Translated literally, Bhakti means “portion” or “share” from the root word bhaj, which means “to partake in.” Bhakti Yoga has nine forms that guide one on the path of devotion. From kirtanam, which is an act of singing and chanting the lord’s name, to padasevanam, which is an act of selfless service (seva) at the feet (pada) of the lord. Then there’s my personal favorite, “sakhyam,” an act of developing a friendship with your chosen higher power. Who doesn’t want to be buddies with the divine? It probably makes life a lot easier and hopefully more mystical.
There are many different ways and resources to enter into the space of the divine. For example, I often take a jaunt out into nature when I feel I need to connect to my own divine consciousness. In San Francisco, this might mean heading to “Hippy Hill” on a Sunday to hear the psychadelic drum circle inspire folks of all kinds to dance their minds, bodies, and spirits free. Another way is to allow yourself intimacy (into-me-you-see), through personal meditation and getting to know the divine source of life emanating from your heart-source. You can chant the blessings of the Beloved through Kirtan, or head to 16th and Mission to hear it sung through a tinny loudspeaker, or recited as poetry in the late evening hours.
Recently, I’ve taken on a mantra sadhana (daily spiritual practice) from the root to the crown. I’m spending 40 days with a deity and the words that invoke their essence. This has allowed for a familiarity with each chakra, how the words translate into sound, experiences, and life itself. I began with Ganesha when I decided to quit a job that was supporting me very well monetarily (the security in my root chakra), yet was spiritually draining. Gannesha is the deity of both removing and placing obstacles.
As my journey moved to the second chakra, I began chanting to Lakshmi, Goddess of abundance. My intention was to create abundance in work opportunities, with teaching yoga and reiki specifically. By the end of the 40 days, I had four classes and numerous clients requesting the healing energy of reiki and animal spirit work. Now I’m onto the third chakra, and it’s been more challenging than the first two. There’s a lot to work on in this area of power, belief and will. I’ve had to restart twice because my devotion to change and meeting challenge has become difficult, and it’s in these times when Bhakti, my participation in the will of the divine, is the toughest and sweetest.
The bottom line is: God, Goddess, The Great Unknown is accessible and a participant in all that is life and death. When we connect with our breath, slow ourselves to the pace where we can acknowledge the light and darkness in others and ourselves, and come into the space of stillness where creation is fertile, we’ll be participating in the fullness of this incarnation, our way to express the divine.
Andrew, aka Prancing Pine, loves teaching and practicing at Laughing Lotus. He has felt it as a home and place of deep healing since first stepping through the doors and seeing Amma’s smiling face. He loves working with his animal spirit guides, rocking out in the woods, and creating healing vibrations through his music and work as a Reiki Master Teacher.
Catch a Lotus Yin class with Andrew on Tuesday or Thursday from 4-5:15pm.
by Ram Dass
Reposted from his blog on September 6, 2011
From the soul’s point of view, you come to appreciate that each one of us is living out his or her own karma. We interact together, and those interactions are the grist for each other’s mill of awakening. From a personality point of view, you develop judgment, but from the soul’s point of view, you develop appreciation. This shift from judging to appreciating — to appreciating yourself and what your karmic predicament is, and who other beings are with their own karma — brings everything into a simple loving awareness. To be free means to open your heart and your being to the fullness of who you are, because only when you are resting in the place of unity can you truly honor and appreciate others and the incredible diversity of the universe.
When I perform a wedding ceremony, the image I invoke is of a triangle formed by the two partners and this third force, which is the shared love that unites and surrounds them both. In the yoga of relationship, two people come together to find that shared love but continue to dance as two. In that union, both people are separate and yet not separate. Their relationship feeds both their unique individuality and their unity of consciousness. Love can open the way to surrendering into oneness. It gets extraordinarily beautiful when there’s no more “me” and “you,” and it becomes just “us.” Taken to a deeper level, when compassion is fully developed, you are not looking at others as “them.” You’re listening and experiencing and letting that intuitive part of you merge with the other person, and you’re feeling their pain or joy or hope or fear in yourself. Then it’s no longer “us” and “them”; it’s just “us.” Practice this in your relationships with others.
