Peace + Power
Trust + Truth
It’s time to get intimate with yourSelf, learn every intricate detail of yourSelf like you would a lover, and make this loving relationship with yourSelf the primary one in your life.
Knowledge is Power
Self knowledge is your Superpower
I’m not talking facts or figures, the era of data-collection is over. You do not need to accumulate any more information. It’s time to put everything you have learned into action and get to know yourself on an even deeper level. This kind of knowledge will empower everything you do, it’s the knowledge of Self.
The Bhagavad Gita teaches us there are various paths to self-realization and the path of self-knowledge, Jnana, is one of them. Stepping onto the path of jnana yoga, you will look inwardly and will be empowered through knowing your true self.
I used to cringe at the word ‘power’ I associated it with aggression and force, I was more into ease and flow. I thought being powerful meant taking power away from someone else. I thought girls had to be nice and quiet. I couldn’t reconcile how Power fit into my yoga life and how it could be expressed in a feminine way.
Reclaiming my relationship to power, first involved embracing my own personal sense of power, I had been afraid of my own fire. I began to cultivate a relationship with my inner fire, tending to it through yoga and rituals, like gazing at a burning flame or the rising sun in meditation. Understanding fire and power in the natural world taught me that fire-power sustains all of life. What I also noticed is this natural power source comes from within, just as referred to in the Spandakarika.
It became clear that my aversion was not the power itself, but to the power structures that impose their patriarchal agenda upon humanity, the animal kingdom and Mother Nature. True power is never over or against someone, it is never imposing on something. It’s power that enlivens everything from within and can never be taken away.
merge with your breath, your body and your beloved to liberate yourself
Yoga Sutra 1.23
understanding ishvara pranidhana
The jhana path can have the tendency to get heady or disassociated from the heart and fullness of Life. I personally spent years reading endless ancient texts that taught me to “witness” the breath, the thoughts, sensations in the body. I was taught to disassociate and practice observing the mind and body. I thought “real yogis” lived in caves and ashrams retreated from the world. But the fact is, you are not a witness. You are an active participant in you breath, in your bodily sensations and in your thoughts, dreams and desires. To separate yourself from all this is to deny your precious, miraculous human Life.
I will assume here that you are not living in a cave but living in the world, participating in relationships and contributing to society. I’m also going to assume, you would like to be at peace with all that Life has to offer. To merely witness ourselves is not the key to living in peace or in power. You can no longer live disempowered and in denial of thoughts, senses or any aspect of your miraculous life. What is needed now is to go beyond witnessing or knowing and merge with our whole self. The soul does not distinguish between body, mind and itself; it is the body and mind. When we align with our true Self, there is no hierarchy or separation, to merge with the soul is to merge with the body and mind as one.
In Ayurveda we understand that nothing, no illness or ailment is purely physical, it is simultaneously physiological and connected to your soul’s purpose. Go to LIVING AYURVEDA next if this sparks you)
The invitation here is to take this principle into your relationships, to witness your breath, body, your beloved or teacher, is not interesting enough. There must be full participation in the breath, with the body and your lover, only then will you see through the illusion of separation and unite all aspects yourself and life as one. If this sounds abstract, remember that you do not have to ‘do’ anything in this practice, it is already happening for you and with you. This unification is the most natural and human experience you can have.
In union your true Self is naturally realised.
The ocean holds unshakable stillness. She is also wild, crashing waves. One cannot be separated from the other.
The deep peace is the power, She is both.
Knowing who you truly are also requires resting into the fact that there are no problems. There are no problems! At the same time, have clear perception of yourself. A spiritual bypass would like being an asshole, while using this as rationale, but that’s not you. The fact that you are here, means you are all about honouring the actuality of what is. What is present in each moment - both the absolute miracle of life and the complete mess of it all.
There is deep peace in this knowing. Everything in your life and in the world is happening in perfect timing and in divine order. There are no mistakes. The non-peace, the suffering comes when you try to change or deny what is happening and impose ideas, expectations and judgments onto life. My teacher, Mark Whitwell, says “Don’t be in conflict with society” Meaning it is entirely unhelpful to be in conflict with society, your partner, your morning coffee, your tears. Embrace society. Love your partner. Cherish your coffee. Let your tears flow. Only through acceptance can change begin to take place.
