Your yoga pants are more see through then you think by Cherryl Duncan

Call me old fashioned but I am starting to miss the ‘old days’ of yoga where the space was seen as a sacred space. A clean space. A space that was different from the rest of the chaos of our lives. A quiet space. A space to retreat.

So you can understand my growing concern about the objects I am, with increasing frequency finding in yoga classes.

Just the other day I was deep in my practice, in a public class, when a cell phone screen lit up next to me with an incoming text. The phone belonged to a fellow yoga student who, from her downward facing dog literally read the incoming text message.

I was torn between the yogic equilibrium I was trying to maintain and dramatically rolling my eyes, sighing heavily and making my disdain and annoyance clearly visible (I’ve learnt how to do this with much success from the Germans). Never mind the radiation or radio waves or whatever fucking signals are transmitting next to me while I am trying to channel and transmit only pure and healthy energy, Yoga is the one place I want to not see a screen, the one place I’ve chosen to be where I’m not reminded of my own to do lists and people needing stuff lists, the one place I’ve chosen to detach from my own somewhat unhealthy (but essential) relationship with my phone. Come on, do I even need to say it?  Phone in the yoga room is just a no. On or off. Well, if it’s off, then what’s the point? Talk about unhealthy attachment. It’s like its mere presence is enough wtf?

The yoga space is also traditionally a no shoes area. Hell, my own apartment is a no shoes area. This makes total sense to me, both from an energetic perspective (ergo yucky, black street goop energy) and from a cleanliness perspective. It’s also quiet when people walk barefoot.  All round no shoes is a bloody good idea. So you can again, imagine my surprise, this time while I was teaching, when I happened across a pair of beach sandals lying, albeit neatly, next to a person’s yoga mat.

Another student had a fruit juice – yes, a fruit juice next to her mat, along with a hair brush! A hair brush.  What’s next? A facial mask and curling iron?

At the risk of sounding like a complaining killjoy, oh what the hell, I’m going to be 40 this year, let’s just say I’ve slipped into being old fashioned, and I’m fine with that. But I ask, can we please bring back the quiet, clean, and stuff -free feeling of the yoga space?

Oh, and another thing, ladies,,, your pants are more see-through than you realise. Seriously. Before you buy a pair –regardless of the expensive brand name, bend over in the mirror and ask a good friend to tell you what they see.

Unless you don’t care, in which case, more power to you. But if you don’t want your yoga teacher being able to tell the approximate date of your last bikini wax, I suggest checking in the mirror before checking out of the store. – I can give you a list of brands If you like.

Peace out, that’s my yoga moan for the day.

I’m going to do a self practice now because it’s a clean, clear, quiet space – at least there’s still that.

What's your ONE THING? by Cherryl Duncan

A lot of my blog posts in the past start with ‘I’m reading this book…’ and I’m happy with that, because I believe in reading something other than news snippets, Instagram feeds, quotes (although I do love a good quote) or things that require more than a 30 second attention span. This blog is no different in that way as it begins with ‘I’m reading this book’.

It may however differ somewhat in content given that most of my books are about human nature, how to be happy, yoga, philosophy and the like, and this one is about being more productive. Ok, let’s just go ahead and call it a business book. Yeah, I know, business and yoga; an unlikely, unsuitable and potentially explosive and destructive union, or so I used to believe.

Long story short, I got my head out of my ass and realised that I couldn’t live on fairy dust and Matcha lattes and I had to get a little bit more serious about my relationship to money if I was going to keep doing what I loved, which is teaching yoga, sharing ideas and if I may be so bold, being somewhat significant in the lives of those who choose to take my courses and share their journeys with me.

But I digress, back to the business book. It’s called The One Thing and is written by Gary Keller.  It’s essentially a book about productivity. His idea is that you’ve got to figure out what the most important thing is and then do it. Ok, I’m simplifying. But for me, focusing and choosing one thing, forsaking all other sparkly ideas, directions, activities, tasks and projects was like mourning the death of my unborn children – and their were many. This is metaphor, albeit a poor one; but for someone who doesn’t have children, you can forgive me; besides, my ideas are my babies and I want to birth them all. Simultaneously.  NOW.

Gary Keller says NO. So because I chose to listen to him for a while, I gave this a try.

Apparently it was ok to write my ideas down in a little book and save them for another time (thank god), but for now, I had to choose THE THING, and focus on it.

