Archive for ‘Yoga Philosophy’
Friday, September 2nd, 2016
Each morning when Don and I step out onto the beach to teach we find opportunities to live our yoga. Teaching in Nature gives us no room for expectations, only opportunities to be present, flow with what is happening and walk the path of acceptance. This season Cape Cod gave us so many opportunities to do all of that! This article is our Thanksgiving to our teachers!
THE TRACTOR –
Randomly the tractor joins us out on the beach. We hear it coming off in the distance on different days, at different times during class. The driver is doing his job in cleaning the beach before it is littered with people, chairs and beach toys galore. It rumbles down the beach, chugging and spewing, as it bumps along clattering with the sound of rocks tumbling.
Resist it or flow with it seems to be our options, and yoga teaches us to go with moments like this and find ways to work with what IS. We make space for its path, cue only when it is has moved further down the beach, and in doing so it seems the driver has recognized that we are working with him. Recently I noticed that he has shifted his routine staying at the far end of the beach until we are done with class rather than driving past us numerous times. I find great gratitude for this teaching of collaboration.
THE WEATHER –
When most of us think of Yoga on the Beach, the images are of a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze, the sound of the ocean’s chant of waves lapping the shore and the smell of the sea enthusing our practice. Many of our days out there are just like that, and then there are the challenging days of heat, threatening rain, chilly cold morning or humidity!
We have learned to adjust our teaching to the ever-changing nature of weather in “our studio”! I remember once being at Omega inside one of their beautiful classrooms and walking over to the thermostat to see if I could adjust it. It was unlocked with a small piece of paper taped underneath it with one word on it – ADJUST. I stood there for a moment as I realized how powerful that one word was and that I had a choice to adjust the thermostat on the wall or within myself. I chose the inner path, walked back to my place in class and continued on.
Don and I hold that lesson for our classroom, giving each student space to find their way to adjusting to the day. Face the sun, or keep your back to it. Stand by the water to cool down or IN IT! Wear layers for warmth or sun protection with the option of stripping down to your bikini.
We never know what the weather will be as it can shift even during class, and we amp it up for those days that start out chilly, or slow it down on the 3 H days of hazy, hot and humid.
THE FLIES –
This summer brought on an unusual amount of North winds that drive black flies onto the beach during class. What a challenge these small biters can be, and an opportunity to work with “what IS”!
One of the mornings was during Yin Yoga, which was a cooler morning then usual thank goodness, as the group did great in covering themselves with blankets to keep the flies off. It can be tough to find stillness while being bit, but it sure gave us the opportunity to practice finding inner peace over and over and over again!
Another morning we learned that you can run but you can’t hide with these persistent bugs. We started out on our mats, then moved to practice by the water (they followed us), then up on the deck (they found us again but in less numbers.) So we settled in and enjoyed using the props of chairs and wall to explore our practice. Guess who moved onto the beach while we were up on the deck? YUP, the tractor and what a perfect time to show up as we were already off the beach.
THE LESSONS –
Be Open to what IS
Find your way to acceptance of what is happening and then while flowing with it, continue to walk the path of ease, joy and learning.
Create space for others to find their way.
Use resistance wisely
Thursday, 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!
Friday, 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.
Friday, October 2nd, 2015
In my last post I shared what is True North Nature and how it helps us to feel connected, inspired, resourceful and empowered in our daily life. This month I am sharing some of the tools or resources you can utilize to strengthen your connection with this powerful inner resource. Are you ready?
TOOLS THAT HELP US CONNECT TO TRUE NORTH NATURE
Are you a seeker? Has the rumbling started deep within you to connect again? Here are just a few ways to help you connect to your True North Nature. You may notice that one just leads you to another. There is no pecking order here, just start with one and you will find that the others will follow.
- SPEND TIME IN NATURE
- STILLNESS, QUIET, CALM
- OFF COURSE SIGNS
- EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN
- EAT FRESH, LIVE and ORGANIC
- BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY
SPEND TIME IN NATURE- Some of what keeps us from being connected to our True North Nature is the discordant way we live, so disconnected from the harmonious way of our planet. Getting off the “junk” of noise, crowd, concrete, electronic, cellular, etc and out into the wild will reset your inner compass. Think natural often, and then go be in it!
STILLNESS, QUIET, CALM – Find ways that bring a stillness, quiet or calm to your everyday life. Yoga, meditation, reading, tai chi, knitting, gardening are just a few ways to get your quiet on. Doing them outdoors in spacious, calm environments will only help to magnify your experience in connecting to your True North Nature.
OFF COURSE SIGNS – Listen to your self-talk. Notice how often you say things like “I have to…” “I must…” “I should have…”. Know that each time you “should”, “have to”, “must” or “supposed to” on yourself (or others) you are OFF COURSE with your True North Nature. Yes, I know you are not alone doing this, but that doesn’t mean it is a healthy way of living. It only means that MANY people live disconnected from their True North Nature. Being unhappy along with many people doesn’t make it happy, it just makes it feel less lonely.
TRUST – YES! Feeling some doubt, recognize it as a signal and then dig deeper. Go sit outside. Be still, be quiet, find your breath. When the rumblings of doubt start to rise take an action listed above, find your breath and let your exhalations help you shed the doubt. Create the intention to TRUST through your connection to something greater than you are- be it nature, a greater sense of order, God, Universe, Gravity, Zero point. Sometimes all it takes is the decision to TRUST, and then let the space around you create the results.
