City Yoga, Columbia, SC
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Contemplations

Secrets of Adulthood

by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

 

  • People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think.
  • It’s okay to ask for help.
  • Most decisions don’t require extensive research.
  • Do good, feel good.
  • It’s important to be nice to everyone.
  • Bring a sweater.
  • By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
  • Soap and water remove most stains.
  • Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
  • If you can’t find something, clean up.
  • You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.
  • Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.
  • What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
  • You don’t have to be good at everything.
  • If you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough.
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you—and vice versa.
  • People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
  • You can’t profoundly change your children’s natures by nagging them or signing them up for classes.
  • No deposit, no return
 

Because anything can happen...

For a fascinating contemplation on the nature of the Universe, Dharma, Karma, Lila, and freedom...and our choices within that matrix...visit Douglas Brooks' blog (July 19, 2009) at http://rajanaka.blogspot.com

 

In Praise of Slowness

“For fast-acting relief from stress, try slowing down.” –Lily Tomlin

Last week I was on a flight to Denver which was horribly delayed due to mechanical issues which seems to happen quite often these days. So, after sitting in the plane at the gate for over two hours, the airline decided to de-board us until a replacement plane could arrive. What I was struck with was how patient all the passengers seemed while the initial 15 minutes stretched slowly into those two hours, but the minute it was announced that we were getting off people lept to their feet in a frenzied rush to stand and wait again to de-board, never a speedy process. Back at the gate people frantically tried to find another flight, tempers rose, confusion prevailed. While all of this was happening, I kept contemplating the nature of time and our ability to move in the flow with its pace, not at the pace we expect. I was just thankful that it would take me the 8 or so hours to get to Denver rather than the 8 or so months it would have taken my own ancestors.

It appears that when space is condensed, like in a plane, time is also condensed and the need to rush increases. Think about times spent lingering in the great expanse of nature. So the question becomes how do we cultivate space, and therefore time, within our own being? The experience of yoga is often in the pause or the space between two points or actions. In other words, it becomes our practice to find the spaciousness within, whether that is the gap between the inhale & exhale, the pause we find while enjoying a delicious yoga posture, or the ability to find peace in waiting…on a plane, in a line, in traffic, at a meeting. It is our choice how we respond to time, not so much what we “do” with it. AND it takes practice and awareness.

Our relationship with time began to change during the Industrial Revolution when “time is money” became the favored mantra and the clock became the favored machine. We even speak of being “time-rich” or, more likely, “time-poor”. There is not enough time in the day. This may come from the way we think about time itself. In some Eastern cultures, time is thought of as more cyclical in nature…meaning that it is coming as well as going. There is an infinite amount of it to go around. This view takes the perspective that the world is, in fact, abundant.  That time is constantly around us, renewing itself, like the air we breathe. However, in the Western tradition of production and speed, time is linear and, therefore, a finite & precious commodity. That being idle is somehow not optimal. Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk who walked all the way to Britain from his native India, said, “It is a Western disease to make time finite and then to impose speed on all aspects of life.”

It is a question not about how much time you “have” as a commodity but how well you use your time. What choices are you making today to enhance your well being and to help you to find delight in every moment?  In the Tantric meditation manual, the Vijnana Bhairava, which outlines 112 meditation techniques, the first technique provides a simple yet profound understanding of our breath as a vehicle or means to create space/time within. “By the practice of a firm and steady abiding in the two locations of the breath’s origin, the divine place of fullness opens more deeply to awareness.” By simply following the origin of the inhale from outside to the point inside where it pauses and then following the exhale from its inside origin to the outward resting point, we stabilize our awareness. When awareness is cultivated and stabilized, our experience of time and space expand. Throughout the day, learning to receive the infinite breath in this manner helps one to slow down, to pause, to appreciate the fullness of life. I recommend a wonderful book which offers more of these simple mindfulness techniques, “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Buddhist monk. May we all learn to touch and abide in the space of our hearts and listen to the words of Theodore Roethke…

Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.

I learn by going where I have to go.

 

We think by feeling. What is there to know?

I hear my being from ear to ear.

I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.

 

Of those so close beside me, which are you?

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there.

And learn by going where I have to go.

 

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

 

Great Nature has another thing to do

To you and me; so take the lively air,

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

 

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go.

 

 

Check out the YouTube (4 mins)

Because Lila (Divine Play) shows up in the most unexpected ways! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k&annotation_id=annotation_72265&feature=iv

From the Ground Up: Celebrating Earth Day

On April 22nd we can all honor our connection with nature and the environment in any one of these ten easy ways:

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1.  Walk barefoot on the earth, and experience your connectedness with the source.