And I have to say, it’s working. Really. Smart guy. I still sometimes doubt my one thing and I get distracted by the new shiny idea, but for the most part, I’m doing this one thing.

The other thing he says is that you should do this ONE THING at the time of day when you are most likely to do it. We have a finite amount of willpower and it’s best not to waste that energy and willpower on Instagram chats, phone calls, checking email, painting your toenails or whatever else you have to do in a day. Now that got me thinking because it reminds me of a Buddhist teaching that kinda sorta says the same thing. It goes like this : When you take on a new value, do everything you can to create the best conditions that will best allow you to keep your value.

Values can be new healthier habits, for example, or getting away from bad ones, or taking on a new value like being on time, or being er more productive, a nicer person or whatever else you’re wanting to take on. The Buddhist teaching creates a framework of rules (They call them vows) that involve not drinking alcohol for example, because they say that you’re less likely to keep your vows and be the person you’re aiming for if you’re drunk. Simple but true. (for the record, I do drink and love wine so please don’t go thinking I’ve taken this vow) but there is something to it because my new value of productivity is impaired if I drink too much wine, but anyway, you get my point, well mine and Gary’s point.

In case you didn’t

Do the things (or if you can do The Thing) that will make the most significant change to you life when you have the most energy to do it.

Stay away from activities, influences, people, input etc that takes you away from that Thing or that doesn’t support this Thing.

For me it’s first thing in the morning.

The night before I decide what’s most important to me, and then I do that thing first thing in the morning before I start to lose steam and focus.

There you have it, merging my Buddhist ideals with my Productivity Ones- I love it when this happens.

PS. You don’t have to choose. You can keep your yogi ideals and be successful and human all at the same time, in fact, I highly recommend it.

Love

Cherryl

 

 

 

What's love got to do with ...Yoga? by Cherryl Duncan

It may surprise you to know, if you don’t already, that there are many paths to yoga, and when I say yoga, I mean the state of yoga. Sometimes described, and I personally find this to be the most satisfying depiction, as being in a state of complete absorption.
You’ll know you’ve been in a state of yoga (union) when you, for a moment or two or hopefully for even longer than that, lose your sense of self. This can often sound terrible in principle, but when we totally  forget ourselves for a moment, we drop the identification with all our neurosis, anxieties, fluctuating moods, pain and anything else that makes us ordinary human beings. The most practical examples are being so completely absorbed in a piece of music, or art, or an idea, or nature, or some extreme activity, or yes (you knew it was coming) love.
 
As yogis, we try and make this experience, this state of union, come about independent of music, or art, or an idea, or nature, or some extreme activity, and yes, definitely independent of needing to have to fall in love (That would be problematic). That’s basically why we jump around our yoga mats, meditate, breathe and try get in touch with that part of ourselves which is capable of spontaneous and total absorption with, well, consciousness.
 
As I said, there are many paths and jumping around a yoga mat, breathing and meditating is just one, and happens to be a popular one because of all those seductive side benefits of having a fit and healthy body and being able to show off at parties doing headstands, but there are other ways and one way, made most popular by people like Ghandi, is the way of the karma yogi. The idea that you dedicate your life to serving others, and here’s the real catch, without attachment to the outcome. So basically, there’s meant to be some deep liberation and total absorption buzzy feeling in the mere act of kindness itself. That means whether someone says thank you or not, whether someone even wanted your help or not, and even if someone turns around and stabs you in the back for your efforts.
 
Because I’m into making this and other yoga ideas really practical and useful, I take this idea and offer the following; because while Ghandi was a bit extreme for me to use him as a role model for my life here in Western Europe, I do think there is something in doing things simply because they feel good to do. And I mean really good. The kind of good that is deeply satisfying on the level of the soul (as opposed to how blueberry pancakes are good).
 
Do things for others because it simply feels nice – with no expectation. That’s right, It’s a practice. And here’s a little extra tip; don’t do it  if you expect something. Simple.
Wait until your heart is genuinely in the right place.
 
Here’s also a whacky idea, do something that is completely meaningless and purposeless and creative and fun just because the mere act itself feels good.
PLAY! Draw, create, write, dance, laugh, throw stuff – without thinking if anyone else will like it, see it, care about it, or if you can make money off it.
We definitely don’t do this enough.
 
Do these two things and you too can be a karma yogi and, even if you don’t reach the state of Yoga, you’ll definitely be on your way to a happier existence- for sure. There really is something to this yoga stuff isn’t there?
 