This practice of peace is easy when life is going “your way” This perception of “your way” is when personal will and divine will are in sync. When life is not going according to plan, it doesn’t mean that you are out of alignment with your soul. Instead, you are having an experience your soul chose to facilitate growth. When life throws you a curve-ball, the practice is to remain in your centre, rest into the fact that everything happens as it’s supposed to, far beyond comprehension. This embrace of both the magic and the messiness of life means you remain in your peaceful centre through it all. Rather than being rocked from one extreme to the other.
Truth, in it’s essence is uncomplicated, it is simply an acceptance of what is present. What is True, what is Present will arise naturally when the space is created for it to do so. When you compress the space in which truth resides you actively deny the flow of life. Truth, like Love is not something that you need to create or reach for. All you need to do is create the conditions for it to arise.
When you express (super)power while embodying deep peace
Truth is born.
The truth can only be denied for so long. As you cleanse your lens of perception through the actual practice of yoga, you see yourself and the world clearly. Individual and systemic denial of presence is what makes our perception of Truth, which is essentially simple, complicated. There are many murky layers that lie between the current state and freedom, let’s not deny that.
Over the last few years, there has been an inevitable uprising of Truth in many aspects of society. It has been the denial of truth, a denial of what is present that disempowered people everywhere, living in fear and bound to a system that does not serve humanity for centuries. Public, collective truth-telling is reflected in the personal microcosm as well. As you do the work to accept your whole self as you presently are, you will symbiotically accept and embrace humanity as a whole.
Your practice here is to strengthen your capacity to be present, so you can recognize what each moment calls for without placing expectations onto the situation or projecting illusions onto another being. Through practice clarity is cultivated and an ability to respond to life rather than being reactive.When you reside in a reactive mind, you operate from a place of fear or on auto-pilot. In this unconscious state, a disconnect between personal will and divine will is perceived and we attempt to manipulate the moment into something the mind deems more desirable.
Presence is practising honesty with yourself about what is actually unfolding within you and around you. Especially when the moment contains a curveball, a challenge, or something you did not expect. When you embrace honesty in this way, you are no longer limiting the flow of life.
Embracing your full-spectrum self
Paying attention is the biggest gift you can give yourself. When you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, you have no choice but to be honest with yourself. This is a sacred act, an honouring of the actuality of what is. It can be scary to feel the full spectrum of emotions and if we don’t have a daily practice it may appear preferable to numb out or avoid unwelcome thoughts and emotions. (Go deeper into this in PASSION)
Let’s be honest, without the appropriate tools to work with, the human experience can be overwhelming. No human is exempt from the challenges, heart-breaks and shitty circumstances that life has to offer. The opposite is also true. No human life is less than a miracle and everyone can experience your life as a sublime flow of perfection, it is a basic Human Right.
When you allow yourself to bravely feel the sublimity and experience even the shitty happenings in life, you will not miss a moment. The spectrum of life expands to embrace the fullness of this human experience.
When you see something, say something.
Once you recognise the truth within yourself, the next step is to express it. Making yourself vulnerable to another person’s actions or reactions takes courage. The act itself will strengthen you, you are building your trust muscle. Your vulnerability will become your biggest strength, because that’s where the truth is. Once you lift the lid on denial and let truth bubble up, there will be no option but to begin navigating from and expressing this peaceful power. The truth needs no defence, and stands up in all circumstances. In the yoga sutras, Patanjali explains that a commitment to truth and honesty will free the mind from negative thoughts and result in the liberation of all beings.
Building the Trust muscle
The more grounded you become, the more you can expand. The extent to which you trust yourself, will be reflected in your relationships and your trust in the flow of life. Trust is a muscle that grows and strengthens with daily action. It begins with crystal clear communication with yourself, and in relationships. Clarity will come through your personal practice, having this time will ensure what you are communicating is not clouded by projections or unprocessed emotions. Practice communicating your ideas, feelings and boundaries on a daily basis, with the seemingly insignificant things. Try saying an idea out loud, just to see if it feels true. This practice of crystal-clear communication with the little things means that when there are heavier weights to lift, your trust muscle will be strong and supple.
