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  • The Examined Life by Bram Levinson

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    Bram Levinson

    Bram Levinson

    Author, Yoga Teacher, Retreat Coordinator, Mentor

    Author of The Examined Life (www.theexaminedlifebook.com), Bram Levinson is a nationally known yoga teacher, blogger, mentor and lecturer based in Montreal. He is an iRest® Yoga Nidra Level 1 Trained Teacher, as well as an alumni ambassador for Lululemon's Ste-Catherine Street location. He has been on the faculty of the Montreal & Burlington Yoga Festivals, as well as multiple Wanderlust Yoga Festivals. His yoga retreats bring students across the globe 2-3 times a year, with previous locations including Istanbul, Berlin, Tulum, Santorini, Paros and Mljet in Croatia. 2015 will see Bram bring students to Ravello on the Amalfi Coast and back to Paros in Greece. Bram is forever grateful to Seane Corn, the Darbys, Jennifer Maagendans, Richard Miller, and Joan Ruvinsky who initially offered illumination on his yogic path. His insights and observations can be followed on his blog connect to the sky at http://bramlevinson.wordpress.com, his website at www.bramlevinson.com.

Posts Tagged ‘belief’

Minding What Matters

Posted by bramlevinson on January 4, 2012

I went into work today at Centre Luna Yoga to take advantage of the studio being closed till next week so I could close out the 2011 accounting year, and just being in the space, slugging away at the computer, brought me a sense of peace and clarity. When all the numbers were taken care of and I had turned off the computer, I found myself staring into the calm of the studio with a real sense of vision as to what I wanted to continue doing with my life and throughout the year ahead, and how to really go about that.

I’ve spoken often about choosing something to believe in and then doing exactly that, but I realized today (while zoning out staring into the studio) that  my advice was incomplete, so I wanted to expound on the subject and see if I could offer any more insight or assistance to you readers…I still firmly believe that we all need to find something that we are passionate about, something in which we believe without a shadow of a doubt, but what I had never conveyed before was the need to believe unconditionally in it. Believing unconditionally means that we feel we have been given proof that leads us to a place of firm belief, trust, and identification. Proof of ANYTHING will only occur through direct perception, and so it’s our responsibility to understand and be witness to that which we define as reality or truth. We need to seek out that which attract us, that which contains the energy that most resembles the energy we attribute to ourselves. There are people we gravitate towards and those we don’t, geographical points on Earth where we feel most connected, and places we don’t, and situations we find ourselves in where we feel the most comfortable and those where we don’t. Our first step towards living in a place of truth is to find the people and places whose energies are the most relatable in relation to how we see ourselves and what we find appealing. Once we get there, once those vital discoveries start being made, it’s from there that we start to find that which we can hold up as truth, from which we learn more about ourselves as we see what is reflected back to us. Without direct perception or experience, everything is questionable. When we know something to be true for ourselves, there is no question.

One of the greatest disservices one can do for oneself and for the world around us is to pretend to believe in something and to spout the applicable doctrines and informative details relating to the subject while not having a great enough understanding of it. I believe that it’s better to admit to not believing in anything than to hypocritically project a belief or opinion that comes from a place of fear or ignorance. So what does all this mean?

It means that as we begin another year in our calendar, as we take advantage of the energies around us provoking and insisting for change, then let’s simply focus on what matters. What matters to you? Focus on that, seek out all the information and resources available that pertain to it, experience and understand them, and then FORGET about the rest. Forget about what other people think about you, about your beliefs, about how you spend your time and energy. What they think has NOTHING to do with you. This life is yours to live, and the longer you spend worrying about how something will be received, the more stifled you will become, and the more you operate at the mercy of that which exists outside of you, the less you understand about who you really are and what really matters.

So go on…ask yourselves what matters to you? Where do you want to place your time, energy and intention? And are you placing them in something that matters to you? Understand that we have many options in this life, some of which will carry us forward, some backward. Where do you want to go?

Posted in Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When the Smallest Truths Effect The Greatest Changes

Posted by bramlevinson on November 11, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a post, mainly because I’ve been busier than ever with co-managing the studio, workshops, traveling, classes, and the ongoing Luna Yoga Teacher Training. I’ve noticed how my tendency when I get busy is to get things taken care of or executed one by one, while mentally taking note of everything else that is in store for me during the weeks and months to come. More often than not, this allows me to pace myself and make sure I’m ready, rested, and prepared for whatever project is lined up, but sometimes, this approach backfires on me.

If I spend too much time thinking about what’s ahead of me, what I need to do to prepare for it, and what needs getting done in the interim, I sometimes feel stifled, overwhelmed…and it’s through this process that I lose sight of why I’m doing it all to begin with! I have a tendency to be hard on myself…which is why yoga speaks so loudly and clearly to me…it reminds me that I can take a step back, and put my faith in the knowledge that everything will go smoothly, that I will get everything done, and that there’s an omniscient & underlying current of reassurance and peace that is waiting for me to tap back into.

This weekend I’m giving the teacher trainees a lecture on one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Sutra 1.23 – Ishwara Pranidhanad Va. This sutra speaks to the ability to move closer to a place of truth, peace & light by putting our faith, and the fruits of our labours, towards a higher energy, towards what each and every one of us, in our own way, interprets God as being. Putting God/light/energy into the forefront. From my purely non-denominational point of view, that energy is exactly that – an energy that has taken shape in the form of light in my reality, an energy that is always within me and that I find myself tapping into and falling back on when I most need it. I’ve spoken before about God in yoga (God Talk), and how the practice is often mistaken as a religion, and I’ve also written about how I firmly understand that we all need to believe in something, we just need to figure out what that something is, and then believe in it, wholly and unapologetically (Up to You). Both these points are key in interpreting Sutra 1.23.

