Beautiful words from Deepak:

The highest aim of any spiritual path is surrender. Although you may associate the word surrender with defeat or weakness, it is the most powerful spiritual action, offering you infinite freedom and possibilities. Surrender is trusting that God, the Universe, or a higher intelligence can accomplish anything, even when you can’t foresee the outcome of a situation.

At the level of spirit, everything is always unfolding perfectly, and you don’t have to struggle or force situations to go your way. It is only your ego-mind that believes you are an isolated individual trying to survive in a hostile world. In truth, you are a spiritual being. By surrendering to Spirit, you end the struggle, freeing yourself from fear and doubt and releasing the obstacles your ego has created.

The entire spiritual path could be described as learning to let go, but letting go all at once isn’t possible. This is a path of many small steps, gradually replacing automatic reactions with deepened awareness. Here are the guidelines along the path that have proved effective for me personally and that I feel will work for many people:

1. Know your intentions.
Your destiny is to move in the direction of your soul, and the fuel that makes destiny move is intention. Each day, have the intention to let go a little bit more, closing the gap of separation that is only a delusion of the ego. In addition, unmask your false intentions, which take the form of guilty desires: I want someone else to fail, I want to get even, I want to take something that’s not my own.
False intentions can be elusive, but you can recognize them by the feeling-tone they carry, including fear, greed, rage, hopelessness, and weakness. Sense the feeling first, refuse to buy into it, and then remain aware until you find the intention lurking beneath.

2. Set your intentions high.
Aim to be a saint and a miracle worker. Why not? If you know that the goal of inner growth is to acquire mastery, then ask for that mastery as soon as possible. Don’t strain to work wonders, but don’t deny them to yourself either. The beginning of mastery is vision; see the miracles around you, and that will make it easier for greater miracles to grow.

3. See yourself in the light.
The ego keeps you in its thrall by making you feel needy and powerless. From this sense of lack grows a hunger to acquire everything in sight. Money, power, sex, and pleasure are supposed to fill up the emptiness, but they never do. You can escape this painful illusion if you see yourself in the light. The only difference between you and a saint is that your light is small and a saint’s is great. You are both of the light.

4. See everyone else in the light.
Everyone lives in the same light. When you are tempted to judge another human being, no matter how obviously he or she deserves it, remind yourself that everyone is doing their best from their own level of consciousness.

5. Reinforce your intentions every day.
Everyday life is a kind of swirling chaos, and the ego is entrenched in its demands. You need to remind yourself, day in and day out, of your spiritual purpose. Some people find it helpful to write down their intentions; for others, periods of regular meditation and prayer are useful. Find your center, look closely at yourself and do not let go of your intention until it feels centered inside yourself.

6. Forgive yourself.
We all fall into traps of selfishness and delusions when we least expect it. The chance remark that wounds, the careless lie, and the irresistible urge to cheat are universal. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and apply the same dictum to yourself that you use with others: I am doing the best that I can from my own level of consciousness. (I like one spiritual master’s definition of the perfect disciple: “One who is always stumbling but never falls.”)

7. Learn to let go. 
The paradox of being spiritual is that you are always wrong and always right at the same time. You are right to try to know God, but you are wrong to think that things won’t change tomorrow. Every stage of inner growth is good and is nurtured by God, but when it’s time to move on, don’t hesitate to let go.

8. Revere what is holy.
You may have been brought up to be skeptical of the sacred. In our society, few people spend much time delving into the world’s great wealth of scripture. But the saints and human representatives of God are an infinite treasure. Dipping into this treasure will help you open your heart. The words of a saint or sage might be the right fertilizer at just the moment when your soul wants to blossom.

9. Allow God to take over.
Most people are addicted to worry, control, micromanagement, and doubt. Resist the temptation to follow these tendencies. Don’t listen to the voice that says you have to be in charge and that constant vigilance is the only way to get anything done. Instead, let Spirit try a new way and be willing to experiment. Intend for everything to work out as it should, then let go and allow opportunities to come your way. The outcome you are trying so hard to force may not be as good for you as the one that comes naturally.

10. Embrace the unknown.
Over the years, you have formed likes and dislikes and learned to accept certain limits. None of this is the real you. You can’t force your authentic self to emerge all at once, however. Because it is painful to strip away the thick layers of illusion, you have to allow your soul to reveal itself in its own time.