Have the courage to be Patient by Cherryl Duncan

I recently read, or dreamt, or had this sentence reach me in an entirely different way as is often the case, and that sentence goes like this ‘Have the courage to be patient’.

And it really struck me, given that I have a lot of courage and almost no patience. Well, that was true up until fairly recently.

It kind of blew my mind to put these two qualities together because they’re seemingly contradictory. Surely it’s the brave people that are going for it no matter what, the brave ones that are facing their fears and compelled to action? and it’s the timid sort that sit and wait and do little (or so it seems) but of course, when I think about it, patience does require a lot of courage and this is why.

Patience requires that we sit in the discomfort of uncertainty; it requires that we let go of the control, and the action and the doing that, certainly for me, can alleviate a lot of anxiety around not knowing.  I don’t know about you, but I feel less anxious when I am able to control (even if it’s delusional because how much do we actually control?), when I do things, when I take action, which in a way is a certain kind of madness.

It’s madness because these actions and this doingness (it’s now a word, live with it) don’t always result in the outcome I want, and yet, I often find myself lost in a flurry of activity in order to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty, the boredom and frustration of waiting or, gulp, the fear of trusting. Trust, ultimately is what it seems to come down to.

Mark Manson, a revolutionary and modern day thinker who swears a lot and is one of my long distance mentors, has this to say ‘There’s a certain level of joy and meaning that you reach in life only when you’ve spent decades investing in a single relationship, a single craft, a single career. And you cannot achieve those decades of investment without rejecting alternatives.’

For me this means, that one requires a lot of patience to sit with this one thing, to narrow one’s alternatives and to not jump ship out of impatience, fear, boredom, or frustration.

If you’re reading this and you know me well, just know that I can hear you laughing because you can’t believe that I, Cherryl Duncan, am writing about patience, and commitment, and of narrowing of ones alternatives. 

Well stop laughing you judgmental critters and hear me out because it’s kind of confession time.

Yes, it’s true, I have mostly lived my life embracing alternatives. When I have an idea, it feels like nothing less than divine fucking inspiration. Seriously. I am not kidding. It floods my body with a rush of what can only be described as electricity. But light, and not painful. It takes possession as my heart pounds, my head spins in a way that makes perfect sense to me, and I feel an almost uncontrollable urge to take action. NOW!

The problem is that this happens often. And even more disturbing, the new idea can easily be contrary it’s predecessor. It’s in these moments when I don’t know if it’s evolution or madness, but it’s very hard to ignore.

I remember asking my business partner awhile ago, when I had a yoga studio,  what she found most challenging about me, and she said ‘Your constant changing and new ideas’. ‘Just when I feel I’ve got on board with one idea, you swoop in with a new one’. Bless her heart, I must’ve been a nightmare.

If you’ve ever experienced ideas that possess you to action with enough force to move mountains, (or just a lot of paper, and pens and yes, very often other people) then you’ll  now how hard it is to, as Mark Manson says, reject alternatives.

It’s hard to open to the idea that perhaps meaning and fulfilment is not found in more and more different experiences (and ideas), but rather in careful selection and then real commitment to that thing.

So, that brings me to today, where I now start to see my electric force with it’s 100 ideas as kind of childish and quite frankly, afraid; afraid to stand the discomfort of uncertainty. Its nature is (yoga reference alert), Shiva which is creative and destructive. Wonderfully Creative, Devastatingly Destructive and oh so powerful.

So now I recognise another part of me, that sees the force, acknowledges its existence but works and plays with it, instead of being possessed by it. This happened as a result of following the force almost every single time it came to visit and the one day, just one day, saying NO. I can't anymore. One day I realised I actually had a choice. 

When I have those moments now, I try not to act. (ok, I write it down) but then I wait. I tell myself everything in it’s own time. Not everything has to happen now.

There’s value in non-action. To stop. To wait. To …trust.

To get to know uncertainty. To let that idea, that inspiration sparkle on the page, having it’s own life, it’s own journey, waiting for the right time.

Maybe, and I know this sounds weird, maybe it’s for someone else. Maybe it moves away from me and finds someone else to possess; someone who it is the right time for. I think that happens when you see someone do something you thought of.

So, this idea I give to you.

It didn’t come to me in a dramatic flood of electricity. It crept in slowly but steadily. It gently tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Hey, what about this?’

