By Shakti Mhi
Here’s a letter I got from a dear student:
I wanted to share a feeling I get every time after I practice meditation, when I’m fully present, after each bit of programming I break away from and become non attached to my roots.
It’s a feeling of great sadness. Sadness that comes with emotion. The feeling of longing, not for something I want or even know, but it simply surrounds me.
Also, at the end of yoga classes I teach, when students are in savasana, I sometimes have tears in my eyes.
Maybe it’s a feeling of love and excitement about what I’m doing, but it’s more than that. It doesn’t come from the mind or other base emotions. It’s something else.
The sense of longing is very well known on the spiritual path, and many people experience it.
This is longing for a faraway home we once had, yet don’t remember in detail but we do have a vague memory of the feeling of residing in this home.
This home is our higher consciousness, the place of inner peace, inner knowing, of wholeness.
This is who we were before our survival programming clouded our consciousness and brought fear and uncertainty into our lives.
Most people are so far from this home that they don’t have even a flicker of memory.
But many others, even before they begin spiritual practices, being with them a dim internal memory of that perfect, bright place, which often brings about a sense of longing and sadness.
For others, it happens during the process of spiritual growth, as the fog gradually dissipates and it becomes easier to see the silhouette of that faraway home.
When I was younger, for many years, I felt the inner longing for something that was familiar but distant and very faint. I could not put my finger on its source. For a long time, I confused that longing to return home with a longing for the love of a partner, a longing for trips to remote places and I even filled the desire with a deep passion for eating and other pleasures. But over time, nothing could satisfy this craving. And that’s how the spiritual journey that brought me back home to higher consciousness began.
As for “… at the end of yoga classes I teach, … I sometimes have tears in my eyes…
It doesn’t come from the mind or other base emotions. It’s something else.”
Many times while teaching, as students become the focal point of the teacher and the mind is emptied, we as teachers can experience a clear sense of unity beyond material, thought, form or programming. This is when love, which is the essence of our being, takes us back home and this is the exalted feeling that arises when teaching doesn’t come from ego, but from a place of service to others, to give, to share and to love.
Yoga Teacher Training (200hr) with Shakti Mhi and Pepe Danza, in Czech Republic. July 2015
By Shakti Mhi
From all the forms of death man possibly can die from, for most people, committing suicide will be the hardest to accept.
When a human being consciously and successfully stops his own life, ripples of dismay and disbelief move through his or her tribe.
What is death?
Beside assumptions and beliefs, no one can declare he or she holds the absolute definition of what the experience of death is all about. We cannot even be certain that death is an experience.
We relate to death as the “thing” that happens on the other side of life. We perceive death as the opposite to life and life as everything that death is not.
A man stands on one side of the river, yelling to another man on the other side of the river: “ How do I get to the other side?” The other man yells back “You are on the other side”
We stand on the bank of the river of our existence on the side we perceive as life, looking to the other side where we imagine death is. The fog above the river prevents us from seeing the “other side”, which we judge as a less desirable side. Is it possible that to some people being alive is being on “the other side”? (The less desirable side of existence)
Even though we have no clue what death is, from our point of view, life always has more value than death. People may live the most miserable life and yet it has much grater value than death.. The reason we empower life in relation to death is because life is all we know.
We often are disappointed from people that decided to commit suicide… they “gave up on life” and left us behind. They chose the unknown over what we perceive as certain.
You may believe that we choose to come to this life; you may assume that there is a cosmic purpose or reason for our arrival to “life”, and yet, it is still only assumptions. So for this argument we can say that we arrive to this life with no choice.
Isn’t nice to know that even though we may not have chosen to enter life, we still have the choice to exit life if and when we wish to do so, and in an elegant way? If most people commit suicide not in an elegant way, it’s only because this option is not available for them. Since the act of stopping your own life is unacceptable, as a result, often it needs to be done quickly and in a hidden ways.
Why does it make sense to have places such as hospitals, for new arrivals like babies, to enter life, but we do not have places where people that chose consciously to exit life can do it graciously? I am not talking about places for the terminally sick, when people have to get authorization from others that they do have a good reason to die “unnaturally”. I am talking about places for any adult who chooses to die for his own reasons and without other’s approval.
We permit people of a certain age to drink alcohol, to have sex to drive a car and to carry guns for killing, but at no age we accept people to be adult enough to decide if they want to stop their own movie that we call life and if we find them in the act of killing themselves we always try to stop them from doing so.
How would you feel as an adult, if you are about to leave for a far way journey and someone is jeopardizing your travel because they do not want to be left behind? As mature adults we find it inappropriate when someone disrupts our personal choices, choices that have to do with ourselves. But we do not see anything wrong with interfering with people’s most personal and intimate choice: to stop their lives… by trying to “save” them against their own will.
You may argue saying this is a tough choice to leave in peoples hands because there is no way back from such a choice.
Who says there is no way back?
You may argue saying, no one died yet, changed their mind and returned to life. Maybe the reason for this is that no one that died found a good reason to return to life
Bringing babies to life is as well a choice with no “way back” and yet how many people that are not suitable to be parents chose to have babies without thinking twice and how many others do not even choose and simply follow the evolutionary drive for reproduction? And yet we completely leave this choice of creating lives in people hands.
You may argue that the reason for why the act of committing suicide is not acceptable by society is because the only people that choose to exit life on their own terms are the ones that suffer great physical, mental and emotional pain, or all of them together.
Is agonizing, unbearable pain and suffering not good enough reason to exit life for the one that chose to do so?
Why do we insist to keep these people alive? Is it really for their own sake and wellbeing, or maybe it is for our own sake, the ones left behind?
We live in a great paradox;
We are completely wired, as well as all the other animals, to survive. We have all the instincts and drives to prevent us from physical death. When we see a spider we react differently than when we see a rabbit. The reason is that we are programmed to sense that the spider might be dangerous to our life. The same goes with food that we do not recognize. We will be more suspicious of bitter food than sweet food. We are wired to sense that bitter flavors may represent poison.
This is the paradox we are trapped in, on the one hand we are fully programmed to always act in ways that will save our lives, as life is most valuable, but on the other hand, no matter how much we follow our internal survival program, and how much we will do anything to remain alive, we keep moving towards our inevitable death.
The reason for this attitude of “keep alive until you die” is that we are needed to live as long as we can fulfill our evolutionary role of continuing the race.
So death is part of life and vice versa. Who’s to say which of the two is more valuable?
Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson and decided to take his own life. We can choose to see that as a noble way to take responsibility for his own existence. Whatever reasons he had, he made a personal choice that is not different from a person that chooses, under the same circumstances, to live. Being a master is to take full responsibility for your own existence by making authentic choices.
I hope that when my time comes to leave my physical body, I can make my own choice as how and if to stop my life, without any interference from others that may think they know better than me about what is good for me. This is the least an adult person can wish for from her tribe.
Life cannot be precious if death is not precious. If we are paralyzed by death will be paralyzed by life.
We see death the way we see the sun at sunset. From our point of view the moment the sun disappears from the horizon there is darkness, but the sun is always there, in its full glow…
With great appreciation and love to life
Having a baby while facing a serious health condition may not be a good idea
By Shakti Mhi
As a little girl, I remember how the women in my extended family were talking with admiration about other women, like the sister in law… the wife of the neighbor… or any other woman that dealt with serious health issues, and as a result were forbidden by the doctors from getting pregnant. And yet these women decided to risk their health and sometimes their lives to get pregnant, no matter what. These women were perceived as brave because they didn’t give up, while sacrificing their health for the most important thing in life – having a baby.
Many of these women, after having a few children, kept dealing, throughout their lives, with heavy-duty health issues, often living on medications permanently. Their life’s quality and long term health were never a concern… the important thing was that they fulfill their duty as women – bearing children.
In the culture I was born in, having a baby was the biggest aspiration of every woman. Nothing could come before or above the desire to be a mother.
My mother always preached to me that a woman that does not have a baby is not a real woman!
The fanatic approach of my tribe about having children demonstrates the strong evolutionary drive of nature to continue the race.