2.  Eat only local, organic food for the day.

3. Clean out your closet and recycle old possessions by donating them to Goodwill.

4. Have a car free day. Jog, walk, bike, rollerblade, or take public transportation.

5. Participate in a local clean up project.

6. Plant a tree. Plant a forest!

7. Buy a reusable water bottle and vow to no longer buy disposable water bottles.

8. Off-set your carbon footprint.

9.  Stop junk mail.

10. Talk to a child about why it's important to treat our environment with respect.

Use this day and every other day to remember how lucky we are to have this beautiful planet earth. Let's treat her with the love and nurturing she deserves!

A Poem to Spring Love

Buds breaking, in motion
Towards the lushness of summer leaves
Through the quick celebration of flowering,
Life paints itself
With a delicate paintbrush
On the hills
In a thousand shades of green,
As I drive between them
In awe and gratitude.
Yesterday my wonder was full and complete
In Love with the world;
Overflowing...
Today is new again; remade through your touch.
There is the ecstatic arch of my spine
Alive in the bedrock
Deep under the swell of the hills
Rising and falling, riding the greater breath.
Your touch is in the penetration of air
into unfurling leaf.
Your eyes awaken remembered green
Touching the hills with springtime.
Your voice celebrates in birdsong,
The joy of being alive.
Thus do you enrich the ground of this day.
I split like a seed.
The roots stretch
Into the mysterious dark for nourishment,
Feeding the unfurling bud
In it's journey toward the sun.

February 2009

What was said to the rose that made it open was said here in my chest,
What was told the cypress that made it strong and straight, 
What was whispered the jasmine
So that it is what it is,

Whatever made sugarcane sweet,
Whatever was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in Turkistan that makes them so handsome,
Whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush like a human face,
That is being said to me now,
I blush,

Whatever put eloquence in language,
That's happening here,
The great warehouse doors open,                   
I fill with gratitude,
Chewing a piece of sugarcane
In love with the One to whom every that belongs.

-Rumi

October 2008

Why your yoga practice is important now more than ever

I recently returned from an amazing philosophy weekend taught by Professor Bill Mahony of Davidson College. Bill is a leading scholar in Tantric yoga philosophy but more importantly he is a deeply seasoned practitioner of meditation and yoga. He was able to beautifully blend both the theory of the practice with its practical applications. The theme of our weekend was Bhakti (Divine Love) and we studied the Narada Bhakti Sutras, an Indian spiritual text written between the 10-13th centuries CE. In the course of our thought provoking discussions the idea of Attitude was addressed.

In Sanskrit, the word for an individual’s attitude, state of mind or quality of heart is Bhava. Often when we enter a room or a gathering of people we may get a sense of the overall feeling or texture of the group or space. This is called Bhav. I mention this because even a society or culture can have an overarching Bhav…or feeling. Lately, and certainly most recently, I have noticed that the Bhav of our culture seems to be one of unease, of anxiety and fear, of frenetic energy and doubt. Each of us is immersed in this, and therefore, it begins to influence our own attitude or bhava.

Bill taught that there are two levels to our attitude: the more surface or fleeting thoughts and emotions, and then the deeper, more established attitude. This deeper level becomes our default mode and the ground from which temporary emotions arise. So, when we feel challenged by a situation our natural response to that challenge emerges from this default programming or foundation. However, our surface emotions and thoughts can also begin to shift and change this deeper level if we think them enough. What you think becomes who you are. The example which Bill so beautifully gave was of the shore at low tide. When the water recedes from the beach what remain are the impressions of the surface waves on the sand, and these impressions are far more permanent than the momentary waves that created them. This is a useful metaphor for yogis to work with. If you stay in the surface fluctuations of your mind, these fleeting thoughts and emotions begin to create your default mood…positive or not. So you ask yourself, what are your moment to moment thoughts? How do you feel today? From which perspective are you viewing the world? Are you being strongly influenced by our cultural Bhav of fear and anxiety, or are you able to stay firmly established in your heart where you can find the beauty in today and the auspicious gift of being alive?

As I write this, it must be one of the most beautiful fall days yet…the sunlight is dancing on the leaves, there is a “blue true dream of sky”, I am healthy, and feel the love of family and friends. Looking for the good is a daily practice and our yoga connects us to that place. Likewise, when you are dealing with today (not next week, next month or next year) staying in the heart is much easier. Your heart, the seat of your true self, is honestly beckoning to you with, “Listen to me. Listen to me”. And the wonderful result is that as you begin to shift your default programming, putting your attitude into action (Bhavana) by discarding and letting go of the harmful surface thought patterns and replacing them with the life-affirming ones, then you also begin to affect the overall Bhav…we begin to influence each other.

However, we cannot make these personal shifts or influence the cultural attitude by just wishing it. We have to practice. We have to be reminded. We have to focus and refine and reflect. And then practice more.  This is Yoga…and it is deeply empowering and affirming.

 

 

 

 

City Yoga, Columbia, SC

 

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