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Making Peace with your Monkey Mind

From: dichtbijmediteren.nl

Hanuman, the monkey god is believed to be another one of Shiva’s incarnations, like Shiva Nataraj we highlighted last post. Hanuman symbolizes pure love, devotion, strength, persistence and shows us that we have gifts beyond what we think we are capable of. There are many different stories about Hanuman, told in many different ways. I will share one of my favourites.

Anjana

It starts with Hanuman’s mother Anjana. She desperately wants to become a mother, so she prays every day for a child. The god of the wind, Vayu hears her prayers and decides to fulfil her wish by sending her rice grains that made her conceive. Her son was born and called Anajaneya (son of Anjana), he was half human and half god, since Vayu, the god of the wind was his father. At times, being half god with special powers brought him into trouble. One morning he woke up and saw a mango floating in the sky or that is what he thought it was. Of course it wasn’t a mango but the sun, Surya. When Surya saw Anajaneya coming after him he threw a lightning bolt towards him. Anajaneya was wounded in his jaw and died. Vayu his dad was outrageous and inhaled deeply to breathe in all the air on the planet which made all living beings gasp for air. All the gods came together to deal with this emergency. They all decided to bring Anajaneya back to live under a new name: Hanuman (hanuh = jaw). He was also cursed with a short memory to make sure he wouldn’t remember being half god with special powers to prevent him from causing more harm. He wouldn’t live with his mother anymore but with the apes in the forest. That is why he transformed into an ape to better fit in with his new family.

Ram & Sita

One day Hanuman met King Ram and instantly felt a connection and made a vow to never leave his side. Ram is married to Sita, a beautiful woman with heavenly qualities. The demon King Ravana is jealous at the couple and decides to start a war to take over the kingdom. He kidnapped Sita and brings her to the island of Lanka. Ram is busy with protecting his kingdom that is why Hanuman sets out to free Sita. Hanuman has no idea how, since he doesn’t remember he has special powers. From a place of pure devotion and love for Ram he manages to overcome his own doubts about his capabilities. When he arrived at the shore with the Island Lanka in his vision he kneels down into hero pose, Virasana to pray. Hanuman closed his eyes and asks for support to help him accomplish the impossible. When he felt he had enough energy, he pressed his feet into the earth and took his famous leap to the island of Lanka.

“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they feel like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky.”

The yoga pose Hanumanasana (full spilt) mimics Hanuman’s famous leap from the southern tip of India to the Island of Sri Lanka. I personally love the stories behind the asanas. It is inspiring to know what the story is behind the posture and it also gives the pose another dimension then just the physical plane. The above described story comes from; Myths of the Asanas: The stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition, by Arjuna van der Kooij & Alanna Kaivalya. They have more stories about Hanuman, as well as other yoga asanas. I highly recommended this wonderful book.

Monkey pose

The pose Hanumanasana can bring up all kind of associations and emotions for you. Dislike or like? Stillness or agitation? You might desperately want to get into the full expression of the pose, even though your body proportions will never allow you too without causing harm. Can you be content with your journey towards the pose without attachment? Can you still breathe and smile while finding your edge in the (half) spilt? I can tell you one thing for sure; if your pelvis is touching your mat it doesn’t make you any happier or reward you with more yoga points. The biggest thing that is affected is probably your ego (and possibly your hamstrings and hips). As a yoga teacher, I don’t really care where you are in the pose. For me it is more interesting and inspiring what the pose is doing with you? Can you continue to breathe and believe in your own strength and possibilities while being in the midst of the intensity of the pose? And when you step of the mat, can you continue to stay connected with your heart and focus your mind when in the midst of challenges and struggles? These questions are symbolising the strength and healing powers of yoga to me.

Monkey mind

Only you know what you can learn from Hanuman. One of his qualities, keeping a sense of humour and lightness under all circumstances is a powerful one for me. However hard the situation is you are in right now, can you also stay light and see the humour in every circumstance, maybe not in the midst of your struggles, but in hindsight. Hanuman also symbolizes our mind. The unpractised mind is like a drunken ape stung by a bee, also called the monkey mind. When our mind is focused, we can accomplish anything. For me this is a reminder of the strength of our mind and to keep our mind focused through meditation and asana practice, the full spectrum of yoga. To not let your crazy thoughts lead you all the time, instead connect with the devotion and deep love and strength of your inner Hanuman. You could see Hanuman as a reminder to be devoted to your own heart that is leading the way.

Jai Hanuman!

