Getting Back on the Horse

Posted on Feb 20, 2012 | 1 comment

Getting Back on the Horse

So often in life we find ourselves in the position of starting over again.  I am there now and I have been here before (many times) and I will be here again in the future.  As a friend once said “I’ve been around this mountain before” and doesn’t it feel sometimes like the never ending journey?  I suppose that is because it is. Right now as I contemplate picking myself up and moving forward there is one thing that brings me comfort.  This time around the mountain I have tools I have learned that I did not have last time around.  And I believe that fact will make all the difference in the world! So here are just a few of the tools I have learned that will help me through this rebuilding process – maybe they will help you on your journey around the mountain. Staying put is not an option.  When we were children we were told that if we got lost to stay right where we were and someone would come back to get us.  We are the adults now and that means we find our way.  This does not mean that you can’t ask for directions or a map – but it is up to you to ask for help.  And then it is up to you to put one foot in front of the other and move in some direction – listen to that voice inside of yourself and it will be the right direction. When help comes – accept it with Grace.  How often do we say “I don’t want to be a burden”?  But we are all interconnected and that means we need each other to create a better life and ultimately a better world.  And sometimes that mountain is just so very big and it is nice to have company on the journey.  Let those who love you and those you have never met help you to find your way around that mountain.  This is courage – to accept that we are human – and sometimes that means we need a little help.  And help often comes in a form you are not expecting so keep your heart open so you will know it when it arrives. We are ONLY human.  Humans have great capacity, but in the end we are only human, warts and all.  Every one of us has been here at one time or another and this means that perfection does not exist.  Beating yourself up for “insert flaw here” is a human tendency, but we are all flawed in one way or another.  I believe we are here to learn lessons and if we are perfect, there are no lessons to learn – so what is the point?  So treat yourself with a little compassion and let yourself off that perfection hook.  The sooner you do the sooner you can get on with the journey. So I for one am vowing to each of you and to myself to pick myself up, dust myself off and get on with it.  I will do my human best to give a hand when I can and to accept a hand when it is offered.  I hope I meet you on the trail and we can share part of this journey. Namaste...

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My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 3

Posted on Jun 14, 2011 | 0 comments

My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 3

The next form of “enemy” is any situation that pushes us to our limits.  By definition these situations would be things that are out of our control and they vary by degrees in seriousness.  These moments “enemies” because they stress us and therefore they are also teachers.  These issues can range from temporary to permanent and everywhere in between. These teachers can come in many different forms and what may be a “situation” for one person may be no big deal for another.  It can range from something as simple as locking your keys in the car to something as serious as a medical diagnosis.  Understand that I am in no way making light of serious issues that arise in people’s lives.  I am only pointing out that even in the moments when your world is rocked off of it’s foundations there is something to learn, and I content that we continue to learn for as long as we breath. I truly believe that the first step must be to ask “what is the lesson here?”.  Then more importantly, sit still and listen for the answer.  This means to find a quiet place and be silent and listen for that voice inside that will help you understand.  Your quiet place may be just a pause in a conversation or it could be to physically leave the space in which the events are unfolding.  I am not talking about running away here, I am advocating giving yourself physical space if you need it.  And the length of time that you remain quiet is up to you.  It could be a heartbeat or it could be a week or more.  The idea is to not RE-act, but to take the time to find the right ACTION for you.  Again this is where meditation comes in real handy.  By learning to sit in silence and identify that little voice, you will be prepared to exercise that “muscle” quicker in times of stress.  And with continued practice you will find that fewer situations will be stressful!  Because you have already learned that lesson (Ah Ha!) so you can save your energy instead of wasting it on keys locked in the car. Another lesson that situations can teach us it to reach out to other people.  We are not meant to be alone in this world.  Remember that we are all inter-connected (through Divinity) therefore we must rely on each other to survive.  All too often I have known people who suffer in silence because they don’t want to appear weak or different  in the eyes of others.  And even sadder are the people I have known in my life who did not share that they had a serious illness because they didn’t want to burden anybody.  I’m not advocating that you walk around with a sign, but do reach out to trusted friends and family.  Knowing that you are not alone can often be the first step in the healing process no matter what your situation may be.  In the case of illness understand that healing is not being cured.  It is possible to heal your life and the body still be sick. As usual I am asking you to do the hard thing.  It is easy to REACT, because we are hard wired to do so, but our ability to deal with things that are out of our control is no different than the muscles we strengthen in our asana practice.  It is only through “exercise” that we strengthen our ability to see difficult situations as our teachers and learn the lessons....

