Every Choice is a Chance
Everyday yoga teaches me something new about awareness, clarity, and sensitivity.
Yoga is not about where we put our hands and feet (although we do this with awareness, clarity and sensitivity), rather it is cultivating sensitive awareness, deep listening skills, and empowered inner peace.
You have the power to heal and make peace with yourself (and the universe). You ARE complete, able to source and meet your needs.
Yet most of us do not FEEL this way… Why?
We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.*
We have learned in our yogic practice that although the “head brain” is a gift (and very useful tool) it cannot “solve” our deeper concerns, nor lead us to peace. How LONG have you spent “thinking” about something related to your heart, and never “found” the answer? This is what we refer to as the “spinning of thoughts,” seemingly endless and getting us nowhere.
So what are we to do?
Drop into the Neutral Channel.
The Neutral Channel is an interconnected highway of physical and metaphysical sensory systems brings you to KNOWING, a deeper, visceral understanding that is internally felt and validated.
Warning: If you want the Yogic Science read on, if it feels complicated, skip this paragraph 😉 The Neutral Channel connects the “gut mind”(origin of the notion to trust your gut, gut response); the “heart mind” (known as the Meditative Mind or Neutral Mind in the 10 Bodies of Kundalini Yoga); the Arcline (receiver/transmitter of all available wisdom); the Auric Body (interconnected inner communication system); your physical body (your total physical experience) and your Emotional Sensory System (Senses of your Soul).
Pause, take a deep breath.
Simplified: Dropping into the Neutral Channel is a practice of awareness, clarity and sensitivity that brings you into direct access of your inner knowing/wisdom which brings about the powers of receptivity, healing, inner peace, contentment and empowers our unique voice, gifts and connections.
I call this Yoga, you can call it Sally or Fred or anything you like.
It accessible in each moment.
BUT we have been TAUGHT to limit our resources to “thinking about our problems,” (how’s that working for ya?) when WHAT WE TRULY REQUIRE is to breathe, feel, and move with awareness, clarity and sensitivity (yoga) to access the Neutral channel, an entire way of knowing.
Every choice is a chance.
A chance to pause, breathe, “drop in” to our felt-sense (through movement and meditation), cultivate compassion, move the energies through our various sensory systems until we land into “ahhhh…this.”
Once we land in our knowing, we can invite that beautiful “head brain” back to help with any planning, logistics, or action items.
But you cannot solve a problem with the same level of “thinking” that “created” it. We “solve” our “problems” with inner guidance (yoga). We CAN learn new methods to trust our vast internal resources and access these layers of knowing. (Total Self Care). As we hone these reproducible skills, our lives embody empowered peace.
Ready? Empowered Peace begins soon. Followed by a Five Day Meditation Immersion in May. In the fall our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training begins along with the Senses of the Soul program.
Every choice is a chance. If you are ready, we are here.
You were never meant to do it alone.
*This quote is attributed to Einstein but is likely an inference from Ram Dass, a discussion for another day. The sentiment is sound.
I love my work. I love our community of practitioners and the spaces we cultivate together. I love to TEACH. My teaching is anchored in supporting every individual to move towards exploring and expanding the teacher within THEMSELVES. This is the great yogic evolution of our time. I keep my focus on supporting the inward journey of others toward inner guidance, inner knowing and inner peace.
And although it may seem to some “contrary” to my BIG LOVE actions, I do not like to be the centre of attention and I can shy away from receiving (yep, big lesson coming).
Last weekend, someone stood up powerfully as Teacher, and provided an opportunity for me to learn, grow, uncover and STEP into the light of RECEIVING. (Willingness, the power to receive, purpose of our gathering…but I get ahead of myself.)
Let’s begin at the beginning.
I wear a few hats in my Teaching roles. I guide public classes, offer Kundalini Online Weekly Tune Ups, provide deep coursework, currently guide an Advanced Teacher Training and (poignant to this story) work collaboratively with GuruMeher and Maha facilitating a 10-month Senses of the Soul Training (SOS). Part of our work in the latter, is to personally engage the powerful daily Meditations we share with our group and discuss the potent work of feelings and emotions.
The past few weeks we have been guiding our SOS group through Shame. (Now don’t stop reading here, I know that word can send some of us screaming from the room, lend me just a few more moments of your time).
Shame is about how we feel about ourselves, our inner measurement of self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-LOVE. I have been deeply immersed in this work for the last few years, and I have developed an intimate relationship with shame’s gifts and guidance.
