It doesn't take a retreat or anything fancy to contact your inner light (or call it whatever resonates for you, be it essence, spirit, calling...) For me, when I decided to launch T2 Fitness Architects there was an "inner knowing" with a visceral quality that convinced me this was my calling. I liken it to the kind of fire-in-the belly sensation a mother has when she musters the strength to lift a vehicle off her child.
Everyone is born with this bija. If you're old enough to be reading this, you may have noticed that your light dims and brightens according to your mind-state, known as "citta" or "chitta" in Sanskrit. You may have heard the term "Chitta vritti", or monkey mind.
So how to settle our monkey minds?
There are many ways. What's important is to identify what works for you. A few basic elements include focused awareness training and repetition, or practice.
A natural, beautiful and readily accessible vehicle for this is mantra, which is often practiced as chanting.
"Yogas chitta vrtti norodhah" -Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 1.2. This has many translations. One that resonates for me is, "Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart" (1).
"Whatever you frequently think and ponder upon, that will become the inclination of your mind." -Budhha
That's the point of mantra. And mantra isn't the only way in. Visit my Resources page for others, or contact me. I love Rick Hanson's work on Taking in the Good, ie, really letting whatever nourishes you settle in (2). Marinate there, for at least 15-30 seconds. This practice brings us home to our inner luminosity. It hardwires positive sensations into our implicit memory, making this the default over going negative, aka, negativity bias. I'll unpack this term a bit next.
Our predisposition to scan for danger isn't our fault. Our ancestors needed this hardwiring to survive. To perpetuate their gene pool, they were on the lookout for "carrots" such as food, shelter and sex. Predators, starvation, and aggression from unfamiliar species comprised some of the "sticks" they avoided.
An important distinction between carrots and sticks relates to timing. Sticks carried more urgency and impact. Vigilance spared you from becoming a predator's lunch. On the other hand, if your identified mate/carrot didn't reciprocate your advances, you had other options.
Hence, humans are hardwired toward a negativity bias. The good news is that current neuroscience has revealed our brains are malleable and can be shaped through training and experience - empowering! (Visit the Positive Plasticity page located under Resources to learn more about positive plasticity.)
The Buddha said, "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle won't be shortened."
May our lights shine so bright that we inspire others to shine theirs.
And may this inspire my 10-day sitting...Om to that!
Please share your light by posting comments - I'd love to hear from you!
(1) Devi, N.J. (2007). The Secret Power of Yoga. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
(2) Hanson, R. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness. New York, NY: Harmony.