We chatted over some tea and I decided to let it stay.

If you find yourself filled with inspiration and you throw something out there that no one sees or responds to - maybe it’s just simply not the right time for it.

If you find yourself running in circles following everything that sparkles, feeling tired and directionless, try my technique of writing them down, closing the book and focussing on what’s important, what makes you happy, what you’ve been doing for a long time, and what’s stuck around regardless.

Please don’t try and silence the inspiration, or the ideas. Don’t misunderstand me. That force can be scary and overwhelming for some ; but instead, find a way to talk with it, tell it to sit down, make it feel welcome but firmly state, that they will not be running the show.

Ps, No, I am not suffering from a psychiatric disorder (at least not diagnosed)

Nor am I on medication.

I’m Just on a lifelong journey to understand all of the forces that drive us.

 

 

How yoga was actually making me unhappy... by Cherryl Duncan

This is a story about how I used good things like yoga, meditation and Eastern philosophy to make myself unhappy and how I found my way back to happiness by keeping some things but throwing out a whole bunch too.

When I got into Yoga, I went extreme. It’s kind of my nature, to go all in or nothing. So I gave up my job, went to India, then when that wasn’t enough, I went to New York. I gave up my job, my relationships, a became vegan, took Buddhist vows, went on silent meditation retreats, studied Eastern philosophy, and Western philosophy, I even floated for hours in sensory depravation tanks just so I could try to feel what it was like to die.  What else? I went on weekend retreats alone in the woods, renting some tiny cabin and meditated for hours along side a stream desperately hoping to experience something more and deeper and truer than I believed we could all see.

I sat for hours in psychotherapy, for years, tried hypnotherapy, cranial sacral therapy, light therapy, every kind of yoga you can imagine, sang kirtan, learned to play the harmonium, retook up flute playing again, formed communities, left communities, joined cults, left cults, held séances , summoned the dead (ok, fine, I did that when I was 13 so probably doesn’t count), walked up mountains, toyed with the idea of jumping off of one, took drugs, chanted mantra, visited temples, read read and read more books, hung out with gurus or people claiming to be gurus, sat in churches, monasteries, temples and graveyards. Ok you get the idea… all in search of happiness.

Because I believed happiness existed somewhere very deep within me, and if I could face every single one of my fears, which mostly involved death, then I could somehow trick death and transcend my human condition.

I didn’t trick death. I now, absolutely believe that I am going to die. I also know that I am probably not going to enjoy the process, no matter how many sensory depravation tanks I float in.

Of course I learnt a lot about myself along the way, I leant how the consistent practice of yoga and meditation makes me a happier, calmer, and more centred person. I feel closer to myself. My inner wisdom, or whatever that thing is, has shown me what is false and what is true in this world. (and continues to do so).  I learnt that the power of observation without judgement has the power to awaken a profound curiosity about the world that never leaves me bored and always in a constant state of inquiry.

I learned that it feels good to be an overall nice person and to wish well for others – as well as to take responsibility for my own life and to not blame the world around me. I learnt that life is mysterious and there are good and bad forces in some kind of cosmic dance and that nothing is inherently bad or inherently good and the exploration of that if often where our deepest creative urges lie. I learnt that no one else can do the work that leads you to happiness for you- no Guru, and no God.

I also learnt that being authentic and vulnerable facilitates connection and that connection to others is one of the happiest states we can know as humans. And that’s it.

What I let go of, was the restrictive rules that I tried living with and beating myself up with.

Strict rules including beating myself up with a karma stick. Yes, understanding karma is vitally important, but not in the Catholic guilt sort of way.

Strict rules that involved impossible diets

Strict rules that involved a gruelling yoga practice

Strict rules about how much time you should spend alone, meditating and in silence.

Strict rules about a punishing God, or Gods, or ones that take credit for all the good things in your life, and none of the responsibility for the shitty stuff, but require total devotion and superhuman love and devotion. Talk about a toxic and narcissistic relationship.

Strict rules involving rituals that took up two hours before you’d even had your morning coffee – if you could stand the guilt of drinking said coffee.

I’m not going to go into all the restrictions I lived under for so many years trying to be perfect and make it through the doors of heaven, but there were many.

In the end, I was more disconnected from the people around me. If you weren’t vegan, we needed to have a conversation as to why.

If you didn’t do Yoga, you were just a disappointment.

