Monday, January 28, 2013

Perfection... Be In Your Pose

I've caught myself doing it... looking at that girl on the other mat rocking out her Warrior I and I'm struggling to twist my hips AND ground my back heel. I know there is no perfect pose but there beside me I'm reminded that she's a little closer, a little better than I. In yoga, we practice non-judgment and strive to look at ourselves and others with the eyes of awe and compassion.

My practice then moves to a place of balance… striving for the pose and allowing myself to be in my pose.  I make mistakes and I am not always in control on or off the mat. My head and heart know perfection is not something I can reach; however, my inner dialogue sometimes says otherwise. It’s not that these thoughts are always active, but they creep in. Sometimes I catch them as the “reason” for some of my actions or emotional spirals. With this awareness (thanks to my meditation practice), I am able to find the exit out of the spiral.

Humble Warrior
My reading consists of spiritual, philosophical and teacher type sources. The pattern I see over and over again... the authors seem to have it ALL together. So I share; we don't. I’m not perfect, and not all of my choices are the best.  I continue to try my best.  I teach from my own journey; sharing my challenges and intentions with an open and courageous heart. It is my intention that by telling my story, you can relate. Hopefully learning or taking an idea with you on your path. Together we move forward, past the illusion of perfection onto a path filled with lessons and equipped with the breath and tools of mindfulness.

As the Japanese philosophy Wabi Sabi suggests, beauty lies in imperfection. We live in a world filled with imperfection. Instead of that being our excuse, let’s make it our adventure. Be your best; strive for your best pose. Then enjoy it; let go of what should be or could have been. Appreciate where you are. Play with the ideas that are brought to you. Don't make the same old mistakes. Make new ones. We're going to make 'em, so let's learn something new as we do!  Know that you'll find your way to your best pose or position in life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Good Savasana... Yoga Nidra

You know those days when you have a good savasana?  For me it's that sweet bliss that sometimes makes my head tingle and my whole body feel warm and free.  Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep is a practice that takes me to that place regardless of how I began.

Yoga Nidra is a meditation technique that, like other meditative practices, will guide you deep within to an inner radiance and deeper awareness independent of anything else.  Freeing you from anxiety, stress, fear and other feelings we label as icky.  

In the yoga tradition, Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness beyond meditation that is entered through exploration of the senses.  In the practice, it is not uncommon to fall asleep at different intervals.  Typically, this practice will contain five elements to help you arrive at this deep state of consciousness:
  • Breath awareness:  By focusing on the breath we are able to reduce the effects of stress and calm the nervous system.  This calmness creates a clear mind and inner balance.
  • Sankalpa or Intention:  This portion allows you an opportunity to set your personal intention or affirmation.  Living a life of intention helps you to be and share your best self.   
  • Muscular relaxation through 61-points:  This section will help rid the body of unnecessary tension and stored emotion in the body at 61 points.  It allows the body to loosen and let go of sustained muscular contractions.
  • Chakra & energy awareness:  This section will open the chakras or energy channels of the body from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.  It will also help you feel your body as energy.
  • Yoga Nidra:  This state you will achieve a complete awareness neither denying emotions, thoughts and perception nor taking them for anything else.  It is a state in which we realize the subtle energies in the body that gives life to our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well-being.
Here I will guide you through this beautiful practice.  Prepare yourself to be sweetly rewarded for being you.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Give New Meaning

Chances are you have one too; a day that carries the weight of a painful memory.  Maybe it's the anniversary of a death or ending of a relationship.  Maybe it's the day you received bad news or your life seemed to turn upside down.  Perhaps it is not a day but an object.  The other day I wrote about Choosing Your Focus.  This day we take it another step to give new meaning.

Today is the first anniversary of the finalization of my divorce.  Knowing this day was coming, I felt my sadness and disapproval of self grow through the week.  Emotions of being unworthy, unlovable and unwanted find me.  I know that I am worthy of good things including love; however, in my meditation, I become aware of my feeling unworthy.

Feel it to free it.  I feel the emotions in all their beauty and sometimes uncomfortable glory so that I may let them go.  Two sentences make it sound so easy... trust me it took lots of deep breaths and a few tears.  Then I chose; what meaning should this day have?  Thanks to a good friend who reminded me that this day is a celebration of me making the choice to give myself more.  That I am worthy of great love and desire.