As human beings the biological drive to fulfill our role in the continuation of the race manifests as an internal strong desire for having a baby. This desire is wrapped with powerful feelings of love that are often mistaken as unconditional love towards our children.
It is a mistake to think that our love for our children is unconditional love. The strong love we feel for our children is based on a very strong condition. The condition is that in one way or another our child must belong to us. If this condition would not exist we would love our children and the children of others exactly the same way, but this is not the case. We do feel strong love for our children because they belong to us.
Throughout my life I met many women with serious health conditions that sacrificed their health, and often even their lives, for having a baby, because of the feeling that they must become mothers no matter what.
Most of the women are not aware that their deep and often unbearable desire to become mothers is a result of hormones, to make the female physical body fulfill its role in the evolutionary process of continuing our race. It’s no different from mother giraffe or mother kangaroo and often without any rational thinking about the wellbeing of the child or of the mother. The drive to be a parent is an instinct.
This is the reason why the tribe will encourage such sacrifices from women. In the collective human consciousness, pregnancy and birth has a higher value than the mother’s health.
In the last week the newspaper had a big headline about two women that risked their health for giving birth.
One of the young women has Cystic Fibrosis and as a result had a lung and liver transplant! The message of the article was that nothing could stop this beautiful young woman from becoming a mother; she was praised as the ultimate woman.
Maybe instead we should praise the women that do stop for a second or two and do make a decision to take care of their own health instead of investing all their weak body’s energy in making a new human being.
Beside the fact that Cystic Fibrosis is hereditary (and this should already be a consideration in getting pregnant), the birth of the baby is not the only indication for the success. The question is: what is the quality of life and health the mother will have after her weak body, which is dealing energetically with so many health issues, will face after investing all its energy in creating a baby, and how will this affect the quality of life of the child?
Another article told the story of Maya, a young anorexic woman that up to a year ago weighed only 63 pounds. Now, after giving birth, she is asking the world to pray for the life of her little baby, who was born weighing 1.3 pounds. The article praises Maya for her braveness of not giving into the weakness of her body. Before everything I am wishing Maya and her new born baby all the best and healthy life, but I am asking: “ What did you think, Maya, while bringing a baby to life in a body that barely can sustain its own life?… The answer is that there is not much thinking when most of the people bring babies to the world, it is mostly a strong drive to become a parent and often to the detriment of the mother and the baby’s well-being for life.
In the article Maya was quoted saying “ I went through tough fertility treatments, knowing I am risking my life, just so I can get pregnant”
From my point of view any woman whose life becomes meaningless if she cannot become a mother, turns herself to be a walking womb. Her only function is to fulfill her role in the evolutionary production line.
Another interesting article in the newspaper was of Amira, a woman that since she was 18 years old was diagnosed with clinic depression, with a strong tendency for committing suicide, and yet she brought to the world four children that every morning wake up to another potential day where their loved mom may kill herself.
Amira tells how her five year old boy keeps asking her when will she die?
The interesting aspect of the article is that the journalist never raised, throughout the interview the question why, knowing you are clinically depressed, and with a few suicide attempts, you still gave birth to four children? The reason is that the question why does rarely exist when it comes to having children. The main questions that comes up in relation to have babies are when, how many and with whom? People often will say you do not need a good reason to have children, you just do it. The question “why?” is only raised in the context of not having children… why would you not want a baby?
Below is the explanation of the reason why is that it may not be a good idea, from the point of view of Yoga, to have a baby when your body or mind is struggling with heavy duty health issues.
In the philosophy of yoga the energy that keeps the physical body together is called Prana, life force. Prana is the force that moves our physical body and the energy and mental bodies.
Many people in the west confuse the term Prana with the term Energy we use when we feel energy after a workout in the gym or after a long jog.
It is important to understand that the term Prana and what westerns call energy are two very different things.
Many people that do lots of sports and as a result feel very “energetic” are actually depleted of Prana as a result of over doing physical activities. In the same way that a sports car will use much more fuel than a regular car, often people that overdo intensive physical activity empty their reserves of Prana. This is the reason why most of the sportsmen that depleted their bodies of Prana end with serious injuries. There is no Prana left in their body to hold it together.
