I’m overcome with joy… and shock… that I’m in my house after evacuating for 6 days last week due to the #basaltshootingrange #LakeChristineFire that almost completely enveloped my sweet, small town. This video shows how close we were to losing (literally) the entire town.
This isn’t the first fire I’ve overcome this year.
My Aspen apartment had a stove fire shortly after I moved in, which cost me thousands after my landlord cruelly held me accountable for damaged floors and granite countertops the fire department cracked to save my son and I.
And another fire… within the last 12 months I finalized a divorce with a man I idolized… but who wasn’t the right life partner for me.
During each fire, I’ve learned a lot about myself… and the lessons start small like a spark and suddenly explode, ravaging my old patterns and thoughts and helping refine old patterns, habits, thoughts, values, and luxuries I once may have taken for granted. (I wrote about this last week here.)
In the yoga tradition, fire represents our willpower.
In its positive aspect, it is a transformative force to used to transform our obstacles into opportunities. We learn to “burn” our issues, traumas and past impressions as fuel to help us learn, grow and make positive changes.
I recently read a passage in the book Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep by Dr. Kamini Desai that powerfully affected me in processing the larger lessons in this fire (I never let a good tragedy go unprocessed), and the fire of willpower altogether.
Willpower is a funny thing. It’s, at once, the discipline we need to create the most beautiful art on the canvases of our lives. On the other hand, control of our willpower can be like trying to tame a tantruming toddler… or a raging fire.
Dr. Desai writes that one of the most ancient and revered yogic principles is, “where attention goes, energy flows.” “The converse is also true…” she writes.
Fighting old patterns and habits feeds these negative influences attention. She continues, “if we withdraw the fuel it feeds on, it will die… You cannot fight a child screaming for what it wants. The more you fight, the more they fight you. It only fuels the fire…”
This is how the mind works, as well. If you want to retrain your mind from fear, criticism, destructive habits, or negative thoughts, you can neither fight nor judge it. Dr. Desai calls this “burning” karma.
We can do this through pratyahara, or weakening destructive habit’s power through withdrawal of attention and energy. “If you want to “burn” [a negative habit] samskara, you need to practice pratyahara… On the first night you choose not to have the [negative habit], the mind will want it all the more. The body will want to respond to what the mind desires because it has become habituated to a taste and feeling… the impulse to have it will increase. However, if you move through this burn and do not give in to the impulse, you will find the impulse weakening over time…”
“The superheroes you have in your mind…” writes author Tim Ferriss, “don’t succeed because [they] have no weaknesses; [they] succeed because [they] find their unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.”
How are you activating your mind’s muscles?
What habits have you forged, despite temptations around you, to become the most powerful, self-expressed, and influential superwoman you can be?
From what samskaras are you withdrawing to achieve your most positive, lightest, and happiest self?
Are you fighting the fires in your life with positivity, or fueling the fires with fear, negativity, self-doubt, or unstable emotions?
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