Tools for Transformation
By Heather Eilering
What does it take to transform one’s life? There are a thousand different religions that each claim they hold the key. What is important is that each of these religions agrees on one thing, that transformation is necessary.
So, where does the seeker begin? In the only place they can, with oneself. You can listen to gurus, priests, monks, teachers, parents, friends… but ultimately it is your choice to listen or not, and your personal filter that determines what you hear. Think back to when you were a child and you played the telephone game where someone would whisper a phrase into the ear of the person next to them, and it would be repeated on and on, until the message circled back to the originator. Remember how the message was always different? That’s because each person filtered what they heard, and passed on the message as they understood it. Regardless of what someone tells you, it is your choice how you listen and understand. Therefore, the most natural way to begin transformation is to become truly intimate with yourself; intimate with your thoughts; intimate with your emotions; intimate with your actions. Don’t forget the age old saying, “actions speak louder than words”. You cannot transform what you do not see!
The question now becomes how far down the rabbit hole do you want to travel into your awareness? There is a beautiful quote from the book A Course In Miracles that says: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” It’s difficult to conceive that I have built barriers against Love yet the deeper I go into my awareness, the darker it gets. We can find comfort in whatever layer of darkness we have explored from one idea, that it is God’s Love which transforms the darkness to Light. Our only job is then, through, the eyes of forgiveness*, to bring each layer of darkness to our awareness and watch as the Light shines it away. That is true compassion. That is grace. Our own consciousness becomes the key to our transformation!
I’ll give you an example from my own life. As a yoga teacher I occasionally see competition between students, in a practice which is designed to unify. I recognize this competition because I remember myself when I first began practicing yoga. I constantly compared myself to others in the class. I wanted to do each pose better than them, so I could feel good about myself. Now, many years later as I have taken responsibility for this and asked for a different way of seeing it, I realize that in order for me to look better in a pose, someone else would have needed to look bad. Delving further, I realized that I would rather be the one who looked good when compared to others instead of simply appreciating myself as I was. This does not serve me, it only hurts me. So, now my only task in knowing this is to listen for guidance in how to dissolve the barriers I have created against my own self-love.
So, by now I lam sure you are asking where do I begin? In the practice of yoga we use the idea of witness. Witness is a state of pure acceptance where judgment for or against has no meaning. Where limits are impossible, and yes, competition is meaningless. Imagine the sky on a clear day, vast and unchanging. Now imagine clouds of different sizes and textures in the sky. There are the white fluffy clouds that children see shapes and animals in, and there are the darker rain clouds that indicate a storm approaching. Regardless of what type of cloud is present, the sky itself never changes. The sky doesn’t prefer the fluffy clouds over the rain clouds. The sky is like witness and the clouds are the forms in our lives and the judgments and limitations we place on them.
Another way of looking at witness is to think of being in a movie theater. You view images on a white screen. Those images are really on tiny frames of films, so how do they transform to large images on the screen? Light passes through the images. This light doesn’t choose which image it likes and which it dislikes. It doesn’t say that a love story is better than a horror film. The light unconditionally shines on every image. That is how witness works. It shines pure awareness on all, void of judgment.
When doing a yoga posture we are encouraged to hold the pose at our personal edge. The edge can be described as a point where strong sensations in the body are present. Most people would view these sensations as uncomfortable. The edge is where the idea of either fight or flight becomes a reaction. When we are practicing from a fearful frame of mind we either want to fight the sensations and press through the pain because “we are strong and can handle it” or we want to back away from the pose and the sensations. As we hold a yoga posture at our personal edge we can practice taking a step back from our judgments and limitations and simply observe what occurs. Observe our mind struggle (or not) with the ideas of arms or legs breaking under the sensations, observe as fears of physical, emotional and mental limitations emerge. Observe as pride tells us that we can stay in the pose for a long time because we are strong. But instead of feeding our fears with more attention and judgment we witness them without adding should or shouldn’t. We simply observe the judgments pass by like clouds, from the perspective of being the unlimited, changeless sky. Or, the pure light of all awareness.
The more we are able to practice witness, whether in a yoga class or while waiting in line at the grocery store, the more we will begin to allow Light to transform our awareness from a limited perspective to the experience of Freedom. Sounds simple, right, just watching, and not allowing fear to take
control. Well it can be… the choice is yours.
Jai Bhagwan (I honor the Light within you),
*See the three stages of forgiveness from ACIM:
1.) Take responsibility.
2.) Ask to see it differently.
3.) Listen for guidance.
Featured in Aspire Magazine