Another classic example is women that overdo physical activities, depleting their Prana, and as a result their body does not have enough Prana to facilitate their monthly period, and it stops.
For the process of healing we need tremendous amount of Prana, and of high quality. Every disease or injury takes lots of Prana from the body. This is the reason why people that got sick or injured while they have reserves of Prana heal faster than people who arrive to such physical condition with empty reserves.
In any case of the body dealing with extreme conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heavy asthma etc., there is a need to switch to an emergency mode where we do not waste Prana, and instead we start to build up the amount and quality of Prana in our body, which will be used for healing.
Embryos that develop in a woman’s womb need huge amounts of Prana to evolve from a fertilized egg to a complete human being. This is why a baby in the womb gets the first priority to receive Prana in the body. That means that if the mother does not have enough Prana to share with her growing baby, the Prana will be redirected to the baby to the detriment of the mother’s body.
This is the reason why many women deal with depression after giving birth. If the woman got pregnant when the level of Prana in her body is low, as a result of stress or dealing with an extreme physical condition, by the time her pregnancy is completed and she went through birth, she is so depleted of Prana that it creates a strong imbalance in the mental and emotional aspects of her being.
So if a woman gets pregnant while her body is dealing with an extreme health condition, the damage after her pregnancy can be serious, because instead of enhancing the Prana in her body for healing, the baby and the pregnancy will have taken the little Prana she has, and the body will remain empty of this precious “fuel”.
Because in most of the parts in the world having children is the ultimate goal, many women feel like heroes when they sacrifice their health and life to fulfill this goal. They force on their bodies, which are dealing with heavy conditions, a pregnancy and birth, often paying a high price in their physical and mental wellbeing, and that of their children.
Having a baby, ideally, is done with a spiritual, high consciousness, and not from a blind, instinctual drive.
By Shakti Mhi
At the age of 10 I made a clear decision to never age. As a young sweet little girl whose main concern was to get as much attention as possible from the boys, at school I was terrified by the thought that I will ever have wrinkles, so I made a clear decision to kill my self at the age of 30.
At the age of 30 I couldn’t wait to be 50 years old. I was already deep into the spiritual path, looking for my way out of the misery of my own existence. I was in a rapid process of letting go. Letting go of my past, my roots, letting go of all my identifications while forming a new self, a spiritual self that I hoped will rise above all my conditioned selves.
At that time, the age of 50 looked like a sacred mountain that when you reach to the top you get a panoramic view of reality as it is, with no need to keep climbing up anymore.
And then the age 50 arrived!… and with it arrived the aging process of my body. The physical structure that holds my consciousness started to get rusted. My skin, my bones, my hair, my muscles and organs started to obey the law of time and space.
As a baby in my mother’s womb, after floating freely in the water, at one point, with an internal signal, I was directed towards the exit… that was the entrance to the physical dimension. Now my body, again, follows an internal signal that directs it towards the exit of this material dimension.
I would lie if I said that aging physically is an exciting thing. It’s no different than living in an old house. The amount of maintenance that is needed to keep it together keeps increasing. But as I suspected in my 30’s, the panoramic view of reality from the top of the mountain is breathtaking. There is nowhere to go, or nothing to reach out for. And even though your eyesight gets weaker with time, you do not need your physical eyes to see into the horizon of existence.
My Zen teacher said: when you are young you are chasing life but when you are old you sit quietly watching life coming to you.
The taste of wisdom that comes with age is sweet and replaces the sweetness of dwelling in a young and beautiful body. Now it is time to let go of all the selves I formed during my lifetime, even the spiritual ones, and simply be, beyond time, space, and the story of my life.
I have lots of compassion for aging Shakti, I love and accept her the same way I love and accept Shakti at 10 years old, 30 years old, and all the many other ages. I observe her aging process… her face is changing… her body is different. I learn to know her in an older form, she is me but I am not her. All the Shaktis in all their ages are within me, still popping in and out as they feel. I embrace them all while being aware they are all different manifestations of my higher self.
