Theme of the Month: From Isolation to Intimacy

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

The journey back home   Everything on this earth and in life is connected to everything else. A river stone hiding in a mountain stream, summer grasses blowing towards autumn, flying insects whirling for a few days before disappearing again. Babies are born every day and every day people are dying and going back to the earth. It is the web of life; everything is connected in life and in death, nothing stands alone. Not one thing in this universe is not part of everything else in the universe. Our bodies are part of distant stars and our blood was once an ancient ocean. There is only one thing that appears to stand alone: It is the centre of the universe and everything revolves around it. It has desires, it sees time, it is always seeing life in terms of self and other. And it considers itself to be the most important thing in the universe. What is this strange thing that seems to defy the fabric of life and stand in isolation? It is the human mind that is clouded by an illusion called “me” and “mine”. By the magic of its own fantasy the isolated shadow “I” stands alone, separate from nature, and is forever seeing itself as bound by the skin and limited to the physical body which it also calls it's own. It weaves a magic show of “my body”, “my house”, “my children”, ignoring the reality of interdependence and choosing to stay in the dream of separateness despite seeing clearly that nothing stands alone. According to many wisdom teachings including yoga, this illusion of a separate self is the cause of all our suffering. In Sanskrit, this is described as 'Avidya', usually translated as 'ignorance'. Even the roots of the word ignorance describe this condition perfectly; we are “ignoring” reality as it is. We are all part of each other and everything is interconnected. Everywhere in the world, we can see that the root cause of so many problems is due to this persistent magic show of the “me” and “mine”. "People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see one in all and all in one is to break through the great barrier which narrows one’s perception of reality." - Thich Nhat Hanh Isolation In the modern world, there is increasing isolation, as the “I” feels more and more separated. Our lives are becoming more divided and disconnected from nature and one other. Sitting in front of a computer screen with social media friends instead of real ones, for example. We can order what we want with a push of a button from Amazon any time of day without making any real connection with a physical store that has a real person behind the counter. We entertain ourselves with Netflix without needing to go into a theatre with other real people. Slowly and insidiously, we are becoming more solidified into the “I”, and this separation is the cause of all our suffering. People in the past were forced to connect because they lived close to nature and small communities where everyone helped each other. The “I” wasn’t as big and people were not as disturbed and isolated as they are now. But despite this, many people are starting to wake up to a global vision of unity with others and a harmonious relationship with nature. Political boundaries are becoming more and more ridiculous as climate change does not see international borders, and the desperation of the times can bring a greater sense of connection. Intimacy Intimacy is the feeling of being connected. The good news is that we don’t have to actually “do” anything to be connected. We are already connected, we just fell under the spell of Avidya and forgot. So our journey home to intimacy starts with simple things, things that help us remember, and in that remembering, we come back to sanity, peace, and love. We have to dissolve the illusion of separation little by little in everyday life and then, slowly, our relationship with life will no longer be isolated and full of fear. We will be able to see the beauty of the magic dance of our lives. “Mitakuye Oyasin” There is a Native American tribe called the Lakota who have a short prayer that expresses their underlying sacred vision of unity: “Mitakuye Oyasin”. These two words mean “All My Relations” or “We Are All Related”. This is not just referring to people but animals, plants, the sun and moon…everything. In this simple prayer, separation is healed in us, and we come back to balance and deep connection by living this wisdom I would like to offer a couple of ways we can apply this profound teaching in a practical way in our lives. Everything is Alive Meditation: Practice seeing everything in our life as alive and your relation. Your coffee cup, a book on the table, a chair in the corner of the room, a rock, a teapot, anything will do. It may sound strange to do this but we did this all the time when we were little. We talked to the chair when we were small as easily as we talked to our mothers. The bird on the tree limb outside our room certainly understood everything we said to her, and her song was easy to feel and understand. Do this for one day, make a commitment to see absolutely everything as alive. Speak to a stone, listen to what it has to say. Read a poem to a flower and see how that makes her feel. The world will think you are mad, but you might be surprised to find out that you have become the only sane one and it is the world that has gone mad! Try this and see what happens.   Interdependence Contemplation: When you sit down to have a cup of coffee or tea before you start to drink, think about a few things. Do this slowly and really feel it, see it in your mind, let it sink deep into you. First, say hello to the coffee cup and thank him for holding your coffee! Then think about all the things that went into bringing you this coffee. Start with the coffee plant growing somewhere in the sun tended by a farmer with care. The plant needs the sun and the rain to live and flourish then eventually bears the fruit of the coffee bean. The coffee beans are collected by the farmer and then carefully processed and roasted, packaged by people in a factory. Then the beans are transported by trucks driven by people with lives just like yours, the transport truck was designed by people made by others from minerals taken from the ground with great care and hard work. This truck brings the beans to be flown to the country where you live by airplane pilots and workers to the shop around the corner. You bring the beans home and start to make a cup of coffee with water that was once rain in the sky. The cup you are drinking was made somewhere by somebody from clay taken from the ground that was once part of the earth. When you slowly drink this cup of coffee, you are drinking the sunshine, the rain, the earth, and the love and work of so many people. Think about how many thousands of people, plants, and animals were involved, and if you keep following this thread, you will see the whole tapestry of life woven into a simple cup of coffee! Isolation is not real Everything touches and is touched by everything else. Intimacy is here and now in your hands if you can just remember it! Deep connection has never been lost, we only were sleeping and dreaming a dream of “Me” and “Mine”. Isolation is not real, it never was! We are all connected and by remembering there comes a huge sigh of relief as all our fears, pains, loves, and dreams weave a sacred web called life. That web of life is in us and touches us in the most intimate place: our hearts. Through the door of the heart, all things are a part of you. May all beings wake up from the dream of separation. “Mitakuye Oyasin” Namaste, Sahaj “To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. “ - William Blake Theme of the Month Special Classes  In addition to our Theme of the Month blog post, we are bringing the theme into our Monthly Satsang for Delight Sangha Special Class guided by Satya & Sahaj and our Monthly Ayurveda for Delight Sangha Special Class Guided by Victoria Raven Hyndman. A spiritual community (Sangha) is very important to feel connected and supported, particularly when we are going through more challenging times, individually and collectively. Coming up: Friday 13 August 16:00 - 17:30 Satsang for Delight Sangha  Thursday 2 September 16:00 - 17:30 Ayurveda for Delight Sangha

