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The Light of Awareness

December 1 marked one year since I opened Satsang Yoga Studio. And what a year it has been. The studio was open for only 3 1/2 months before Covid-19 came along and shifted everything for all of us. Beloved Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron instructs us to be "comfortable with uncertainty" and to "welcome the unwelcome," and those teachings have been immensely valuable in 2020. This year has made us feel as if there is no solid ground under our feet, but the truth is that there really never is solid footing beneath us. Everything is constantly changing, shifting, and moving, and not always in ways that we like, want, or appreciate. The untrained mind is constantly shifting and changing as well. Likes and dislikes, judgments and biases, thoughts and memories, plans and emotions all swirl around, fluctuating in the mind, and our awareness chases after those fluctuations, being scattered this way and that. Just as wind causes a candle flame to shift and waver, the movements of the mind cause our light of awareness to be unsteady, shifting, and wavering. The yoga practices help us to uncover and reconnect to a profound inner stillness, one that is always there. Chapter 6, verse 19 of the Bhagavad Gita says, "As a lamp's flame in a windless place is perfectly still, so is the mind absorbed in yoga." The practices help us to train our mind, to focus, and to still the movements of the mind, lessening our habitual chasing after them and being scattered by them. The practices bring our light of awareness to a steady, calm, unwavering state. With practice, this steady, calm, unwavering light of awareness becomes a refuge. We are able to stay calm, present, and in a state of equanimity, no matter what storms or chaos may be happening around us. Yoga Sutra chapter 1, sutra 2 teaches us, "When you stop identifying with your thoughts, fluctuations of mind, then there is Yoga, identity with Self, which is samadhi, happiness, bliss and ecstasy." According to the teachings of yoga, the one thing that does not change is our True Nature, which is boundless compassion, limitless joy, and unconditional love. To read more about awareness, check out the Jivamukti Yoga December Focus-of-the-Month (written by Ruth Lauer-Manenti). It's called "Awareness," and it in Ruth writes that we can approach the idea of awareness in different ways: "...the present moment, consciousness, the witness state, the supreme being, the atman, the Self, innate wisdom, basic goodness, one's true nature; love itself." Thank you for your support over this past year! I am grateful for each and every one of you who make up our yoga community. Blessings and love to you this holiday season and in 2021. May you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be happy, may you be at ease. --Jennifer

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