I was superior, judgemental, above it all with my moral high ground, strict disciplines and my oh so independently free spirit who disregarded important facts of life, like the money system, for example.

Mostly, this search for happiness was making me unhappy. The very thing I was searching for became the source of my misery- isn’t that true of all love affairs? I digress…

The unhappier I felt, the more restrictions I put on myself. It’s because I was still eating too much sugar, or I wasn’t meditating long enough, or my yoga practice wasn’t strong enough, I wasn’t living my real purpose, I hadn’t met my Guru, I hadn’t surrendered enough to a higher power, the list was endless.

Until one day, Life really happened.

I found myself in a foreign country, having just walked out of my second marriage, on a friend’s couch staring around in disbelief at what had become of my life. I was 37 and I realised with shocking clarity, I was not where I wanted to be.

I had no money, absolutely no employment opportunities, (there aren’t a lot of jobs for people with a lot of education in philosophy and sensory depravation tanks) a broken heart, my family thousands of kilometres away and absolutely no faith in anything. All of my practices, beliefs, ideals, theories, and philosophies were absolutely useless. I was like WTF?? Isn’t this when all that training is meant to payoff?

It was then that I threw out EVERYTHING that wasn’t working for me and started gathering up what did work.  I didn’t know it then, but that was really the start of dharmaKaya® yoga.

I remember being in a yoga workshop with David Swenson 10 years before, and the women, mainly women then for some reason, were debating at length whether ashtanga yoga should be practiced 5 or 6 days a week. They were so passionate about this number, and the debate got quite heated, until David answered with the one sentence that I had no idea would impact me so deeply years to come. That sentence was,  ‘Enjoy your life’.  He didn’t say you should practice 5 days or 6 days a week, he simply answered with a slightly exasperated, ‘Enjoy your life’.

And I was like, Yes! And then of course I  ignored that until all these years later.

I threw out everything that wasn’t making me happy and kept the things that did.

Eating well makes me happy

Yoga practice makes me happy

Meditation makes me happy and the values I mentioned above which have now formed the basis of the dharmaKaya® yoga method that I teach.

No more, no less.

My mantra now is Enjoy your life.

And no, I don’t know the Sanskrit for that.

Since I decided on my own values, I am thriving in my work, having accepted and embraced the money system, I enjoy what I do every day, I find ways to have fun, I have dear friends both old and new that I invest in and cherish and who bring me so much joy and laughter – some of them are yogis, some of them are not. I am health aware, but not obsessed, my yoga practice is sometimes strong, sometimes not, I read fiction and non-fiction, I travel to places that have nothing to do with yoga sometimes, I enjoy my food, whatever it is I’m eating, I seek meaningful connection, I laugh, I play and I hold the mystery of life close to my heart, and I’m finally ok with accepting that I will not, and cannot know everything there is to know.

And that is why I teach yoga, and mentor people on how to Enjoy life. I want others to use the deeply transformative and often times challenging practices of yoga and meditation to Enjoy their life more.

Dangerous compassion by Cherryl Duncan

'The Able Ones, the Buddhas, who have considered this for many aeons, have all seen bodhichitta to be the most beneficial. Because through it countless masses of living beings can easily attain the supreme bliss of enlightenment.' ~ A guide to the Boddhisatva’s way of life (Bodhisatvacharyavatara)

Bodhichitta, for those not familiar with this text, is essentially the wish for enlightenment for all other beings and can roughly be translated in Cherryl’s words as compassion on a mega grand scale.

If you’ve been practicing yoga for longer than a few months, you most likely would’ve come across principles like non-violence, mindfulness and compassion, to name just a few, and even if you haven’t yet come into contact with a text like the one above, you would’ve hopefully started some kind of inquiry into the different paths and states of consciousness available to you.

And if you’re like me and have been practicing and studying this stuff for more than a decade you would’ve most likely delved a little deeper into these principles and started living them, dissecting them, debating them, trying them on and even throwing some of them out.

It’s a complicated one to really get. But if the text on developing compassion i.e Bodhichitta is to be believed, then total enlightenment is within our grasp. The above quote is just an excerpt from an entire poem that basically says total enlightenment is not possible without the wish for enlightenment for everyone else (In case you didn’t get it). You can read the whole poem in

A guide to the Boddhisatva’s way of life  - How to Enjoy a Life of Great Meaning and Altruism By Shantideva, translated under the guidance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. It’s available on Amazon

So let’s look at compassion.