Be assured that the unknown is awaiting you – an unknown that has nothing to do with the “I” you already know. The part of you that you know is the part that flickers out all too fast. When you feel a new impulse, an uplifting thought, an insight that you have never acted upon before, embrace the unknown. Cherish it as tenderly as a newborn baby. God lives in the unknown, and when you can embrace it fully, you will be free.

shutterstock_48556054It’s just you and your yoga mat. That’s my attitude when teaching my Yoga for Cancer Wellness classes. There is no comparison with others – there’s no faster, higher better. I emphasize the great tradition of yoga – accepting one’s moment-to-moment experiences, whatever they may be. Learning this simple skill will help you be more relaxed in your day-to-day life.

Yoga has become a popular subject in the medical community. And you now see yoga offered as a complimentary therapy in major hospitals and treatment facilities. 2500 years of research has concluded that the therapeutic benefits of yoga are real – it works!

Yoga is the integration of the individual – bringing all the parts of one’s being together: physical; emotional; mental; intellectual; social and spiritual layers of our existence. Yoga is really a system of understanding ourselves at every level of our being.

Cancer patients find inner peace and strength. They learn to better understand their own needs. In this way, they build their strength in order to conquer their illness, but also to find their own personal way using all the tips and tools of a regular yoga practice.

Yoga trains concentration and attentiveness. Learning to accept what is, you learn to use the path of yoga to understand your own inner strength. Through increased attention to your own thoughts, the sensations in your body, and the emotions that you feel as you end the position, you will come to understand yourself. Sharpening the degree to which you can focus your awareness to each of these aspects – thoughts, sensations, and emotions – is vital in learning to adjust how you feel. Cancer therapy can be devastating, and yoga exercises offer you the chance to do things differently and replace your usual thoughts of fear and worry with a sense of calm and joy. Changes in thinking patterns that start during practice spill over into everyday life, giving you a fresh outlook.

Join my fellow teacher, Kelly Stanley, and me as we share the great healing traditions of yoga each Sunday from 1:00pm to 2:15pm at Cambio Yoga Studio . Come rediscover your love for yourself.

Denise Widner


Ayurvedic Foundations

Ayurveda is one of most ancient and comprehensive system of health care known to mankind. It provides a complete approach to medicine and right living for body and mind rooted in Vedic principles and philosophy, including the pursuit of longevity and immortality. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, derived from two roots: ayur, which means life or life span, and Veda, knowledge. Ayurveda is the science of life. It has its root in ancient Vedic literature and encompasses our entire life, the body, mind and spiritual existence.

As a consciousness-based approach to health and wellness, Ayurveda clearly understands the human being as a true replica of Mother Nature and teaches us how to live harmoniously with our surroundings. Therefore, ayurvedic self-care and personal well-being end up connecting ourselves with our Divine Selves. Ayurveda considers health as a by-product of enlightenment.

Here are some basic foundations of Ayurveda:

1. Pancha Maha Bhuta Theory:

The whole universe is made up of 5 basic elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Every living and non-living entity is a vibratory and qualititative combination of these elements. Space is the lightest and Earth is grossest of all the elements. “Yatha pinde tatha barmhande” – as is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm. The human body is 100% made in and made up by nature, so we must find our close proximity with the nature and nourish ourselves with the purest forms of food, air and water.

2. Tridosha Theory:

Ayurveda talks about the three doshas, namely Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas are different permutations and combinations of the five basic elements. Vata is made up of space and air, Pitta is made up of fire and water, and Kapha is made up of water and earth. All the three doshas also have shades of other elements. They govern the structure and function of the human body. Vata is responsible for movement, communication and transportation. Pitta is responsible for temperature, metabolism and digestion. Kapha governs structure, cohesion and lubrication. These three doshas work hand in hand to carry out very possible functions and can be considered part of the building blocks of the universe.