 

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Miffy’s Power and a bit about Shiva

Last post I wrote about Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Shiva is known as the destroyer as well as the creator. Together with Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva forms the triple deity. Brahma is seen as the creator of the universe. Vishnu preserves and protects the universe and Shiva is the destroyer of the universe. Shiva is often called upon and seen as creator, preserver and destroyer. In Shiva the opposites meet.

Shiva can take up many shapes and incarnations. Shiva Nataraj is one of Shiva’s incarnations, also known as Lord of the Dance. While we practice dancers’ pose on our yoga mat we can call upon the power of Shiva Nataraj. Shiva Nataraj is seen surrounded by a circle of flames while standing on a demon shown as a dwarf who symbolizes ignorance or our lower (ego)parts. Shiva is an invitation to wake up and remember your true nature or essence. ‘Om Namah Shiva’ can be translated as ‘I bow to my inner light or teacher’ or ‘I recognize my true essence’.

Shiva Nataraj also symbolizes all the cycles we experience in life; the cycle of day and night, winter, spring, summer and autumn, joy and sadness and the cycle of birth and death. For me Shiva Nataraj reminds me that in the end, all will end, everything is a phase and to dance through the cycles with joy and playfulness. I once heard a great saying; The good news is: it is a phase and will end and the bad news is: it is a phase and will end. You cannot have true joy without real sadness. In our everyday society we often behave as if we live forever and deny the truth that life is precarious and live accordingly. I have realised that not everybody likes to think and talk about death. For me it is not necessarily a depressing sad truth, rather the reality and therefore an invitation to be grateful for all the little things in life. When contemplating our limited time I often ask myself questions like; have I said everything I want to say to my loved ones? Am I living the life I want to live?

Shiva or our true essence reminds me to treasure this special time I have with my little kids who are very much in tune with the dance of life. I recently heard from Ram Dass, that the best thing to do to prepare yourself for death is to live NOW. So I am blessed to have two little wise teachers reminding me of this every day. Little kids haven’t identified themselves with their ego as much as adults and they often haven’t got any idea of time yet. They perfectly and naturally know how to live in this moment with all their attention and energy. For me this is a wonderful lesson, since I have the tendency to overthink, overanalyse and worry instead of being truly present. While I am writing this first draft, I am holding a little miffy cuddly toy on my lap given to me by my eldest son. ‘Here mum this one is for you, miffy will make sure to scare away all the ghosts (demons) for you.’

Om Namah Shivah!

 

“You know, for always trying to banish our pain we don’t learn anything from it, and it can’t help us to serve others, so we have to turn towards it. Allow ourselves to touch the pain of our life with some mercy and tenderness. When we realize just how precarious this life is – and it is absolutely precarious – then we don’t want to waste a minute. Then we want to use our lives in a responsible way. We want to jump into our life fully. We want to tell the people we love that we love them.”

– Frank Ostaseski– 

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Yoga Love is growing!

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I am so super excited to let you know that I am in the wonderful process of creating new life! We are half way now (just over 20 weeks) and super excited to be on this new journey of parenthood. After a challenging and anxious first trimester, I am so grateful to be here today and to feel life growing inside me. We had our 20 week echo today and everything is looking wonderful! I feel so honoured to be able to experience this miracle, called life! Even though baby is not here yet, he/she has already taught us to be patient, to trust and to let go. Babies will come in their own divine timing and for me it was a challenging journey of trusting my body, the universe and let go.

Before I got pregnant, I found out about For Two Fitness, a beautiful maternity gear for the active mum-to-be. A wonderful way to show your bump, to tell the world you are expecting and to be inspired to stay fit & healthy during your pregnancy. They offer beautiful gear for runners, fitness, cyclist, dancers, yoga and for all active mums-to-be out there. They also have clothes for mums expecting twins and after-baby clothes. A perfect way to celebrate your pregnancy, your body and inspire! Through their Instagram and Facebook profile you will continuously be inspired by the amazing possibilities of the female body and to be active and fit ‘For Two’. So I am super honoured to announce that I am ambassador for this maternity apparel! And the wonderful new to this: you will receive 30% discount of all merchandise! You can use the code YOGALOVENZ which will run from today until April 18.