The spiritual path, as much as it was tough and even horrifying in many segments of my life as a seeker, gave me great tools to observe and deal with the ever-changing reality. Nothing stays the same, so what is the point to hold on to anything? Just this knowledge can either take you to the edge of your biggest fears or simply enrich your every moment. The choice is up to each of us.
Many men and women get terrified when aging takes place in their physical bodies. They often try desperately to stop the physical form they identify with as who they are, from changing.
Arriving at the wisdom age while clinging on to a certain body image can end up in disappointment and bitterness, a feeling of being betrayed by your body.
Unlike in the modern materialistic world, in the spiritual realm age is a second word for wisdom…they are often expressed together, as in “old and wise”. Unfortunately in the reality of our society, where we are worshiping youth and physical beauty, many people keep investing all their energy in the physical shell, which becomes very fragile when there is nothing inside to support it from within. As a result, aging and dying inevitably become a very painful experience for so many people.
By Shakti Mhi
It is fascinating to observe how in modern times, when we have already discovered that:
- There is probably more then one universe, if not many of them
- The universe keeps expanding and may not have an edge
- That there is an estimated 125 billion galaxies in the universe
- That there are 60 billion planets in our galaxy alone.
- That there are about 200 billion stars just in the Milky Way alone.
…That people can still believe that there is a God out there, and it will make a big difference to him/her/it if you go to church on Sunday, if you eat Kosher food, or if you fast in Ramadan.
Maybe if we visualize the universal structure in a smaller scale, it will be easier to realize our significance as individuals in the universe.
Imagine the president of USA as God
Imagine USA as one of the many universes that are floating out in space and time
Each of the endless numerous chicken farms in the country is a galaxy
Each chicken in the farm is a planet
The fleas on ONE chicken out of the billion chickens in the state, are the human race
And the one specific flee behind the left ear of the chicken is you
Now, can you imagine the president of USA, while occupied in creating, destroying, and governing, being aware, 24 hours, 7 days a week, of the actions, the thoughts, the intents and the destiny of this one little flee behind the left ear of one of many billions chickens in his vast state? Can you?
Maybe it is time to take responsibility for our existence and stop being evaluated by someone in the sky. The way we are tamed by the Gods we invented is the exact way we tame our dogs… through punishment and reward, based on fear. We created god in our own image because we do not know anything else outside of ourselves.
By Shakti Mhi
The reason why we practice, in the west, fast and vigorous yoga, is because we have lost the ability to slow down or be still. We go fast internally as well as externally. On a daily basis we move fast and we think fast. We get up in the morning with the feeling that we are already behind. We sit in front of our computers bombarded by demands to reply NOW. We are constantly catching our breath… and you know what catching the breath means? It means your breath goes faster than you, running away from you, and you try to catch it. In the action of catching our breath we run out of breath and we are left with fast minds and no breath, which leads to disease, restlessness, insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, and general exhaustion and depression.
So, we started searching for something to slow us down, realizing that if we keep going this fast we will burn out. This is how the west discovered yoga… we were looking for a change because our bodies and minds could not tolerate anymore the pace of modern life.
Yoga is the practice of mindful stillness and mindful breath, the opposite from how we live our lives as modern human beings. But instead of letting the ancient yoga practice change us for the better we changed the yoga practice to suit our inability to maintain stillness.
Reasons for practicing slow yoga
The Physical aspect – the Nervous system
If you feel stressed out, if you feel you are under pressure, if you keep running all day feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things that need to be done…. If you are worried about money and you hate your work, if you’re afraid to die, if you do not eat well, sleep well, and not go to the washroom regularly, if you have allergies, skin conditions, injuries, or if you breathe fast and short… this are all indications that your nervous system is in a state of fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system). That means your brain and nervous system are under the illusion that you are in danger 24 hours a day.
As a result your body acts under high voltage of “electricity” so you can act strong and fast to save yourself, as if a tiger was chasing you.
