April 6th, 2016
I’m often asked “what do you like about Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)?” It is a great question and one that I love as it helps me to move from the passion in my heart, joy in my body and elation in my spirit into the words that express it. To be honest it can be challenging for me to express in words those feelings of heart, body and spirit. Finding those words that might give the person asking me “why” an understanding is often even more challenging when they have never experienced SUP.
Have you ever had that experience? Have you been asked to express something that is so visceral that words can only begin to interpret the experience? Or maybe it is being so kinesthetic that we are less verbal and visual in our experiences and that makes it a difficult task to bring words to it.
I feel my experiences more than see or hear them. My spirit is right there with me on the board, cheering me on to embrace the beauty, to challenge the skills of the body and mind, and to care for the environment around me.
There is such a deep sense of honor that I feel when I’m standing on the water, gliding across her, or riding her forces in waves and currents. I respect all that power that Mother Nature has and feel privileged to harness it in such a loving experience. To catch the wind on my back on a downwind ride, while feeling a wave pulling me through the water is amazing. No ride at Disney compares to it for me.
Digging in when I’m challenged by wind, current, or the miles I’m putting in sparks the warrior spirit in me. I feel the “I can do this” spirit strong in me at those points, and the rush of that spirit kicks up something long-lasting in me. Hours after I have paddled, my energy and spirit continues to soar even though it would make sense that I would be feeling tired after the exertion of the ride.
Spending all that time on the water has raised my consciousness about what a gift our waterways and oceans are. It seems to be a gift that many take for granted. The lack of consciousness in others concerns me, as over the years of being out on the water, sailing or paddling, I have seen a tremendous decrease in the health of the waters I paddle. I do what I can in clearing the trash and plastic I find while on the water or along the shoreline. At the same time I look for ways to raise others consciousness about the gifts we will miss if we don’t start taking care of our seas, rivers, and lakes. We live in an ecosystem that is all about connection. If one part becomes “sick” it affects the rest of the system. Your litter does make a difference, so dispose of it properly, use less plastic and spread the word! Clean water to enjoy recreationally is something I hope to pass down for many generations.
My yoga practice off the mat is ever present for me on the board. Starting with the breath, always the breath, I am connected to the waves, the stroke and the wind through my breath. Of course the agility, balance and strength I have from my yoga practice is an asset but it is the spirit and mind’s practice that I feel alive during a paddle. Being present on the board is an aptitude I recognize I have gained over the years of practicing yoga. Then there is the mindfulness that slips off the yoga mat and rides with me on the board. It is the mindfulness that helps me keep a clear mind and uplifted spirit, not to mention the cheerleading I get in being mindful each moment. If I start to feel a bit of lagging in my physical or mental experience it is in that mindful moment I switch gears, dig in and look at ways to be uplifted.
Often how I answer that question about why I like SUP is usually this; “It is the closest I’ll every get to walking on water.” The elation I get when I go places I have never been to by boat before(sailing or other) is irreplaceable. The inner goddess of adventure is enlivened every time I get on my board on a new waterway, or go to discover new places. For me that is the spark that keeps on giving! I am like the character Forrest Gump, I want to just keep on going! See you around that next island.
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February 25th, 2016
Imagine yourself on an adventure. You are stalking through deep woods, entangled by branches and vines. You quickly pull out a tool that helps you cut yourself a clear path. Maybe it is a sharp quick blade that severs the teeming vines or a cane that slowly untangles the branches. This is the way of Yoga, tools that we learn to use to help untangle the mind’s thoughts that hold us in a path of unhappiness, confusion, or doubts. Yoga is that life adventure that helps us to not only discover inner peace but master it. Not everyone wants or cares about finding a way to inner peace but if inner peace sounds good to you, lets continue.
In the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali there are some clear guidelines on how we can find our way to peace within (Samadhi). There are four simple keys that fit four persistent locks that Patanjali shares with us in Yoga Sutra 1.33. “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” (translations Sri Swami Satchidandanda)
In all of its simplicity, like any other change, the application can be profoundly difficult. So let’s look at them individually and then how to put it all into practice.
The four keys are friendliness (maitri), compassion (karuna), delight (mudita), and disregard (upekshanam). These are the tools to carry with you, and with vigilance, you spend your day using them as each of the locks may present themselves in barring you from your mental state of peace within.
The four locks are happy (sukha), unhappy (dukha), virtuous (punya) and wicked (apunya). 24/7 we come across people and situations that can be defined as anyone of these locks. The mind will judge people or a situation in one of these four ways and then if we are not vigilant we can let our mind take us down a path of self manifested story, which we use to maintain a state of discontent. It is the usage of the four keys that will be your salvation in the maintenance of inner peace.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Each of the keys is a way of being, which may also define your actions, which will bring forth a feeling of inner peace. It is that simple in concept.
- Be friendly, feel inner peace.