It isn’t sympathy, because sympathy is said to exacerbate our already hard-wired belief that we are separate from everyone and everything around us, and being sympathetic puts you firmly in a ‘I am here and you over there suffering’ relationship.

Empathy, while closer, is still not compassion exactly. While empathy allows us to truly feel what another is feeling, it doesn’t necessarily compel us to action. We simply feel with the other.

Compassion is when we feel with the other, and then are compelled to perform some act to alleviate the other person’s suffering. And this is where it get’s tricky. It get’s tricky because I don’t think compassion is possible without empathy. I think empathy comes first, and then we take the extra step to help, or do something about the other person’s suffering.

Developing true empathy alone means taking the step to stop thinking of oneself for a time, and to step into someone else’s world and situation irrespective of our own relationship to the topic. It means dropping our own beliefs and opinions about their situation and just being in another’s space as they see it. We look, but only for a moment, into our own memory bank of feeling and bring up similar experiences we’ve had (sometimes we need to use our imagination), but only so we gain access to the feeling so we can feel with another.

Some of us will do this more easily than others and some of us will do this too often for our own good. So how do we know when it’s good?

Gregory David Roberts, in his book Shantaram wrote ‘Every virtuous act is inspired by a dark secret’ and while this seems to be a rather grim way of seeing great acts of kindness, I believe there is some real truth in what he’s saying.

We must look deep within ourselves and ask ourselves the motivation for doing the ‘kind’ things we do or accept from others.

Here are some examples of dark-secret-motivated acts of kindness and why they cannot be classified as acts of compassion:

Compassion is not doing something for someone else with expectation of some kind of pay back or return..

Compassion is not putting someone else before you because you believe you don’t deserve the respect, the validation, or the love.

Compassion is not giving someone your time, your energy and your resources out of a sense of obligation or threat.

Compassion is not performing outlandish acts of kindness in the hope of filling up your karma bank and then feeling self righteous about it.

Compassion is not indulging someone else’s selfish pathology and allowing them to cross your own personal and healthy boundaries even if you can understand why they do the heinous things they do.

I encourage looking closely at this word, and getting more honest about it. My view is that empathy is the key. When we can truly feel with another, and then act from that place, then we have a chance to practice compassion. We also have a chance to act authentically compassionately which often comes with the wisdom on how to act, which doesn’t mean giving the person what they are asking for necessarily.

And while we’re on the topic, let me also add that you do not lack compassion if you are driven, have vision, are motivated, inspired and are giving yourself the love you ask for from the world. Because I have come to realise that the more love you can give yourself, the more compassion you can show yourself, the more you can give to others. Not out of pathology but out of genuine empathy, which leads to wise and most likely helpful action.

The world needs compassionate people. The world needs empathetic people. It’s critical. We need to be both these things for our sakes and for the sake of humanity, so let’s get real about it, let’s take the time to truly understand it.

- Cherryl Duncan

Cherryl Duncan is the creator of dharmaKaya yoga and is committed to the path of demystifying the ancient truths of yoga and Eastern philosophy and harnessing its power in a practical and useful way for personal transformation and empowerment. She offers 0ne on one coaching, group coaching, and teacher training in Munich, Germany. Email cherryl@cherrylduncan.com to book a session 

Find your constant by Cherryl Duncan

Starting a business is an ultra marathon. You have to be able to live with uncertainty and push through a crucible of obstacles for years on end. Entrepreneurs who can avoid saying uncle have a better chance of finding their market and outlasting their inevitable mistakes. This trait is known by many names--perseverance, persistence, determination, commitment, resilience--but it's really just old-fashioned stick-to-it-iveness
 
This is from an article I read recently on the 7 traits of successful entrepreneurs and I couldn’t agree more.
I like to read and get in touch with others who’ve essentially gone their own way, especially when inspiration is low, exhaustion sets in and you’re left wondering why on earth you didn’t just get a job in your twenties , put your head down, have someone tell you what to do and reap the big pay check each month.
Honestly, I know the answer, which isn’t more complicated than me simply not being able to easily be told what to do. This has been true since the age of 4 years old, and nothing has really changed.
Not entirely a good character trait necessarily, but one that did result in me needing to do my own thing. I also have and always have had an obsessive desire to do something that matters to me.
 
But, belief in oneself waivers when life comes in and knocks you upside the head.
 