Theme of the Month: Staying Open

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

“A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace” We are the Open Sky Have you ever felt the feeling of complete relaxation in your body? Have you ever been content with things as they are without judging them, clinging to them, or rejecting them? Have you ever felt like your mind is as open as the sky and every possibility is there? Can you fly in the sky at each moment like a bird leaving no trace?

Theme of the Month: Following a Spiritual Path

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

“Becoming who we were meant to be”   “Truth is a pathless land” - J. Krishnamurti We are born into this world, we live for a short time, and then we die. What then is the meaning and purpose of our lives if everything disappears? Is there something deeper and more meaningful to being alive than just satisfying our desires, the pursuit of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain?

Theme of the Month: Trusting Ourselves

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

“Everything is as it should be” Have you ever felt that life is against you? That painful things are happening to you, and they came from out of the blue without you asking? That your mind is troubled and there seems to be no way out, or that there is a cloud around you and everything feels untrustworthy and insecure?  Have you also ever felt that life is unfolding perfectly and there seems to be a flow that you can trust?

Theme of the Month: Playfulness

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

“Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” Oscar Wilde Have you ever noticed something very interesting: when we are full of humour and not taking things seriously, life seems to flow with ease and problems are no longer problems? Have you also noticed when everything seems serious and we take ourselves seriously, then life feels claustrophobic and small and we feel contracted and miserable?

Theme of the Month: Living Fearlessly

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

Having the courage to live an awakened life. "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived." Nietzsche Have you ever wondered what would it be like if we were to live our lives without fear? Fear is lurking continuously in the background of our mind. We often make decisions around love, work and money with the shadow of fear lurking to make the decision for us.

Theme of the Month: Being Home

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

"Now I have arrived, Now I am home.." “To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” - William Blake Do I feel at home in myself? In this time of Covid, we are all spending a lot more time at home. We are working from home, the kids are at home, and many are also practising online yoga at home. Maybe this is the first time in our lives some of us have been at home for so much time. How does this feel to you? Do we feel at home in our home? Do we feel at home in ourselves?

Theme of the Month: Embracing Change

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

Everything is changing, life is continually transforming, moving, being born, dying. There is nothing in this universe that is not subject to change. This is one thing we can all agree on, life IS change. The constant remembering of change is also the most important meditative contemplation in the Yogic and Buddhist traditions. 

