Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

Website Launch :) July 10, 2013

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,Yoga Class — yogini786 @ 8:53 pm

Hi everyone,

I know that many of you have been reading and following my blogs for a long while, and your support has meant the world to me.  I have recently launched my own website which I really want to share with my readers on this site.

www.aishachapra.com

 

with peace & love,

aisha

Advertisements
 

Surrender August 29, 2012

I’ve heard and said that word so many times in the last few years that I can’t remember a life where I thought one could go without it.  I can’t remember being the person who would rigidly fight for her dear life with any decision, or any opinion, that disagreed with her’s.

This fault-line opened at a gracious moment when I first surrendered and accepted life as it is.  It was a leap of faith, courage, and of immense heart opening.  I thought I was done now with this lesson.  This surrendering, I’ve figured it out.

But today after a moment of absolute clamoring madness, in a room with my mother, I saw myself cruel and unkind to her.  I saw how I did not have patience, and I did not have any compassion for her anymore.  I was saying the right words, but I did not feel them in my heart.  And not surprisingly she didn’t hear my words, as right and logical as they were, she felt my with-holding energy and before I even knew it I was back in a melodrama, playing my part to perfection.  Our dance had not even begun to end.

I sat back in my car and felt like I was bleeding from inside.  It was too much.  I couldn’t take this anymore.  This terrible grief, this terrible pain, I just don’t want it anymore.  I ran through the motions, watched myself move through the city with an angry arrogance, and at home, the point where I bowed down to pray, I became angry at God.  I heard my own words, and I felt my tears and then as swiftly as they came, I felt them disappear.  And I remembered what I read just two days ago:

“The reason we’re often not there for others –whether for our child or our mother or someone who is insulting us or frightens us — is that we are not there for ourselves. There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away…Only to the degree that we’ve gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we’ve related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough and enough of a warrior to feel the pain of others.” – Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron.

I had confided in some friends and felt a little bit more supported.  I have a beautiful loving family and again I felt less alone in my pain.  And then, tired as I was, dragged myself to my friend’s house, to take a yoga class in his open garden.  A yoga celebrity, my friend gives classes that are notoriously challenging.  In fact many times I have laid in dead pose or childs pose while he talked the class through super vinyasas.  Today he was going to take it easy, and I sighed with relief.  Knowing his easy, meant, well I’d still have a difficult time keeping up.

I moved through the class with precision and grace.   My mat is as familiar as my own breath.  When I’m on it suddenly it does feel as if I’m on sacred duty and I have surrendered to what will arise in me, and I will watch it, breathe through it, and be completely present with my contradicting & conflicting feelings.

We got into Warrior II and held it for almost 2 minutes.  1 minute in, my legs quivering, I kept looking at my focus point (dhristi) and surrendered to the pain.  I knew this was just the first side, the weaker leg, and I continued to be there for myself as I was debating: should I stay with the feelings or should I escape them?  Sometimes I had to release the pose, and then resume it.  But I did not push the pain away.  I did not push to create more, but I accepted what it meant to be a warrior.  I realised deeply that surrendering was the ultimate task for any warrior.  Surrender to the moment as it is, “because we escape, we keep missing being right here, being right on the dot. We keep missing the moment we’re in.  Yet, if we can experience the moment that we are in, we discover that it is unique, precious and completely fresh. It never happens twice.” (Chodron).

And as I finished yoga today, and felt the incredible connection and peace within my soul, I wished for a moment it would not go away.  And then, a new practice came into being.  I embraced the impermanence of this feeling, felt gratitude for it, and understood that soon it would be gone.  I returned to my car again, and I asked myself, what do you need to be there for yourself right now?

Surrender control.desire&escape from pain.  And yet while all these voices are clamoring for attention, just relax into them, ending today right where you are.

 

Surrender to Om June 14, 2012

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,spirituality,Yoga Class — yogini786 @ 10:27 am

That title has been in my head for weeks it seems.  The first day at the ashram I felt the strongest desire to run away.  My mind gave me a host of reasons why it would be fine, and how I didn’t “need” to be there.  Funny how after waiting years to get to Sivananda Kutir I was so hasty to want to leave.