3. Sapta Dhatu & Mala Theory:

As the three doshas are more invisible and carry out functions, the dhatus and malas are more visible. Dhatu means tissues. There seven dhatus, namely rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), meda (fat), asthi (bones), majja (bone marrow), and shukra (sexual fluids). The three malas (waste products) are mala (stool), mutra (urine), and sveda (sweat). We imagine the balance and imbalance by assessing the state of dhatus and malas. Each tissue also has some updhatus (sub-tissue) and their respective malas. The doshas are responsible for the digestion and conversion of the food into specific body tissues with the help of a balanced agni (digestive fire). When the digestive fire is weak it may create multiple digestive impurities (ama) and clog the circulatory channels (srotas) leading to a variety of diseases.

4. Prakriti & Vikriti:

The most unique aspect of Ayurvedic medicine is its understanding of Mind-Body types. Each individual has a unique Vata, Pitta, or Kapha body type. It can be a single dosha, dual dosha or a tridoshic combination. Our physical structure, looks, digestion, behavior, disease tendency, and the treatment plan depend upon our body types. Understanding our own body type guides us towards positive lifestyle choices.

5. Dravya-Guna-Karma Shastra:

Ayurveda clearly understands the herbal intelligence and use of herbs and herbal formulation in its purest natural sources. Rasa (taste), guna (quality), vipak (post digestive effect), veerya (potency), and prabhava (special effect) are the five main principles for Ayurvedic pharmacology. Medicinal use of spices is an important part of Ayurvedic cooking and nutrition.

6. Pancha Karma:

Pancha means five and Karma means actions. Pancha-Karma is a carefully designed series of bodywork and cleansing techniques for effortless detoxification. It pulls the water soluble and fat soluble impurities out, enabling the cells and tissues to feel vital and vibrant. It is an excellent therapy for chronic diseases.

7. Rasayana:

It simply means rejuvenation. Rasayana includes anti-aging therapies, a customized nutritional plan, behavioral changes, and intelligent herbal food supplements, which improve the overall quality and quantity of life. Rasayana preparation exert a positive effect on the mind, cognitive functions, and emotions.

Ayurveda is a true platform to integrate multi-modality treatments, which are supported by yoga, meditation, pranayama, and other powerful spiritual practices.

Suhas Kshirsagar BAMS, M.D. (Ayurveda)

The essence of a spiritual journey is relinquishing our attachment to a particular outcome, yet we all have desires that we’d like to see come to fruition in our lives. As the wisdom traditions teach, attention and intention are the two most powerful tools we can use to expand our happiness and our ability to fulfill our greatest dreams. Here are some practices that I have found useful in tapping into the energy and potential of attention and intention.

  1. One-pointedness. The Vedas tell us that purity of thought and fixity of purpose are the secret to a life of fulfillment. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” Consider, to the extent possible, how manifesting your desire will influence and enhance the quality of your life. Then, make a commitment to take the first step along the path to fulfillment.
  2. Discipline. Discipline is the commitment to learning and practice. The word disciplinederives from the same root as the word disciple, which means “being open to receive.” The fruit of discipline is grace – the universe adds its power and creativity to your capability, and you manifest something that at one point seemed beyond your reach.
  3. Timing. Mastering the power of intention includes honoring the rhythms of life. There is a time to act and a time to practice forbearance. Staying tuned in to the synchronistic clues around you enables optimal results with minimal effort.
  4. Attention. Attention is the most powerful force in human awareness. Whatever we place our attention on grows stronger in our lives. Apply your attention with conscious discrimination, and nature will support you in the fulfillment of your desires.
  5. Surrender. We have control over our next choice, but no control over the consequences of our choice. Knowing this, focus your resources on the choice in front of you, set the desired trajectory, and then let go, observing the outcome with curiosity and amusement. Like an accomplished archer, become clear on the target, pull back your bow to a point of stillness, release the arrow, and see what happens.
  6. Return to the state where all desires arise and are fulfilled. Bringing silence into your daily practice through meditation and yoga cultivates a state of abundance consciousness. Whatever you are seeking to accomplish in the world of form and phenomena, you can access the feeling you are striving to generate by quieting your mind and entering into the state of timeless awareness.
  7. Witness your self-importance and self-pity. It is easy to waste life energy taking credit for our accomplishments and casting blame for our failures. This energy would be better invested in making use of the lesson learned to make more evolutionary choices. Spiritual warriors practice sobriety without taking themselves too seriously. In this way, we align our personal wants and desires with universal intent. Nature then supports the fulfillment of our desires, as the line between individual and universal becomes nearly indistinguishable.