Most of us get tested in our belief systems, especially when we come up against an event which (or person who) challenges what we perceive to be truth. It is during these moments of conflict when we struggle to remember why we have placed our faith where it is, and whether we need to reconsider alternate opinions. Taking an opposing point of view is always advisable, if only to be able to put one’s self in another’s reality. When researching Ishwara Pranidhanad Va, I was struck by a moment of brilliance that ever since, has really affected the way I see the world around me, and my place in it.

Here’s my take: in choosing what to believe in, I allow for a certain surrender to take place…to open myself up to my beliefs and where they lead me. Let me be clear here: surrender doesn’t mean giving in to anything or anyone, it means letting go. It means allowing the doubt and skepticism to melt away, so that all that’s left is a connection to what serves me. This surrender leads to something even greater: acceptance. If I allow myself to put my faith in the knowledge that the energy and light is, essentially, the source of all being, then I understand that no matter what happens to or around me, regardless of how incredible or horrible it is, it is all part of my evolution, spiritual and otherwise. Every minor detail, and every major event, all have something within them that offers me information…information to learn from, information to move forwards, information to evolve into who I’m ultimately supposed to be. This allows me to keep doing everything I’m doing, no matter how busy I find myself, with a certain degree of peace that provides a solid foundation for me to keep going. And what makes this acceptance even more incredible is that I know that with it comes the certainty that when I come to a moment of conflict or doubt, my faith in my beliefs remove the need to place my own expectations or demands on anyone or anything else to conform to what I believe should be. I know that whatever happens, it’s all good. It’s all part of my transformation, of my evolution.

Ask yourselves this: if you put your faith in the understanding that all events, conflicts, and encounters are part of your evolution, spiritual and otherwise, then how would your life change? How much anticipatory stress would you carry around with you? How would the way you react to conflict change? How would you change?

Let me know…I’m curious :)

Posted in Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Up To You

Posted by bramlevinson on April 7, 2011

I believe that there are messengers on earth, people whose mission it is to inspire and direct others towards truth and peace, using perception and certainty as building blocks as tools of inspiration. I believe that after 35 years of trying to find my way, I came to a place where I had no choice but to step up and understand that my future was possibly rooted in that role of messenger, and 3 years later, I am certain that I have stepped into my life’s mission. It is absolutely and totally due to this path of mine that I can clearly see the infinite possibilities that exist for each and every one of us, and this is why I feel so determined to convey those possibilities to everyone within reading and/or hearing distance. What reinforces my belief that I’m on the right path is the (sometimes) overwhelming number of people I counsel, encouraging them to lift their gaze up so they can see the endless options that are available to them, options that once chosen, could lead to a better, stronger, more meaningful existence. What comes so naturally to me apparently doesn’t for everyone else, and so I feel that obligation to guide people towards their own truths with that much more conviction.

All the topics I bring up, all the substance that makes up the body of blog posts that I’ve written and the mini-lectures I’ve given at the beginning of my yoga classes, all lead me back to one main point that I wanted to address in this post…one that serves as the foundation for all the insight I have to share: all that we need to do in our lives is decide what we believe in, and then believe. That’s it. Call it a shift in consciousness, call it a change in perception, call it what you want. But it really is that easy.

I first was taught about the power to change my approach to life by my first yoga teacher, Joan Ruvinsky, who has always brought a non-dual approach to the practice, and to life in general. Non-duality speaks to the unity in all things, and in doing so, allows us to accept that divinity is not something we work towards, but rather, something that already exists within us, and all around us. That everything is already connected. All we have to do it see it, or, believe it. And so, in keeping with that understanding, let’s bring it back to the concept of messengers. Messengers don’t necessarily don’t have to be in the form of the luminescent angel guiding us through the dark. Messengers can come in the form of the person standing in front of you in the checkout line at the grocery store. Angels can be in the form of the person practicing next to you in yoga class. Who’s to say that the capacity to be angelic isn’t the missing link between having angels remain in the realm of the other-worldly and having them exist in a very real and tangible way? All the things that we have accepted as being one way because that’s the commonly believed assumption have to be re-examined. Because there are messengers and angels among us. All we have to do is see them. And believe.

Bringing it back to yoga, I hear a lot of talk about enlightenment…students asking how they know they’re getting closer to enlightenment through their yoga and meditation practices. To all of them who have asked me, and to all of you who have the same or a similar query, I have this to say: who’s to say that enlightenment isn’t already right in front of us, asking only that we allow for the shift in consciousness necessary to lift the veil of illusion from our hearts, allowing the beautiful and the sacred to step into our immediate range of vision? Perhaps enlightenment exists in the ability to stop spending time and energy pursuing the abstract, and let our gaze focus on the perfection that exists right now, in this second. Which isn’t to say that we don’t do our best to stay in the present moment as often as we can in the hopes of staying as close to that state of truth as possible, but we allow ourselves to breathe and let go of that dangling carrot. Because we choose to believe. It all comes back to the non-dual concept. We are not separate from all of it…from enlightenment, from truth, from light, from each other. The connection already exists, we just have to allow ourselves to unlearn what has failed to serve us up to now and adopt a different approach to seeing the world through eyes focused on peace and the permanence of all that is.

If we understand that we all stem from the same source, that the most obvious thread of our commonality is our existence, then it’s only a question of time before we allow the dividing walls of hatred, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, government, religion, media, racism, and, above all, the concept of the divine being separate from us, to fall away. All we need is to believe. I do now, after years of trying every other avenue led me back to my starting point. I believe. Do you? If so, what’s your take on it all? What truths do you lay your faith in?

Posted in Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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