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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. An enthusiastic yogi since 1999, he began his Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training with Darby, Shankara & Joanne. With additional training from Luna Yoga's Jennifer Maagendans, Bram incorporates all his experience on and off the mat into his yoga classes, workshops and lectures which offer insight into alignment, breath awareness, and the ability to use laughter to get through the more challenging postures, sequences, and difficult moments in life. 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 Yoga Festival, 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. Bram is forever grateful to 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 ‘YIOM’

A Reference To Happiness

Posted by Bram Levinson on April 27, 2011

I get a lot of people who seek me out to counsel them, to offer advice and an objective opinion regarding their circumstances…this has been a constant since way before I started my career in yoga, I suppose, because I make sure that I give someone my complete attention when it’s requested, and I give advice the way I’d like to get it – cut and dry. If a situation seems interminably convoluted, my response is usually, “NEXT!” I’m a big believer that life doesn’t have to be rife with difficulty, and that the less time we spend trying to manipulate a situation or a person into being or doing what we’d like it/them to be, the more room we create for what would make us happy on every level. I also believe that that kind of happiness, the kind that makes us grateful to be alive, is in store for every single one of us, but we have the inconvenient habit of getting caught up in our dramas and spending too much time on that which is destined to leave us wanting, instead of waving at it as we leave it behind. So I find myself offering advice. Often. And I love being that person that people can come to and be real with, because it allows me to be real with them and treat them like extensions of myself, people who not only want to be heard and understood, but who want to be communicated with at that same level of honesty.

I was thinking about writing out my Top 10 favorite pieces of insight, bits of wisdom that may or may not originate in yoga, but which certainly reflect a yogic existence, one of truth and honesty, of non-harming and of self-study. So here goes :) Here’s my Top 10 bits of wisdom to guide people through whatever it is that they’re struggling to deal with:

1) Understand that everything you have in your life is not yours. You are managing it, but you own nothing. This includes people, as well as the more obvious material objects. Once you understand and acknowledge this, you will be able to maintain perspective and humility that will keep you grounded.

2) Take nothing on trust, see everything for yourself. One person’s inspiration is another person’s misery. Never let someone else’s opinion shape or affect how, when, why or whether you approach that which draws you closer. Only you can truly know what serves you and what doesn’t.

3) Laugh. Always. Especially when you don’t feel like it. You must be able to find the humor in life, even in your darkest hours. Doing this will keep you tethered to light and life, the two anchors that can prevent you from being swept away in the tide of darkness we can sometimes encounter.

4) You are the embodiment of beauty, and of grace, and of kindness, and of light. If the people around you, i.e. family, friends, partners, work peers, etc… do not treat you as such, do not buy into the belief that you don’t deserve to be treated better. People will treat each other the way they feel they are being treated, so each and every one of us is responsible for putting out into the world what we’d like to receive.

5) Where there is no inner freedom, there is no life. If you don’t feel liberated enough to let yourself be truly seen by everyone, regardless of their reactions, then you are not fully living. You owe it to yourself and to the people around you who will be inspired by your self-awareness to step into the light and let yourself be seen.

6) Take 5 minutes a day to shut yourself into a room with no lights on and no distractions, sit down, and just breathe. This will improve your mood, your attention span, and your overall happiness.

7) As above, so below. As without, so within. Incorporate into your life the attributes you would attribute as being god-like. Look at the world’s leaders for peace: Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, etc…they all act in ways that allow the energy of the divine to flow through them. Allow what you hold in your heart to be reflected in the world around you.

8) Understand that there is no such thing as luck. There is only being in the right place at the right time, after doing everything possible to prepare yourself for what you’d like to happen so that all the elements can fall perfectly into place…but have no doubt about it, you need to work towards being prepared for what you want so that you’ll know what to do when you’re offered the opportunity.

9) Take responsibility for your life and everything that happens throughout it. Get to know who you are, and understand that self-study will bring you closer to the truth of your existence, but that we typically define ourselves through the references we hold to the people we love and the reasons we love them. Look at those references and reasons and assess what truly serves you and what doesn’t.

10) Give. Give time, give money, give love, give energy. Just give.