- Be compassionate, feel inner peace.
- Be delighted, feel inner peace.
- Be indifferent (disregard), feel inner peace
It is in how we use the keys with the locks that is powerfully important!
- When you come across others who are happy you initiate friendliness from within.
- When you come across the unhappy activate compassion.
- When you come across the virtuous find delight for them.
- When you come across the wicked be indifferent.
In the Heart of Yoga Desikachar translates 1.33 in this way, “In daily life we see people around who are happier than we are, people who are less happy. Some may be doing praiseworthy things and others causing problems. Whatever may be our usual attitude toward such people and their actions, if we can be pleased with others who are happier than ourselves, compassionate toward those who are unhappy, joyful with those doing praiseworthy things, and remain undisturbed by the errors of others, our mind will be very tranquil.”
Ready to make the shift? Like any other change you make it will take 3 steps.
First begin to recognize when you are feeling out of sorts, disturbed and have a look at how you may NOT have been aware of the circumstances. Maybe you have come across someone who is happier than you are, and in that comparison you use it to feel less than friendly towards his or her happiness.
- Notice you feel “less than” and use it to wake up,
- Take the next step to forgive yourself for “forgetting your practice”
- Finally get back to a friendly feeling for their happiness.
Or you have a friend who is constantly unhappy, and you find yourself annoyed with them as their unhappiness tires your patience and puts a damper on your happiness.
- Recognize that your impatience is a reflection of a comparison that has you shutting down your heart’s inner peace.
- Give yourself a hug of forgiveness.
- Break open the compassion!
In the case of the virtuous, when you come across those who are doing a good deed and you are upset with them, use it as your wakeup to delighting in their actions. Notice how your inner peace shifts.
Finally you come across those whose actions you feel harmed by and slip into feeling victimized (that feeling can be strong, enticing but never peaceful.)
- Awaken by recognizing that you have fallen victim in your way of thinking/feeling
- Forgive yourself for being the disturber of your inner peace.
- Empower a sense of undisturbed peace again!
From that inner peace your actions will bear amazing healing within you, and bear fruit all around you. It is that powerful!
Using forgiveness will help you abstain from forms of unhappiness that many use in a self-abusiveness nature that can create tsunami waves of disturbance in our mental/emotional inner sanctum. Boy, does that disturb inner peace!
Our path then becomes recognizing the sacredness of inner peace, and our role as guardian of that inner sacristy. The divine within us is our way of upholding, caring for, and empowering the sacred known as inner peace.
Remember this only works when you implement and vigilantly practice! Find the lock you are in and use the key!
Posted in Articles, Inspirations from Class, Spirit, Yoga Philosophy | 1 Comment »
February 5th, 2016
Many like to work with intentions, but often find there is a deficiency between creating the intention and seeing it become manifested. What if there was less “working” with intentions and more PLAY? Let’s take a look at intentions and then how to amp up the empowerment of them through a playful FUN spirit that FUNds the intention into creation.
Keys to setting Intentions
- Keep them simple – less is more with intentions so finding the seed is important.
- See them clearly – take the time to hone down the noise, confusion, doubts, fears, uncertainty and find the core to what you are seeking.
- Hold them close- share them with those who will support, encourage or create space for you to fulfill them.
- Be persistent – creating something new is a timeless practice.
- Surrender – there is a certain amount of letting go that fuels intentions. Get ready, get set, let go!
Intentions vs Affirmations
Intentions are the dreams, visions, directions that you are proclaiming. They are expanded through the senses as you see them, feel it, hear or maybe even taste it.
Affirmations are the statements you use to fuel the intentions. Let them be in the present and positive. Then speak in terms of what you wish to become, not what you are getting rid of.
“I will be less fearful” becomes “I am courageous.”
“I want to be less angry” becomes “I am accepting.” Or “I am tolerant.”
You are Not Alone
Intentions and affirmations are empowered by a willingness to be in collaboration with that which is greater than you are. Trust, faith and love are key to this practice or path. You become open to assistance from “other” forces and you become aware of how the support is showing up in your life. As much as you will want to create actions that are in line with your intentions, it is EQUALLY important to create space for life to nourish your intention, and stillness to let it unfold. The more tension that exists in your “pursuit” of your intention, the less ability it has to expand, formulate, and grow. Relax, breath and feel the power of trust.
Make it FUN
Another important element that many fail to see, let alone allow in the creations of intention, is to shine great amount of light, in all forms, upon the intention. I already spoke of it in discussing the importance of clarity in creating your intention but consider also a lightness of spirit. FUNding your intentions with a playful approach will allow the vibration to magnify the intention.
Here are 10 ways to FUNd your intentions:
- Create a Dreamboard – get out the old magazines and start cutting out bright and colorful pictures that embody your intentions. Let then inspire all of your senses!
- Write out a check to yourself from the Universe. MAKE IT BIG~!
