Is a perceived void the same thing as emptiness?

Inherently, a “VOID” implies that it is something to fill. Until it is filled with something, it won’t be whole and will not be satiated. We think of VOIDs to be black holes that suck everything in with no idea if it will ever close.

This desire is a misinterpretation, as a VOID is a false perception. A VOID is simply another label applied by your ego to an idea that you are not whole. If you seek the external world to fill yourself, or even practice mindfulness with the intent of bringing more awareness to the internal self – as long as there is a container to fill, you will suffer.

“If I practice yoga, I will be more spiritual, and that spirit will make me more whole than others who don’t.”

“If I make lots of money and have an ascending career, I will be valued more than those with less.”

“If I travel the world, I will have more experiences, and those experiences will make me more whole than others.”

“If I have more friends, my social equity will rise, and I will feel full of love.”

No matter what you are filling that container with, it will not sustain itself, and thus your desires will never dissipate. Until you remove the container – the label – will emptiness truly set in, and your perceptions will find clarity.

AUM Namah Shivaya ~ Bryant

Compassion for Evil People

So here’s the story…

I drive into a gas station and a gentleman drives up next to me to ask me if I could fill up his tank. I decline. He continues to pester me, while I ignore him. Halfway through filling my own tank full of gas he calls someone on his phone and begrudgingly yells out that he might be late and is still in “fag-town.” I’m thinking to my self, just let me get back home in peace – not pieces.

I had just wrapped up teaching yoga for the day, and honestly, I just wanted to get back home so I could take a shower and relax for the rest of the evening. Coming from a zen environment to something so toxic as this, put me on edge.

The guy continues to press on, and inquires about my scarf, “Is that a Tibetan scarf?” I’m thinking maybe he’s just trying to butter me up so I’ll buy him gas. “Yes,” I reply, “I’m a yoga teacher.” Automatically he goes into a rant as to how the “men of these days are too metrosexual; you all are faggots; learn to be a man and build something with your hands. You’re a fucking fag…” over and over and over… even as I left the gas station with his scowl on his face.

I know there are bigots out there in the world, and I realize that there are those who cannot (or choose not to) accept others for their differences. His intentions were surrounded by evil and his unjust animosity towards me was disturbing. But how I felt soon after that incident was shaken.

It’s times like this where I try to mirror myself in someone else’s shoes. Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he was raised in an environment that wasn’t as open to different things. A part of me wanted to get into a fight with him. The disciplined, yogic part of me told me to breathe. I sit here writing this blog with some thoughts on my mind. And given I’ll likely process this for the remainder of the evening, some quick quips of wisdom:

  1. I cannot control or fully understand how another person feels.
  2. I have agency to choose how I feel about a situation or person(s).
  3. Don’t let toxic people steal your energy.
  4. Hold compassion for those who have trouble holding compassion for others.

So there’s no perfect remedy for situations like this, nor can you not expect to react to difficult situations that try to destroy your ego. But if you can breathe and not dwell on the negative ideas, your suffering will likely be reduced, and you’ll find balance sooner than later.


Home Practice

What is a home practice? It’s exactly what it sounds like: a practice at home. Many students have asked me what I do during this practice, and if it’s any different from what I practice in the studio. To that question, “Yes” and “No.”

At home, I’ve created a space in my living room where I have an altar, large yoga mat and sitting area for me to practice asana and meditate upon. Similar to a studio. I think it’s important to designate a space within your home that has a specific intention that surrounds itself. Just like, when I’m at my desk, I’m working; when I’m in the kitchen, I’m cooking and eating food. Making physical space for yourself in your home is just as important as holding space within yourself when it comes to internalizing and developing a stronger connection. Lay the foundation for silence, and you will seek silence. Lay the foundation for chaos, and you will be surrounded by distraction.

My ASANA practice at home consists of HATHA, RESTORATIVE, and VINYASA (mostly surya namaskaras) for warmup. Here’s a preview:

Pranayama (Breath Work)
Surya Namaskaras (Sun Salutations)
Standing Poses & Twists
Inversions & Arm Balances
Supine Variations

All in all, pretty simple, but it’s the consistency and depth that I spend within each posture that matters. So why do I practice HATHA and RESTORATIVE?

HATHA allows me to slow down and bring more awareness to the subtle body
HATHA doesn’t have the cadence of a flow, and I’m less prone to acute injury
RESTORATIVE is one of the most efficient ways to engage your parasympathetic nervous system so that you might rest, digest and heal.
RESTORATIVE sets a different intention than vigorous asana and provides an alternative practice for your body and mind. Understanding the differences can allow you to deepen into each facet further.
VINYASA feeds my EGO. I love the transitions; I love the strength involved; I love the tie to one’s breath. Would you consider these distractions? Maybe that’s why I practice VINYASA in public studios…

…it appears I have some work to do

~Namaste~ BC

Redefining Relationships

I recently read an online article: Lasting Relationships… and what it revealed/reminded me of seemed very sound. The author discusses some of the clinical research completed with couples of all ages, and concludes that what leads to long term, healthy relationships is kindness and generosity. What got me thinking, though, was the latter half of the article where a 2006 study breaks down responses of adult couples when their partner receives good news:

“In general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructiveactive destructivepassive constructive, and active constructive.”

Only one of those four responses continues to promote positive momentum. “Active Constructive” responses are key to maintaining a relationship, otherwise you’ll be sullied in neutral, negative, and/or destructive behaviors.

Consider this approach with any relationship you have. The relationships we often bring to mind include the ones you have with your spouse, a family member, or even a close friend. How do you react to each other’s news? Do you promptly promote and bolster that individual, showing support, or are you quick to respond with something less substantial?

What is forgotten, though, is the most simple relationship: the one you have with yourself. Do you constantly beat up yourself over misgivings, or do you take a more positive approach to even the small “wins” in your life? Can you accept good things in your life without over analyzing them, looking for something to eventually fail? As noted in the first half of the article, constant cynicism creates stress in our lives, impacting our nervous system, which can prohibit us from healing not just our body, but our mind and spirit.

So the next time something good happens in your life or another’s, bring some awareness to the reactions, and ask yourself if this is healthy for you. Routine awareness will help to make wiser decisions, and hopefully guide you towards more fruitful habits.

~Namaste~ BC

Misguided Anger

A friend and I were discussing the desires of anger, and the pros and cons to that subject. As expected, the list is heavy on the cons, as there isn’t as much to be “happy” about.

My thoughts on anger stemming from our bodies, and why it sometimes is harder NOT to be angry:

“I would agree that some people are misguided with their focus. Consider the nervous system. Anger, falling into the sympathetic, will tear down the body (catabolic) and you will release a lot of prana. Misguided, though, is the interpretation of the adrenaline rush in parallel, which many people may think is being “alive!” I think many people find this easier to access than focusing their energies towards more passive, anabolic, parasympathetic systems to heal your body and mind. So for people who are lacking more body awareness, they are often not keen to the subtle differences of true passion/compassion versus a catabolic hormone release that is intended for our “survival” from much bigger predators.”

So why do you feel anger? Could there be a different way to express your feelings?