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Looking back after 3 years in Kiwiland

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Stubborn Adventure

Stubborn, sensitive and impatient, these characteristics are all known to me. I see them as strengths, they have brought me where I am today: New Zealand. Three years ago, I stepped on a plane to follow my heart with two suitcases filled with clothes and shoes. What else do you need? I said goodbye to my dear family and friends. My mum was crying, I wasn’t this time, since after being separated for six months; I was finally going to see my love again. All the preparations were finished, I was going to step on a plane and start a new adventure. I couldn’t wait! A one-year-try out, that was the plan. We had hardly been together since the first time we met. He went off to China and I went off to Africa. After 4 months I finally came back in The Netherlands and in the meantime he had booked his one-way ticket to New Zealand. We fell in love anyway and enjoyed our time together for the next two months. In the midst of a starting relationship, when the butterflies are abundant and the love is intense, we had to say goodbye. He had made his decision to go back to his beloved New Zealand, a final short love affair would be a good way to end all his years in Holland, was the thought in the back of his mind. I don’t think he realised he was dating a pretty stubborn young lady, who was going to follow her heart, no matter where that would lead her.

Sensitive Challenge

Three years later, we have bought a house and I am teaching yoga and guiding people through inner Journey. I could never have imagined my life would be like this, if you would have asked me five years ago. I exchanged my pushbike for a car and my apartment for a spacious home with a bit of land, chickens and a veggie garden. I exchanged my busy life for a more back to earth relaxing lifestyle. My birthday is now in the middle of ‘winter’ and Christmas is celebrated on the beach. I have exchanged the plenty of good shopping opportunities in Holland for plenty of beautiful quiet beaches in Northland. Lots of change and challenge have appeared for this sensitive soul and will still appear. When I was in my teenage years, I decided to get my driver license as the first one of my sisters. My parents were a bit surprised, their sporty, spiritual, environment friendly daughter was going to get a driver license? Most of the time in my childhood we were without a car, we did everything by bicycle. I really treasure those memories, of our special cosy family. I have never been a fan of driving a car, although I really love my car now, especially on a rainy cold day, so I stay warm and dry. My one secret reason to get my license, was the idea I had in the back of my mind: working in the midst of Africa doing development work and driving around in a jeep. I imagined myself making a real difference to the world, and to truly assist others living a better/happier/healthier life.

Finally feeling and finding love

After several trips to Africa, my eyes opened. Do I really make a difference? Why do I want to make a difference? Do I want to boost my ego? I realized I had so much more work to do on myself, before I was truly able to assist others. The people I met on my trips appeared to look more joyful and happy than the average European. Who needs to learn from whom? I realised that I was trying to do good, while my inner world was rumbling: insecure and restless. If you haven’t connected with the peace, quietness and contentment within you, how are you going to create more contentment in the world, outside you? The Journey was extremely helpful for me to live a more joyful, happy, content and truthful life. One of my last trips to Africa involved Journey Outreach: this was a rewarding, fun, challenging and interesting time. Doing journey work while in the so-called developing countries and my beloved Africa, would be the perfect combination. While occupied with travelling and where to go and live, my love suddenly arrived. As impatient as I am, I had been longing for romantic love for a long time and had written down plenty of pages in my diary on how my ideal partner would look like, behave and so on. I often doubted if I would ever meet the right guy. I promised myself, I would rather stay by myself than choose for a relationship that didn’t feel 100% truthful, fulfilling and happy.

Togetherness

We have learnt and experienced so much together. I can’t imagine living apart anymore. So yes, I would recommend everyone to follow your heart, no matter how scary, unknown, uncertain or awkward that might be. If you really trust your heart, your life will be an amazing journey. My uncertainty and doubts about work has completely disappeared when I decided to teach yoga and meditation. I feel immense grateful to be able to share my passion to follow your heart and live the life of your dreams. I believe that if I can assist in creating more inner peace in myself and others, I truly make a difference in the world. It is rewarding and so empowering to do and live your passion. My dear friends in Africa, I haven’t forgotten about you. My intention is to promote a more mindful way of living to benefit the whole world. Yes, I dream big. I hope to arrive again on African soil one day; to integrate my practice on and off my yoga mat. As a thank you for how Africa taught me to slow down, to appreciate the little things in life, to truly live like we are all connected as ONE.

I deeply bow to all the teachers in my life, especially to one of the most inspiring, wise, empowering and enormously missed woman in my life: my mum.

