakti yoga calls for faithful devotion to the Divine. This doesn’t mean that you have to worship a specific deity, but simply that you identify a source of spiritual inspiration to revere and call on for comfort and love. “Bhakti is about creating an eternal loving relationship with the divine source,” says Gaura Vani, a renowned mantra musician and member of the kirtan band Hanumen.
“No matter what tradition you come from, chanting God’s name opens a process of healing and cleansing the heart,” Vani says. “The Vedas say that there are as many names for God as there are waves on the ocean. We call him Krishna; Christians call him Jesus; Jews call him Yahweh; the Sufis call him Khuda. Whatever the case, let the beautiful name of the Lord remind you that you are more loved than you can even imagine.”
If you happen to already have a spiritual practice centered around a particular divine entity or spiritual guide, chant that name to fill your heart with love and ask for help healing your heart, says Vani. If not, try asking for help from your capital-S higher Self. Either way, call out with intention, focusing on quality over quantity, and on opening your heart to divine love and intervention.
Saying “Namaste” Is Bhakti Yoga
Just about everyone who has taken a yoga class is familiar with the class-closing ritual of saying Namaste accompanied by Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) and a small bow of the head. The meaning, which is something along the lines of “the light within me salutes the light within you,” is a beautiful way to practice bhakti outside class, too, and to bring more love into your life.
Mean What You Say
Every time you take leave of a friend, loved one, or acquaintance, choose parting words infused with blessing or connection—”take care,” “be well,” or “vaya con dios” all work—and say them with genuine intention. Even if you simply say “goodbye,” take a moment to fill the word with meaning.
Says Vani, “Namaste means ‘I bow and humble myself before you because I recognize myself as a loving servant of the Divine, and I recognize you as a living temple.’” This is something you can do whenever the spirit moves you, even silently, Vani says. “Simply take a second to see that everyone you come in contact with is an expression of divine consciousness,” he suggests. You will soon realize the truth: Love is all around you, whether you’re checking out at the grocery store, standing in line for a movie, or sitting behind the wheel in traffic.
Learn to Love Globally
Practicing bhakti yoga means seeing everyone and everything as a creation of God. Interpersonal relationships (including the romantic kind) are one aspect of this kind of devotion, but a good way to soothe the pangs of heartbreak is to expand your realm of who and what is loved. When you’re feeling bereft, try loving everyone, everywhere.
Nischala Joy Devi, author of The Secret Power of Yoga, suggests a simple seated practice for sending your love out into the world. “Imagine spreading a fine mist of healing energy over the world,” she says. “You can direct your thoughts to the world in general or focus on areas you know are plagued with unrest or war or famine. Hold them in your thoughts, and send them some of your light.”
This is the basis of the Buddhist practice of tonglen (“sending”) meditation: taking the suffering of others (and yourself) into your heart and then sending back loving compassion to all who suffer. When you send your love out into the world in this way, the effects can be dramatic for both sender and receiver, says Devi. “Victims of the recent earthquake in Central America reported that they felt the prayers from people around the globe and that the prayers eased their suffering,” she says. “It also has a big effect on you in that it gets you out of your head and back into your heart.”
Practice Self-Love and Devotion
In the deepest throes of despair, it can be hard to lavish yourself with love. Your asana practice is a great way to show devotion to your Self, and when you feel immobilized by sadness, it can help bring you back into your body, says Mark Whitwell, author of Yoga of Heart and The Promise of Love, Sex, and Intimacy. “When people are depressed, they stop their asana practice,” he says, “but that’s when they really need it!”
Whitwell sees asana as a bridge to help you reconnect to a state of wellness that was available to you before your experience of loss. But it’s also a way, he says, to realize the ideals of bhakti just as you are here and now—broken heart and all. “Consistent daily practice is your way to reconnect directly with the intimacy that is life,” he explains. “It is a whole-body prayer, a celebration of that which beats the heart and moves the breath.”
If you don’t feel up to doing your usual practice, try a few Cat-Cows and slow Sun Salutations, staying mindful of the body and breath. “When you practice, you connect with a deeper source of love and become part of the context in which all relationships are arising,” says Whitwell. From this broader perspective, he adds, “it is easier to accept loss.”
If your heart is feeling locked up by sorrow, consider adding an element of bhakti yoga to your daily practice. Here, a few modern bhakti masters offer ways to exercise the muscles of love and fill your heart to overflowing.
Be Nurtured By Nature
Nature is a powerful reflection of divinity, says Sara Ivanhoe, a Los Angeles yoga teacher who recently participated in the making of the film Women of Bhakti. “When we are suffering from heartbreak, we have all this love we’re carrying around and an intense longing to put it somewhere,” she says. “Giving it to the planet makes sense, especially if you’re a yogi.”
The ancient yogis offered unconditional love to all that was around them, says Ivanhoe, worshiping and emulating the sun, the moon, the plants, the animals. You can do the same, she says, by simply stepping outdoors and opening your senses and your heart to nature—trees, grass, and plants if you’re in the countryside; air, sunlight, and wind if you’re in the city. Mountains, blades of grass, and the stars at night work equally well as sources of inspiration and, yes, love. “Yoga was created to help yoke our consciousness to nature, which nourishes us,” she says. “When you are able to do that, you have a huge amount of support.”