Let’s set our collective intention on expanding peace, happiness, and love in our personal lives and for all sentient beings on our beautiful, delicate planet.

With love,
David Simon

Chopra Center Co-Founder



Emotional Freedom

“Time is a factory where we all slave away,
earning enough love to break our own chains”
– Rumi

It is often not until we are confronted with our mortality that we begin to be conscious of our emotions and their origins.  We learn to experience our world in an environment that convinces us that the source of happiness is external.  Until we settle into the realization that our true self is timeless divinity, and we are all simply reflections of that divinity, we are bound inexorably by the attachment we maintain to the thoughts, ideas, experiences and stories of our lives.

We are complex living beings with a level of neural interconnectivity that distinguishes us from all other known beings.  The synergism that results from this connectivity results in the ability to remember the past, sensually experience the present, and imagine a future that we have the capacity to create.  Take a look around the room you are in.  Everything you see was once an aspect of someone’s imagination.

Many generations ago, as a result of this interconnectivity, our ancestors attained a level of self-awareness that allowed them to begin to contemplate their existence.  They began to ask why they were here, what purpose life had, and who they really are.  Their world was one of being entirely invested in the energy and cycles of nature.  They developed the desire to understand the universe.  They imagined and began to practice a technique that allowed them to move beyond their thoughts.

Meditation is a practice that affords us an opportunity to move beyond, or transcend, our thoughts.  Sitting silently, while listening for our mantra, or mind vehicle, moves our awareness away from our thoughts toward the infinite space between thoughts.  This transcendence creates a perspective that helps move our perceptual orientation from our mind, intellect and ego toward our inner Self — the spiritual energy within us.  The ultimate in Self-realization occurs when we realize our own spiritual energy and the spiritual energy that gave rise to the universe are One.

Orientation with the Self shifts us from a state of evaluation, discrimination and judgment to one of equanimity — neither above nor below.  It opens the opportunity to view life from the perspective of a silent inner witness, gently observing our reactions and responses to life events.  It allows the evolution and emergence of spontaneous right action that result in choices that tend to be harmonious for us and those around us.  We are invited to begin to communicate consciously.

In order to communicate consciously we must know four pieces of information.  We must know the facts about what just happened — the reality of the moment.  We must ask ourselves what our emotions are — free of judgment.  We must ask ourselves how our body feels — the physical sensations resulting from our emotions.  And we must be able to ask ourselves what it is we want — what we really, really want at all levels of desire.

Just asking ourselves the simple question “what emotion am I experiencing?” shifts our perceptual orientation from our protective ego and analytical intellect to our expansive, connecting hearts.  Remembering we have the ability to shift our perceptual orientation at will shows us that we have the opportunity to lean toward health by experiencing love, the affect of connection.  Compassion– understanding another’s suffering, and empathy – understanding another’s stories, follows.

Discovering and appreciating the connecting power of love causes that aspect of our awareness to expand, resulting in dissolution of the attachments our thinking habitually makes.  A sense of freedom — no longer being reactively attached to our stories, experiences and thoughts — emerges and evolves.  We move from being reactive to being responsive.

As we settle into our practice we will notice other aspects of our life effortlessly evolving.  Our relationships with others and ourselves will improve.  We realize we are drawing into our lives by our own attracting light those people and events that are most likely to help us realize our heartfelt intentions.  Our physical health becomes more balanced.

Over time we begin to realize we are no longer enslaved by the thoughts and stories that kept us chained to a constricted life.  As opposed to resolving life’s conflicts and fighting life’s obstacles we celebrate our ability to transcend these reactive strategies.  We realize we are moving toward Moksha, the Sanskrit word for emotional freedom.

Perhaps the most beautiful, sweetest sound we ever hear is the clanging and rattling of broken links of chain falling away to the ground as our truly loving, connected, blissful Self emerges from the constriction of our conditioning.

Dr. Tim Brieske

Dr. Brieske is a board-certified Family Medicine physician and expert in mind-body medicine. In addition to serving as a medical consultant, educator, and workshop leader at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, he practices emergency and hospitalist medicine.

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