The 4 weeks unfolded at the pace of letting grace in.

The first week, I felt overwhelmed by negative self talk.  My mind rushing churning memories, mean thoughts, cruel judgments, and imagined scenarios.  I sighed into it.  Will this ever change I thought?  I was sleepy, tired, cranky and critical of everything.

I looked forward throughout the weeks most to our silent walks.  And on our second one we walked through a village on a perfect morning through the mountains up a hill to a small temple devoted to the Divine Mother.

I experienced a glimpse of my true Self, and that of those who were around me, including the birds, trees, grass, mountains.  My soul spoke very clearly to me.  Don’t waste this opportunity being stuck in your baggage.  Wake up earlier, be excited, fresh, and experience this for what it really is:  A gift, or as my teachers would call it, the fruit from my past actions in this or a previous lifetime.

That simple intention unfolded into a new kind of mindfulness while going about my busy schedule at the Ashram.  It started to polish my eyes with a new sparkle and I felt like I was understanding why I had finally been given the chance to experience my most challenging spiritual test.

While there were tiny little things like chewing slowly (which I already have forgotten), there are some things that have settled in like glue:

– stuck in illusion, it is impossible to concentrate on the real or know the real.  and what is real?  It is Brahman, or Allah, or the Absolute, the eternal unchanging source from which the universe exists.

– I kept on returning to this strange conclusion:  so if I was ignorant, then whatever happened to me (pain, joy, etc) while I was ignorant was not real.  And once I am awake to the real, then only can I discern between the real and unreal, or  through the illusions of my life.

– this one loop kept circling and when at the end of our second week Mataji (Swami who took care of us and the ashram) gave me my spiritual name Sathya, tears came to acknowledge what I have known for some time:  the real is polishing illusion away from my heart & mind so I can know what is real.  God is that truth, and truth is inside me.

(Satya or Sathya is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates into English as “truth” or “correct”. Sathya is also defined in Sanskrit as “sate hitam satyam” which translates to “The path to ultimate truth or Sat is sathya (i.e. the real truth)”. Hence all the deeds, words, and wisdom that bring us closer to the Ultimate Truth are the truth.)

– and by the third week I felt like I was in the midst of absolute chaos erupting.  This time it was external, people getting sick, drama everywhere and my biggest test: to not complain about people who couldn’t stop complaining.  To not get caught up in their drama, their realities, and stay fixed on my purpose for this journey – to get closer to Truth, to purify and purge, and to accept & let go of the mind’s need to get “caught up” in Maya.

– the fourth week ended in a blur.  I’m not sure what happened on which day but I found myself in another temple, this time a Siva temple, with friends.  Graduates now of the Sivananda Teachers Training, we had been through the tests that this month presented each of us.  Siva, the dissolver and the destroyer of negative energies, brought us through the last week of accepting the impermanence of our experiences.  Like everything else, this month dissolved into time & space, has become a memory already, and a few days later I’m back on my red couch typing on my laptop, watching my sweet puppy chew on her bone.

The four weeks followed a spiritual logic.  We began with honoring Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, and suffering, and then we honored Lord Vishnu, the preserver of our manifested universe.  In the third week, with the full moon lunar eclipse close by, we offered flower, kum kum, and rice to the Divine Mother.  And in our last week we asked Lord Siva, the King of Dance, to pull us through the last of our blocks.

Even the purity, or as us TTC grads call it, Sattva, is impermanent.  Before we knew it the balance between the 3 energies that rule our manifested universe through Maya (a mysterious veiling and projecting power, sattva (purity), rajas (activity) and tamas (inertia)) swiftly changed as we journeyed back to Delhi.

There are so many things that cannot be explained through words or pictures.  So many paths and so many interpretations yet always it seems like the same Truth is being given for us to see.  Some remain blind, some wake up, and others have never been asleep.  I take long naps, but moments of clarity are becoming more frequent.  With trust and faith in the Grace that has led me so far the intellectual concepts of the spiritual aspirant are becoming tangible & real.