LOVE – OFTEN! It is said that Love HEALS, and yes it does. When we are disconnected from our True North Nature our ability to love shrivels up. Bring on the love, and you will find that your ability to feel life, understand your feelings, and be guided by the essence of knowing is greatly improved.
EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN – Yes, I know this can be a very scary one. As a culture we are taught to “fill it up” with busy work or “control” it. There is tremendous power in finding a calm center when change is brewing around us, and a factor of the unknown is very present. When we approach it with an attitude of willingness to be in a state of unknowing, some of the other tools will also show themselves to be useful. Go ahead and “multitask” with some TRUST, TIME IN NATURE, become QUIET or STILL, BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY. You will find that an ease will guide you through the darkness, to light and lighten the way.
FEEL – Often what keeps us from our True North Nature is a dullness we have created around us in attempt to feel safe. It is a false sense of safety, and can even lead us to miss signals we need to really establish safety. If you have had a trauma in your life that has left you feeling less than safe it is important to work through it with help, and often with professional help. It is crucial that the result of the healing leaves you open to feeling again and not afraid of feelings or using medications that shut off feelings. True North Nature relies on feelings as its communications system. It is through feelings you will be guided. Learn to feel what brings you joy, excites, enlivens you – acting more and more on that!
EAT FRESH, LIVE and ORGANIC – The body, and its feelings, is the communication system of True North Nature. Keeping the body in a healthy, clear, and vibrant quality will help that communication system function in its most vital way. The less you “pollute” the system the greater its ability to communicate and be understood, leading you to be guided by True North Nature. Think in terms of “wholesome” food that is at its freshest. If you can, grow it! If you can’t grow it, buy local, fresh, organic foods. Minimize processed foods. Watch out for eating to dull your feelings.
BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY – Every breath you take is an opportunity to be mindful, to sense, to be present with all that is happening around you and to detox. Your vital breath can be automatic or conscious. You can breath to survive or to thrive. Every inhalation is an opportunity to nourish and nurture and when done consciously you are making choices of what to allow and what to by pass. Every exhalation gives you the opportunity to release those things that you are complete with, or hold on again. When we move from the automatic breath that is patterned, often just enough to sustain the moment, into a conscious breath we open our life possibilities. Our breath becomes a vehicle for our True North Nature communication system. It transports our mind to experience the feelings, and helps us to make choices to let go, nourish or hold on to emotions, thoughts, food, experiences, people, etc. Life is transformed. Connections are made. True North Nature is alive!
Life is a winding path we travel. Just like any trip we take it helps us to have resources – a compass, a map, a guide. Even with all of that we can still get lost, and will need to use our inner resources to find our way again. May you find your connection to TRUE NORTH NATURE. Onward!
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
“Bees can fly 12 miles without getting lost. Albatrosses, 25,000 miles. And flying insects, without eyes, have no trouble whatsoever finding their “soul mates.”
Imagine what I can do for you, when you listen to the voice within. “(TUT-notes from the Universe)
TRUE NORTH NATURE: WHAT IS IT?
Somewhere deep within each of us is our own internal compass. It is our inner guidance system, that seeks to explore, learn, delve, liberate and connect us to our deepest dreams and purpose to be here, now, alive! At the root of it is our personal True North Nature. It is that place that always knows what is just right for us, why we are here and has no doubts – it simply is there to guide us.
For so many of us we can’t even begin to imagine how life would be to live knowing what it is that we want, let alone think of living without questioning, doubting and/or fearing each decision. Throughout our life we have been taught the way of the “lost spirit”, in denying who we are by attempting to please others. Life’s challenges have left us feeling DIScouraged, UNsure, or DISconnected. What would it be like to be encouraged, sure and connected?
Take a moment to think back on a baby’s first year. Fearlessly they delve so deeply into the unknown nature of living in their new body, with all of the new experiences ahead of them. Using wonder, instincts, curiosity, inner motivations they learn to eat, see, touch, taste, move, connect, love and receive, to name just a few monumental things. Their True North Nature is strong and very present for them.
They live a life of encouragement, surety and connection.
Slowly, and sadly, for many in the next few years of life we learn to rely on others more, and lose the connection to our True North Nature. It becomes buried in the “have to”, “supposed to”, “shoulds”, “musts” and relying on approval from the collective community we are surrounded by.
TIME TO CONNECT AGAIN
There is this turning point for each of us, when the years of being “lost spirits” and disconnected from our True North Nature reaches a pinnacle. WE WAKE UP! It can be a slow, gradual awakening for some, while others get a “kick in the pants” awakening. Something arises, awakens and rattles the apathetic comfort we have fallen into. Our spirit arises, and there is no shutting it off, burying it or putting it aside. Like a volcano we feel the rumbling of this nature calling to us to feel it, listen to it, and begin to live again connected to it.
Recognizing that there are other ways to live, other choices we can make every day/moment is often the beginning of this transformation. You’ve lived it already, and may still have moments or glimmers of it still, times when you are connected, inspired, resourceful and empowered in your daily life. Then they slip away, you fall asleep again, feel dull, numbed or disempowered. Even as you read an article like this you may be inspired to pursue your connection to True North Nature again. Enticed by the concept, reminded by a niggling feeling or fed up with a lack of feeling connected you are ready to make a shift.
Not sure what to do next? Start by looking around and seeing beyond those who may be doing the “lost spirit” dance with you. Who seems really happy, content and confident in their life? Let them be your mentor/coach by taking in the way they live their life. Again, like a baby would, just watch, embrace and learn. In my next blog I will share some of the tools you can use as you develop a resource library for finding your True North Nature. Stay tuned!