Protect your heart

Always, but especially this year I've been torn between the options of living with an open giving and completely vulnerable heart and also preventing it from being hurt. In my opinion you couldn't  really do both at the same time. As much as avoiding pain seems the easier and less hurtful option sometimes, I strongly believe that you can't really choose what comes in or out of your heart so by avoiding this harmful energies we are also blocking love, joy and beauty coming in as well as diminishing our capacity to give. A heart that doesn't give or receive to its fullest potential, starts to weaken, just as any other muscle that we don't exercise  enough. This is not how I want to live my life. I have spent a lot of time working on myself to be more open, loving and happy and I don't want to go back to being less open and vulnerable in order to avoid  being hurt sometimes. It seemed like a lose lose situation. This year to me has been all about this question and finally I think I've come up with a satisfying answer. A good friend said it to me very simply: "Protect your heart" The way I see it now,  protecting your heart  is not about keeping it in an iron box or a crystal cage, or about creating filters to choose which energies it gives or receives. In order to live fully and wholeheartedly, your heart must remain wide open giving all and receiving just as much with each heartbeat. This means that we are going to get hurt and sometimes give what others might say is too much. I don't agree there is too much, but that's another question. Some people will receive and honour what your heart has to give while others will simply dismiss it and even ridicule it. Your wide open heart will receive love and beauty from others and the world around it but it will also receive the hardest blows, stabs and wounds. It will be torn and ripped and left to die. This is just life. The only way to really protect your heart then is not by trying to choose what comes in and out of it or try to prevent it from being hurt. The only way to protect your heart is by making it stronger and more resilient. How do we do this then?…

Ashtanga Yoga, A Pantheistic View

From a very early age I've been fascinated with life and what it means, the universe and its wonders. The desire to answer all these profound questions have shaped my journey through this planet. I was raised in a catholic family and very quickly I became disappointed with organised religions. This led me to become an atheist and for many years I dismissed any kind of spirituality and believed all answers would come from this "reality" and our ability to scientifically understand it. This approach made much more sense to me for many years. But, after a while, I couldn't deny some more profound and in a way subtle phenomena that I was aware of and that were happening around me all the time. For all I knew, science was right. However it was missing something... As I became more interested in these "mystical" aspects of reality, I started looking back at ancient traditions and the way they saw Nature and the universe. Particularly looking at human beings as an intrinsic part of nature and not just separate, dominant entities. Realising this interconnectedness between all forms of life and even the seemingly inert objects around us seemed to be that missing link. The Ashtanga Yoga practice quickly became a very important part of this search. Contrary to what many people believe, Yoga is not a religion, but is very much based on spirituality, which is definitely not the same. Unfortunately, this makes it much easier for people to attach their own spiritual and sometimes religious beliefs into it. Yoga is simply a method to help us find this missing link and make sense of reality, our existence and the subtler, maybe spiritual aspects of it while looking at all these aspects without filters or distortions. We have all heard how Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. This seemed very fitting with what I had discovered and was just starting to tap into. As I dived deeper into this system, the connection between my own self realisation and the realisation of a more interconnected universe became more apparent. I was re-discovering my own body, mind and; maybe for the first time, my spirit. Slowly, slowly I realised that I wasn't just discovering my self but as I discovered my own body I was connecting with all the matter that shapes our reality, every single rock, river, animal, planet, star and galaxy. My mind became the…

On Integrity and Forgiveness

  Integrity has always been a quality I value  most and that I try to keep as much as I can.  In the past couple of weeks, however I feel like I have been tested on it. We all have values in which we base our moral guidelines or honour codes we follow. Ideally as we become more conscious, we discover these truths, guidelines or honour codes as they appear more from within, from our spirit, and less from social conditions. To me integrity means adhering to these guidelines no matter what. Each time we discover one of these sacred truths we make a commitment with ourselves,  with our spirit and each time we fail we are only failing and damaging our most important relationship, the one with our spirit. In the Ashtanga Yoga  tradition these guidelines come in the form of what we call Yamas and Niyamas. Also that's why the concept of Sadhana is crucial to success in any spiritual practice. The commitment of daily practice no matter what is, again,  done with our spirit. One of these truths I try to follow is seeing all beings as one and loving all unconditionally. And this is the one I'm usually tested the most on. See, the thing is, it is very easy to say we love all and one. Sounds great as an idea. But in the real world,  when we feel betrayed by someone we love the easiest reaction is anger or hatred. The problem here is that this goes against the sacred truth that we are all one and thus we should love each other the same, without conditions. And whenever we get angry at someone or pretend hating someone, we are just hurting ourselves. Here is where forgiveness comes in to save the day. It is not easy though, because forgiving means opening up again to being hurt. Becoming vulnerable. We are so silly that we don't realise that after forgiveness being hurt is just a possibility but without it hurting and suffering become constants. [caption id="attachment_209" align="alignright" width="336"] "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." - Mark Twain[/caption] Forgiving someone doesn't mean coming back to a failed relationship or hanging out with someone that may or may not hurt you no matter what. Forgiving happens and stays within. It is self love and self respect healing you from inside. It has taken me…