With love and blessings to all of you, the journeys you are on and the ones you will undertake, may you be blessed with the realization of your True Selves.

 

commit.ment April 18, 2012

Filed under: Islam/Sufism,spirituality,Yoga Class,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 9:26 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commitment

its almost the middle of 2012.  its a day before my 30 day mark in my 365 day yoga personal practice challenge I have committed to myself and its been a little more than 2 months since I brought the love of my life, pepper, a mixed breed, oversized, puppy into my life.

I have grown up a lot it seems in 2012.  And its funny, how I thought I could make commitments before, and now how after being scared and fearful of anything that I could attach to: job, city, friends, relationships, activities, I am finally ready to commit.  Not to what we usually think about. Not a relationship with someone I love or someone I want to marry (in my communities those two don’t necessarily correlate).

So then what am I committing to?  I don’t know how to put words to the tangible aspects but psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and economically I am committing to being a full adult.   And as an adult will I need help, love, friendship, support among other must haves like chips, chocolate, laughing, beach days, my laptop, phone etc?  YES, I will plus more!

Committing to being an adult is strange since everyone (including me not so long a go) assumes that age is the way to gauge our adult status.  But I guess i’ve come up with some things that are part of my commit.ment to being an adult.

– I can and will support my self financially because I have the capacity and time and opportunity to do it.

– I can and will be responsible for my well-being and safety and not blame others for when I fall, hurt, and break (physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally).

– I will always live with my truth, sometimes its glaringly uncomfortable, other times overwhelmingly wise.  I accept that I exist in this shifting pendulum of life of which I do not control much, if at all.

– I am always going to feel butterflies in my stomach and have a heart made of soft squishy putty when it comes to emotionally unavailable intelligent artistic men.

– I am never going to be completely serious. or perfect. or anything.  I am just going to be here living it up with gratitude as much as I can.

– I know now that I have a lot to offer.  I believe in the dreams I have for myself and the communities I live in/with (including the biggest jungle of them all, with my adult survivor kit handy: LIFE IN KARACHI!)

– I will sing & dance!

So thank you all, many of you have helped me reach this critical point in my journey.  I have faith and courage.  And I have fear & anxiety.  All are ok.  All are impermanent.  But my life seems less like a dream and more like the perfect gift for a 30 something soul searching yogini.

 

s.p.r.i.n.g March 22, 2012

it’s been a challenge to blog for the last two months. a part of me wants to share and another doesn’t.  and whenever there is a split, its time to notice and wonder, what’s going on?

spring.  the third week of march has been etched into my museum of memories.  3 years a go it was the beginning of a separation, which led to breaking, then moving, and finally coming somewhere where the past did not define everything.  then

and then. life never stops.  its just something one has to accept. accepting the first noble truth – that life is full of suffering – does not make life and living any less worthwhile or beautiful moment to moment.

I’m having a rough time tying sentences together.  my mother has been in treatment.  my family has been experiencing a reality that none of us ever thought was possible.  a future of health, responsible actions, and yes most likely relapse and then recovery.  but at least this new hope. this new feeling of having a mother, who not just looks like an adult but is capable of being one, is letting me grow into being the adult that I am.

the days leading up to spring, a strong intention moved into my heart. 365 days. I want to know what it would be like to do yoga every.day – no days off.  no days off because its not work. its my doorway to singing a new tune and knowing that the song was inside of me all along.

ps – i am still writing, but lots more poetry. welcome to it: yogini786.tumblr.com

 

what’s the rush? February 24, 2012

“You are not just a meaningless fragment in an alien universe, briefly suspended between life and death, allowed a few short-lived pleasures followed by pain and ultimate annihilation. Underneath your outer form, you are connected with something so vast, so immeasurable and sacred, that it cannot be spoken of – yet I am speaking of it now. I am speaking of it now not to give you something to believe in but to show you how you can know it for yourself.” – Eckhart Tolle

When I sat today in meditation, I kept on thinking, swirling around in a swarm of thoughts about my work, my students, my life.

what’s new?

nothing in fact.  my mind continues to unravel its patterns everyday.  and everyday I remind myself. go into your heart aisha, go into your body.