Doing what you say, and saying what you will do is important in building trust, both with yourself and in relationships. Your words create your reality and have real power so when you say aloud what you intend to do, this is an integral step in manifesting your ideas into action. When you actually do what you say, you honour the power of the throat chakra, the power to speak and the power to listen. Primarily, it’s about self-respect, and shows you respect the trust others place in you.
In addition to that, you can reserve the right to change your mind. This is another aspect of honesty, if you have made a commitment that no longer feels true, you can honour your truth and express it. If you apologise and communicate as clearly as you can, the foundation of trust will be maintained. However, if you avoid the subject, make changes without explanation or continuously commit without integrity, trust will be destroyed. On some level you will lose trust in your own words, your own power and the people you are in relationship with will also lose faith. Integrity is choosing courage, being honest and investing in the longevity of a relationship, instead of doing what is quick and easy in the moment.
Forget capable. Be helpable.
Remember, vulnerability is your greatest strength and it’s what bonds us to one another. When you ask for and openly receive help from others, the trust muscle builds. When you open to the flow of life, rest into divine timing, take a leap of faith and receive the infinite support from the universe, the trust muscle builds. When you refuse to ask for or accept help from others you create an illusionary power dynamic that you are superior. If you only play the role of “the helper” rather than someone that is “helpable” you destroy the essential balance of giving and receiving. Implicit in exclusively helping is a sub-conscious judgement of the one asking for help, and external judgment is always a mirror to the judgment directed inwardly. Dissolving self-judgment frees you up to accept the interconnected nature of human life. We need each-other, just as the flowers need the bees.
We are human, perfectly imperfect, magic and messy. It’s only natural that you will mess up from time to time. The way you treat yourself and others when you do inevitably make a mess speaks volumes in regards to trust. Soften your heart and assume the best in people. Generosity and forgiveness are the corner-stones for this foundation of trust within relationships. Including the relationship that is less tangible, your relationship with the universe, or flow, or god - however it is you understand your unique connection with what is beyond us. Giving over to God is another aspect of trust, the more you give over, faith in the unknown grows. If this sparks your interest, go to PURPOSE next.
Writing Reflections + Inner Exploration
Below you will find writing prompts for each day, be sure to dedicate time to write one A4 page for each reflection, keep your pen moving until you fill the page and don’t settle for less. You can also refer back to the philosophy shared above and use it to spark your own inner explorations.
+ week one
- day 1. Investigate your definition, past and present, of Power. Explore the good, the bad and the ugly
- day 2. Rewrite your Power story. In your ideal world, speaking as your true self; how do you embody and express personal Power?
- day 3. Write freely for 1 A4 page about Fire…
- day 4. Write freely for 1 A4 page about Confidence…
- day 5. Write freely for 1 A4 page about Humility…
- day 6. When was the last time you felt at peace? Describe the experience in detail.
- day 7. How could your life be more peaceful?
+ week two
- day 1. How can you be radically real and yourself?
- day 2. Investigate what are you currently avoiding or in denial about?
- day 3. Write “what I really want to say is…” and fill your page from there, if you get stuck, write the question again
- day 4. Write out 7 wild ideas, thoughts, worries or dreams in1 sentence form. Then say each one out loud (either privately or with someone you trust) and see if they Feel True. If you do this with a partner, they can also give you feedback on what feels true from their perspective of your voice and expression. If it’s the first time doing this exercise, give yourself a rating 1-10 (not true- perfectly true)
- day 5. What does the word Presence mean to you?
- day 6. How can you be more ‘helpable’?
- day 7. What boundaries have you not communicated in the past or presently?
All the pathways have points of overlap and intersection and what bolsters each path is your personal daily practice of yoga, which is your direct participation with the various energies of bhakti, jhana and karma.
At the intersection between passion and power you will find Freedom. Through truly loving, being devoted and compassionate, we create the conditions for the beloved (which might be another person, or might be yourself) to Be exactly who they are, empowered in their truth and in trust, this is Freedom. To embody more Passion, Compassion, Desire and Wild direction go to the path of PASSION next.
As we near the intersection of Power and Purpose, we see another exchange that elevates both paths equally. Truth sustains purpose and purpose sustains truth. This means that being connected to truth and trust is what sustains our offering of daily action. It’s Power that makes being of service intentionally motivated and ensures that even through giving we are receiving to an equal degree. Walk down the path of PURPOSE next to continue in this direction.