Humbling the Heart

“It’s not through our mind we find our consciousness, it’s through our hearts.” -Nischala Joy Devi
I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time the past couple weeks researching and writing content on Yoga Therapy and Heart Disease.  For those who aren’t familiar with heart disease, it has been found to be a “lifestyle” disease that has the ability to be reversed with positive lifestyle changes.  Some of those life style changes include four areas: diet, mindful exercise, practicing yoga, and being connected to a community.
As I continued to write my portion on this topic, I kept coming back to the first yoga sutra. My teacher, Nischala Joy Devi, translates Sutra 1.1 as stating, “With humility (an open heart and mind) we embrace the sacred study of Yoga.” This sutra is often overlooked. I think perhaps because it is the first in the study and perhaps people want to get to the “meat and potatoes” of the study. Ironic humility has such a depth of substance, yet we over look it on a daily basis. Until we become ill or have some major event happen in our lives.
I once had a co-worker, who was my mentor when I started my job. His name was James. In the early days, James and I had fun working together. He thought I was crazy and I enjoyed pushing him out of his comfort zone and making him a little nervous. When he was training me, we spent a lot of time laughing together.  James was an African American man working in a field that was primarily white when he started his career. Every time I visited his office, I found myself staring at a small picture he had on the wall next to his visitor chairs. It was a photo of a black man reaching down and pulling up another black man. To me, this photo embodied the essence of humility, knowing your worth and providing service with an open heart and mind to others. I have always kept the image in my heart because I liked the message it was showing and I wanted to live my life in that manner.
When I first started working with James, I had never taken a yoga class and had no idea years later I would leave that job and open my own yoga studio. Almost 20 years later, I still have moments that photo flashes in my mind. I believe it is a reminder to keep my heart & mind open.  But, I’ve since theoretically added onto this photo. That person who got helped up also became the lifter.  And if this was a real story, wouldn’t it be really great to see that relationship become receptacle?
You see, when it comes down to it, the body takes it’s orders from the spirit, not the other way around. When we realize this, it becomes so clear to see that the studies that have been done that prove heart disease can be reversed with a life style change make perfect sense.  When we live with humble service not only do we become more healthy, we are setting a stage of promoting health.
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