Ivanhoe suggests a simple journaling exercise for reaching out to nature for help in healing your heartbreak. “When you are consumed by grief, ask yourself, ‘If nature could console me and talk to me, what would she say?’” she suggests. Go outdoors to do this, if you like, and don’t feel that you have to craft an essay; just write down what comes to you. “Nature is full of guidance and support for us,” Ivanhoe says. “We only need to ask for it.”
Fill Your Heart With Song
In bhakti yoga, says Jai Uttal, music is medicine. And singing—a mantra, a hymn, or the name of your spiritual guide—is another way to treat an aching heart. “You can sing kirtan sweetly, or sing them fiercely with angst, or sing them with yearning or whatever emotions are arising in you,” Uttal says. “If you get bored, keep on singing. Sing until the singing itself becomes part of your molecules, and your heart flows into the ocean of divine love.”
And don’t worry about what your voice sounds like—kirtan is about filling your heart with love, not about being a great singer. “No matter our accents, our ability to carry a tune, or our musical aesthetic,” says Uttal, “when we sing kirtan, we are awakening our hearts and healing old traumas.”
Hillari Dowdle is a longtime Yoga Journal contributor and a newly certified yoga teacher living and writing in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Why is it that we know exactly how to fix other people’s problems? The truth is that when we try to fix others, we rob them of the opportunity to fix themselves. We’re saying to them, I know better than you. In reality most people don’t want to be “fixed,” they want to be heard. Rather than tell your best friend, your partner or your co-worker what to do, let them be their own guru. Listen.
2. Believe in you.
Whom or what you believe in is up to you. The Hebrew word for “to pray” isl’hitpallel. It is in the reflexive voice, which means that when you pray, you pray to yourself. With this small grammatical distinction the Jewish language is telling us an important truth about our lives; faith begins with you. So if you feel you have lost almost all faith, at the very least don’t stop believing in you.
3. Ditch the F-word (fear, of course).
Our human tendency is to believe that all unknowns are dangerous. It’s part of our evolutionary make-up. When faced with a life-changing or life-upending decision or opportunity, we tend to find all kinds of reasons to avoid leaving our comfort zones and crossing new thresholds. But it’s time to ditch the F-word. Courage is feeling the fear and moving forward anyway. Be courageous.
4. Accept that you won’t always know why something bad has happened.
We all know that bad things happen to good people. Life moves without our consent. Yet we can spend a lifetime trying to figure out “why.” Rather than stay fixated on that question, as Rabbi Harold Kushner, the author of Why Bad Things Happen to Good People tells us, ask “What now?” When you do, I promise you that the next threshold will be waiting for you.
5. Stop comparing.
Why is it that everyone else’s life looks easier, better and more glamorous than your own? The grass is truly greener if you compare the outsides of others with your insides. Remember if we want to overcome our (very human) instinct to measure our happiness against the happiness we see around us, we must realize that our perception of others’ happiness is often very wrong. Just because a room might be right for your friend, your co-worker, or your neighbor doesn’t mean that room is right for you. If you can celebrate others, you will find your own life worth celebrating.
6. Search for meaning, not happiness.
Happiness is overrated. There is no universal recipe, even though we would like to think there is. As a society, we have a very narrow definition of what happiness is: fame, wealth, power, and prestige. But these things are not universally attainable and quite often fleeting. Instead, create experiences that give you meaning and purpose, and you will find a new kind of “happiness” that will sustain you throughout all of life’s challenges.
7. Let go of perfect. Strive for the best you can do.
We have become a society that believes that everything falls into two buckets: things that are perfect and then everything else. So if our decision to cross a threshold does not lead directly to perfect, our reasoning goes, then why bother? Bother because life is made up of more than two buckets and contrary to what we may believe, no one has a perfect life. Perfection is not a destination, but there is a lot of pretty good along the way.
8. Each day is an act of faith.
Getting out of bed each morning is an act of faith. In Judaism we even say a blessing of gratitude the moment we open our eyes. Having faith does not necessarily mean believing in God (I know, shocking, coming from a rabbi!). it means having faith in you. It means knowing that you have the inner tools and resources to face all the obstacles in your way.
9. Don’t let your emotions determine your reaction.
I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to emotion, restraint is not always my strong suit. To combat this tendency, I developed the Wait Box: a file on my computer that exists today. Whenever I am tempted to react viscerally to a person or situation, I write my response — holding nothing back — and file it in the Wait Box. There my emotional response sits for twenty-four hours and marinates.
Of course, rarely does the response I initially write ever see the light of day. Usually it gets dumped in the trash and later replaced with something much more thoughtful, logical, and productive. There is always value in waiting and letting the thoughtful response catch up with the emotional one.
10. Believe that tomorrow will be better.
The adage “tomorrow is a new day” may be cliché, but it rings true for a reason. The nature of life is that we can’t go back. We can only go forward. When we wish to re-create the past, we are really wishing to go back to a place that no longer exists. Find strength in knowing that we are not the same as yesterday, and we can move onward and upward. Today may be extremely challenging, but tomorrow will be different.