Loving the Light at LOVELIGHT Festival
Some of us braved thunderstorms, slugs and billions of catepillars to enjoy high-level teachings from some of our favorite yogis this past weekend in Maryland at the Lovelight Festival. The Yoga Sutras were fresh in my mind from preparing for the workshop I taught the beginning of August, and I was struck, but not surprised, by how much of what was being shared at the festival was a reiteration of the Yoga Sutras. Here were some of the highlights:
Dharma Mittra- This charming 78 year old yogi, who still enjoys standing on his head at every opportunity, emphasized tapasia. He quoted a well worn phrase, but somehow it came through with a different resonance (maybe it was the 5 wheel poses we did during class?) The phrase was "Easy come, easy go. What comes easily will go fast". His student introduced the class by telling the group to do whatever he said. It wasn't expected we could all do it as fully as his senior students, but he wanted us to try and try with everything we had. He humourously pointed out weak effort in a way that inspired all of us to look at ourselves and see if we were giving it our all and if we were paying attention. His own tapasia obviously has paid off. Practicing yoga since 1964, his light was radiant and his kindness oozed out of every pore. He encouraged us to use compassion towards others to free ourselves from our own suffering.
Dana Trixie Flynn- Dana is a vibrant, wacky and dynamic teacher (she is my absolutely favorite asana teacher). "Freedom takes discipline" she emphasized (tapasia again!). She also shouted about how dreamers change the world and while we don't have to follow the rules, we should pay attention and know what they are because they are going to change how we live (swadayaya- self study). And her sweetest message of all, if we want an experience of love (and who doesn't?) all we have to do is be loving to others (devotion, or Ishvara Pranidhana.) How simple, and how easy.
And not so easy- she reminded us to live where our fear lives (one of the hardest tapasia of all).
Girish- In an intimate bhakti workshop with Yvette Om (coming soon to Yoga Loka!) Girish encouraged us engage in DIY bhakti. (This is paraphrased) You don't have to wait for the next kirtan wallah to come to town to get a hit of bliss. Find the vibration that you resonate to. We all have one that is uniquely our own. He inspired us to seek that vibration, whether it is from chanting and singing, or using apps like iTambura. Once found, he encouraged us to play that vibration when we can, and by being steady, we can get to that same blissful place. Getting there is in our own hands. This bliss is not from outside of ourselves, just as the Yoga Sutras tells us in all 4 chapters.
Not surprisingly I walked away with a renewed dedication to my sadhana. Practice, over a long period of time, is what brings us peace. It is in our hands. The asana classes, the kirtans and concerts, the meditation classes are all here just to help us remember and give us support. But none of that will give us what our own practice will. So practice on! If you haven't found your practice yet, it's ok! Just keep looking, you will find it. And even if you have to sleep in a wet sleeping bag surrounded by catepillars, when drop into that moment of bliss through the grace of teachers, when you get that taste of what you have always been looking for it, you will know the effort was well worth it. That taste will continue to inspire you to look more. And like everything else, the more you look, the more you will find.