As we wind our way through January, many of us are pulled into the upper chakras. We are focused on setting intentions, manifesting our dreams and visualizing the upcoming year. The upper chakras focus on creativity, intuition and divine guidance. They are crucial in helping us fulfill our life’s purpose and living the life we love. As we work on choosing our words for the year, creating our vision boards and manifesting our dreams we must also learn to balance keeping our toes in the dirt. What this means is we must also keep ourselves grounded. We must channel our energy into the lower chakras as well. We must remember to take action, not just dream. The lower chakras focus on our roots or history, grounding, our emotions and our sense of pleasure and personal power.
Last weekend, I attended a friend’s bridal shower. Although I had a lovely time, I ended up over indulging in sugar to the point of a headache. The yoga sutras tell us that when we engage in this type of old conditioning that produces suffering, we should cultivate the opposite mental attitude or reflect on our behavior (Sutras II.33-II.34). I realized I set myself up for failure as I had forgotten the three essential tips for clean eating outside the home.
Yesterday, I was in a store buying a bridal shower gift when I received a phone call telling me that one my student’s, from teacher training, husband had passed. I had to acknowledge the paradox and irony of life as one new life begins another ends. I thought about this couple just beginning their journey together, the promise of hope, excitement and possibilities. For this other couple, ending their journey in physical form together, the delicate touch of impermanence.
I first explored the fourfold aim of yoga a few years ago through Rod Stryker’s book The Four Desires. When we step onto the yogic path
we engage in deliberate living. We learn to wake up to our highest purpose and confront those old patterns and conditioning that keep us entranced with our egos. We begin to stay present to all aspects of life, realizing that the beauty, messiness, joy and pain are all avenues for growth and freedom.
The fourfold aim of yoga (purusharthas) entails:
- Purpose (Dharma)
- Prosperity (Artha)
- Pleasure (Kama)
- Freedom (Moksha)
This is by far, one of my favorite times of year. I love new beginnings, checking in and reflecting, releasing what no longer serves in order to create space. In the past, I was always quick to fill that space. Fill it with things, ideas and concepts I thought I needed to feel whole. Make grand gestures as to what I was going to accomplish and who I was going to be at the end of that tender year. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still make intentions to myself. In fact, this was one of my favorite transitions between years. What has shifted for me, is the intention behind the intention. In the past, I would set intentions to PROVE myself. I would set intentions and then COMPARE myself, always seeming to come up short. I would set UNACHIEVABLE intentions and then wallow in self-pity when I met failure. Failure and grief have been trusted companions on my journey the last couple of years, they have molded and polished my hard edges, giving me a tenderness and yearning to surrender and simply be. I may not have entered them willingly but am forever grateful for the wisdom, strength, and depth I have received from them, because of them.