Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Everything works better when we make time for ourselves

Before my child was born (my first and only), I kept my life very spacious. His father worked different hours and lots of them, and I had a lot of time to myself. I liked it best that way. I stayed peaceful, vibrant, free-spirited and grounded.

I'm an only child, and always thrived with a lot of personal time. I use it in various ways- writing, reading, art, music, hiking, yoga, and so on. I have taken many spacious walks, no time limit, no destination at times, just the fresh air, earth, movement, and the rest of the world just swirling around me in its own way. Gentle and leisurely self-reflection and spacious presence are the common thread among all these varying ways to return to myself.

After all, returning to ourselves is the quest of yoga, of spare time, of life, right? Find out who and what we are and to be that fully and fearlessly is our individual purpose in life. Who we are evolves constantly, and we can direct this consciously. Carving out "spare" time gives us the necessary space required to rejuvenate, and to drop all of the erratic or negative energy and stress we have gathered from our frenzied interactions with others in the so-called real world or man-made deadlines, pretense, and insufficiency. When we do what feels good, be it cleaning our home and rearranging the furniture or taking a long hike, we clear our minds of all the past clutter, all of the stress that clogs our attention and robs us of peace, health, contentment and joy.

Our society doesn't value down-time, especially down-time spent alone or not shopping or watching TV. Self-reflection is crucial, either actively or passively (both are required), and gives us the freedom we need to re-expand into our natural state (yoga, being our unique selves fully).

I have recently realized that lately I have given up all of my down-time. And I am not well for it. I am less creative, inspired, joyful and positive. I am less pleasant, and I am not myself. I am not a horrible person, but I am not me. And I am not willing to be anything less then the most whole and vibrant version of myself possible at all times. I want my son to know me for the wonderful person I am, and I need to be my very best example for him. My sweetheart deserves the very best version of me as well. How can we expect love to thrive when we smother each other and don't have the freedom to be ourselves, evolve, and miss each other?

This is the value of independently spent, relaxing, rejuvenating, self-reflective time. It saves romantic relationships. It makes us sick less often and more satisfied in our lives. It helps us to be the most patient and loving parents possible. It makes life better, for ourselves and everyone around us. If you think that is just a little far-fetched, consider how a person's patience is inversely proportionate to their amount of inner peace. Without constructive down-time, we all become fearful, raggedy, bitchy little cobras, heads reared up, ready to attack anything and anyone that moves. Everything becomes a burden, a chore, a reason to sigh or feel on edge.

We have to trust ourselves and each other enough to allow and encourage this constructive freedom. If we want our romantic relationships to stand a chance of weathering the tests of daily life and time, we need to do this for each other. We need to require it of ourselves and each other. It is the same as parents- without time apart we have no space to miss our kids, and we do not treat them as patiently and we cannot appreciate them as thoroughly. Even if we are single without children, we have to take time from work for play. In many European nations, two-weeks vacations every year are mandatory, and no work is to be done at all, no communication from the office is allowed.

Perhaps that's why the single life is so admired by so many- its not that it is even fundamentally better then a relationship or marriage- its that it naturally involves lots of free time, and most couples, with good intentions, pave the road to their break-up with a complete lack of regular, healthy alone-time for each individual.

Life is like one of those little puzzles with the squares- without one blank square nothing else moves and nothing works.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Expand into Nature + Walk Until Your Mind Shuts Up

There is a monstrous difference in our energy when we are indoors versus being outdoors in nature. Even if you don't think of urban or suburban sidewalks as 'nature', being outside period invites our energy to return to its natural expansive state.

