It happens in simple yet profound moments.
The story of my awakening is actually a story of many tiny moments of awakening. They line up like an unfinished strand of beads that may one day make a complete mala.
Several years ago when my daughter was still a young child, I taught a regular evening class at the studio near our house. It was hard to teach an evening class while parenting a young child. I felt exhausted and drained by the end of the day and though I loved the yoga, it was hard for me to show up and hold space for others when I felt like I had no space for myself.
Eventually I learned to have the babysitter come an hour earlier than I needed her and I started slipping away to a nearby park. It is a beautiful park, wooded in areas, with a meadow and an azalea garden that bursts into color for a week each spring. Wide open space with sparse trees and a lake with my favorite creatures - ducks.
On one such afternoon, I experienced a mini-awakening. It was a beautiful afternoon but I felt incredibly contracted in my mind that day. My daughter and I had been together with little relief for a long time and I was exhausted.
For the first while, I just sat quietly in the itchy grass on the hillside overlooking the lake. It was peaceful if a little hot. Ducks glided by and a few people wandered through the park but mostly it was relatively still and quiet.
As my mind quieted a bit, I took out my notebook. I still needed to prep for a class in an hour and I felt anxious. I don’t know how I began writing or what I was saying to myself. But eventually the voice of my writing changed. I subtly shifted from dumping my mind out in a never ending stream of complaint into allowing my pen to be moved and my words to come from the deepest place inside of me. The inner wisdom spoke simply but clearly.
Out of all of the chaos of my mind and fatigue in my body came the simple words:
You are Love
Something deep inside of my bones responded. First I responded with surprise that this revelation had occurred. Then with absolute affirmation that yes, it was completely true. I am Love. My mission is Love. The rest was just getting in the way.
My heart lifted and popped open. When I raised my eyes, the lake shimmered with a new beauty, the ducks were profoundly more delightful, and the people passing by were not to be feared but were infinitely precious beings on this planet
A swell of love flowed through me and out from me to embrace the park, all of my family, and the students I would be teaching in just a few minutes.
It sounds so simple. Even writing about it, I’m not sure I can convey the beauty and the profound shift of perspective that happened for me then but it did. I started in a deeply contracted state and had a moment of reconnection and revelation. A moment of Grace. A moment of being touched by Shakti’s flow.
This is what we’re talking about when we say Ashaya Yoga exists to help awaken people’s hearts. Ashaya Yoga teachers explicitly and consistently attempt to help students create conditions in their bodies and hearts where awakenings can happen. My friend and licensed teacher, Silver Kim recently put it this way to teacher trainees: “ You have that hour with [the students] and you say something that can change their whole life. They might be in desperation and you say something that changes it. This is our purpose, to help people get out of pain in their body and in their heart.”
My example happened outside of a yoga practice. I chose it because it was so profound and permanent but I can tell you absolutely that I have mini-experiences like this every single time I practice Ashaya Yoga with a licensed teacher. I think that the repeated mini-awakening experiences in class and on my own mat set me up to have the bigger awakenings like my moment in the park. Without those mini moments I wouldn’t be open to guidance in my writing. Without the mini moments, there would be so much debris in the way of Shakit’s flow, she wouldn’t be able to get through to be able to open me even more.
What is an awakened heart?
An awakened heart is one that lives and breathes. To awaken your heart means that you can connect with a stream of wisdom that resides inside of you. It exists to teach you, to guide you, to love you. An awakened heart is a heart full of love and compassion for yourself and all beings. An awakened heart is strong enough to hold paradox - not to reduce all the complexity of life down to good/bad, right/wrong but to hold that there are many possibilities within all of us. The task is to do one’s best. An awakened heart is soft enough to be vulnerable when needed. And is available to carry you through the toughest times. An awakened heart recognizes and is connected to a bigger energy. It is plugged in to Consciousness and is sourced from there.
An awakened heart recognizes Love as the ground of being of all things. Love is who you are. Love is how you are meant to live. Love is the only action you must take. When living from a truly awakened heart, the only choice is Love. If you cannot choose Love, then your job is not to blame everyone else but to do all in your power to find your way back to Love.
Perhaps one day I will be a fully enlightened being - I can hope for such. At this moment I most certainly am not. I stumble along the path. I fall out of Love and I operate from fear or pain more often than I would like. But because of my experiences in Ashaya Yoga I do at least KNOW what it feels like to live from an Awakened heart even if only temporarily. That is why I continue to practice and teach Ashaya Yoga when there are so many options available. Nothing else has ever come close to opening me: emotionally, spiritually, physically in the way that this yoga does. So, even though I fail at it a lot, I just continue to open to Love. As my teacher Todd Norian, Ashaya Yoga founder often says:
Love will teach you all you need to know
What about you? Have you ever experienced an Awakening of Heart? When we share our stories of awakening, we offer others a mini-awakening. In that way, community of heart is uplifted. I would Love to hear your story. Please share in the comments below, or send me a little message via the contact button or email: firstname.lastname@example.org