Shame comes from the root “to cover.” Yet shame’s soul purpose is to take us out of hiding and into the light. This involves a level of inner trust so profound and deep that, for a while, until we are ready, we may lean away. (Our work in SOS is to provide safe steps to uncover internally and lean in).
Back to the weekend…we had a wonderful community practice exploring Stability and Flow, folks had done beautiful inner work and we were about to Tune out when suddenly…
Advanced Teacher Trainer (and amazing Teacher, human being and friend) Gerald stands up and says, “Wait Jay, I need you to give me a moment to hold the room.”
Now in full disclosure, Gerald had kindly asked me if I could give him 15 minutes “at the end,” when he arrived that morning. I said of course, and thought he was asking for 15 minutes of one-to-one time at the end of the day (we were in training until 4pm).
So, in light of my misunderstanding, I was surprised at his “jumping up,” but within seconds I knew, with his kind and loving words, that he intended to offer something to me, publicly.
CUE THE LESSON.
I stood at the crossroads of personal choice. In what felt like a big gap, but was likely mere seconds, the web of possibilities shot through me:
“There is no way I am standing up in front of everyone unless it is FOR THEM.”
“Do you feel that authentic love?”
“Can you stand uncovered in the light?”
“This isn’t happening, take control, take the room back, you are the Teacher.”
“You are ready for this.”
“You want me to sit in the centre of the room ON A CHAIR, RUN!”
“Listen to your heart space and receive.”
I am sure there were 1000 other thoughts/feelings that shot through me, maybe 100,000,000 in those 3 seconds, but here is where I landed.
There was nothing but love in that room. Gerald is a person of integrity and has earned my authentic trust throughout the years. I had completed an internal “boundary check,” this was safe. The only ‘thing on the line’ was an old shame pattern of stepping back and covering. I had done a shame meditation early that morning in my sadhana, where I energetically “cut” the ties to old shame patterns. With my internal guidance present and clear, here was a moment of convergence.
I LEANED IN. I sat on a chair in the centre of the room, surrounded by the loving intention of more than 40 souls, who offered me the Ra Ma Da Sa healing circle. I breathed very slowly. I felt very deeply. I was present. I was uncovered. I was one.
It was a transformative moment, a priceless gift.
Now the funny part of this tale? Gerald stood courageously (courage = age of the heart) in his power, love and wisdom to offer me a healing circle for health challenges (see What Really Happened blog entry).
I received that, but oh SO MUCH MORE. I healed a space to stand (ok sit) in the centre, seen, uncovered and RECEIVE.
Rather than hold the container safely for others, I was safely held in the hands of community.
Ek Ong Kar (All is one)
Sat Nam Siri (This is our true nature)
Wahe Guru (When we are here, it is beyond words…but I found a few ;)
What happens when we lean in? Nothing less than the beauty of empowered self-acceptance, and the deep peace of enjoying I AM, I AM.
As I prepare for another weekend of guiding the Advanced Teacher Training, I come back to the power of remembering. When we live only from our “head,” and forget how to live from our heart, how to connect and listen to our gut…we can lose touch with our inner grace, beauty, empowerment, and compassion. We can forget who we are.
We get so busy acquiring (knowledge, experience, stuff) that we forget what we need is within us. Most of our life experiences, our education, and the focus of our culture is to entice us to look outside of ourselves for the answers.
The practice of Kundalini Yoga wakes up inner awareness, and expands our innermost connections to knowing, trust, compassion and love. Kundalini IS the ENERGY of awareness and consciousness. Kundalini Yoga activates, balances, and integrates your entire human sensory system. You remember/connect/open up to this energy with empowered intention (Will) which provides the safe container to allow (Willingness).
“To move into heart consciousness, we must identify and work with all aspects of the human being…Our soul is in a human vessel that has a complex and elegant operating system. We have everything we need to wake up and stay awake to love.”
I am going to take a deep dive into Will and Willingness this week. Join me for the Weekly Tune Up (90 minute practice online) and Saturday’s Kundalini Celebration (in person only) at the Bethlehem Retreat Centre. We will explore through experience, inner guidance, and of course, BIG LOVE.
Ready? Let’s Go.
What Really Happened...
You may be curious about all the shifts and changes you have witnessed in the past 4 months. So let me share with you what really happened…
Seven months ago I lost the use of my right hand. And then the symptoms began to build until by the summertime, there were days I couldn’t walk without support. No doubt, it was scary.
I had a battery of tests, bloodwork, went into the MRI machine (twice), and had a CT. I was loaded up with big meds (made me feel terrible but necessary) while they worked to determine what was happening in my body.