The Yoga Spanadakarika calls the state of self-consciousness and ignorance we typically live in a "constriction of shakti", or life energy. When we are in a state of yoga, or harmony, our shakti is expansive, we are unbound. It makes perfect sense to describe it this way: if you watch your experience, when you enter inside from the outdoors, even more noticeably when you enter a public place with chaotic energy, such as a mall, and feel your energy.  When you are anxious or uncomfortable in any way, watch your energy, the sensations you experience. Feel how your body tightens up, draws in towards the center, tenses. Our creativity is restrained, our attitude is not as positive, our confidence is often retreated within itself.  When we are feeling whole and harmonious, we tend to feel open, light, free, inspired, creative, bold, literally expansive. When we go outside, we can feel this shift, from the walls and ceilings constricting our energy to the buoyant lightness, freedom as we unfurl and merge with the sky. This is perhaps a very poetically subjective way to state the experience, but try it for yourself when you are in a sensitive state of awareness.

Being stuck in our thoughts is another form of constriction of shakti. As we withdraw into our own heads, we withdraw from our connection to the world and beings around us. As we become more openly aware of internal and external at once, more present, we expand once again to a more natural state and frequency of our energy. Walking briskly outdoors, while consciously feeling posture, breath, air, and drinking in the scenery with your eyes. Every time you notice that you are participating in thinking and the inner conversation, as soon as you are aware, come back to even just a moment of taking in the scenery with your heart and senses wide open, only space, no thoughts. You can't push the thinking out, but you can get used to not paying attention to it unless its functional. This allows you to tune your attention to a different wavelength- the wavelength of being present. After you walk a while and practice this, you will find more and more space in between the thoughts pervading your mind. You will feel less constricted, less congested, less cluttered and flustered, and instead calmer, more focused, more peaceful, energized and grateful.  It depends on how long your mind needs to settle in, but 20-60 minutes is best.

Touching nature is always beneficial for our state of mental and physical health. Try to make some sort of contact everyday, with fresh air, sunshine, movement outdoors, and walk everyday if you can. Walking is the greatest natural anti-depressant. Whenever you feel stressed, just get outside and walk until your mind shuts up.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What can I give to you?

"I exist not just for my own sake, but by my mere existence seek to somehow brighten the world around me..."

Seeking fitness, eating healthier, and practicing yoga + meditation have changed my life so for the better. I am a better version of me- so much healthier, happier, and thus kinder and more compassionate. My confidence is a million times better then it ever was, and I have so much love and joy in my life. I have so much energy, so much passion, so much experience, and all I want to do is share it. I want everyone to find the best, happiest versions of themselves and to live their lives with great passion.

What can I do to help, to be a guide or assistant on that journey?

What can I give to you? I sincerely wish you'd answer: e-mail, comments, call, write, please!

I have many ideas, but at this moment am just waiting until the right step becomes clear...

I wanted to create a very thorough DVD boxed set with everything- several practices at all levels, information about lifestyle, including healthy eating...

I would like to teach a week-long Natural Yoga Method workshop this Summer in Esperance, eventually teaching at Kripalu a couple times each year.

A couple ideas for books:

A cookbook about using healthy cooking as a way to relax and ground yourself within an otherwise hectic lifestyle.

A simple book of poems and quotes to pick up for random inspiration.

A thorough guide to living a healthier, more passionate and personally-expressive, compassionate life. It will include yoga but not just be a yoga book.

I write numerous blogs with the point of sharing insight and experiences to assist others on the path to deeper happiness. If you enjoy my writing, please follow this blog, and may it serve you.

I also post YouTube videos, on the Natural Yoga Method channel. These free insight and yoga practice videos can help you to practice at home. Please let me know if you have any requests- please!!

I have so much to give and wish to be a resource to the Universe in its unfolding. I am just one little being, and while I have much unfolding of my own left to do, I am clear that a significant part of that blossoming lies in serving others in any way possible.

I exist not just for myself, but by my mere existence seek to brighten the world around me. In opening myself to serve others, I grow. In looking out for another's happiness, ours expands. In giving, we receive.

