Dedicate Your Practice, Dedicate Your Life
ded·i·cate [v.ded-i-keyt;adj.ded-i-kit] To set apart and consecrate for a sacred purpose.
At the beginning of a typical yoga class, you’ll usually be asked to either set your intention or dedicate your practice to something or someone. This is part of what makes yoga unique to other physical activities or exercise classes. You do not usually set aside time prior to a kickboxing or a Zumba class, but doing so before a yoga practice helps to center us. It allows us time to be still and to contemplate, or mediate on, why we came to do what we are about to do. Why am I practicing yoga today? It challenges us to be present in what we are doing, on and off the yoga mat.
In whatever we are doing, we can meditate and turn our thoughts toward anything. Meditation is contemplation. In Eastern Philosophy, many set their intention on deities or Self. Alternatively, many different organizations and religious groups incorporate aspects of yoga to dedicate their own practice, life and worship. Some religions focus on the gods and goddesses of Indian Mythology, and others, such as Christians, turn their focus to Jesus as they practice. dedicating this set apart time for a sacred purpose.
Remember the definition of yoga: yoga is to unite or to yoke. Yoke is defined as joining together. This wonderful gift of yoga is meant to “bring together,” whether speaking about uniting our beliefs with our movements and meditation practice, uniting one to another, bringing together our breath with postures or joining together our mind, body and spirit. This is an inclusive practice, never to be an exclusive practice. So no matter what your belief system or your background–sex, race, religion, or any other factor–you are welcome and accepted in yoga, just as you are.
The definition of dedicate, once again, is to set apart and consecrate for a sacred purpose. Take time to ponder this definition. What do you hope to achieve in the time that you set aside? Dedicate your time on the mat to whomever and whatever you want. Meditate on the immense blessings that you have to be thankful for in your life and devote your time to something much bigger than yourself. If I have friction in my life, I come to my mat and simply exhale as I create space for the new. Whatever the “new” is, I visualize that coming into my life on my next inhalation. I encourage you to create space by exhaling the old and inhaling the “new”; mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally.
Perhaps you decide take this practice of dedication and devotion off your mat. What would you like to dedicate your day to? Furthermore, what might you dedicate your life to? This is a big question, I know. We so often just go through the motions. Pretty soon we find that our life is going by faster and faster. Yoga encourages us to be present and aware more than any other physical activity available.
Use your practice to become more focused and more keenly aware of what you may want to devote your life’s work to. It will be much bigger than you. It may even scare you once you receive the answer, but that is when you will know you are on the right track. We live in a hurting world and there is so much that you can do to extend your light to others. Start asking about dedication and devotion, set apart time for your sacred purpose.
8 Ways to Be Your Own Guru
No matter how we define a teacher or a guru—an expert, an enlightened person, or someone who challenges us to look at our own limiting beliefs—they’re ways we look for wisdom outside of ourselves. These kinds of teachers are no doubt powerful. But the most powerful source of wisdom is within. How do we activate our own inner teacher—our own inner guru—so we always have someone there for guidance and support?
The most powerful source of wisdom is within you. This is what I help every single person I work with realize—that they are infinitely powerful and the only thing getting in the way of that is surface stuff. When we clear the surface, it’s like polishing a rough stone into a diamond. Suddenly, you’re crystal clear, knowing exactly where to go and what to do next.
The most important work I do with people is helping them access their own inner guru. Here are eight ways to access yours:
Talk less, listen more. You can hear or see exactly where to go and what to do next if you give yourself permission to trust the non-verbal part of your brain. We’re all intuitive, and one of the most scientifically proven ways to tap into it is to listen to the non-verbal part of your brain: your body.
Deactivate fear. Fear comes mostly in the form of worrisome thoughts. And these come from the verbal part of our brain—this part of our brain processes less information per second than the non-verbal part of our brain. In other words, worries are “less informed” thoughts.
Lean into peace. Wisdom and truth feel like relief, like a great letting-go. It’s a wonderful sensation of “Ah, this is such a nice place to rest.” Every time one of my clients hears from their inner guru, they feel a sense of great peace and presence.
Trust yourself. Practice trusting yourself with small things, something less consequential where the decision won’t have a huge impact, but a small one. Something like saying no to an invitation to an event you don’t want to go to. Worry and fear says things like, “She’ll be upset if I don’t go,” or “I won’t be invited anymore.” Peace says, “Do what’s right for you, trust yourself, and all will be well.” Usually what happens in these cases is that everything works out, and you end up getting even more invitations because people are drawn to your confidence and self-esteem.
Trust the universe. Practice opting out of doing something just because you think something like “What will happen if I don’t?” Yoga philosophy has a term called Ishvara Pranidhana that basically means surrender to the universe. It doesn’t mean we never do anything, but we can surrender our attachment to achieving a particular outcome, and through that surrender and non-attachment receive something even greater.
Build your intuition. Next time you want to hear from your inner guru and you’ve already listened to your body, listen for words or watch for symbols. I like to imagine a blank slate and ask a question like “What should I do next?” Sometimes I see a symbol. Other times I hear a word or phrase—things like “Rest,” “Play,” or “Go bigger.” Other times an entire scene unfolds.
Trust your body. Intuition is fun and can give us more information, but first and foremost the first line of wisdom is your body. Your body is constantly guiding you, through sensations of tension and angst or ease and presence. Hint: ease and presence usually means “Go this way!”
Lean into grace. Listening to the guidance of your inner guru leads to choices that create a life filled with less striving and more receiving. Taoists introduce us to the concept of Wu Wei, doing without doing. Through heart-centred action and trusting the universe, things happen with ease. Miracles occur. It was either Yogi Bhajan or Wayne Dyer, depending on which source you choose, who said: “I don’t believe in miracles, I depend on them.” It doesn’t matter who said it, it’s a universal truth, and one that you get to experience firsthand when you start listening deep and choosing to believe.
Much love, and good luck!