The only problem is that the body can only be under the extreme of “fight or flight” state for a short time, with breaks of shifting back to a relaxed mode, otherwise it burns out. The natural state for the body, the brain and the nervous system, is in a relaxed mode. In life this burn out may manifest as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, problems with the period, inability to produce babies, migraines, overall exhaustion, and many more other symptoms.
When the body and mind are in a constant fight and flight state they cannot slow down anymore or be in stillness. Look around and you will see how we are all on the go all the time.
This is the reason why in the west so many acrobatic, fast and vigorous yoga styles developed in the last 30 years. We brought our restless bodies and minds to class and turned yoga to be another one of our restless actions.
When you practice slow yoga you shift your nervous system from fight and flight to a relaxed mode. When the nervous system is relaxed our bodies and minds calm down. But it is not easy to shift in one day from being in fight and flight for so many years to a relaxed mode. Often very advanced and experienced western yogis that try slow yoga report that it was very hard for them, not the physical aspect of the practice but the stillness of mind and body.
The aim of yoga is to increase the amount and quality of the Prana in our physical and energy bodies, since Prana is the fuel for high consciousness. That means we want to avoid consuming our Prana while doing the yoga asanas, and instead, store it in the chakras, the energy centers. Fast and vigorous exercises require a large amount of Prana to maintain the workout of the muscles and organs. That means lots of Prana is consumed in forceful yoga.
What is the point of eating food that supplies us with less energy than it requires to digest it?
The same goes with fast and vigorous yoga. The practice takes more Prana than it provides us with. The energy people feel after they finish fast, vigorous yoga, sports or any other work out, is the energy that comes form the fight and flight systems in their bodies, from the adrenal glands for example, and should not be confused with Prana – life force.
This is why there are so many injuries in the modern yoga practice. When the body has no more Prana to maintain itself, it falls apart.
There is nothing wrong with working out and sports, but yoga is NOT a workout or a sport. It is a spiritual discipline for calming down the body and mind, increasing Prana in the body, and finally, expanding our consciousness beyond mind and body.
So next time you tell yourself that you prefer fast, active yoga, check well with yourself: is it really a preference or you are just following your restless mind that cannot slow down any more?
Change comes only through change and not by keeping the same behavior and habits that caused us the conditions we do not want to suffer any more. That means we should practice yoga differently than we live our busy lives until our lives become our yoga and not vice versa.
If you start to connect to your inner silence and stillness in your yoga practice you may start to apply this state, as well, after your yoga practice ends.
By Shakti Mhi and Pepe Danza
(The difference between thinking and having thoughts)
The general assumption is that when we think, we have thoughts, in other words, the source of our thoughts comes only from our thinking.
Actually, if you could observe the mind of a person, from childhood to adulthood, you may find that many of our thoughts never arrived from our thinking… they were planted in us by our surroundings and environment.
When we think, we have thoughts, but we do not need to think to have thoughts! Many of our “planted” thoughts become permanent thoughts that mold who we are.
The first thought that was “planted” in us as babies is the thought “this is mummy and daddy”. This thought never sprouted from our thinking.
From the first planted thought about our parents there is an ongoing process of taking thoughts in, without thinking them out.
Here’s an example of “planted thoughts” we received in our childhood, that later flourished to be the deepest roots of our being:
You are a boy or you are a girl
This is your body, your room, your house, and your country…
You are an Israeli, an American, a Chinese, or French.
You are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist….
God is watching you, loving you and testing you…
Even when we become adults more and more thoughts keep being externally planted in us like:
- “Doctors are here to heal us and our well-being is the only priority they have.”
- “Leaders are here to take care of us”
- “Armies are here to protect us”
- Death is a scary thing
- Status is important
- Owning a house is essential for security
- Having a family is the essence of happiness
- Job with benefits and pension is more important than self contentment
- Drinking milk is healthy
The planted thought like “a job with benefits and pension is more important than self contentment” is the seed, and the self thinking thought such as, “it is fine to work in job I hate because I get benefits and pension” is the plant growing from it.
So planted thoughts (the seeds) influence the frequency of the thoughts we think ourselves. The thought that was planted and the thought that was thought out vibrate on the same frequency.
The planted thoughts, in our minds, dictate the thoughts we “think” for ourselves.
