Roni’s Opening to Class:
This is a room filled with imperfections, with black sheeps and wanna-be’s. We have let people down, gotten lost, said the wrong thing, slept when we should have worked, broken something valuable and tripped in public. We are a mess. We come right now to our mats with all of our failures and bruises and even shame. Because this yoga mat that I am sitting on now is the most absorbent thing on the planet. It soaks up all the fear, the mistakes, the stories, the lies, the despair. It absorbs it all. On this rectangle I am supposed to be a mess, in this room of mis-fits I fit in. Perfect is boring, it’s predictable, not a real thing. Perfect is like the fine china you never use or the fancy candle you never light. We come here together because the people in this room not only use the china, but sometimes we break it. We don’t just light the candle, sometimes we start fires. But when the bits have been swept up and flames put out and we survey the scene we shrug our shoulders and try again. I made a plan, got in my car, drove myself here, rolled out this mat, and sit in this shape because I gave up long ago my attempts at perfection. Here I am me. In this 6 ft by 3 ft of divinely absorbent space, I am free. – By Roni Sloman
After all the people I have counseled, coached, or taught, I have learned that we are all asking the wrong questions. Most people aren’t really sure who they are, what they want, or why they want it. We have our Ph.D.’s in asking fear-based questions. Questions like “What if I lose my job? What if I’m alone forever? What if my relationship fails? What if I never make more money?” So it’s time to take all that experience and expertise and redirect it. Because if you don’t know what you believe about yourself, your life, this world, and your place in it then every answer you think you have is an illusion anyway. We’re asking the wrong questions. The question isn’t “will my relationship fail?” The question is “should I be in this relationship?” The question isn’t “what if I never make more money?” The question is “what am I doing that’s not working?” The question isn’t “what if I lose my job?” The question is “Does this feel like a job or a calling?” The question isn’t “will I be alone forever?” The question is “where did I ever get the idea I was alone in the first place?” In an attempt to help you start asking the right questions I have put three of the most foundational questions of life below. These appear simple, but are anything but. Grab a pen and paper, take a seat, and refuse to get up until you have answered these questions fully to yourself. Good questions always lead to more good questions. There’s a reason that people as a whole don’t think about these things. Because they are afraid they won’t like the answer. But only way to get the right answers is to start with the right questions. So don’t judge your answers, let your answer be as long as needed until you come to the root of it. Don’t spend another day being dragged around by questions based on fear and the lie that you will never have enough. When a human being attempts to wrap our limitless understanding around the secrets of the universe with a thirsty heart, space pulses by pressing itself larger to make room for the love you are about to create.
1) Am I truly happy?
Don’t go with your first immediate response. Stop and think about it. You will need to hone in on your personal definition of happiness to answer. I included the word “truly” because we need to set higher standards for our daily experience of life. Don’t just be content. If the answer to this question is no then first be proud of yourself for being that honest. Then write down a focused but detailed definition of what happiness means to you, and only then can you begin to re-arrange your life to fit that description. I am a firm believer that life is simple, not easy, but simple. Whenever you catch yourself making something complicated remember that it is YOU that is doing that. By nature most of our life’s situations are pretty straightforward. So look at your definition of happiness, then describe the way you spend your days, then see where they contradict. Remove what is useless, be willing to cut the fat. Then re-arrange everything else like an emotional game of Tetris until it fits your description. Do not apologize for the changes you make. Make these choices without looking back. Because seriously … if the answer to whether you are happy or not is “no,” then what have you got to lose anyway?
“There are always these moments in life when the limits of suffering are reached and we become heroes and heroines.” – Katherine Mansfield
“Once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them.” – Nelson Mandela
2) Do I live in a friendly or unfriendly world?
Do you believe the world is against you, that it’s trying to get you and that you must live defensively? Or do you believe you live in a world that is constantly conspiring to support you, to bring the right people, and circumstances into your path? Deciding upon the answer to this question will change your life instantly. We are always in the process of subconsciously trying to prove ourselves right, we go out and seek to find more evidence to support our beliefs. This is not a spiritual idea, this is a fact. You know how when you’re having a bad day and more bad things happen you say “See, I told you!” But on a good day it often seems like good things just keep happening. This principle is happening on a cosmic level. You must decide, and there is no grey area. Either the world wants to destroy you or support you. If you have been taught to live defensively or have chosen that experience of life over time, then decide if that is what you want to keep believing. If not, then it will take work, but you can decide to shift your thinking, to consciously seek evidence that you are on a team that is larger than you. Believing in a friendly world does not mean that you don’t think bad or frustrating things won’t happen to you. It is an acknowledgement that when they do it is not a personal attack on you, it is the result of a world based on free will. Remember that this world is more invested in your success than your failure.
3) Is there a God, and if so what is he like?
Yep. The big one. Most of us have asked ourselves many times if we believe in God. But we often don’t really complete the process of answering it. We just see if we get a warm and fuzzy feeling after we ask the question and then if we did we say “yes” and what if we didn’t we say “no” or “who cares.” You cannot go through another moment of your life being unsure how you feel about this topic. Call God whatever name you like, you must decide if you believe in something larger than yourself. This is also a yes or no question, no grey area. If the answer is yes, then don’t stop there. Ask yourself what he is like. If you had to describe God’s personality what would you say? What would God’s eharmony profile say – what are his interests, dislikes, and pet peeves. If the answer is yes, don’t sell yourself short. Choose to be in an active relationship with him; if you do, the odds that your answer to number one will be yes increases drastically. If your answer was no, then I respect that honesty. I do find it interesting though that you’re reading this article and have made it this far. You clearly have a desire to expand and grow. If there is nothing greater, then what’s the point in expanding? The act of expansion by definition relies on the belief that there is more to explore. Just a thought. – By Roni Sloman
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” – Rumi
“You must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in. Give up all other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” – David Whyte says in his poem Sweet Darkness
“And a man said speak to us on self knowledge and he answered saying Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your hearts knowledge, you would know in words that which you would have always known in thought. You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams. And it is well you should, the hidden well spring of your soul must rise and run murmuring to the sea. And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes. Let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure, and seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line. For self is a sea boundless and measureless. Say not I have found the truth, but rather I have found a truth. Say not I have found the path of the soul, rather I have met the soul walking upon my path, for the soul walks upon all paths.
“The soul walks not upon a line neither does it grow like a reed, the soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.” – Khaleel Jabron
– By Roni Sloman
From Roni’s classes at Bella Prana Yoga studio in Tampa Florida the first week of 2013