So instead of this day being a reminder that one man did not fully share his love with me, it is a celebration of my worthiness and joy.  I give this anniversary new meaning.  Today I celebrate the love in all its depth.  Last year I tweeted, "Feeling the good in good bye."  Today, the good has come from giving this day new meaning.

Is there a day, an object or something else that you could give new meaning?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Drishti... Choose Your Focus

With a thirty minute commute, I can arrive to work to work frazzled or cheerful and at peace.  This morning reminded me the importance of my focus.  Heading West all I could see was a gloomy cloud covered sky.  Yet in the mirror I caught a glimpse of bright orange.  When I took a peek behind, I saw a vibrant, colorful sunrise.

On the mat, I remind us to choose our drishti or focus.  In some cases, we choose where our eyes rest but it's often the internal focus that makes the biggest difference.  Call them what you may... mind monsters, mental termites, tree branches for the monkey mind to swing on... they can all distract us from the beauty and joy that's right in front of us.  In fact, we can punish ourselves by pursuing these negative thoughts or acting in ways that go against our spirit's truth.

Don't get me wrong this morning I had a semi going 48 in a 55 and a school bus get in front of me.  Huffy was right there, but I chose my focus to be on the magnificence of the sunrise upon the fields.  Then the soccer mom cut me off on the interstate.  I caught myself wanting to shout a few words then looked to my East and redirected my focus.  

Abraham Lincoln said, "If we magnified our successes as much as we magnify our disappointments we'd all be much happier."  Imagine if instead of complaining about what's left or sharing what's wrong with your day, you focus on what was good and what you accomplished.

On my commute, had I kept my head forward I would have stayed in the cloudy, gloomy mindset.  Since I kept my eyes open to all that was around me and chose my focus, I arrived at my destination filled with joy by the color and beauty that could only come from the divine.

Is there something you've been dwelling on, getting anxious or beating yourself up about?  After giving it the full attention it needs in this moment, will you change your focus?

And in case you were wondering... the picture is today's sunset.  I didn't take it while driving this morning.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mindfully React

It's humbling to hear a friend share my words back to me.  I teach and write what I am learning and am surprised others remember what I have shared.  Even I, the professional breather, need reminded to take a deep breath and to let it go.

In debating my next move a friend asked me, "What good can come from this?"  My words back to teach me.  My inability to answer took me out of my head and away from my self-centered ego.  I was drawn straight to my heart.

This question gave me the opportunity to mindfully react or choose my response.  My rant debate included many ways of overreacting that would have served no one.  Chances are I would have regretted it and hurt others in the process.  If no good can come from words exchanged or actions completed, why say or do them?

Instead of my friend telling me what to do giving me advice, he asked the question that led me back to my intentions.  What good can come from this? Be the light, share the light, ignite and fuel the light of others.  Don't extinguish.  It was obvious what I should and shouldn't do.

My hope is that you'll find this question helps you or a friend mindfully respond and choose a path of love rather than fear, anger or revenge.  Next time you're plotting debating your next move take a deep breath and ask yourself, What good can come from this?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do It Today

My little sister Olivia, age six, came over for a sleepover a few weeks ago.  She picked up an empty journal and said let's write.  She didn't get caught up in the color of the pen or the design of the journal.  She just wanted to write.  On our way out the door to hike she said, "WAIT!  We need our journals."  Sure enough we stopped by the lake to write and trace leaves.  It was our fourth entry of the day.

Have you ever got caught up in the "how" that you never get to the "doing."  Like printing a recipe only to find it in a drawer or stack of papers 7 months later.  Or buying fitness equipment that only gets used by dust bunnies because you didn't have the perfect 30 minutes to workout.

I'm all for making and working towards SMART goals; however, sometimes our need for the perfect opportunity stops us.  We become the obstacle of our own success.  So let's stop that and do it today.  We can learn as we go.  Make the most of the little time or money we have and make it happen.  Little by little we'll get to that place we so wished we could have started at but let's not wait.  Let's do it today.