Oddly, at this point I was calm. I was appreciative of the excellent care I was receiving, friends and family were amazing in their support, I was leaning into my meditation practices, I was riding the neutral channel.
A diagnosis was made, medications changed and adjusted, and I was told to be prepared that my body may, or may not, be able to continue with my “big schedule” of training, teaching, and doing 108 frogs (that is supposed to make you giggle and relax...😉 this story is a happy one.)
I let my “head brain” take over my “heart brain’s” desire to ensure service to our community, active practices, and the heart of Inner Guidance… in essence the mission of Manipura Yoga.
I gathered up the Advanced Teachers (who were supposed to have 3-4 years to complete their training) and said “guess what folks! We are FINISHING in 8 months.” Blessings to the flexible yogis, they got really flexible and made the change. It has always been important to me that there are MORE TEACHERS to enter the field and share their unique gifts. This group, who will complete their RYT 500 in May, are simply AMAZING. I learn something from them every single day.
I looked for someone to take the Manipura reigns. I put the word out, waited for the universe to respond, and it did.
I spent the fall working hard, harder than my diagnosis preferred, to create a new space for Manipura Yoga College. Not knowing what work I would be able to share, but not wanting to assume the worst, I created jaysuttonbrown.com. Using my name would mean that the good work of Manipura could continue, and I would be able to create offerings as I was able.
Then moments before all was to shift, the universe closed the door.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrown off, all that effort, all those commitments! But the core of my work is the ability to take the hard stuff, use my practice, lean into the icky feelings and grow. In a sweet and supportive conversation, a dear friend said, “My dear, you are in the ‘Ph.D lab’ of your work. Take this as deep study.”
So I went quiet for weeks and did my inner work.
I thanked my “head brain” for its efforts and kindly asked that it take a back seat for a moment as I let my “gut brain” and “heart brain” take the lead. (If this sounds funny or strange, come see me, this is evolution in practice).
And things became clear. I saw my specialist. I am responding well to treatment and I am “cleared” to proceed with 108 frogs (when my body lets me know it’s a good idea that is!).
My mentor said, “The Universe knew it was not time for Manipura Yoga to leave you. The door closed. What does your inner knowing reveal?”
My deep Inner Guidance whispered, “You are part of the spiritual evolution, trust it, uplevel and evolve.”
And that is EXACTLY what I am doing.
I have not “left” yoga, (how does one “leave” unity? …that is another blog entirely).
I am a Teacher of Transformation.
Kundalini, Yogic Technology and Meditation are the core of my essence, practice, work and dharma.
However, I am EVOLVING and UPLEVELING.
My work is steeped in HOW to cultivate deep inner listening, HOW to calm the storm, HOW to work in the stickier emotions (the SENSES OF YOUR SOUL) and HOW to embrace joy, peace, possibility and empowered living.
So you will see Jay Suttonbrown AND Manipura Yoga College.
I am building connections rather than polarities (think “and” rather than “or”).
And as ALWAYS, it is FILLED with BIG BIG LOVE.
Are you Ready? Let’s GO.
Big love and Sat Nam Peeps,
Gravity and Grace
Touchstones on the path of Fulfilled Contentment
Gravity: keeps us grounded; literally to the planet. Psychologically, feeling “grounded” is important to our health as it reconnects us with our feelings of “home.” This grounded “homey” feeling, wait for it, it stimulates a lightness of heart. (See Newton’s 3rd law of motion about every action has an opposite and equal reaction).
Grace: the attraction of two bodies that occurs at a level below the physical, a subtle and sublime attraction, also known as surrender.*
I am rereading Peter’s book as I gather a group of amazing Yoga Teachers to complete their Advanced Training this weekend. I chose Gravity and Grace because Peter captures his personal transformation in his yogic experienced with such clarity. He shifted from a rigourous, highly controlled perspective of his practice, to one that embraced meeting his needs, inner listening, and inner guidance to promote his health, his growth.
He describes in great detail the importance of listening to ourselves, retraining our reactions, and experiencing gravity and grace in approaching asana (yoga poses) as the laboratory of practice we can then apply to our lives.
Gravity and grace are interesting touchstones inherent to all experience. Where do I feel connected and rooted? Where can I soften my control? What is actually an old trauma-response versus up-to-date information of what is happening now?
I received some correspondence recently where folks thought I had “left” the yogic field. Nothing could be further from the truth! I am expanding the field.
We are embracing our multi-sensory experiences; staying deeply rooted in our bodies, as WE LEARN to embrace our FEELINGS with conscious awareness and open to the gravity and grace within each moment of our lives. Yoga, Emotional Liberation, and Meeting your Needs, all ask us to embrace gravity and grace.
