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Light On Yogi: Siddhi Saraswati – Australia

Siddhi Saraswati is a yogi to the core, but it might surprise you to know that she doesn’t practice classical yoga postures. Siddhi is proof that yoga is more about poise than a pose. Read about how her relationship with life, learning, nature, and multiple sclerosis makes her a true yogi.

Words by Siddhi

In 1985 I heard about an Australian medical doctor who had spent a decade studying with a guru in India and had returned to Australia to teach yoga as the foundation of wellbeing. That doctor was Swami Shankardev Saraswati.

My meeting with him soon after changed my life in a most positive, nurturing way.

It sparked in me a deeper connection to yoga, and I became certain that it was to become my vocation. I traveled to India to further my studies and completed my teacher training back in Australia. I taught yoga in Sydney and enjoyed a wonderful yoga community for well over a decade.

In 1998 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It moved quickly through my brain and spinal cord, damaging parts of the myelin sheath, the neural pathway that sends messages from the brain to the body. My brain, spine controlling balance, proprioception, cognition, voice, and movement were all affected.

I tried hard to retain the life I’d grown to love, but when I could no longer drive or teach I was forced to leave my students, my community, and to find a new way of living.

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Light On Yogi: Bhakati Jane MacRae – Canada

Words by Bhakati

A head-on motor vehicle accident over twenty years ago left me catastrophically injured.

Every bone in my face was broken, and my left leg was in 16 pieces. In the aftermath, I had a bleed in the brain and still have left-sided weakness, without the use of my left hand.

However, I survived the multiple trauma, and I continue, slowly and steadily, to heal and love life!

There have been wonderful healers along the way; my beautiful chestnut horse, K.C., and Big Shakti have been the major factors in my onward journey.

Having been a student of Sri Chinmoy since 1978, I knew the importance of meditation, and especially relaxation, so I began with Big Shakti’s guided relaxation meditations.

I moved away from group meditations after Sri Chinmoy’s death, and I was longing for new supportive teachers and community.

Big Shakti’s online courses and seminars not only helped me to meditate more regularly, but they also gave me a renewed sense of connection to a global community. I felt a strong heart connection with Swami Shankardev and Jayne Stevenson.

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Time For Renewal, But First – Clarity Of Purpose

Who you believe you are, how you relate to others and how you engage with the world around you is directly aligned with your life purpose or lack of purpose.

8 Things Your Life Purpose Can Do For You

  1. Your life purpose is the ‘why’ of your existence. Connecting with purpose reduces self-doubt, and increases self-esteem and confidence. When you have a purpose you feel useful, your actions are meaningful and valuable to yourself and others.
  2. Your purpose orientates both your inner life and your outer life. It’s the anchor that keeps you grounded, and the wheel that steers your direction.
  3. Your purpose creates experiences. The sum of these experiences creates your life.
  4. Your purpose takes you out of your comfort zone to courageously seek resources, education, mentors and helpers on your journey.
  5. Your purpose unifies your actions. Rather than being distracted, fragmented or unsure, your purpose gives you focus, enabling you to narrow your field of activity. You know the next thing to do, and the next.
  6. Your purpose is wise and ingenious. Once you make a sincere attempt to connect with it, your life purpose ignites your creativity. New ideas light up your mind, and you begin to think laterally and more creatively on how to fulfill it.
  7. Your purpose is not all about you. It’s bigger than you. Once you are aligned with and in flow with your purpose you realize that, rather than having a purpose, your purpose has you.
  8. Your purpose inspires you to bite off more than you can chew. Then, just as you feel overwhelmed by the task, purpose mainlines you into the cosmic grid and shoots a million stars into you.

5 Things You Can Do For Your Life Purpose

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7 Potent Ways To Live And Die Without Regret

Add up all the stories told from deathbeds; the regrets, confessions, sorrows, secrets, petitions for forgiveness, and desperate calls to turn back the clock, and we have an infinite library of tragedy.

I must change my life so that I can live it. Not wait for it.
—  Susan Sontag

Death’s Day is coming — today, tomorrow, or it could be decades away.

Good health and youth do not protect anyone from death’s decision.

