As it is approaching the month of Valentines, lets focus on love and devotion!
Bhakti Yoga is the practice of ‘devotional attention’ towards a Godhead (or alternative aspect that may resonate with you, such as Spirit or the Higher Self).
This ‘devotional attention’ may involve spiritual study, mantra/prayer, mindfulness in daily actions and tasks and spiritual offerings or gifts.
By keeping the mind fixed firmly on the Godhead or higher aspect when performing daily duties, one can be liberated from the human characteristics that play havoc on emotions and thought patterns, thereby enabling a conscious understanding of how and when one is drawn away from the path of devotion, and sucked back into the human traits that they are trying to liberate themselves from.
When we are truly devoted to something, we may want to look out for it and care for it in a way that inspires an alteration of our own behaviour; where we can rise above our own innate responses in order to look after, care for or be considerate of another’s feelings over our own.
In addition, when we fall deeply in love…everything in life feels lighter, brighter, easier and more fluid. There may be a feeling of having infinite energy and a spring in your step. Things in life that would usually annoy or agitate, seem to bounce off us!
Tolerance and resilience is increased as is a greater understanding of how we, left under our own guidance, thrash about and hurt not only others but also ourselves through the thought and behaviour patterns that have become habitual in this daily life.
We also realise that we want for nothing more than to be in the glow of the love and gratitude that a devotional attitude holds within us. Therefore we are less drawn to earthly material wants and desires, and are therefore more balanced in our needs and wants.
Through practicing a devotional attitude, we begin to learn to ‘self soothe’, thereby liberating ourselves from unwanted situations and thought patterns and feelings that we would ordinarily become buried under.
It is really a wonderful way to become conscious of all of the unconscious behaviour, thought patterns and emotional swings that we use to stay fixed within a feeling we recognise as ‘me’.
To become liberated from the human traits, and enlightened means to become free from all the aspects of behaviour that keep our energy body low, the physical body under stress and the mind closed. We see and experience things differently. The nervous system is trained to react to the inner reality, rather than the outer, thereby reducing the fight and flight responses that power the emotions and actions. We feel a connection with everything in life, rather than seperation.
I teach Hatha Yoga, which is the practice of using the body to unite together mind, body and breath awareness as a single point of focus to entice a balancing of the patters of movement between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system (fight or flight/rest responses), the left and right side of the brain (action or being) and the masculine and the feminine energies (working or nurturing), to bring one into a centred energetic and conscious state, where we can begin to consciously view aspects and innate responses of the unconscious self.
When you use the single focus of a Godhead, spiritual connection, higher aspect or feeling, to keep your attention centred between these two aspects, it works the same way.
That is entirely up to you. You can decide on what it is you choose to use as your devotional focus.
It may be a Godhead such as Krishna or Jesus, a Spirit guide, an aspect of the inner-most Self or even a feeling, such as love or peace.
When you have decided what your focus is going to be, you then allow yourself time to just be with that focus. So for me, I read the Bhagavad Gita, and Chant, I pray and I meditate, I also devote my daily yoga practice to the Godhead Krishna. This practice inspires a feeling of love, support and openness in my awareness and helps me to feel as I described earlier, almost ‘in-love’ with the feeling.
Instead, you may choose to keep a focus, not on Krishna but on inspiring a feeling of love or happiness, so your study may be reading something that inspires the feeling of love or happiness. It doesn’t always have to be ‘spiritual’ as long as it inspires the feeling you are looking for, it is worthy of being used.
When you allow time to cultivate that focus and connection, and subsequent feeling, it then becomes easier to recognise when something in your day moves you away from that focus. For example, you may find that you are cut up while driving to work. This would ordinarily annoy you and you may get angry or frustrated and these feelings are opposite to the feeling of Love or devotion. Immediately you become consciously aware of the change in your feeling so at that point, you can choose to turn your attention again to the feeling of love and devotion and away from the anger.
It is important to recognise that feelings of anger, fear, frustration and sadness are normal emotions and it is healthy to allow them time within the awareness. Even better is to experience them consciously. This kind of reflection allows a greater understanding of deep and personal feelings, and it can help us to manage these emotions by becoming aware of them. As soon as you become aware of an emotion, it is no longer ruling you! Only emotions that whips you this way and that, without your being aware of the journey they are taking you on, are destructive because you are at the mercy of their thrashing tides.
If you would be interested in understanding more about the philosophical ways you can bring change to your life, you may be interested in a monthly masterclass I run in Kingsthorpe called, Walk the Talk - Spiritual Progression Masterclass. Full details can be found here.
To honour this special month, I am taking £10 off the cost of any of my 121 therapies and treatments so they are now jut £30! Do get in touch if you would like to book one!
I always love to hear from you so drop me a message or an email if you have any comments or questions.
Lots of love, Carrie-Anne. x
Yoga Freedom offers regular monthly and bi-monthly Yoga and relaxation events in Kingsthorpe. The wonderful community of Yoga Freedom students also come together annually, to celebrate the autumn and spring equinox and the summer and winter solstice. Christmas is a time for getting together and relaxing too, so why not look out for the Winter’s Deep Chill event.
If you wish to explore a more educational aspect of yoga, from deepening your practice and understanding of the postures, to understanding how you can use yoga to assist your sleep, Yoga Freedom runs regular workshops to support you on your journey. As you deepen your understanding of Yoga you will improve your life through connecting on a deeper level both on and off your Yoga mat.
Yoga Freedom runs a choice of daytime and evening weekly classes, that are suitable for all levels of ability. Through experienced and sympathetic guidance, you will find the best of your self. The classes are fun and friendly. With over 11 years of teaching experience behind me, I have a wealth of experience to call upon, to ensure that your personal journey with yoga will be both enjoyable and fulfilling.
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