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Home is where the heart is

 

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Three weeks ago we moved into our first home. Exciting times. Scary times. I realized I went into a business mode; keep myself occupied with packing, preparation and at times just running around without a clear purpose. When I finally had the courage, I took the time to stand still and actually feel my anxiety, my nerves. My analysing mind didn’t really understand why? You are still staying in the same town, the same country, with the same partner, with the same job and same friends and family nearby. Why am I nervous at all? For me that is exactly the scary thing; everything stays the same with boredom around the corner. Owning my own home, feels extremely serious, grown-up and indefinite. The last ten years of my life has been full of travelling, change, meeting new people, change of jobs, change of countries and cities. That is what I am naturally drawn to; adventure and excitement. After a therapy session with a friend, it became really clear to me, that I have always been on the run; looking for new adventures, creating new excitement. I never really settled anywhere, because that for me is really scary. Moving to the other side of the world and starting a new life isn’t that scary. And now I am truly settling here; own home, car, chickens, veggie garden. Who ever thought that? When I was young I told myself I am going to travel the world for the rest of my life and live from a backpack, no need to settle. If I look back, I can see clearly I was always on the run for my own fears, even in my dreams. From the outside, people thought I was fearless and dare to do everything. From within, however, I was full of anxiety, insecurity and nerves often about the small things in life that was for me scarier.

And honestly after the first stress and nerves of moving, it actually feels DAMN good! Having your own safe haven, own home feels wonderful! Together we can create a place we truly feel comfortable. It feels nurturing, grounding and I just don’t want to leave home anymore! I feel supported and I am better able to handle the tough outside world after being charged by being at home. I never imagined it to be like this. The last couple of days, I have been feeling very grounded, centred and content, as if I am finally start to root and arrive HOME. Our home and my partner truly give me the feeling I am taken care of. I am nurtured, supported, loved. As if for the first time, I start to feel very comfortable in my body and my life, feeling a deep sense of contentment. The urgent need to do, compare, compete and accomplish slowly start to diminish. I realize I have also started to take better care of myself, allow myself to sleep in and rest without judging myself for being lazy. I allow myself to relax, enjoy and don’t mind so much if I have a less productive day. There is no urgent need to DO anymore. There is just this perfect moment, where I can hang out and chill and Be.

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Be Real

Again, I have been blown away by the amazing and powerful effects of The Journey Process. For me it is the quickest way to feel peaceful, happy and at ease, to arrive home.

Dear you,

I am grateful we met! I would like you to know;

  • It touches me if you dare to share the truth – what is going on right now, here.
  • It touches me if you speak from your heart, saying how you really feel.
  • It touches me if you leave the stories for what they are – stories – and really start to experience and feel.
  • It touches me if you share with me, what you usually don’t share at all.
  • It touches me to see your eagerness to come at peace with life.
  • It touches me if I see you surrender.
  • It touches me if you forgive completely and utterly from the bottom of your heart.

Emotions can be the gateway to our soul, to our true desires, to our true being. Don’t fight or resist emotions. Just let it be.

We will become mirrors and invite other’s to be REAL as well. No need for masks, pretending or hiding. It is time to say YES to life!

Namaste!

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Confessions of a White Yogini

More Confessions! Read my latest article on Elephant Journal:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/06/confessions-of-a-white-yogini-jacinta-aalsma/

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Confessions of a yogini

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I am a stress chicken. I can create trouble, worries & anxiety in my mind, skilfully & abundantly and without much effort. At times it feels like my default nature. This is the main reason why I turned to Yoga in the first place, to ground myself, to create stability & ease in my body and life. One of the first things I can do is to bring my awareness back in my body, through asana (postures), through pranayama (breath), through dhyana (meditation).

Asana helps me to start the journey from my mind to my heart. To start to connect with my creativity and inner child, to move, to dance, being playful and going upside down. Asana while in nature is Divine. It brings me back to my childhood, playing & running outside, being adventurous, trying new things, feeling the wind in my hair & sun on my skin. I hear the birds singing a beautiful song, feel the sand or grass in between my toes. From here responsibilities & worries starting to slide of my shoulders, I start to connect more deeply with the world around me. I come back home in my body and in this moment. My breathe starts to deepen & my heart starts to speak; expressing her desires. Time Stops. Life Starts.

I am

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Creating balance while riding the waves of Life

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Ocean Inspiration

“Going up side down, changes my perspective on life.

Backbends open my heart for the love already here around me.

Together they bring my mind at ease to experience this very moment.

They raise my heartbeat and create heat to remind me of my body.

Practicing outside in nature is magical and makes me feel connected to this beautiful world.

I feel the sand tickling my feet and a sea breeze going through my hair.

The Sun brighten my day and enlighten my heart.

The nearby sea radiates a feeling of freedom and greatness.

It reminds me to flow with the waves of life.

To let go of control and embrace relaxation and trust.

Dear Ocean, will I ever learn to be like you?

Will I be full of trust to go with the flow? “

~Ocean fan~


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