At a certain point, you realize that you see only the projections of your own mind. The play of phenomena is a projection of the spirit. The projections are your karma, your curriculum for this incarnation. Everything that’s happening to you is a teaching designed to burn out your stuff, your attachments. Your humanity and all your desires are not some kind of error. They’re integral parts of the journey.
View his original post https://www.ramdass.org/relationships-emotions/
with Jai Uttal
“These ancient chants,” writes Jai “contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.” An introduction to the practice of kirtan by Jai Uttal. Directed by
BHAKTI YOGA, is the Yoga of devotion. Devotion means nothing other than Love. To be devoted means to participate with Love. Bhakti yoga is a whole-hearted surrender of your actions and heart over to God. Devotion does not mean blind following, but a conscious seeking after the truth.
The 45th Sutra of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali states: SAMAADHI SIDDHIR ISVARAPRANIDHANAT
“When union with Cosmic Consciousness is realized by devotion to God or by total surrender to God, Samadhi is attained.” The word God can also be translated into Peace or Love.
In Prem Prakash’s translation of the Bhakti Narada Sutras, he states:
“Without Devotion, Jnana Yoga becomes dry intellectualization, Karma Yoga dilutes into mere social service and Raja Yoga will not bear its fruits because it is undertaken for personal, rather than selfless, reasons.”
Because participation is based on relationships, in Bhakti Yoga, relationships have been emphasized to help understand their intention and purpose. Our relationships reflect the Love for the Infinite or the Divine!
-Servant and Master
-Friend and Friend
-Parent and Child
-Lover and Beloved
These forms of relationship not only exist in our daily lives, but also in the subtle realms of the soul.
You get to choose how you want to relate to God or Higher Power, Peace or Love. There is infinite space in Yoga to explore Cosmic Consciousness, and actually no requirement to believe in a God. It’s more important to have something that you are able to give thanks to each day, and surrender the fruits of your actions to, to create and foster connection and relationship.
I spent a lot of time alone as a young child and always felt like an outsider looking in. I grew up in an unconventional home, where I didn’t even know who my father was. My family moved often, which fueled the fire and contributed to my feeling of isolation.
While growing up, I relied on substances and other elixirs to fabricate a feeling of connectedness. I was searching from a young age for a feeling of security, connectedness and Love. At the age of 20, I woke up to the fact that my old destructive patterns were no longer working. At this time, the concepts of God, and learning to rely on a Source, were introduced to me, and thus began my journey.
I have an overactive mind, so my practices work to cultivate PEACE of mind and invite Love and faith into my heart. I recognized early on the importance of God and how it seemed to work through people. I had been cared for and was very lucky to be alive. I began to see God in ALL and ALL in God.
My life changed when I discovered the practice of Kirtan 15 years ago. I finally had a platform where I could unabashedly sing, cry, and call out God’s name, and express both gratitude and sorrow in a song. God is formless, yet takes many forms. God is both man and woman and the purest form of LOVE.
I encourage you to find a community or practice that supports kindness, compassion and the expressions of these qualities. Sing Kirtan, or find how you can be of service in your community and Love one another!
Sogyal Rimpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, says:
“It is essential to know what real Devotion is. It is not mindless adoration; it is not abdication of your responsibility to yourself, nor indiscriminately following of another’s personality or whim. Real Devotion is rooted in an awed and reverent gratitude, but one that is lucid, grounded and intelligent.”
Astrud is a Senior Teacher at Laughing Lotus of 12 years. Her teaching encourages us to uncover and discover the depths of who we are through the profound intimacy of breath. She is devoted to the nadam, the inner music, which is so beautifully expressed through yoga asana. Astrud is committed to making yoga accessible to all, in group classes as well as one-on-one.
Astrud leads Morning Mantras every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m., Morning Flow at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, Lotus Flow 1 at 11:45 on Saturday, and Lotus Flow 1/2 at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.