Are you ready?
*Adapted from Peter Sterios, Gravity and Grace.
e to edit.
Yoga and Self Care
What is the difference between “yoga” and “self-care?”
In my work, nothing.
“Yoga” means “union.” It is the exploration of techniques to unify our experience of our breath, body, and awareness (a combination of thoughts, emotions and biology) so that we live in consciousness, connection, clarity and peace. YES PLEASE!
I have taught yoga, and trained yoga Teachers over the last two decades. So why the shift in language? Am I “leaving” yoga? Good gravy NO.
I am opening the language of self-experience, of deep listening, of the cultivation of inner trust, of connecting to the essential life-force of existence, of being fully human, because that IS SELF CARE.
The movements in practice (whether you call them asana, kriya or sally…ok that last one is a joke) bring the sensitivity, strength, balance and clarity to embrace our experiences.
Meta-cognition (being aware that you are aware) is a “muscle” you can “strengthen” (whether you call that meditation or mindfulness) to discern inner truth from noise.
When we work with our breath, our bodies and metacognition, we can consdiously work with our emotional sensory system, a loyal ally who brings accurate information about our needs, boundaries, and trauma responses.
YEP, those “pesky” emotions are your greatest resource in understanding YOU, and the practices of yoga (self care) are the exact tools we need to access our inner emotional resources.
So welcome to SELF CARE (or Yoga, or Sally, or whatever name you choose). Using our breath, body and awareness we can work with our needs; persistent fears and anxieties; irritations, resentments and anger; grief and loss; shame and self-worth; to REMEMBER AND EXPERIENCE our deep self-trust, safety, empowerment, wholeness and self-acceptance.
I would love for you to join us.
Things Emotionally Healthy People Do
The holidays are here, and for many this can be an overwhelming and difficult time. We are flooded with expectations, internally and from others. We have memories we are trying to create, and some we are trying to avoid. Even in the midst of the joy, relaxation and love of the season, we may experience a feeling that feels "off," "uncomfortable," or downright upsetting.
"Nothing can spoil this beautiful time of year more than having expectations of how you SHOULD feel and not feeling that way. Winter holidays come by the calendar, but emotions arise to help guide you through what's really going on. You might want to have "happy holidays," but a better goal that we all can achieve is to have emotionally healthy holidays." (Read his complete article and see his video here)
YAS! That is my holiday wish for YOU! Take the time, space, and self care you need to embrace an EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY holiday. It is a game-changer I swear!
Simultaneously, I came across a list from Brianna West on things emotionally healthy people do:
Have Faith in Yourself
It is that time of year when you will be bombarded with offers to "make your life great," "lose weight," "make this year the best!" Ugh.....
While there is truth in the renewal process of emerging from Winter Solstice, it is NOT a time intended to CHANGE who you are, but an opportunity consciously choose to BE WHO YOU ARE.
We don't see the world as it is, we see the world as WE ARE.
And a "new year" does not mean all desire, struggle and pain will disappear with a fad diet, crazy exercise, or whatever else is promised. Powerful feelings are an integral part of the fabric of being human.
Marrying the real depths of human desire, struggle and pain with deep inner trust (spiritual connection) has not been directly taught to most of us. These are the skills we need (and can learn) MOST. They give us the opportunity to BE FULLY OURSELVES.
The idea of "hallelujah," "sat nam," or "wahe guru" is a moment of realization, understanding, clarity... that life can be desperately hard as well as joyful. That as we feel, learn, grow and develop we marry the joy and struggle of our life. Inner communication shapes our lives.
We have all of these incredible powerful feelings. Feelings bring about realization.
Our journey is a careful and precise investigation of the self. Our emotions are a critical part of our navigation system. It is a science of ourselves, which is metaphysical... including and beyond the physical ❤️.
This is the heart of my work AND it is evolving.
This the work I have studied and taught for decades, have refined in the past two years, and the work I am here to teach.
The melding of the expansive experience beyond words, and what is right here, right now.
So stop with the crazy fads and "resolutions." HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF. Learn the skills you need to increase awareness, connection, communication, and LIVE FULLY in YOUR LIFE.
I have A LOT in store for 2023.
Come learn to Meet Your Needs, enjoy Weekly Tune-Ups, move beyond reactive anxiety and anger into the empowered peace of being YOU.
Not sure how? I am here to help.
Program Registration is open.
You were never meant to do it alone. We will see you there!
Wishing Everyone a Happy New Year!
Big, BIG Love!