Kriya Yoga & Urban Farming

In May my family and I embarked on an adventure of raising chicks! We got 5 tiny little Black Orpington chicks who were just 3 weeks old. We raised them in a kiddie pool with heat lamps, and introduced our dog to them slowly so everyone could get used to each other. My partner built an amazing coop.

In August I went outside to feed the girls (Penelope, Delilah, Cora, Beatrice and Violet), and Cora was lethargic and staring at the wall. We rushed her to the vet, and she died within the hour. We grieved the loss of our friend, and we went to work to try to save the other girls. I disinfected the coop, we medicated the other 4 for common chicken ailments (the vet never figured out what happened) and we watched the other girls for signs of sickness. After the medication was through and no one else got sick we figured we were in the clear. 2 weeks later Delilah died in the middle of the night. More grieving and more work. This time we also added the element of study. We now know about mites and worms and coccidiosis and what a healthy chicken poop looks like and what a problematic chicken poop looks like. I waited for half an hour to get stool samples from each girl and brought them to the vet. Again the vet could not find a cause for the death of our sweet little girl.

We put in our effort (tapas) and our study (svadhyaya), and now we arrived at surrender (isvara pranidhana). In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali the idea of kriya yoga is mentioned at the very beginning of the 2nd book, and then again in the 8 limbs (so if must be important!). It is the balance of work, study and surrender. We have worked hard to raise our girls and keep them safe. We did a lot of studying before we brought them home, and then did much more when Cora and Delilah died. Now the practice is letting go, and it is actually a relief. The relief is surrendering to the fact that I woke up today and I got to see them clucking around. I surrender to this moment, and the time I do have with them, instead of grasping for future moments that might not happen.

This is true for all of the beings in our lives. So this experience with my girls is also teaching me about surrendering into other relationships that feel so permanent. When I can surrender to just this moment, I find more sweetness, presence and gratitude. I also find less gripping and trying to change things or people and more ease.

Amends & Forgiveness

I recently reconnected with an old friend I have not spoken to in over 10 years. When I accepted her friend request on Facebook, I almost immediately got a message. The message was an apology for something that happened during our friendship.

I had a vague recollection of something near the end of our friendship that did not sit right with me, but mostly when I saw this person pop up in my world I was happy to hear from her. I shared this with her, as well as thanking her for reaching out and accepting her apology.

This interaction inspired me to reach out to someone I hurt, make amends and ask for forgiveness for what I did many years ago. During my year of lovingkindness practice I faced things that I had done in the past that I was sorry for. During this internal process, I worked on forgiving myself for the wrongs I have consciously or unconsciously done to others. It was not until I received this message of amends that I reached out to the people I hurt in the past to ask for their forgiveness.

My first practice of writing to a person in my past was both liberating and vulnerable, and my hope is that it leads to more connection. Through my lovingkindness practice I have learned to forgive myself for mistakes I have made, but the step of stating them to another person, taking responsibility and asking for forgiveness feels like a whole new level of lovingkindness. I have taught about compassion being a fierce practice. I discovered that asking for forgiveness and taking responsibility in a loving and sweet way shows how fierce the practice can be.

I do not know if I would have reached out to this person if I had not worked on forgiving myself, just like I do not know if I can truly be compassionate towards someone else if I cannot be compassionate to myself. So these practices, compassion and forgiveness, start right here with us, and they can start in easy ways like forgiving ourselves for oversleeping or forgetting to meditate or eating more ice cream than we intended. When we can forgive ourselves and have compassion for the mistakes and follies we
have done, and will do in the future, it is easier to ask for forgiveness when we make mistakes with the other people in our lives.

Change Through Kindness

Last week I read an article about loving your body. One of the quotes I appreciated from the article was, “Let us honor and respect our bodies for what they do rather than despising them for how they appear.” If you want to read the full article go here.

A wise person I know posed the question: how can we make change in our lives (whether it is eating healthier, meditating, starting an exercise program, learning a new software program, etc.) and still accept ourselves just as we are?

For me, and the work I do with others, I feel it is important to start with kindness and compassion. I do not believe we can bully ourselves into change. Sure, bullying can make us change for a bit, but inevitably we fall back into old habits because bullying ourselves is exhausting and not sustainable. We also then create the habit of bullying ourselves, which is not how most of us want to interact with ourselves or others.

People typically come to Satmato Yoga Therapy because they want change in their lives. So we start with acceptance and compassion, the building blocks for change.

For example: I wanted to ride my bike more this summer. I got my bike all tuned up and ready to go, and then it mostly just sat around. When I looked at my bike I felt some guilt and shame for telling myself I was going to ride and then not riding. Guilt and shame are terrible motivators! They just made me feel bad about myself.

Awareness of guilt and shame is important however, because when I am aware, I have choices. When guilt and shame reared their heads I knew that I was suffering. So I paused, breathed, accepted that there was a part of me that wanted to ride and another part of me that was struggling to get on my bike. In the acceptance of all of me I felt less guilt and shame, and I even got on my bike. When I rode my bike I received the positive reinforcement of how wonderful riding feels on my body and mind. I would still like to ride my bike more, but I am noticing that I make more progress towards that goal when I am kind and accepting of myself as I am.

How do you practice compassionate change? How do you attempt to bully yourself into change? What is one small step you can take towards kindness for yourself while you attempt change in your life? For me it is taking a 5 second pause to just acknowledge what I am experiencing. Try it out. What do you notice right now?