My recent separation from my last husband, and the acknowledgement that I was, once again, living through yet another failed marriage, was one such event that knocked me completely off balance. The weird thing about life’s knocks, and here’s something no one ever told me, and it’s something I certainly never read about, was that, when one area of your life fails dismally, it can unravel the other parts of your life that work together to make up who you think you are. When you doubt your judgement with something so fundamental as a partner, the doubt spreads into every other aspect of your life like a fierce and uncontrollable wild fire.  When you’ve built your life’s work, your business, and your livelihood on pretty much faith and belief in yourself alone, that can prove disastrous when the fire catches and burns everything to the ground.
 
That was me 18 months ago. I questioned the Yoga path, the Buddhist path, myself, my own beliefs, my sanity, my relationships, my country, my path, my own ability to take a step. Everything I had been so sure about before, was a shifting process with absolutely no sign of solidifying into anything I could trust ever again.
 
 It was through sheer will and determination to simply get up and take a step that got me to where I am now 18 months later.
I had to keep showing up for others, I had to keep teaching, and what I had to teach, had to be real. And so for a while I went quiet and didn’t say much at all, and then slowly I pieced together the fabric of what I do know to be true, and got very very real about what does actually work after I’ve burned it all to the ground. To look at the phoenix head on and say ok, let’s do this shit again, and let’s get even more real.
I often get asked why I stayed in Germany after my separation from my husband. Why, when I had no home, no stable job I could count on in any meaningful way, no family and no legal right to stay, would I not just pack up and run to the safety (and sunshine) of my home in South Africa.
 
Looking back now, I didn’t really feel like it was a choice. There was something very deep inside that said I was not ready to give up. That I needed to fight, that if I did give up, then what I gave up in South Africa to be here would’ve been for nothing, and I just couldn’t face that.
I couldn’t face being that wrong. By some miracle, I didn’t give up on that part of me that leads me deeper into the mystery of life. And THAT has been my constant.
I will always choose the hard path, I will always choose what is difficult, I will always choose the fire and I will always choose to face my fears. Other people have religion, family, houses, and job security, I have an unrelenting passion for the edges. And while that may seem extreme, it is my constant.
 
Once I accepted this, I started gravitating towards more and more constants. Piecing back together my beliefs, my business and my life. And here I am, on the other side of that storm, changed, and yet unchanged in some ways, with a home, with a community , doing what I love, trusting in love again, enjoying diverse friendships and as some of you would’ve seen, legal status J
 
I am still on the road in search of more constants, and the irony of being in Germany, the land of taxes, and systems and structures and stability, is not lost on me. I can’t think of a better place to bring those lost parts of me into the light.
 
With my search for more constants comes an acknowledgement of what I know to be true, more than ever before, and that is how the dharmaKaya yoga method was formed and how it continues to grow roots. My book Magnificently Real, while needing a bit of a memoir update, is also a constant I hold in my heart as a sincere and effective path into living bravely and authentically.
 
It’s not easy, but I would encourage anyone to throw out their beliefs at some point, just to see what sticks. It is my belief that if we don’t question ourselves at some point, life will come along and force it out of us. The wave is coming…. And it seems the more you think you’ll know how to ride it when it comes, the more likely it will envelope you, push you underwater, tumble you around until you have no idea where the surface is, and spit you out, (if you’re lucky) onto the shore. Check that what you’ve found as your constant is something that can survive, and if you’re very skilled, ride the wave when it comes.
 
For me it wasn’t my marriage, it wasn’t my country,, it wasn’t my job, it wasn’t even my yoga practice, and certainly wasn’t religion.
It was something that in the end feels like it can’t be taken away from me, and that is my unrelenting choice to go deeper, no matter how scary.
 
Knowing this is a blessing, but I feel even more blessed by those that choose to go on this path with me. I am grateful every single day to the brave souls willing to explore this way of studying the yogic path, getting rigorous with their own psyches in an effort to demystify and harness the power of yoga.  Together we keep it relevant and real. 
 
If you are interested in exploring your own edges, through the practices of yoga, through getting Magnificently Real or just having a conversation, then you can email me to set up a private coaching session, join the dharmkaya teacher training or mentorship program, or come on one of the retreats listed below.
 
See you on the edge, in the middle and out the other side.
 

What exactly is dharmaKaya yoga? by Cherryl Duncan

This Friday coming (the 9th June), I will be giving a talk as part of an online speaker series called Heal and Fuel.

