March 27, 2014

Living Our Dharmic Path by Renee Schwartz

A year ago I began dharma lessons with Tracy, and the anniversary prompted me to think about where I’ve been and where I’m going, and to share it with my yoga friends….

What would a life look like if yoga philosophy and teachings were actively applied to it?  What would my life look like?  What would happen if I expanded my yoga practice to look seriously at what it offered as a guide to a more mindful way of approaching each day? Was it really possible to view life differently, and did I want to?

These questions and many others like them led me to begin taking dharma lessons with Tracy.  Loosely defined, Dharma is your life’s path, how you live your life responsibly, knowing and respecting your authentic self. Each person’s dharmic path is different.  Dharma lessons have provided me an opportunity to examine my beliefs, fears, and actions/reactions, and to open my mind and heart to other ways of seeing myself and the world.  The lessons encourage me to be mindful and present, to be guided by ahimsa (nonviolence toward all sentient beings), to reduce suffering.

Each session is structured around a question or a specific yogic concept.  Lessons have ranged from exploring what is my authentic self, to reducing the power fear has over my life (keeps me from being my authentic self and much more), to living more fully in the present, to examining the yamas and niyamas such as ahimsa (nonviolence), santosa (contentment), aparigraha (non-hoarding) and how they relate to daily situations. 

We continue with a topic until it seems time to move on to the next topic, and each one acts as a building block for what comes next.  As you might expect, the most difficult thing is to truly absorb and live by what I’ve learned.  There are moments of great clarity when my actions are focused and positive and increase my wellbeing.  And there are times when it seems like I’m back at square one and haven’t moved forward at all.  Each time that happens I look at where I came from and know I have moved forward, and also know that there’s still more work ahead.

Tracy has been incredibly helpful in this process.  She is supportive and gentle, and also deeply and keenly probing.  She blends her knowledge of yoga philosophy with practical applications that encourage me to incorporate the teachings into my daily life. 

Tracy’s truths and my truths are not always the same, and that is fine because it makes me question deeply whatever we’re working on.  Sometimes I realize my ‘truths’ are old truths and not who I am now.  Other times I hold on to my truths (at least for right now!) and Tracy respects that.  Probably the most important aspect of taking dharma lessons with Tracy is that I trust her, and know that wherever the lessons take me, it will be in a safe and supportive environment. 

It has been an intense year of self-study and discovery, some of it joyful and liberating, some of it difficult and painful.  There have been laughter and tears, doubts and breakthroughs, hard work and contentment.  It is a journey I’m thankful I began and am grateful to continue - and I’m eager to share if anyone would like to know more about the experience.

March 17, 2014

Only Love

There are four questions of value in life.  What is sacred?
Of what is Spirit made?  What is worth living for and what is worth dying for?  
The answer to all of them is the same. 
 Only love.
Johnny Depp