Set your intentions for 2021

Monthly theme by Delight Yoga

Dear Delight Family, As you might know, each year we organise a Theme of The Month to give the heart of Delight spiritual guidance.  For 2021, we would love to create the Theme of The Month together with the Delight Community by setting our intentions for the next year.

Buddha's Teachings - The Eightfold Path: 8. Right Absorption (Samma samadhi)

Monthly theme by Royce Benda

Welcome to December. 2020 is coming to an end, and I feel very grateful and honoured to conclude the journey we made this year. In this month’s theme, we will be exploring ‘Right Samadhi’. Right samadhi is the fruition of the Eightfold Path that the Buddha offered us. It is the end of a pathless path. 

Buddha's Teachings - The Eightfold Path: 7. Right Mindfulness (Samma sati)

Monthly theme by Sandra (Sunny) Hipeli

When I started practising yoga, meditation was the most difficult element of yoga classes for me. I found my mind buzzing with comments, memories, conversations, music, and other kinds of activity. This felt very different from the calm and peace that meditation was supposed to bring. Only when I started exploring the concept of Mindfulness and meditation, was I able to learn more about the basic ‘machinations of my mind’, like distinguishing between thoughts, emotions and feelings.  

Buddha's Teachings: The Eightfold Path - 6. Right Effort (Samma vayama)

