Elevation Q&A with Clara Roberts-Oss
First off, what comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Elevation’?
There’s a great story I remember hearing in a Dj Food track from the 90s that makes me think of what it means to be literally and figuratively elevated: "A very wise man once wrote a poem while he was flying, and he called this poem “the God’s eye view,” and he said that this view was entirely different than the view he always had on the ground, which he called “the bug’s eye view.”
Out there, somewhere, in the air we fly through exists an old Persian legend much like this poem about a bug who spent his entire life in the world’s most beautifully designed Persian rug. All the bug ever saw in his lifetime were his problems. They stood up all around him. He couldn’t see over the top of them, and he had to fight his way through these tufts of wool in the rug to find the crumbs that people had spilled on the rug. And the tragedy of the story of the bug in the rug was this: that he lived and he died in the world’s most beautifully designed rug, but he never once knew that he spent his life inside something which had a pattern. Even if he, this bug, had even once gotten above the rug so that he could have seen all of it, he would have discovered something - that the very things he called his problems were a part of the pattern.
Have you ever felt like that bug in the rug? That you are so surrounded by your problems that you can't see any pattern to the world in which you live? Have you heard anybody say lately that the world is a total mess? That, my friends, is the bug’s eye view, and seeing only a little of the world, me might be inclined to think that this is true?“
To elevate your mind is to go beyond your day to day and be able to see the greater picture. When I feel "elevated", I remember that I am a part of something greater. By connecting to my higher self, the part of me that is not wrapped up in the tedious things in life, I don't sweat the small stuff, I can see the bigger picture, I can see both sides of the story, I am more diplomatic in my decisions.
How do you like to elevate your mind, body and soul?
I elevate my mind through yoga, taking intensives/trainings with senior teachers, meditation, looking at art, reading inspirational books, walking in nature, having heart to heart discussions with good friends, listening to music that makes me wanna sing out loud and dance, eating well, and doing things that challenge me.
Yoga and meditation not only ground me but also "defraggs" my brain. I find the daily grind clutters my mind. Moving through a Vinyasa sequence (flowing style yoga practice) and sitting meditation, even if for only a short time, helps me expand my awareness out of the to-do lists and other junk in my mind and into the present moment. Once I’m defragged, it’s easier for me to see and appreciate the bigger picture.
What are some of the benefits of feeling elevated in your day to day life?
Some of the benefits I experience when I make an effort to elevate myself is clarity, I’m less anxious, more mindful, joyous, calm, and grateful. It makes me a better human.
Do you ever try to incorporate elevation into your meditation/yoga practice? If so, how?
I try to always have a component of elevation in every practice. I remind myself of why I’m doing this—to be more loving towards myself, all those I come in contact with and the earth. I remember to be patient with my body and mind, letting go of preconceived notions of how I think my body and mind should be. It’s a work in progress. :)
Who or what raises your spirit?
The greatest gift I think I have ever witnessed is watching people doing what they are meant to. Whether it’s an artist, parent, teacher, athlete, doctor or chef, when someone is doing what they are here to do, I feel so much joy. It’s so inspiring to see people doing what they love.
A few specific examples of people or things that raise my spirit:
- Being with my yoga/philosophy teachers: Shiva Rea, Stacey Brass, Daniel Odier, Paul Ortega, Douglas Brooks.
- Dancing to really good music
- Sitting in beautiful spaces
- Riding my bike
When feeling disconnected, what steps do you take to try and elevate your mindset?
When I’m feeling disconnected I try to schedule time in my day for myself. I have the tendency to pack my days with work and that’s usually where the disconnected feeling comes from. I like to take time for myself in the morning. I’ll usually do a home yoga practice, pick an Osho or Tarot card and sit meditation contemplating the card picked. If I don't have that kind of time, I usually plug my headphones in, put my legs up and the wall and listen to Yoga Nidra (guided relaxation). If I only have a few minutes, I close my eyes, wherever I am, and take 10 deep breathes.
What advice would you give others who are stuck in negative thought patterns and consistently tell themselves “I can’t…”?
The advice I'd offer to someone who is having a hard time shifting negative patterns is to first remember that you have a choice how you respond to the world. We don't always have a choice how the world around us works but we choose how we take it in and how we respond to it. So first make the choice, do I want to continue having these kinds of thoughts? Do I want to continue to move through my life with this same thought pattern? Is it serving me? Is it making me happy? Kind? Loving? Compassionate? Patient?
If it isn't, then make a conscious effort to begin to shift it. The first step is to just work on observing yourself, you can do this either by simply sitting for 5-10 minutes a day and watching your thought pattern or starting a mindful practice (yoga, tai chi) and take the time to observe your thoughts and habitual patterns. Once you get to know your thought process/habitual patterns, you can now begin to shift them. As those negative thoughts or patterns show up again, ask yourself, does this serve me? If it doesn't, take a deep breath and envision it leaving or softening into the background. I find the negative thoughts never truly leave, they just don't take up as much space in my attention. Instead, I choose to focus on things that serve me, that make me a better human.
How can others practice the art of elevation?
The art of elevation is a choice. If want to elevate your body, mind and life, you have to make choices in your day to day life that ultimately uplift you. What you eat, who you surround yourself with, how you spend your time, how much sleep you get--before making any decision, think "Is this good for me? Good for my community? Good for the environment?".
Clara believes that much of the spiritual practice is about ‘Lila’, cosmic play. It is believed that the universe was created from Lila. When we play, we open ourselves to what is happening presently without focusing on the outcome. It is less about the goal and more about the evolution. As a teacher, Clara encourages her students to listen to their inner guide, through breath and awareness while flowing through a strong and integrated vinyasa class.
Clara has taught for over a decade and has been leading retreats and teacher trainings worldwide for the last 7 years. She draws from many different traditions including Prana Flow by Shiva Rea, Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Jivamukti, to create strong, integrated holistic classes. Clara has also studied philosophy with Paul Ortega, Lorin Roche and Daniel Odier.
Join Clara in Mexico this coming November with Carolyn Anne Budgell for week of yoga, mediation, good food and new friends.
For more information on her teaching schedule, workshops and teacher trainings, click here.