This week KK talks about cultivating “Bhav” - this emotional state of love.
When we chant or do mantra or any practice, it is beneficial to cultivate and bring this “bhav” of love to the practice. How do you begin to cultivate this “bhav” especially when you are not “feeling it”? How does your practice (whatever it is) change when you are able to do this?
When I’m not feeling the bhav, I need to use some extra willpower to bring myself to a sit or into chanting, or my shamanic journey practice, which for me is deeply linked with my bhakti yoga practice. (Ain’t it all one big practice, after all?) When I’m not feeling the bhav, I am, as Ram Dass might say, practising avoidance or suffering, or fearing, anxiet-izing, whatever I am busy with. And yet, years of walking the path have taught me that the time I am resisting most is the time my practice has the most to teach me. There is such an opportunity in these moments. So if I can get myself into the witness consciousness, and find self-compassion, I begin. True, sometimes my focus is a mess, but like Krishna Das says, every time we come back to the room, it’s a miracle. So I go for the miracle, even if I don’t quite make it sometimes. If I can get back into the heartspace, Spirit’s love often busts me wide open. And if the experience seems subtler than a waterfall, it still offers wisdom and deep learning. And what that does for me is affirms that my practice works. It is a beautiful and effective method to re-member. It also teaches me patience and acceptance. If nothing comes, it may not be the moment for learning / healing / overflowing. But because I persist in returning to the practice, and have for a long time, I know there are peaks and valleys. I receive what I need, not necessarily what I want or expect. My practice evolves, gets stronger, and I expand. (An aside: Amusingly - or perfectly/imperfectly - my Sanskrit name is Bhava. )
I keep coming back to the words Siddhi Ma said to Jai that it didn’t matter what he was feeling. The service to others was the love. I’ve been reading “Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying”… By Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. There is a quote by Ram Dass that has helped me in my struggle to “feel” love…he said, “This seems clear right now: it’s about love as a way of being, not a feeling.”
These two statements/thoughts/notions from Siddhi Ma, Jai, and Ram Dass have helped me to not focus on the feelings as much. Sure I wish to feel it strongly, but sometimes the more I try, the more distant is seems. So through interactions with others, just bringing love into the moment, through the openness and giving, the love feeling will emerge. I notice this in my care of animals, and with my third grade students…just fold into being the best I can for them in each moment, then the love emerges as being and feeling. Until I must remember again and repeat.
Dana, I was thinking about what Jai said too! I haven’t been practicing meditation long, and I was just introduced to Ram Dass and his teachings a few months ago. So, I think I am at a place in my journey where I am learning to “trust the process”. So as Siddhi Ma said to Jai - What does it matter how you feel? The longer I practice/pray/meditate/chant - the more I find Bhav showing up in unexpected ways.
My understanding is that bhav is essentially the selfless and authentic offering that one can give.
I can see, when ever I’m not in a mind to pray, I could deal with it by being aware of the judgement and emotions at play and be here now for the prayers again.
The same applies to conversations to my family, cooking food for people, studying and doing arts or music or any karma.
Cultivating Bhav, when I am not feeling it for me, first requires awareness. Whether I say to myself “Come on Amy, which way feels more authentic, less resistant - more like you? You in the flow of Grace?”
It is then I want the remember my heart and the devotion I so love to practice. I will do a quick child pose or down dog, look for someone to help out, chant, pet my little dog, do art and take some breaths, relax, let go, smile, and just Be the Bhav…vibe with that pulse and let it move through and shine out of me. I feel so much lighter- it feels way good.
If I am too heady and am longing for Bhav. Sometimes I don’t even know how to produce awareness (as I am not aware I am experiencing it) haha! The Universe will play and provide something funny, or timely/serendipitous or even a trickster-like play might show up. In these cases, I am awakened and grateful to find the Bhav. Out of my head and into my heart once again!