black belt in connection…3-14-17


I was held all day Saturday at a yoga retreat dedicated to sutra 1.33, the four brahmavihara. This sutra takes the practice of yoga off the cushion (where it might be relatively easy to become enlightened) into present time reality. Very specific instruction on using social relationships as a call to awaken. And unless you live in a cave, this would be a never-ending practice. Want peace of mind? Try developing these four heart qualities:

  • Maitri translated as friendliness or love. We can start by extending maitri toward our friends. Being there to give assistance and also (sometimes harder) to receive support. Today I was acutely aware of simply practicing friendliness in all the interactions of my day…there are so many!
  • Karuna is compassion or mercy. Of which I’ve written a great deal lately. Being there for those who are suffering. Searching out that fine line between defended and merged. Feeling karuna as we tend the hurts of those we love (including ourselves) and stretching to allow karuna to emerge outside our small personal bubble. And there is so much.
  • Mudita is delight or joy. Waking up to the basic goodness and divinity in others, honoring those who embody what is noble and what is virtuous. It is a seductive trap to feel pity for our own situation when we compare or jealousy as we become aware of someone else’s bright light. Like someone else’s success is a threat to our own. We are human…it happens. Mudita begs us to witness this tendency and cut it out.
  • Upeksanam is indifference, impartiality, my favorite word—equanimity. Turning the other cheek when someone’s actions oppose our own values. Donna Farhi calls it the “black belt” of the bramivihara and says “harboring resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” These crazy times call for a huge dose of upeksanam. How do we stay connected with our own truth, continue in action and not get caught up in being so damn sure who is right and who is wrong. So much opportunity to work this one.

I love the sutras, layers of learning through the practice of yoga. People are happy or suffering, virtuous or wicked; here is a way of being with whatever is before us. For me, once again this Saturday, I felt how limited it feels to explore this on a yoga mat. All that valuable embodied practice time alone; how can I take this out in the world when I have not really practiced connecting with another on the mat?

That’s why I continue to be drawn to the dance floor, especially when it comes to relationship with other. Out on that floor…what an incredible opportunity to REALLY feel happy, suffering, virtuous, wicked continually arising and practice response. Again and again. Real time practice that has immediate application when we go out in the world. This is black belt practice in connection.

If you want that, if you’re you ready to break the ice and connect then how about dedicating April 21-23 to just that? When you’re with someone, are you present and comfortable in silence, or is it about showing your best face, telling your favorite stories? Does your life feel real, rich, juicy, or a numb simulation you have little impact upon? Do you want to drop deeper, witness patterns that keep us skating on the surface? In Connect we’ll dance our way in and guess what? Breakthroughs do not need to be painful, they can come from play and Kate and Tim play deep.

This is Kate’s 6th year in Sacramento. There is a reason we keep having her back. If you haven’t spent time with this alchemist, maybe this is your moment to take the plunge. This is the first time she is co-teaching with her husband Tim in the U.S. We are in for a ride. Early bird is March 26.

Let’s do it…love, bella



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