Getting Real; getting off the Neo-Wagon and Become Authentic
Searching For Truth: A Blog by Sherri Smith
It's been well over a year since I have posted something, I was in a year of change and observation. And the necessity to get real now is becoming very clear, very urgent and very critical if we are to grow and thrive and sustain as a society. What prompted my desire to write again is that I feel I have come full circle in my training, my life experiences and my offerings so I am better able to offer clarity, wisdom and hope to others – I believe I have earned that right. I have earned my feather. I have lived in an ashram twice now for extended periods, I have visited Africa twice now for extended periods, I have trained with some masters and I live what I know. I have been buried, burned, drowned and tossed in the woods, I have done my pilgrimages of self reflection. I have drank my name. Some of that which I offer is growing in different directions and one of them is yoga. I have not arrived, nor will I ever arrive….but I have done enough journey in this lifetime to really share from a place of direct experience. Three times now I have really wanted to walk away from the practice because like most stuff in the West it becomes tainted with ego, narcissism and greed and loses the entire concept of the practice. It becomes that which some choose to throw a mala bead on their wrist and buy the right clothes but are really wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing. Yoga is an 8-limbed practice and its not about the physical manifestation of the posture – it is so much more than that. The journey is inward and the studio or instructor should be offering that space to comfortably, safely take that personal journey to excavate their soul and be more authentic through the process. But instead we add steam, or goats, or guns or beer to glam it up because we don’t believe in the teachings, or we create surface level programs around the magic of the experience that again is an inside job. We run away from ourselves to retreats which have become such a money grab, so void of long term change and practice a couple times a day then come home and act as though we are enlightened beings. When that mat hits the floor, your thoughts should begin to go inward, your actions, your deeds should be towards self. You should be witnessing that which you are experiencing on your mat only and every time you mind goes to the next person you need to bring it back home to self. Every tear, every drip of sweat becomes your personal journey of self. Every victory, every challenge overcome, every realization becomes the energy you imbue your mat with. You should feel very safe in emoting in class, it is intended as a community, not a workout. Go the gym for a workout, get on a mat and get real. It is witnessing pranic energy move through the body and enlivening the spirit, the emotions, the mind and lastly the body. It is taking the practice of loving kindness to self from your mat into your world. The moment those cameras come out, you break the energy of the inward and it becomes something outside of our sacredness. Please don’t love and light me, most have no concept of what that really even means but it sounded good a few years back. I have a heart to hold a space, I have the voracity of a lion to protect my community and you will see that and feel that when we meet. I have witnessed many in my presence have the greatest breakthroughs in their lives because they felt safe to emote and experience that which we normally stifle down and swallow for another 5 to 10 yrs. Sift through your muck and conditioning that life and your environment have created because when you really feel on that level, what is on the other side is so rich, so clean and so pure you do rise. Your spirit shines from your eyes. It is the circle of that aspect of self. All of us hold the dark and the light, stop hiding the one and use it as a guidepost to experience and then celebrate the movement to the joyful polarity of it. Sickness can often bring this on; to sit and feel the most horrible feelings and almost forgetting what it feels like to be normal. Then finally that normal returns and it is something to be celebrated.
I had to practice karmic yoga for 5 months serving up slop in a kitchen in the Bahamas to a barrage of tourists that came through with their mala beads on and their hair in knots being the next generation of yogis. The food was a level of disgust that I will forever remember, counting to 12 with a container of Ionized salt into a vat of Dal to give if flavoring and stay within the 14 cents per plate budget, with the spout of the box of salt wide open. The ashrams ‘leaders’ ate organic food prepared offsite and the swami ate his steak across the water quietly with his personalized chauffeur, and spent the excesses of funds on himself personally to keep the program ‘non-profit’. What I witnessed horrified me; the acts of aggression, the attachments, the sense of entitlement was disturbing to put it lightly. Very few are willing to grab a mirror and flip it around and look at why and how they respond to a situation. That is the magic of the practice, to witness, not react. It is not a program that you dip your toes into, it is direct experience. Contemplate and grow. Social media is no place for this practice, the original teachings were done with white pants and yellow tee-shirts so as not to create a sense of separation. It all matters. Get out of your workout mentality and create one of discipline. Yoga is not the answer if it is taken on only the physical level. If you don’t feel the class made you sweat enough you are in the wrong venue. This is the year of Nature and it is so much about being authentic. Many won’t like my words and I may edit before I publish because I am angry; angry that we have taken another sacred thing and tried to become famous from it, tried to get rich from it. The world needs yoga, true yoga, and true instructors. But they pump them out so fast that most never teach, very few get the direct experiences that are often dark to truly see the value of the internal journey. The lessons are not intense enough…just give me the paper and let me get out there and capitalize from it. Very few understand what subtle body energy is, very few know how to breathe into their bodies. We need to experience and move through some of the darkness to truly appreciate the other side of it; and it sucks having to go through pain. Mental, emotional or physical but especially spiritual. You witness the other side of the coin of life and when the work is deep enough, that coin flips and you experience something so rich and sweet it changes you. It is not bought, it is earned. I have taught for 9 years now and am fully ready to leave this falsified world because it like so many other things is broken. I will always have a practice, but it will be offered authentically and coupled with other modalities to those that are really ready to hit the wall and move in a new direction.
I was on a double decker bus in Cuba last year, the top open and we were driving along the road. I turned my head for a very brief moment and got smacked on the side of the head with a limb from a tree, it could have been potentially dangerous but wasn’t and I am responsible for the safety of my own container when I stepped on that bus. But what shocked me the most was the guy and his affluent wife beside me…my camera fell to the floor and he just looked at me as the stars dwindled from my focus and I maintained enough composure to grab my camera from further journeying down along the aisle. He said ‘open your eyes’ and I looked down at his wrist and it of course contained the mala beads that I have become to abhor. Does anyone even know what they represent? There are 108 of them and they are auspicious in the connection to self and to all. They should be as sacred as an eagle feather. They build in energy just as a crystal used for proper practice in ritual world. You don’t buy status, you earn it. You cook for 5 months in a sweat shop without expectations of the results under some intense conditions, you witness without attachment the process of life, without judgement. You put your selfie cameras away and be present with the bloody water or nature or whatever situation is in front of you. No one needs to see a falsified and staged image of your face every day or the highs you are continually riding because that is not authentic. In some traditions it is deeply toxic to post as you hold yourself up for psychic attack. I have done the 11 day silent retreats, I have done Ayuashcha and also some very deep personal immersion in some of the most potent lands on earth. These ancient practices were sacred and then they came to the West to be bastardized. You won’t see the physical postures in a land that is deeply connected to nature because they don’t need it. The physicality of the practice is intended to get us out of our minds and into our bodies. Very few of us can sit quietly for more than 5 minutes and move within. When do we say this isn’t working? We are the changes we need to see, we could use this and other practices authentically and create great change. It’s not happening or not happening fast enough. We need community, we need a sense of caring, and we need each other and we need to re-establish our connection to the great Mother and bring back the truest feminine. Not one or two floating above the rest; all of us in one nurturing pool of devotion to a cause and to authenticity. Stop being the wolf dressed up as a sheep – we need to return to love.
Sherri Smith from A State of Bliss has trained extensively and globally with ancient modalities and traditions to combine the wisdom these teachings into her own unique therapies. We are deeply connected to the natural world and many of the ills of society today are a result of our separation from this. Sherri's commitment to her own journey keep her immersed in teachings, experiences and advancement, in turn providing rich and rare content to her offerings. There is a yearning within each of us to live a greater life. Discover your power, your gifts and your truths.