It can sound so trite, but open your heart and try, and tell me what is the truth of your experience? We need to dissolve the cynical shells we have developed around our hearts. They only keep love out and pain in. Our society doesn't teach us what we need to know to live passionately and with the level of fulfillment that we deserve and desire. We need to bravely carve our own paths in harmony with our individual truth. We need to respect the differences between each of us if we ever wish to find where we are the same. Inner peace, being in harmony with one's self, as Marcus Aerelius said, puts us in harmony with the Universe. Peace between us can only exist when there is harmony within us.

Please tell me what it is that I can do for you, give to you, to help you take the next step on your journey.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Green Yogini

I feel extremely passionate about offering "Green Yogini" in-home services. For those that are not sure about trying yoga, are uncomfortable practicing in a group-setting, or want to learn hands-on how to take their practice off the mat and into their everyday life, I am grateful to offer this incredible service.

The fees are flexible, set on a sliding-scale based on what clients can afford. A free consultation is offered to interview each other, and to discuss and formulate a plan as to what combination of these services would be the perfect fit for your life.

The services can include many things: chemical-free, natural, "green" housekeeping; yoga + meditation lessons; teaching healthy, whole foods cooking; preparing ahead healthy meals for the week; personal organization, home re-design, and arrangement to make the space more conducive to positive energy; and more.

The environment around us impacts our mind and body. A cluttered or constrictive space produces a stressed, overly busy, cluttered mental state. A clear, organized, and harmoniously arranged space leaves a feeling of clarity, focus, and creative inspiration.

The Green Yogini services can be used to free more time for what is most important in life: loved ones, travel, adventure, creativity or relaxation. For example, for a busy professional having healthy meals prepared for the week can free up some precious time for relaxation. Having cleaning services every other week can help a hard-working couple enjoy more time with their children, and to feel more relaxed while doing so.

I use no chemicals, only safe and effective, inexpensive and simple, natural products. I can teach how to use them, and require each client to have their own cheap green cleaning kit, in this way the home can be safer, cleaner, and the health of the people and pets will not be jeopardized by harmful, environmentally hazardous products. Natural products can be significantly less expensive then regular products.

My goal with these services is to spread the benefits of yoga and meditation off the mat, and to individuals that may not be ready or open to actual yoga practice. All of these services are informed and based on yoga and meditation practices and the sort of freedom and wisdom they reveal deep inside through actual practice. Everyone has a unique gift and place in this world, everyone has the right and desire to have deep happiness and freedom from suffering. By helping individuals and families to remove some of the roadblocks on the path to greater health and wholeness, I feel as though I am making my unique contribution to this world.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Feet and the Expansion of Consciousness

Our feet are our foundation, and if you ask any chiropractor, they'll tell you that most people don't apply their feet evenly or fully on the ground when they stand or move. If the foundation is shaky, filled with aversion, attachment and resistance, then the integrity of the entire structure is compromised. The structure we refer to here is the body, and especially the spine.

The spine is the main component of the nervous system, besides the brain of course, conducting signals to the brain from all over the body. Damage or impingment to the functioning of the spine leads to degradation of overall wellness and the sustainment of the entire body.

There is a concept of seeing our posture, our up-rightness, as indicative of our level of consciousness. I first saw this correlation connection in Will Johnson's book about mahamudra. And it seems to feel right in my experience. Mood and posture intermingle and effect each other. Inspiration, presence, and compassion seem to be easier to find when the body feels lighter and more fully open.

So if you wish to seek the path to enlightenment, start by looking at how your feet engage the earth in each moment.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

How To Follow Your Heart in Plain English

Sometimes I struggle with describing what I consider, after being present, the very center of yoga- following the heart-conscience.

I think the best word for it came to me this morning while doing some inspired writing to a loved one- PASSION. How simple! How honest! We all have passion about different things, and whatever inspires that passion, that passion itself, should never be ignored. It is the very center of our existence. Passion connects us to the creative forces within us and to unconditional love. We are passionate about other people, animals, nature, music, sports, causes, beauty... Every person is inspired in a different way by a different combination of things.