The Spiritual Seeker: The Ultimate Rebel

Spirituality is the unending hunger for finding who we really and truly are. One day some of us realise that we’ve been believing a lie. A lie constructed by the thoughts of who we are, the ideas of who others think we are, the way we want to portray ourselves. The way society wants us to be, etc… We’ve been living in a cell and all of a sudden something appears,  a tiny crack in the wall that lets us see a tiny part of the real universe outside. And so, spirituality awakens. We realise there’s something else and we want the truth. All of it! Spirituality is first manifested as rebellion. We rebel against all false ideas, conditions and misconceptions of who we really are, against rules, society and everything that limits us and keeps us from awakening our awareness and expanding our consciousness. Then it becomes a quest, a constant search for truth and Self. We become spiritual seekers. Spirituality is an internal battle, and the biggest fight is always against ourselves. Rebelling against imposed ideas, others and society is easy. But questioning yourself your ideas of truth, love and happiness is a whole different beast and it really hurts. Standing against yourself, the people you love and care for is not easy. You have to choose between the truth or being complacent. And either way it’s going to hurt. Because once you’ve had a little taste of the truth, even the  littlest compromise  will burn you from inside. Your blood will become molten rock as your heart screams at you, calling you a liar, a hypocrite. But even this is not as painful as living in the lie, locked inside that prison of ignorance and unawareness. Now there is no other option; we have to break free. And thus, we become outcasts, misfits, hermits, the crazy ones. The others won’t like us. They will feel threatened as we stand against everything they are and they believe in, everything we were and we believed in. They will laugh at us, ridicule us, attack us and even criminalise us. We travel far trying to find others like us, we walk unchartered territories drawing our own path and creating new realities, new ways of living. Not because we don’t want part of humanity, but because we know there’s nothing human about the current disconnected paradigm. We want humanity not society, community not…

Old Scrap Notes

I haven’t written here for a while. Today as I was cleaning and clearing my flat I found a few old notebooks, some scrap notes and drawings that I made in the last couple of years. Some made me laugh. Some I didn’t understand and these few I thought I would share: I want to look right there. Live right there where only you know. Meet your soul there And be. Once. Always. Forever. Now (Mexico City, 2014) -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o- Brother, sister talk to me.   Brother, sister don’t leave me.   We smoked from the pipe We drank the tea We are the type that they never see   We feel what others just sense We are what they dream We jumped the fence We bathe in the stream   Brother, sister You are the love that flows through me You are now a part of me (Pachamama, Costa Rica November 2012) -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o- Will you soon become just a memory? I wonder what it is that I will remember the most… Will it be your smell or the way you walk? Or maybe your smile this morning as I woke up.   Will I remember you laughing? Will I remember that kiss that never was? -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o- Love and Happiness, Mannu

Yoga and Me

Last weekend I attended a weekend workshop with Kino MacGregor. Kino is an amazing world known Ashtanga teacher and I was very excited to learn from her. Although the weekend was mainly focused on Asana and technique, there was some time to discuss very briefly some of the more subtle and philosophical aspects of Yoga. At some point one of the attendees asked about the meaning of the word Yoga to which Kino responded something like this: "Yoga is a very broad concept and in India alone there are many different schools of yoga without counting the numerous ones recently created in the west. We could spend the day talking about yoga means union, or the Sutras say this or The Gita says that, but I would invite you to ask yourself what Yoga means to you..." Kino's reply was excellent. It left me wondering and gave inspiration for this post. In the most strict and brief manner, Yoga means union. However we must remember that translating Sanskrit is never that easy and, depending on the context, Yoga can translate as connect(ion), to add, contact, method, application or performance. Going back to Kino's question, what really made me think, and inspired this post. What does Yoga mean to me? Again, there is not a simple answer to this question. As a practitioner the first thing that yoga did for me was returning me that sense of possibility. Knowing that everything is achievable just by trying and then just discovering that the beauty is in the trying not the achieving. Yoga taught me that it is ok to be me however I am, as it is not where you are in your practice that matters but that you practice. Yoga taught me that life is great. Even in the most difficult moments life is great just as there are difficult asanas or moments in the practice. As I dived deeper into my practice, transformation started to manifest. First, in my body, but most importantly and surprising to me  in my relations. As I became more compassionate with my body and my Self, I became more compassionate, patient and understanding towards others. Yoga let me empty my Self with each exhale so that I could receive Love Happiness and blessings with the next inhale. At some point I started inhaling more Love and Happiness than I could contain. That's when I realised I had to teach.…

About purpose and inspiration…

A good friend asked me tonight: “So, what is your purpose with this website of yours. How do you intend to help the community?” At first I thought it was a great question (or two) just because I was thinking of writing tonight but I was lacking inspiration. As a yogi, the first that comes to mind is one of the principles taught in the Bhagavad Gita 12.12. In this chapter Krishna explains Bhakti Yoga (Yoga through the path of devotion and selfless action) to Arjuna:   “śreyo hi jñānam abhyāsāj jñānād dhyānaḿ viśiṣyate dhyānāt karma-phala-tyāgas tyāgāc chāntir anantaram   SYNONYMS śreyaḥ — better; hi — certainly; jñānam — knowledge; abhyāsāt — than practice; jñānāt — than knowledge; dhyānam — meditation; viśiṣyate — is considered better; dhyānāt — than meditation; karma-phala-tyāgaḥ — renunciation of the results of fruitive action; tyāgāt — by such renunciation; śāntiḥ — peace; anantaram — thereafter. TRANSLATION If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.” [1]   Being completely honest, as much as I would like to consider myself completely selfless and altruistic in my actions. I think I am far from there. However, as I told my friend tonight I try really hard every second of my life. Even if I fail 99% of the time, it is ok; I’ll just keep on trying. And that is the point of the practice of Yoga. I always wanted to write a blog. I really don’t know why. I don’t have a purpose or an agenda. After my first post, I wrote this on Facebook as I shared the link to this outlet trying to get my friends to read me, like me, share me etcetera: “I always wanted to blog and finally today I found the courage” This was a comment in response to that from another beautiful friend of mine: “…I think you always had a courage but you didn't have a topic...” Maybe she’s right. Or maybe I was trying to look for that courage, that topic or that inspiration and that’s why I never started before. Maybe this is one more of the gifts yoga has given me. The night I started this site I was overwhelmed with beauty…