Monthly theme by Manda Oleary

From the moment I was asked to write the theme of the month for October, the journey began. I took this theme with me throughout my days, carried it with me as if it were my closest friend.  At first, it was only the two words "Right Effort" that I held close. I did not read too much into the philosophy; I just felt what these words meant for me personally. How I experience them and how I could directly relate them to my path, my life. For me, it became more interesting to discover what happens off of my mat. It became a search not only for what I put effort into, but how I move through the world, how I talk to others, and what I choose to put in my body. What thoughts I choose to keep and how I treat myself.  During this process, I discovered that I was pregnant. The new discovery brought me face to face with Right Effort. How beautiful to connect to the little one growing inside of me as I move through this theme of the month.  After this time of contemplation, I read more about this noble truth. "Right Effort", also called "Right Diligence", is the sixth component of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. In Buddhism, the most traditional definition of Right Effort is to exert oneself to develop wholesome qualities and release unwholesome qualities.  The Buddha taught there are four aspects to the Right Effort: - The effort to prevent unwholesome qualities, especially greed, anger, and ignorance from arising.  - The effort to extinguish unwholesome qualities that already have arisen. - The effort to cultivate skilful or wholesome qualities, especially generosity, loving-kindness, and wisdom. - The effort to strengthen the wholesome qualities that have already arisen. The notion of Right Effort does not just apply to our practice, but how we conduct our lives. It calls us to develop and encourage good qualities. There are many good qualities to be cultivated, but the ones that the Buddha particularly targeted were mindfulness, energy, joy, tranquillity, and equanimity.  Along with this, the Buddha taught that our practice should be like a well-tuned string instrument. If the strings are too loose, they will not play the sound. If they are too tight, they will break. A spiritual practice should be nourishing, not draining. So cultivating Right Effort must begin with finding the "Middle Way". The Middle Way My life has always been about finding balance, both on and off the mat. Finding balance in relationships, how I communicate, give, receive, and share. I have learned that what is especially important is finding the balance in our relationship with ourselves, what thoughts we keep, and how we are kind to ourselves. I love this Middle Way that the Buddha expresses, as it rings so true for me. Everything depends on this: not going into extremes and pushing ourselves over our limits, but also not laying back and not giving any effort at all. The middle way is where the magic can unfold. We allow ourselves to find what works best for us and renew that practice each day, every time we step onto our yoga mats. One of the first things that deeply inspired me at the start of my yoga practice was a teacher sharing this in class: "Every day you will feel different, your practice will be different, you will be more flexible some days, and some days you may not be able to do what you just did the day before. It is about just showing up and doing your best, and allowing your best on that day to be good enough."  I loved how practising yoga every day showed me this. How my mat was a direct mirror into my inner world. How finding the balance helped me find myself.  So the Middle Way.  The Buddha shared that the path can be difficult and progress sometimes can feel so far away. One day you improve and then you take a few steps back the next. It can sometimes be difficult to feel that progress is actually being made. This can of course then lead to doubt, but when doubt is arising, don't fear. Instead, use this doubt to dive deeper. Use this time to connect back to the truth that our only constant is change.  Doubt can also be a gentle reminder to study; not only self-study but also to study yogic teachings and spend time reading and in contemplation to strengthen and provide new direction.  This is truly " Right effort "  Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again and you will be filled with joy. - Buddha   A Joyful Practice  Another important aspect of this theme is to cultivate a joyful practice. But how can we find joy in our practice, and more importantly, how can we find joy in the difficult moments and the struggles that we may encounter along the way? This was always something fun for me to experiment with. Fun? I can hear you question how difficult moments could be fun for me. I guess I find so much beauty in the breakdown and I find that most gifts and insights come through these experiences. When something goes wrong, I use it as a new way to go right. If I am struggling, I see it as a friend showing up to teach me. And if things are feeling difficult, I use it as an opportunity to get closer and closer to what is underneath it all and to see clearly again. It is how we see things, our perspective, that changes or crashes our worlds, both inner and outer.  "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."  -Wayne Dyer Do you know this quote? It is printed on our Delight Yoga bags that we sell in our studios.  Have you ever really sat down with a difficult experience and tried to see it with new eyes, rephrase the story, and transform the moment. This is what brings the most joy. It is not about being happy or even finding happiness, it is about how we allow all emotions in to be fully experienced, it's finding the beauty in the breakdown, and it's all about seeing things with new eyes and an open heart again and again, even when it is hard. Go there, fall, pick yourself back up, keep going, and smile. This is what I believe brings Joy.  “The Fourfold Right Diligence is nourished by joy and interest. If your practice does not bring you joy, you are not practicing correctly.”  – Thich Nhat Hahn Mind Fullness  Lastly, I would like to give attention to mindfulness. For me, this is still a word that can easily be misunderstood, causing many of us to hide from it or not want to practice it at all. But what a gift it is to keep searching. After all, how are we going to progress on a spiritual path if our minds are lost in thought, memories of the past, or projections of the future?  Mindfulness is about giving attention to what is happening right now, and by doing this, we have the hope of seeing things as they truly are. Something a teacher once shared with me comes to mind, "Take care of this moment and the rest will work itself out."  This small sentence inspired me so much, and as I practised this taking care of the moment, it felt the truth of her words. Each time, the next moment would just flow from the previous one and everything felt taken care of. It is this flow where true mindfulness can be felt.  The Buddha shares that our energy is fundamental to the entire process. It is impossible to be constantly in the present moment in our everyday lives, but we must have the energy to return back to it again and again and again. All of this energy can be built and cultivated by making our efforts joyful. Joy will replenish and charge our batteries for use when we need them. So by practising joy, we allow ourselves to experience the beauty and awe available in every moment and refrain from pushing too hard and losing the joy of the practice.  If we are careful and follow this joy, it will build and build to a castle of bliss. This can help fuel our progress on the path.   A Heart Full of Delight How beautiful that we are in a time where more and more people are turning to yoga and mediation. Stillness is becoming a tool for transformation. These teachings from long ago are still very much alive and are shaping how we can experience life. How lucky we are to have a community like Delight Yoga to remind us of these words and honour such a way of living. I believe at one moment these practices will become effortless.  Working with Delight Yoga has not only given me the space to go deeper into these qualities, but it has also shown me what effortless effort can feel like. I am forever grateful for this space to grow in. Not only for the teachers and our team, but for the students that practice here. The eager eyes and open hearts that come in for a class are so inspiring to see. Everyone walking their path, taking a moment for discovery and daring to truly show up on the mat. We all have our part in forming this community, but for me, it is the students who make it go round and round. What would Delight Yoga be without all of you? Thank you for showing up, which is what Right Effort is also about. Just that simple act of showing up is half the effort.  Obviously there is much much more I could share about Right Effort, but I will stop here - the Middle Way ;)  I hope this theme of the month can inspire you to take your practice into the world and really take the time to find joy in all moments, all emotions, in all phases of life. Be kind to yourself and take care of the space you inhabit on this earth. With this new month we are also stepping into a new season, autumn, the perfect time to slow down and redirect our energy. Watching the leaves change and fall, as we learn to let go again and again of what does not serve us any longer. Transformation.  As I write these last words I am touched by my own transformation coming soon, giving birth to new life. What a joy to experience the unknown. Carrying around this theme of the month and this little one inside has been beyond inspiring, as is the connection I have found between the two. Every thought I chose, every move, even what I ate ~  it was all for the true intention and right effort of the little one growing inside of me. I leave you with a question: "How much time do you give yourself to experience the unknown each day?"  This practice of the Eightfold Path has many tools ~ collect them, discover them. Take them with you. On and off the mat.  With a heart full of love,  Manda "Your self realization is the greatest gift you can render the world"  - Ramana Maharshi

