Daily assignments for living the yogi’s life with Kino MacGregor.
To check A Week of Self Reflection, click here.
To check A Week of Acknowledgements, click here.
1. Sacred space.
Share with me how you create sacred space in your life. You could have a home altar or mediation spot dedicated to the highest pursuit of spiritual truth. It could as simple or elaborate as feels right for you. Or you could use the space of your body as a holy offering through your practice. Or perhaps there is a sacred spot for you, somewhere in nature, on a beach or deep in the woods that is your place of worship. Or maybe there is a relationship in your life that is sacred to you, a person whose presence calls you forward into your highest truth.
When I hear the opening prayer in the Ashtanga tradition I always feel a substantial change in the space, like it has been called forth into spiritual intention. Even just looking at a picture of Guruji makes me think of the sacred space of the practice. No matter where I am traveling I always choose a spot for my meditation and yoga practice and claim it my sacred space. Sunrise, sunset and the sound of the ocean always bring me to my spiritual home.
When I first started to practice I would try to do the poses, but after many years of failed effort I started to realize that yoga is a practice of listening rather than a physical practice. Today’s yogi assignment is listen—learn to listen to the messages from your body in the practice and also in life.
Start off by hearing what your body truly has to say and create a safe space for your physical practice, health and healing. What is your body telling your today?
Listen to your environment. Hear the sounds of your living space and practice accepting what you hear whether it’s chirping birds or barking dogs or police sirens. See if you can hear the pulse of life that surrounds you and embrace it.
Listen to another person. Truly, completely listen to them in a space of pure awareness and intimacy, give them the gift of your full presence with unconditional attention and understanding. Ask questions and hear the answers with your heart. Who in your life needs you to know that you hear them?
Or, perhaps the deepest option, listen to the quiet voice of wisdom that sits at your heart center. If there is something in your life that you are wondering about, listen with your heart. Become still, tune in, be patient and wait for guidance to ring true. You will know because the voice will speak to you from an eternal, timeless place of peace. It will be be an incontrovertible knowingness. And when you hear the answer you will be filled with the faith and strength to follow it.
Only by learning how to accept yourself exactly as you are, in the fullness and completeness of your being will you find true and lasting peace and joy. Today’s yogi assignment is Santosha, which means contentment, total acceptance. Start off by practicing the equanimous mind, dropping the story of good and bad and simply observe what is without any judgement. Then look for places where you feel you’re lacking success, beauty, happiness, joy, strength, flexibility and see if you can turn the thought around and see the grace that you do have.
Look at your environment and see habitual places of complaint like the weather or traffic and see if you can first observe what simply is and then turn the thought around to contentment.
Finally, find someone in your life that you think has exactly what you want, what you feel you lack, someone that you’re even a little jealous of and potentially harboring negativity towards and see if you can turn the thought around and be content with them.
Santosha is happiness that comes from tuning into the eternal place of truth within, the place where you already have everything you need, the place where all is good and complete, the only place that’s real. Santosha is a strong, equanimous mind free of insecurity, free of lack, resting in the wisdom of a full heart and a clear mind.
So many people, including myself, have experienced the seed of unworthiness, that corrosive feeling of doubt, the deceptive untruth that you are, for some reason, hopelessly flawed. Here is the secret: you will always feel unworthy of everything if you judge yourself by your work and your effort.
Human nature is inherently fallible, it is perhaps one of the only constants, that is, that we will stumble and we will fall. If you need to be perfect in order to be enough then you’ll never get there. But drop down into simple perfection of total acceptance and you will realize that you never had to be perfect, you just had to be you.
As long as you strive for an external goal to make yourself worthy of love or happiness you will always sell yourself short. You are worthy not by your works, not by your own hand, but by the purity of grace, the spiritual inheritance of your inner being, by the humble recognition that we can only attain anything through the act of surrender.
The only constant more certain than our human fallibility is the overwhelming power of love to be so big and grand that it contains all things, forgives all things, lifts up all things, love simply is the truth of all things throughout all time. Love is one truth that wipes away all others, the final step forward into the grand acceptance of your destiny as a whole, complete being with a valuable and unique contribution to make to the eternal story of life.
Do you know the feeling of frustration that sets in when you feel like nothing you do is working? It happens in our yoga practice and it happens in life.
Practice is always a balance between effort and surrender. It’s hard to work and take action when the results are not evident. It’s hard to focus on the journey when you want to reach the destination right now.
Today’s yogi assignment is action. So much of the yoga journey is taking five steps forward and four steps back, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up or stop trying. Action in yoga is practice, but if you practice to get to a certain result, then you’ve got it all wrong.
You work, take small steps each day, learning to apply appropriate levels of effort and then release your attachment to the goal, with the recognition that the only thing we achieve is really a blessing that you receive. It’s all done in God’s time, not your ego’s time.
Is there a pose that you’ve been avoiding working on because you just don’t know where to start or feel too intimated to begin? Take one small step forward on that path today. Or, focus on a big life goal and take one small step forward on the path to realizing your dreams today. Don’t overshoot or force it, just focus on the small, humble step forward and let those steps slowly accumulate over the years.
I remember nearly drowning in a sea of doubt and insecurity when I thought that I had to look like someone else, act like someone else, generally conform to some standard of beauty and life that just wasn’t me. My feelings of inadequacy left me riddled with a plague of self-sabotaging behaviors and the basic thought that I wasn’t worthy of being loved just as I am.
The biggest gift of the practice for me has been faith. Called Sraddha in Sanskrit, faith is more than a constructed belief, it is a paradigm, a whole new view of the world that, once experienced, changes everything. Built on the highest type of knowledge, direct experience, true faith comes with the strength and enthusiasm to work tirelessly for it every single day of your life.
Today ask yourself this, what do you believe in? What do you have faith in? How do you know you know? You might believe in the practice, you might believe in love, eventually you might be brave enough to believe in the quiet voice of wisdom in your heart.
So many of you have asked me how to know the truth, how to find the confidence to continue down your life path with the knowledge that you are doing what you should be doing, how to rise up from the darkness of doubt. The answer is faith, the kind of faith that says I know this to be true because I will work tirelessly to make it so, the kind of self knowledge that fills you with the direct experience of the incontrovertible truth of the power and grandness of the universe. Faith is a light in the darkness of the mind, the hands of God that lift you up and carry you forward when you can no longer carry yourself, faith is grace and surrender, true strength and eternal brilliance.
You are beautiful and whole and divinely created. Everything in your life is unfolding exactly as it should be. You can’t mess it up even if you tried.
I’m an only child so I never had to share anything. My husband is the most generous person that I know. When we first met and I didn’t want to share a bath towel with him, he looked me deeply in the eyes and said that there was nothing he wouldn’t share with me. It nearly broke my heart to see how selfish I was. He gives everything away and still to this day it inspires and humbles me.
Now, after 15 years of practice and 12 years of being together, I am a whole new person and I can say that the shift towards generosity has actually filled me up with love and happiness. Today’s assignment is generosity. Called Dana in Sanskrit, this is an important ethical principle in the yoga path. The easiest option is to give a gift, buy someone a cup of coffee, a juice or a yoga class or donate to charity. Or maybe give the gift of your time and do something for someone else, clean the house for them, do their laundry or volunteer at a charity. Or give away some of your possessions, clean out your closet and get rid of old items. But be sure to do it with a full heart free of expectation, coming from love. Don’t look for any recognition.
Author: Kino MacGregor
Editor: Katarina Tavčar