When death calls your name, you must go.

In my late teens, I almost died in a car accident, but death let me off the hook.

Not long after, death called my best friend, then my father.

I pushed their deaths into the shadow and ran into the light but soon discovered that chasing light created too many fears and even bigger shadows.

Then I found a wise teacher and teachings that led me back to the darkness to befriend death. Since that time I have allowed myself to remain with the awareness of death and this has driven me to interact with life more purposefully and joyfully.

In this essay, I reveal the 7 things I have learned about regret and death:

  1. Take a leaf from the Top 5 Regrets
  2. Explore other cultures
  3. Break the silence around death in daily life
  4. Learn the skill of change and letting go
  5. Meditate on death
  6. Interact with myths, art, and symbols of death
  7. Express your experience of death

1. Take A Leaf From The Top 5 Regrets

What we can learn from those near death, is that regret is the greatest pain.

Nurse Bronnie Ware spent 12 years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She collected stories and published a book, The Top Five Regrets Of Dying.

My friend Ann Marie is a nurse who worked in palliative care for twenty years. She carries her patient’s stories so deeply that being with her is sometimes heartbreaking.

Together these nurses have thousands of stories, and yet their top 5 regrets are identical.

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The Power of Sankalpa (Intention) to Overcome Adversity, and Near Death

We have spent the past few months supporting students to create a powerful Sankalpa (a resolve) and to identify their heart’s desire through our Find Life Purpose Online Course.

The Sanskrit word sankalpa means “a resolve or intention formed in the heart”.

We’re greatly heartened to know that so many of our students have been empowered to make meaningful changes in their lives, some small, some large, all significant.

The ability to make a powerful Sankalpa – one that empowers us to manifest our intention is difficult to achieve because the mind is innately unstable, full of doubts, and conflicting desires.

To counteract these conflicts and doubts, students of our course are given various tools and exercises to examine each desire. Using Yogic Knowledge, Meditation Practices and Integration Exercises students test their desires and intentions through different perspectives or lenses. For example, how each desire fits into a particular stage of life and how to cognize the different desires that arise from each of the seven chakras. This results in an ability to form a holistic relationship with desires.

If we only listen to what one part of us wants we are silencing another part of us, and sooner or later this part will demand to be heard.

The Clarifying Power Of Adversity

Sometimes it takes a negative experience to stir up a powerful Sankalpa. In this way, adversity can be a blessing because it thrusts us into reconnecting with our will to survive, to overcome the odds, to heal, or to repair. And it is the aim of the course to support all of our students being able to remain on track while facing difficult, challenging and powerful life experiences, experiences that have the potential if they are managed wisely, to change your life for the better.

In our moment of truth we either collapse under the weight of the adversity or, if we are lucky and able, we muster all of our internal resources to rise to the challenge. The course will help you do this.

Case Study: How our student overcame a near death experience and taught her doctors about the power of Sankalpa

The story by Sanyasi Yogamitra epitomizes what we can do, even when faced with life-threatening illness, in what appears to be insurmountable odds.

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Hope: How Yoga Heals the Scars of Trauma

We are pleased to announce the arrival of a new and important book on how yoga heals trauma by Swami Ahimsadhara (Helen Cushing).  Swami Ahimsadhara will teach a course on this topic through Big Shakti’s education platform in 2017. (Register your interest below).

Yoga for Trauma Recovery

Yoga is a powerful and efficient system for changing the brain. This is exactly the need of people suffering from post-traumatic disorder (PTSD). Not all trauma survivors develop PTSD but for those who do, life becomes unbearable, just as the trauma was. Devoid of hope, suicide can feel like the only way to freedom from physical pain and mental anguish. Yoga offers a vital seed of hope.

Although PTSD is generally treated as a psychological disorder it is increasingly recognised as a condition of the entire organism. Hence, body inclusive therapy has an important role to play in full recovery. The need is to heal the nervous system, reset the brain and learn methods for relaxation, mind management and putting the past to rest. As the symptoms of PTSD reduce it becomes possible to re-establish fulfilling relationships with loved ones and interact comfortably with society.

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