These are my 10 commandments…I’m sure there’s room for countless more, so let me know what you think I’ve missed, and what can be shared with the world so that people can live fuller, more complete lives, replete with happiness and contentment…I’m all ears :)

Learn more about YIOM, follow the bloggers participating, and catch up with our twitter feeds at http://theveganasana.com/YIOM.

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

Chisel Away

Posted by Bram Levinson on April 25, 2011

As many of you who have taken class with me can attest, I hold a high regard for yoga’s teachings, for the opportunity of self-study with the hope of moving further and further away from what binds us to the physical and tangible and allows us to connect to a place of non-suffering, a place of heightened consciousness and connection to that which is unchanging. Basically, I fully believe in and endorse moving away from the daily events that we find ourselves constantly managing, reacting to, and trying to avoid, while keeping in the forefront of our minds that there’s something greater than all that, a higher energy source that is makes up everything we are. It’s through the connection to the energy that unites us all that I find inspiration to continue exploring not only myself, but all aspects of humanity as well…understanding that the more I learn about myself, the more I learn about humanity, and vice versa. Sometimes it’s way too easy to be completely oblivious to our own habits and behaviors, because we don’t see ourselves moving through our lives the same way we see others…we’re not (hopefully ;-)) holding a mirror up to ourselves to watch our every move and gesticulation, but we can always depend on others to give us more insight into ourselves. The more we know about ourselves, the more we can stand back to a place of equanimity and look at what we need to do to make ourselves be truly seen and heard as we are, as our true selves are. It may sound ridiculously easy, but it has proven to be incredibly tough for many people.

I’m constantly trying to inspire new ways to look at our existence to my students and readers, incorporating the Yoga Sutras and other texts, as well as the insight I have as a result of my experiences…and I’m constantly talking about the impermanence of our energy, of trying to re-connect to the source of that energy and let go of the dramas that are constantly stirred up by our jobs, our relationships, our politics, etc…I firmly believe that when we can identify and relegate most of what we do and live as being temporary, it will allow us to live our lives with more perspective and be able to let what really doesn’t matter pass us by with little or no fallout. I try to ask questions that will provoke thought for those listening to me, in the hope that people will take as much time as they can for some self-study…and in keeping with that ultimate goal, something crossed my mind earlier today that I thought was worth sharing.

I have been defining yoga for years as a tool that allows us to be the clearest version of ourselves, a tool which allows that version to shine through the years of defense mechanisms and masks that we have slapped on in the hopes of being socially accepted and acceptable. Analyzing this led me back to something I once heard about Michelangelo…I remember hearing that when he wanted to sculpt anything, a man, an animal, whatever, he simply started removing the excess marble or other type of rock until his subject was visible. Just like that, like unearthing something that was submerged underground and simply brushing off the dirt. And so bringing it back to ourselves, maybe that’s a different angle from which to approach making ourselves visible…really visible…blindingly visible, maybe for the first time in decades…what do you need to chisel away, what do you need to remove so that you can be truly seen as you truly are to the world around you? We often believe that we have to assume other roles or personae in the aim of being respected and acknowledged, but the contrary is actually true. What make us shine is when we stand out from the crowd and inspire others to feel empowered to do the same. It’s not about being anyone else except yourself.

Living a life in yoga brings many things to mind, one of which is the subject of reincarnation. I’m not sure how many of us believe in reincarnation, and I’m not sure how many of believe we only get one life. But I know that  many of us live as if we have unlimited lifetimes ahead of us, affording us the time to coast through life with little regard for our well-being and that of the people and world around us. So I have a(nother) question to throw out to you all: what if we only get one life? What if this is it? If this is the only one we’re offered, and time is a non-renewable resource, what do you need to shed to be able to come closer to the surface of your truest, clearest self? I’ve heard it said that we spend the first half of our lives learning, and the second half unlearning what took years to learn so that we can come back to our natural state of being. What do you need to unlearn? Do you need to shed anything? Think about what you’ve done to make the “right” impressions…and then think about what might need to be undone. You have the chisel and you know the subject. Now it’s time to let us know. Let us see. And step up into the light so we can see you. We’re waiting.

Learn more about YIOM, follow the bloggers participating, and catch up with our twitter feeds at http://theveganasana.com/YIOM.

Posted in Health | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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