So if the planted thought is :”Doctors are here to heal us and our well being is their only priority they have”, the self thinking thought will be: “We trust our doctors with closed eyes, they know what they are doing”
If the planted thought is “Owing a house is essential for security”, the self thinking thought will be: “We need to dedicate our lives and sacrifice our freedom for a life time mortgage”
Once a while a self thought may leave the seed root and take off. At that point the self-thinking frequency increases and is not dependent anymore on the planted thoughts as the source of its life force..
Disconnecting from the seed of the planted thoughts may raise up the first authentic thought: “do my thoughts belong to me or are they planted?”
Needless to say… authentic self thinking is never encouraged by the “system”. One of the many systems that is established on the foundation of planting thoughts in peoples minds is religion.
When self thinking disconnects and frees itself from the root of the planted thoughts, Science, Art, Philosophy, Spirituality, Creativity, Genius, and the extraordinary, unfold into existence, and we start manifesting our own reality.
by Shakti Mhi
For a few years, my husband, Pepe Danza, and myself, have been teaching a special class called “The yoga Experience”, a yoga class with live music where Pepe plays endless celestial music on many instruments while I am teaching the asanas. For many years, while we were living in Vancouver, Canada, we had a dream to conduct this wonderful practice outside of an ongoing yoga class with a large number of yogis, and together create a strong energy buzz. But life is busy and there is always something more important to do, and the dream that kept coming up in our discussions remained in the form of “one day ….”
A few months ago we moved to Israel and we connected with one of the greatest organizers of Yoga Arava, Roni Friedman, who offered us to come and teach the ‘Yoga Experience’ as part of an amazing yoga weekend that takes place, every year, in Timna, a magic place in Arava, the desert of Israel. One little powerful woman turned our dream into reality.
The day came and we finally took the right turn away from highway 90 into the untouched desert. As we drove deeper into the land away from the highway, an overwhelming natural environment embraced our car full of instruments. Red, brown, yellow and pink where the colors that the ancient land reflected back to us and we felt as if drunk…and the silence…the primal silence that got lost in our noisy busy world echoed from the giant rocks around us that truly know what stillness is, the stillness we aim to achieve in the practice of yoga.
The car kept moving in the dirt road while we both stared in awe at the magnificent views that kept being revealed to us with each turn we took.
When we finally arrived at the spot where the magic yoga class had to take place we were not alone. A few rain clouds that are rarely seen in this time in the desert arrived with us. Before we had the time to share our concerns with each other a strong rain started pouring, covering the earth and the rags that were being placed on the ground for the coming yoga practice. We were sitting in the car in silence watching the beauty of the colors; sky and earth connected through water, wondering if this is how far our dream goes. But deep inside us, we both knew that this heavenly yoga event would happen… we had already felt its signature in our destiny. We felt it, but we weren’t sure how it would come about… there were two more hours before the start of the event and even if the rain would stop, the ground and all the rugs could be too wet to be practiced on. But then, the rain stopped and a powerful sun came out like a big mama and dried the ground and the rugs with a huge warm smile. And we were laughing with joy, knowing this event is blessed.
Pepe started to arrange his orchestra station and I was sitting quietly watching the horizon. Buses carrying yogis from all round the Arava started to arrive. These yogis spent three days with different senior yoga teachers in different retreats, and now they all gathered together to share a big community class. Most of them were wearing white and all of them were holding yoga mats. My heart was melting with love and gratitude for being part of such experience. Five hundred yogis arrived to share a moment together, where the intention is the harmony and union of body and mind, breath and energy and being here and now. Watching such large group of yogis moving and breathing together confirmed my long path as teacher. The yoga practice started to Pepe’s healing music. Very quickly we all felt the prana of the people combining with the prana of the desert getting stronger and stronger. The only way to describe this experience would be through silence! No words to describe it. As we were moving through time and space mindfully, sunset started to color nature with golden light.
It will be so wonderful to see this group of dedicated yogis growing every year, together, creating an abundance of high frequency energy, peaceful minds and high consciousness. May it shift the distressed, restlessness energy that often takes over our beautiful earth, and turn it into LOVE.