***

What’s the rush? What and where am I trying to get to so fast?  Why should it be fast? Why would I be given an easy ticket to enlightenment and peace when I know that without this process, of being laundered and dried out of my deepest grooves, my soul will never find freedom.

Today’s message from my Sufi book of life, reminded me to be in awe of the subtle mysteries of life: Al-Latif.  When there is nothing to be made sense of, the best thing one can do is add wonder and awe into the situation.

I’m not able to express or put in words the state that I’ve been in this past week. But i’ll try.  Part of it is an even further opening of my heart.  the other is being in awe of the gifts and duties I’ve been given in this particular moment.  another is knowing, so surely, and so deeply that there is no rush to get anywhere and that in fact where I am now is so poetic: deep, ironic, and in perfect rhythm and rhyme.

so today I ask you, and you, what is the rush to being more than what you are right now, in this moment that you read what I’ve written on a Friday morning, on my red couch, on a 2009 Macbook Pro, in yoga clothes, with glasses & electric blue nailpolish on, listening to the birds that come and go in the garden outside.

we have all the time in the world. just rest and relax in that knowing.  time that is not limited to the human form, or human desires. but time that is carved by the soul’s journey. step by step, moment to moment.

 

 

“Death is not the opposite of life.  Life has no opposite.  The opposite of death is birth.  Life is eternal.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

yoga at home December 1, 2011

It’s been a long time since I wrote about my practice but today while I was teaching my thursday evening class, I realized deeply the impact my practice has on my being.

Yoga makes me feel at home with whatever I’m feeling.  I’ve been feeling exposed, vulnerable and re-wounded in the past month.  I’m re-reading since yesterday a book that I had bought when I first moved back to Karachi at the advice of my then therapist – Journey from Abandonment to Healing.

SWIRL – is the author’s acronym for the acute grief that abandonment triggers in us.  Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalization, Rage, and Lifting.  And she reminds us that there is no clear cut linear process to this journey.  That we move from one stage to the next and return over and over again.  3 years ago I experienced a deep shattering and withdrawal.  I fought through internalization and diluted my anger with love and forgiveness.  Finally I reached the place of lifting myself into a new life, a new skin, and a new everything.

But I forgot. I forgot that there is still a lot I haven’t allowed myself to confront.  And now that new experiences are becoming old, and the new me, is starting to get comfortable with its fresh identity I realize the traps are all still there.  My fears are here with me.  And I’m still swirling.

Today I didn’t wake up to get to my morning practice.  I felt listless since last night.  I felt discontent creeping up.  I felt frustration and black and white thinking dominate.  And I wanted to resist it. I wanted to contain it.  I wanted to sleep through it.

Thankfully I teach yoga so I have to do it even when I am avoiding it.  And today while I meditated I gave in.  I gave into the feelings of inadequacy.  I gave into my obsessive thinking.  And I told myself. I’m ok.  I’m here and I can take care of me.  I felt my breath expand my belly.  I felt my life force in my pulse.  I felt the coolness of my breath when I inhaled. I felt the warmth of my exhale.  And I was home.  I was home with whatever I am right now.

I’ve got a list of labels to characterize my behavior.  I’ve got an armor of rationalization and reflection to let my fears come first.  I’ve got a whole lot of mind activity that is always poking holes obsessed with perfection.  But.

I’ve also got a place of peace and love, that I’ve nurtured.  I’ve got an armor of vulnerability and truthfulness. I’ve got a simple awareness resting on my body that I can always access to become present and centered when I’m caught up.  And most importantly I’ve got space, freedom and joy in my heart.

It’s an uphill battle to SWIRL, especially when I feel like i’m back to the broken-ness of my shattered self.  But every-time I climb this mountain, my baggage is distinctly and definitely lighter.  Thank you.  You that brought all this stillness to be at home inside of me.