Summit is for all the highly committed entrepreneurs and high potentials out there who love to give 100% for their dreams. If you love what you do and you want to be efficient and effective, you need strategies to keep your energy flowing!

It’s totally free so if you’re interested then register at https://shipwood.lpages.co/heal-and-fuel/

I’ve been preparing my talk this week, and delivering it on Friday is going to be a new and exciting experience for me, but what I am enjoying most about the process is that it forces me to very clearly define what it is that I do.

If I am to speak convincingly about yoga, and particularly my method of yoga, then I need to be very clear.

It sounds obvious, but when dharmaKaya was born, it was less ‘spark of divine inspiration’, and more practical necessity.

My style of teaching asana, and the philosophical content I was delivering was nothing that could be squeezed into any particular style, method, or philosophy I’d formally trained in.

It was rather an accumulation, integration, an all -encompassing mish mash of what I knew to be absolutely true, for me.

And it’s from that place that I am passionately committed to teaching from. In fact, authenticity is one of the anchors the method is based on, another topic I became especially committed to when I wrote Magnificently Real (Insert amazon link here)

So I gave my method a name and continued on my way.

Then things got a bit complicated and I found out that I needed to register and protect the name, and then an incredible thing happened in that other people wanted to learn the method too. So I started running teacher training programs and now we are a growing community of people evolving dharmaKaya together.

It’s very cool.

I have never claimed that dharmaKaya is a path to enlightenment. I do not know the path to enlightenment exactly, but I have learnt some pretty groovy practices along that way that have helped me develop incredible internal resilience and strength. I have overcome deep-rooted fears that allow me the courage to live a life with intensity and aliveness I never knew before finding yoga. My ability to be present, intuitive, empathetic, and available for connection is, I believe, directly related to the practices of mindfulness and meditation. And most importantly, I have changed the way I see the world, my perception is a constantly shifting process, one that goes deeper and deeper into the mystery; a mystery that is ultimately unknowable. Exactly the kind of challenge I’m up for,  one that you can never truly master. Because if we did know everything, if we had it all figured out, and understood everything, then there would be no more mystery, and to live without mystery, well, I just think that’s kind of dull. And yet, here I am, relentlessly pursuing truth with a belief that I’ll find it one day. The great paradox principle, my constant companion. Paradox, by the way, is another anchor, central to the dharmaKaya method and one of my favorites to teach. It stands in the face of pure dogma of absolute rights and wrongs and acknowledges the complexity of us as humans and the world around us. To play and accept that we are all things at once, contradicting often and true at the same time.

Having gone a little bit down the rabbit hole now, I realise how weird it is  now tell you that dharmaKaya is essentially about demystifying and harnessing the power of yoga. But it's true.  It’s about taking big ideas and making them simple and accessible. I use a lot of examples frommy own life, and from the lives of the people I work with as a way to inspire change in others. My life is often my message, my failures, my successes and my insights. I do not claim to know more than anyone else, I just share what I do know to be true- even it’s a very very small truth and that’s something.

I use the technology of Master Patanajali as part of the method because it makes sense, it has a logic I can appreciate and a practical set of tools that can have a powerful impact to raise states of consciousness. But, while I think it’s an incredibly useful text, I do not think it is the only source, the greatest source or the ultimate truth. But the technology works and I use it often in my teachings as part of the method.

Mindfulness is another of the important anchors of the method, a simple but powerful tool to be in the present moment.

I believe strongly in taking responsibility for our own lives and believe that we’re ultimately responsible, at least for the most part, for the lives we create and the last big point of the dharmaKaya method is a belief in self. I encourage students to develop their own personal and real relationship with consciousness. I do not believe this is anything anyone else can do for us and I certainly don’t believe that a guru is essential to gain access to these different states of being.

These principles are at the heart of the method and show up in every class in one form or another.

I use them in my coaching sessions, my yoga classes, my mindfulness trainings and of course we go very deeply into them in my teacher training programs.

For more information on booking a private session or signing up for a training visit www.cherrylduncan.com

The yoga practice itself can be described as a slow, challenging sequence of poses that flow into each other, with some long holds towards the end.

It is suitable for all levels – slow enough for beginners, challenging enough for advanced practitioners.

My talk on Friday will summarize the 5 anchors of dharmaKaya yoga but will speak more to using it on a practical day to day basis.

Looking forward to connecting you in whichever way we will.

Cherryl