Prana Yoga College
watch the video clip from the event:
By Shakti Mhi
A few days ago one of the main Rabbis of Israel died at the age of 93. Rabbi R. was known for his brilliant mind and depth in the knowledge of the Torah and Judaism in general. A day after his death the newspaper was full of stories and quotes describing his impact on Israel, both in the religious and political spheres. In one of the many articles about him we read about rabbi R. saying that a man who walks between two women is like a man that walks between two donkeys. The article kept going describing his great virtues, as if comparing women to donkeys is just a brilliant thing.
Putting women on the level of donkeys demonstrates, in general, what is the perception and approach about women in the eyes of Rabbi R. In Judaism donkeys are discussed mainly in relation to other things, they never stand on their own. Because the perception of women is the same as towards donkeys, the same applies to women then. Women do not stand on their own as equal to men. Women are important because they are the men’s wives and the mothers of the men’s children. Like dinkies they are just vehicles to carry the men through their religious evolution.
Donkeys do not mix with men… the same with the women in the Rabi’s court. Women cannot be among men. They are always separated and often hiding behind curtains. Why? Because women represent temptation, the source of all evils, and of course, it has nothing to do with the men being weak and driven by their un-mastered desires. It is simple, as if you had a big weakness for cookies… so instead of mastering your weakness you are removing all the cookies and declaring it’s the cookies fault.
This is not a feminist article, this is about discrimination that gets accepted because it is represented by a holy man on the behalf of god. Comparing anyone to donkeys, be it man or woman, white or black people, gays or straights, demonstrates great ignorance. Rabi R may have been a genius in the Torah and Judaism, but his greatness was in a very limited aspect of existence. His knowledge and depth were within the shallowness of a religion that was conceived by men for men. Rabbi R.’s vast knowledge did not encompass people that are not Jewish or women or donkeys or gays or the rest of the whole existence. His immense knowledge dwelled within a very limited perception that deals and serves a very small group of humanity while leaving the rest of humanity outside of it.
Great teachers are the ones that embrace in their teaching the whole universe with no separation of any kind!
Few days ago there was a horrifying story in the newspaper about a young single mother who killed her two little children with a knife, and then she tried, unsuccessfully, to kill herself. She was brought in a very critical condition to the hospital where the doctors tried to save her life.
This article is not about the horrible event where a mother kills her little offspring. It is not as well about the intense life we live that can bring some people into madness through despair. This article is about not respecting adult choices when they decide to check out of their reality and leave their own lives behind.
I felt very angry when I read that despite the clear action of the woman to kill herself by cutting off her own throat, and by doing so, ending the nightmare she perceived herself to be in, the authorities around her, decided against her will, to keep her alive. For what reason? Besides the fact that they act against her choice, if “they“ successfully keep her alive, a very predictable reality is waiting for this already poor woman. Either she will be sent to jail for the rest of her life or she will be checked into a mental hospital for the rest of her life, and in both situations she will have to live the nightmare she created, day after day, until her last day on earth.
Is anyone around who would wish themselves such a reality? What on earth can be the reason to keep such a woman alive when she demonstrated clearly that she’d rather be dead? There is only one answer: PRETENSE! The pretense is that we declare people lives have the highest value.
We pretend the above while we send young people to die in nonsense political wars.
We pretend the above while we create nuclear weapons so we can kill as many people possible in one shot.
We pretend the above while we can pass by a sick and lonely homeless person on the street on the way to a restaurant or for shopping.
We declare the high value of life while people kill people for greediness, jealousy , beliefs and principles.
But when an adult decides to check out of her own life, everyone jumps to save the unwanted life ignoring the one that owns this life and her decision to die.
What right do we have to stop an adult to die when they wish for it? After all, compared to a murder, they are not harming anyone else.
We did not chose when to come to this world… we should at list have the choice when and how to exit our movie.
I am turning this article to be my public will: If a day will come and I chose to leave my physical body, please stay away and do not disturb my wish to die.
With love and compassion I am praying for this woman, that her wish to die will be fulfilled.