- Gather all your change and toss it out on your front walk, let the Universe flow more abundance to you.
- Pay it forward – open up the channels of receiving by first giving in a way that feels GREAT!
- “Go outside and play” was a powerful place for many of us as we grew up. Live it again and enliven your intentions with the joyful spirit of play and nature.
- Appreciation raises the value and vibration of things. Make it a game you play- i.e. 100 days / 100 ways of Appreciation or pick an action you do (like yawning) as a stop point to pause and appreciate something!
- Have a party to celebrate Intention. Invite all those supportive friends to come share their intentions and celebrate as if they are fulfilled!
- Play dress up: Get up today and live your day as if the intent
ion was complete. How would you dress, eat, speak to others? Live it now!
- Link your Intention with a song, and sing it often!
- Decorate your home with your affirmations. You can be subtle and paste a few in your bedroom or office, or go full out and place them all over the house!
The key to this practice is to make it fun! It is the spirit of playfulness that fuels the intention. In being playful we are open, receptive and limitless in potential. Have a blast and may all your intentions be fulfilled!
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January 8th, 2016
2016 is here and for many of you this new year has brought forth your dreams, New Year’s Resolutions or maybe an intention. Reflect for a moment on past New Year’s Resolutions. Some of them may have been fulfilled or changes made, while for other resolutions you may have had great intention yet somewhere along the way the will dissolved or the intention was distracted.
The yoga tradition includes a practice of resolve called Sankalpa. The meaning is to vow or commit to that which is our highest or true nature. It often is rooted in aspects that already exist, and we vow to uphold, express, live them.
It is important to understand the difference between what you may have been taught about New Year’s resolutions and Sankalpa. Let’s begin by looking at how many make up resolutions that are about doing something different, often reflected on what is lacking or too much in their life. The resolutions then reflect doing more or less of something. “I weigh too much and vow to lose the weight this year” or “I don’t exercise enough and I’m going to exercise 3x per week” are examples of resolutions that are viewed from a perspective of not enough or too much that bring us to an action or doing something different.
A Sankalpa begins from recognizing something powerful and deeply heartfelt. We already know that this exists in us and our vow is to become it in our live choices or way of being in the world. A Sankalpa becomes a mantra or affirmation of what IS that helps to keep it in our field of consciousness. “I vow to be compassionate.” “I feel compassion towards others.” “I am compassionate.” All of these would be ways to express one’s Sankalpa. Personally I find that present tense statements (rather than future tense) empower the Sankalpa.
The first step is to be still, listen to your heart’s desires and feel. Sankalpa is feeling derived rather than a thought process. For many of us steeped in action, running from here to there, you will need to slow down and find stillness and silence to listen to the heart. Feeling what is birthing within is that first step, then proclaiming it often during the course of your day will help nurture it into being.
Awakening it with your mantra or affirmation would be the next step. Remember to empower it with a present tense verb of being. An example would be to transform an affirmation like “I will be more patient” becomes “I am patient.” “I want more love in my life” would become “I am loving.” Then vow to speak it out loud or to yourself often, and do it daily. You might find it helpful to link it with an activity during the day like brushing your teeth, going in or out of your car, or at mealtimes. I find it even more powerful to link it to those thoughts or actions that are in opposition to that which I am vowing. For example thoughts of fear or judgment might be the perfect time to proclaim, “I am loving.”
Your yoga practice will also help you to settle inward, and hear your heart’s desire. As you transform through the practice of yoga you may feel an alignment to your heart’s desires, which creates a sense of ease in releasing those “ways” that no longer serve you. You may have already experienced the letting go of something in your life that seemed so easy and natural that you dismissed it in some way, as you are used to more difficulty in changes in your life. Enjoy the sweetness that comes with this form of change. Embracing that each of us has the potential to transform with ease can be a keystone to the practice of Sankalpa We are simply breathing life into those parts of us that already exist.
I wish you a most splendid New Year, and may your heart’s desires be realized as you create them through Sankalpa.
Posted in Articles, Inspirations from Class, Spirit, Yoga Philosophy | 3 Comments »
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December 3rd, 2015
She screams from deep inside her heart – STOP IT!
Stop the hatred
Stop the fear
Stop the bigotry
Stop the bloodshed
Then her heart pushes harder and says “what then my dear?”
A gentle embrace please
And a deep sigh is heard
Today I reflected on all that seems to be stirring, boiling up and spurting out. I struggle at times on how to hold the vibration of love, to keep my focus on how I can BE the difference and this poem came forth. As I was inspired to express these feelings and thoughts, may you be inspired to live deeply from the heart’s purpose. May you approach those trying moments, challenges and fears by listening to the wisdom of your own heart.
Compassion Love Understanding
Its a beginning.
Posted in Inspirations from Class, Spirit, Yoga And.. | 1 Comment »