To ignore our passion is to be half-alive, half-dead. Following passion honestly, boldly and bravely leads to fulfillment and success. Passion is connected to compassion- we can see how others have passion, love, hopes, and a desire to be happy and free from suffering just like us. We see that although we may not know them, they are someone somewhere's loved ones. We expand our circle of compassion by living with passion.

That is the simplest way to express what it is to follow the heart- follow your passion. An otherwise vague and esoteric subject can be summarized as concisely as that.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ever-changing Context

When I lose my stride, I move until I find it again.

When its gone, its never lost, and it returns no matter what the cost.

Often found on the mat, in the sun, and all alone,

And in the silent spaces unknown.

Many people have come and gone,
Many beings have come and gone,
And all have worth just because of birth,
And because of birth comes death.

Nothing owes us anything,
Yet we owe everything to everything,
Independence is both a virtue and an illusion.

We all arise, energies rearrange, nothing ever stays the same,
It can't, stagnation means demise.

And even death means rearrangement,
Recycling, reincarnation, does it not?

Do you believe in all you see,
Then you simply must agree,
The corpse eaten by worm,
turns to dirt, dirt nourishes plant, plant in turn, becomes a bird.

Life leads us round an endless circle,
I imagine all the way from one to next to next,
And everything is an endless sea, of ever changing context.

Desiderata - by Max Ehrmann

Desiderata - by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Choices I make Today...

The choices we make in each moment not only impact the entire world around us in the moment, but in the future too. And in each present moment, we sculpt our future with our current choices.

In the yogic view, there is a difference between what is "right" and what is "pleasurable", at least that is how it is translated. What is right can sometimes be abstaining from something we desire or are attached to, or doing something that we don't really want to do. Doing what is right is the choice that leads to deeper, more abiding satisfaction, energetic health, and most importantly a lack of guilt or regret. Guilt and regret eat us alive, I truly feel they are intimately linked to cancer.

What is pleasurable in this moment may be also what is right or best, but it may be destructive in the short and long-term, to ourselves and others. That cigarette satisfies the nagging mental urge and gives a familiar feeling of calm for a moment, but it inevitably leaves us unsatisfied because we want more and more. It also poisons our body, wrecks our senses, and dulls our energetic connection to the world around us. It will break us away from our life. That beer may give us a comfortable level of warmth, confidence and ease, but it too poisons our body. The toxins wear the body out, leading to low-level (or deeper) depression, lack of self-esteem and a lethargy or lack of motivation that is hard to shake. It also morphs us, and make us reflect the fear or anger or sadness or emptiness that we are running from or trying to fill.

Any choice we make that is pleasurable in the moment but depletes our vitality or harms the well-being of others is considered unskillful, undesired, and thus the poorer choice. Why eat foods that cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or from which we have to detox? Why not eat delicious AND nourishing foods that create health and keep us energetic, minimize sickness and suffering, and sharply reduce health-care costs? Why must we always buy disposable things? Wiping our face and throwing away precious resources for the sake a little convenience is lazy, and self-depreciating. Our life is worth more than making a giant pile of garbage.

The right choice, in my experience, may take a little (or a lot at times) more self-control, but then the satisfaction derived from them builds lasting confidence, positivity, joy, and not only self-respect; but garners true respect from others, the kind that feeds into these other positive qualities in them and us.

We are bigger then our whims and addictions. Through trial and error we can learn to follow the "right" impulse, the urging from the deepest part of us that is always in harmony with the Whole. We can learn to ignore or temper the shallow longings of the ego side of us, the longings that lead us further from the truth of our own essence.

Choose carefully, you are creating your future, and the future of your world. Choose freedom over the prison of disease and addiction. You are here to be you, to live this life fully, to express your unique spark, your individual star in the night sky. We drift far away from our best self when we let ourselves be led by temporary gain, material, or momentary pleasure over the fullness and richness of creative, confident, freedom connected to the Universe in the role, the story, of this very life.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®