Inspired by the theme of love and my recent time in India, our blog posts this month will focus on the practice, tools, and benefits of Bhakti yoga. Bhakti (pronounced buck-tee, bhock-tee, or bach-tee) is a Sanskrit word that means devotion, supreme love, or divine love. The practice of Bhakti Yoga is about cultivating one’s personal relationship with the divine. Whether this is your first time reading about Bhakti, or you are a master of the practice, there’s nectar here for you. Read on and learn some new tools to support you in your life, spiritual practice, relationships, and business.
A special note about this post: India is a constant, whole, huge, and unexpected adventure filled with blessing after blessing after blessing. It cracks open the heart again and again, teaching - moment to moment - how to surrender, how to receive, how to have faith. The practice of opening, receiving, visioning, and having faith are deeply connected - and surrender is at the heart of all of it. Not surrender to an idea or a religious teaching, but surrender to the process, to the inner guide, to the divine, to the unconditionals.
I wrote this blog while I was in India, and the transmission of all the blessings I received is here for you. Close your eyes and let these blessings in. Imagine you are being held and loved in *exactly* the way you’ve always longed for. Lean into that love and you’ll start to feel the vibes I’m sending. That is good preparation for really receiving the message of this teaching.
Bhakti is a spiritual path of approaching the whole world through the lens of love.
The practice of Bhakti is a powerful tool for elevating consciousness so that you can master yourself and create the life you want. This isn’t a traditional way to talk about Bhakti, but I believe all consciousness practices should be applied to this work of expansion and growth - and I believe that means creating more and more of the lives that we want.
Bhakti Yoga teaches that everything in life is either the expression of love, or the calling for love.
Every. Single. Thing.
Let’s be real honest here. Sometimes we're in a place of delicious generosity, channeling the love of the divine out into the world. Sometimes, we are the embodiment of love - when we hold a newborn, play with a puppy, laugh with our best friend, dance our hearts open, go deep in meditation, wake up refreshed on a Saturday morning, or have a full blown orgasm. There are beautiful moments when love is easy, pure, unadulterated. Let’s call these moments the expression of love.
And then there's all the other times, all the other feelings. When we’re angry, bitter, confused, uncertain, insecure, lonely, distracted, resentful, enraged. Anytime we’re feeling anything other than pure ecstasy and bliss - let’s call all of those moments the calling for love.
The practice of Bhakti is a superpower during times of contrast and challenge in our lives. In order to put this into practice, there is one important point we have to cover here. Devotion is a practice of feeling like there is one to offer to. The whole concept of God - aka Source, the divine, The Universe - is just a way of connecting to that which is unconditional. Bhakti is cultivating relationship with this One and doing so all the time, especially when we don’t feel perfect joy. Bhakti allows us to let ourselves yearn, reach, stretch our arms to receive the love we long for, and to use ALL the moments of our lives to take us deeper into connection, love, and full expression.
Bhakti means seeing all of our desires - and the feelings we have when we’re thwarted - as crying out for love. And not just any love, but the perfect, unconditional, deep and fulfilling kind of love - which is definitively not human (we know how conditional and inconsistent we are!) but divine love. We long for that love with every breath, every heartbeat, every interaction, every feeling.
Here are two tools you can use to play with these principles:
BHAKTI CONSCIOUS PRACTICE 1
Practice seeing your life through the lens of love. When you call every feeling, experience, and thought either love or the calling for love, what do you notice? Give yourself a week to simply observe what happens to the quality of your mind and heart when you name each moment as love or the calling for love. What do you see? What questions arise?
BHAKTI CONSCIOUS PRACTICE 2
The next level of practice is to explicitly offer every feeling, experience, and thought to that One. Here’s an example of how this looks: I’m at the train station in Mathura. My train is delayed by two hours and I’m all alone and vaguely annoyed. As soon as I realize I’m feeling annoyed, I can offer that feeling to God. This is how it sounds in my brain: “Oh hey God. I’m feeling a little annoyed right now. I’m longing for your love and not feeling it as strongly as I’d like. I want your love. I’m crying out for your love and here’s what I’ll give you: all of my annoyance. It’s all for you. I’m also enjoying working on my blog post so I’ll give you that too: my engagement, my joy, my struggle to find the most precise words - all of THAT is also for you.” It’s like watering a plant - and you can do it with *everything* that you think and feel.
Let us know how these practices work for you! What do you notice? What questions arise? We’re so curious.
Stay tuned for more on how to integrate Bhakti practices to support your life and your business next time!