In the middle of my middle school years, I was blessed to discover the treasure of hatha yoga in a paperback book.
The date was February 1st, 1993. The book had a 28-day program to follow and February conveniently had 28 days that year. I’ve been hooked on, and liberated by, the practice of yoga ever since.
I bow with gratitude and respect to the generations of dharma yoga teachers who’ve passed down the teachings which have enabled us to evolve and become more flexible, strong, balanced, sane, happy, and kind people.
Life can be exceptionally intense and challenging at times. The flip-side of this intensity can be rewarding gratitude for being able to handle our ever-evolving experience with grace and patience—or, buckling under the pressure and spinning out into emotional meltdowns.
The dedicated practice of yoga, specifically asana (poses), pranayama (conscious breathing) and dhyana (meditation) empowers us to invite in grace, patience, presence, and compassion, instead of desperately turning to addictive substances and behavior patterns in an attempt to escape reality.
Here are 25 little life lessons and intentions I’d like to share in celebration of 25 years on my personal spiritual path:
1) Let go of what no longer serves you: clear away obstacles and hindrances to the path.
2) Be of greater benefit to all beings, including Mother Earth.
“I dedicate the merit of the occasion to all beings. This gesture of universal friendship has been likened to a drop of fresh spring water. If we put it on a rock in the sunshine, it will soon evaporate. If we put it in the ocean, however, it will never be lost. Thus the wish is made that we not keep the teachings to ourselves but to use them to benefit others.” ~ Pema Chödrön
3) Love thyself.
4) Start and end each day with gratitude.
5) Choose the middle way.
6) Take back your power. Reclaim freedom from oppression and liberation to do what you choose.
7) Invite intelligent virtues into your experience: call in strength, clarity, creative inspiration, and compassion.
8) Sing mantra.
9) Practice meditation.
“Just as the ocean has waves or the sun has rays, so the mind’s own radiance is its thoughts and emotions. The ocean has waves, yet the ocean is not particularly disturbed by them. The waves are the very nature of the ocean. Waves will rise, but where do they go? Back into the ocean. And where do those waves come from? The ocean.Thoughts and emotions rise from the mind, but where do they dissolve? Back into the mind. Whatever rises, do not see it as a particular problem. If you do not impulsively react, if you are only patient, it will settle once again into its essential nature.” ~ Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
10) Breathe deeply.
11) Forgiveness practice:
For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me. For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them. For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.
12) Walk more.
14) Talk less. Listen more.
16) Don’t believe everything you think.
“We all love our own melodramas. We each have one. Everybody thinks they’re somebody doing something, or somebody thinking something, or somebody wanting something: ‘I’ve gotta have sex tonight or I’ll die.’ ‘I’m so lonely!’ ‘I can’t meditate!’ ‘I’m so high!’ We all get so involved in our melodramas, so busy thinking we’re the actors, so busy thinking we’re doing it all—and it’s really all just this lawful stuff running off. How funny! But in order to see that, in order to begin to appreciate the lawfulness of the unfolding, we need to develop a little perspective. It can be a nice meditation to take a seed, and put it in a bit of earth. Put it on a kitchen window sill, and watch it grow into a plant, into a flower. Just observe it everyday. Use that as your daily meditation exercise; see the way the whole process unfolds.” ~ Ram Dass
17) Eat, drink, and be merry: consume a wholesome diet of unprocessed, natural, fresh, vegetarian food.
18) Ask for help: “Show me the way.”
19) Be willing to accept it: “I am ready to receive.”
21) Repeat: I love you. Thank you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
22) Continue growing into a more present, kind, compassionate, patient, and loving human being.
23) Accept the gift of the present.
Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen