On pretty much any given day you’ll see Mark Sweeney on his mat at Bella Prana! We chose Mark as our Student of the Month because he makes it more fun for us to teach and his energy helps to create the serene yet challenging atmosphere we hope to create. In short, Mark just gets it! His attitude and personality exudes yoga and we couldn’t be more grateful that we get to see him everyday! Mark shared with us something he recently wrote that was inspired by the idea’s and philiosophies we talk about in yoga. See below to check out Mark’s interesting insight on the differences between what we ARE, what we FEEL, and what we DO.
What brought you to yoga?
I guess if I’ve learned anything so far, I can acknowledge that a force greater than myself guides my steps and is putting me right where I need to be, whether I think I understand it or not. I’m along for the ride and enjoying it as I go. As a more proximal answer, I want to continue to grow. That means recognizing the things I’m not very good at and finding a way to learn to do them better. I walked in because I want to learn to communicate with a lexicon which is not native to me. I am an engineer/military type by training and personality and while I can communicate easily about objective or factual subjects, I am not what we would call naturally “open” in terms of communication from the heart or soul. There was a time when I think I used to be a little better, but I’ve lost some of that, and I came to get it back. At my best, I had plenty of room for improvement. I’ve been here just a short time and I can already feel a noticeable progression. My heart is a feather of truth. I don’t know what that means yet, but I’m working on it.
Why do you practice at Bella Prana?
Simple answer: the people. Have you ever met Roni and the rest of the instructors?! If not, walk in and say “Hi”. They’re fantastic and once you’ve met them, my bet is you’ll stay! If that’s not enough, take a class and when you meet your classmates you’ll feel right at home and I guarantee you’ll stay! Bella Prana has a strong sense of community which is evident immediately. I’ve been coming almost every day since I started and it has nothing to do with dedication. Dedication implies self sacrificing devotion to achieve some long term goal at the expense of doing what you might like to do right now. Mine has been a decision each day that this is what I want to do right now, so it really isn’t “dedication” at all. Plus, it’s an excellent workout and I just plain feel great as a result of it!
Who you Are, What you Do, and How you Feel
Someone I don’t know once asked someone I do know, “what does letting go mean to you?” She didn’t ask me, but if she had, this might have been my answer.
To answer what it means, we have to start with a little ground work. “Letting go” requires knowing yourself better than most of us do. It requires the ability to make a distinction between What you Do, What you Feel, and What you Are. What you Do is what you present to the world. It’s your behavior, your action, your speech. What you do is what is observable to others and is ultimately the only thing anyone else can ever know of you (which is not to say that they can’t be sure of more, but they will never really “know” it).
What you Feel is initially fairly simple. It’s just what you feel. It encompasses all of the words that we associate with emotions (happy, sad, scared, angry, lonely, excited, etc), or conditions (hungry, cold, tired, comfortable, etc.). What you feel may be brought on by events either external or under your own control, physical conditions, the actions of others, your own actions, or any number of causes. What you feel is often times likely to be identified as the emotional state for which it is named, but is really the physical effect of the creation and release of a variety of chemicals and compounds within the body. Since most of us don’t have the technical background to understand these complex chemical reactions, we simply identify with the name of the emotional state they create.
What you Are refers to the state not of your body, but of the You that exists both within and without your body, everywhere throughout time and space simultaneously. It’s the present state of the You that we speak to with the word Namaste. It is significantly more subtle and often gets lost in what you Feel and what you Do. To pull it out you have to recognize and understand that You are independent of what you Feel and what you Do. This distinction is not too hard to make academically, but it requires a certain developed maturity to remain mindful of the separation between You, your Feelings and your Actions once you find yourself in a difficult situation.
In early development, most people’s actions, what they Do, are a direct reflection of how they Feel, and they are not able to make a distinction between how they Feel and what they Are. For example, if a child Feels sad, then he Acts sad, and in fact, Is sad. They are all the same to him. As we grow and learn, we become capable to varying degrees, of separating what we Do from what we Feel. So, perhaps we have learned that although we Feel angry, we are better off not Acting angry if we want to achieve a certain outcome. At this point we may not have come to understand the difference between what we Feel and what we Are. So there is a good chance that because you Feel angry, You actually Are angry even though you do not Act angry.
On your mat (anywhere in life, but I’m gearing this toward a specific audience and example now) you have an opportunity to explore that difference in a controlled environment. So you find that although you Feel anxious or exhausted, in fact You Are not anxious or exhausted. When you can come to recognize that there is a difference between what you Feel and what you Are, then you can start to use that knowledge to make the distinction in the rest of your life. I Feel cold, but I know that I Am not cold, and I let the Feeling pass. I Feel desperate for a cigarette, but I know that I Am not desperate for a cigarette, and I let the feeling pass. I Feel afraid, but I know that I Am not afraid, and I let the feeling pass. This works both ways too though. So maybe I Feel in love, but I know that I Am not in love, or I Feel happy, but I know that I Am not happy. Remember it is the distinction between what you Feel and what you Are that is important at this point.
The gist is going to be that Letting Go requires the ability to distinguish between Do, Feel and Are; the ability to identify what you are then letting go of; and the wisdom to know what is called for in a given situation.
By Mark Sweeney
Yoga Tampa and Meditation Tampa classes held regularly!