Buddha's Teachings: The Eightfold Path - 5. Right Livelihood (Samma ajiva)

Monthly theme by Delight Yoga

"To practice Right Livelihood (samma ajiva), you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion. The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others."  - Thich Nhat Hanh  Welcome to September, and to our fifth monthly theme.

Buddha’s Teachings - The Eightfold Path: 4. Right Action (Samma kammanta)

Monthly theme by Quinten de Haas

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my contribution to our theme of the month series.  My name is Quinten de Haas and I am the General Manager at Delight Yoga. I have been with Delight for over 5 years now, and I still consider myself to be an absolute beginner to the practice of yoga, awareness, and consciousness.

Buddha's Teachings: The Eightfold Path - 3. Right Speech (Samma vaca)

Monthly theme by Patty Louise Smit

For this month’s theme, I was asked to write about Right Speech, the third step in the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.  As I'm writing about the Right Speech, I have to start by being honest. The first version of this article was originally focused on ‘singing mantras for compassion’, but the events of the past few weeks have changed the way I see things, and this no longer felt like the right focus. 

Buddha's Teachings: The Eightfold Path - 2. Right Intention (Samma Sankappa)

Monthly theme by Joost Leeflang

For this month, I was asked to write about Samma Sankappa, the second element of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is sometimes called Right Thinking, or Right Thought. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates it as ‘Right Intention’. In my role as CEO of the Delight Group, the current situation is an interesting time to look at the right intention. Let’s first start with an explanation.

Buddha's Teachings: The Eightfold Path - 1. Right View (Samma ditthi)

Monthly theme by Kristin Vikjord

Buddha discoursed upon the Middle Way throughout his entire life. The Middle Way is the wisdom of living by the Noble Eightfold Path, which he, through his own studies and experience, found to be the plausible path to a good and wholesome life. And not only that; the Middle Way is also the path to happiness (by his own definition, of course). The very first step to embrace, and perhaps most importantly, to experience his eightfold path, is 'Right view', or 'pali Samma Ditthi'. 

Buddha's Teachings: the Four Noble Truths - The path that leads to the end of suffering

Monthly theme by Maarten van Huijstee

It’s a strange time, isn’t it? Looking around our world, there seems to be so much unrest and suffering. The Coronavirus is only adding to this, bringing huge waves of fear and uncertainty. The quest for answers to the ‘whys’, ‘hows’ and especially ‘how will it end’ is growing stronger. We anxiously follow the news, let the stream of numbers and facts rush in, and wait for others to answer our pressing questions (read: soothe our fears).

Buddha's Teachings: The Four Noble Truths - There is an End to Suffering

Monthly theme by Wessel Paternotte

“If you let go a little, you’ll have a little happiness. If you let go a lot, you’ll have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely . . . you’ll be completely happy.” - Achaan Chah In the first month of the year, we looked at The First Noble Truth: There is suffering. I am sure it sounded great when Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha explained this to his students under the fig tree, but we all know that there is suffering.

Buddha's Teachings: The Four Noble Truths - There is a Cause of Suffering

Monthly theme by Kevin Sahaj

There is a Cause of Suffering This month's theme is the Second Noble Truth in the Buddhist view of our condition as human beings. Last month, Satya wrote about the First Noble Truth: the truth of suffering. This awareness of suffering is like the spiritual foundation that we can stand on to truly understand our condition without avoiding the reality of life.  

Buddha's Teachings: The Four Noble Truths - There is Suffering

Monthly theme by Satya Katiza

Reality as it is: There is Suffering Welcoming this new cycle of life, the ending of the old year and the beginning of the New Year, we would like to bring the light of the profound teachings of the Buddha to our Delight community.  May we all feel inspired in our hearts to receive this new decade 2020!  May we aspire to live and share our buddha nature in all moments of life for the benefit of all beings.