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Monday, July 17, 2017
Can you believe it? This weekend our workshop is happening! You know...
Practicing Serenity and The Way of Meditation
A few months ago a client casually asked if I would be interested in leading a recovery minded meditation mini- retreat in the small village of Ninilchik. Without a moment's hesitation, I declared, "Yes! Absolutely!" Wait...what? Indeed, I did. Then, I suggested in a following conversation that the mini-retreat have the word serenity somewhere in the name. Now why did I do that?
Context is often everything. Let's begin with what I do for a living. I am a yoga teacher and try hard to follow the principles of that path in my life (postures, pranayama and ethically reflecting on my actions). Although people often think of movement, meditation is a huge part of working as a yoga teacher, probably one of the most important aspects. It's impossible for me to teach yoga without meditating. All this can be work and sometimes an inward struggle with lots of growing experiences long the way. Still, I wouldn't trade this lifestyle for anything because this path brings with it profound moments of sweet insight and raw bliss. I love speaking about the yoga journey so I figured this retreat would be a wonderful opportunity.
Now there is a supreme goal to all this yoga stuff. Behind these practices is the cultivation of inner calmness which in the ancient yogi tongue of Sanskrit is called "prasada". Prasada can be translated as inner calmness but a more contemporary meaning is serenity.
Serenity is the goal.
I figured any workshop on yoga and meditation needed to speak about serenity. It's the intention for both yoga and mediation. It makes sense for it to be the focal point. Coincidentally, serenity is a huge concept in the recovery world as well. Those who know this movement will recognize the word from the abridged and succinct "Serenity Prayer" found in many twelve step and related meetings. This prayer asks for serenity so that one has courage, stillness and more importantly discernment.
There began my research and serenity become my focus.
Now how about some honesty. I wish I could just go on pontificating about serenity and come across insightful. But...here is the disclaimer. I get way crazy sometimes, forget things and make weird mistakes even with all this yoga stuff under my belt. Yes, it's true. My mind runs in rapid circles of wild thoughts, loop stories and interesting but questionable realities. If I act on these random ideas, get lost in them or worse let them lead me on wild chases then my life turns to chaos. I am certain many can relate to this challenge. So, my findings come with a very human spin.
What did my research reveal? No mysterious short cut exists. It takes effort of a very particular kind. One can't just decide one day to be serene, read a book on how to do it, listen to a podcast, talk oneself into it or just think positive, hoping it happens. The list goes on. Nope! One will be thwarted in all these attempts. Life may even get worse.
Serenity involves developing particular actions on a regular daily basis or to use recovery terminology, one must practice certain steps in one's life. It is a constant evolving practical journey. Once we embark upon the undertaking, the goal of serenity and what we think it means becomes phantasmal. We discover that the path of serenity is what we sought all along and the ultimate prize.
What does the practice of serenity look like? Setting an intention, living right, treating others and yourself with respect, learning how to be still and developing focus through meditation. Yoga calls this journey the eight limb path.
This weekend, down the coast in little Ninilchik Alaska, our goal is share with you in yoga terms what the eight limb path might look like on a practical level. Regardless of whether you are into yoga or not, the universality of what we share will inspire and translate into your life. At least we hope so. Maybe, you will be there and we can talk about this in greater depth, better yet, maybe you will be there so we can practice this mystery together. Just come as you are, and let's see what happens.