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My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 2

Posted on Jun 7, 2011 | 0 comments

My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 2

We have all had the experience of dealing with a person that either has a difficult personality or who just does not agree with our point of view.  This situation is usually frustrating and most defiantly stressful, so you may be wondering what exactly you can learn from these people. First and foremost we must always remember the true meaning of Namaste; The Divine in Me Recognizes and Salutes the Divine in You.  This means EVERY person, no matter if we agree with them or not.  We must always remember that Divinity resides in them just as it resides in us and therefore they deserve respect just as we do. Just because they see the world in a different way does not mean that they are “bad” or even wrong.  I am not suggesting that you agree with them, but you must strive to understand their point of view especially when you do not agree.  This will actually strengthen your understanding of your own viewpoint and help to clarify your position.  It is only by encountering people that you do not agree with or don’t especially like that you learn the true depth of your beliefs. Secondly it is only by dealing with people who bring difficulty in our lives that we learn how to truly treat all other human beings with compassion and an open heart.  Compassion may be our natural state, but life tends to knock that out of us pretty fast.  It is hard to live in this world and not allow yourself to become jaded.  It is easy to be compassionate and practice loving kindness if you live in an ashram, but to be out in the world and deal with people who are not yet aware that there is a different way…that is a true test.  This is where I like to say the “rubber meets the road”.  This is where we are tested – in the real world.  Can you have compassion of that person who just cut you off in rush hour traffic?  Can you have compassion for the cashier that didn’t even acknowledge you were human?  Can you smile at the coworker who seems to thrive on negativity and better yet…not join in? Lastly these people give us a chance to practice detachment.  It is only by detaching from the situation and adopting the “witness” viewpoint that we can discern what is true and right.  What I mean by the “witness” viewpoint is that ability to detach just as when we meditate and focus on the breath and let everything else fall away.  Again it is easy to detach when the room is quite and you are seated comfortably in a meditative state.  But what about when your boss is yelling at you?  What about when your team leader has called yet another four hour meeting?  Can you detach then?  It is only by practicing in the quite room that you can call on those same tools to deal with situations in the here and now.  And if you never encounter the real deal how do you know if you ever really learned anything? It is for all of these reasons and more that we should all be thankful for those people we encounter who just rub us the wrong way.  Just as difficult poses help to build our muscles and our asana practice, difficult people help to build our Karmic muscle.  Think of it as resistance training for your soul.  At first it can be painful and difficult, but with practice you will get better at it and the results...

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Witness

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 | 1 comment

Last week was the one year anniversary of the explosion of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  We all remember the devastation it caused and perhaps still causes on the ecosystem of the Gulf.  But we must never forget that eleven men lost their lives in that explosion.  I was listening to a radio interview with one of the widows and her story reminded me of a fundamental human need that all to often goes unfulfilled. We all want a witness to our lives.  We need someone to acknowledge our unique story. It was heartbreaking to hear her tell how in a meeting with one of the big corporate lawyers she just wanted to talk about how much her husband had meant to her,  but the big lawyer was having none of it.  He had no intention of hearing about how much pain that man’s death was causing the widow. It is unfortunate but we all do this in one way or another with people around us.  How often are you truly present for the people in your life?  Truly present for the joyous, the mundane and the tragic.  When we fail to be completely present, we fail to be a witness in those people’s lives. Being present means that you are focused on what they have to say.  Not what you are going to say next.  Not how their situation reminds you of a similar situation you went through.  Not checking your smart phone.  Being present means you listen with all of your heart, mind and soul. I have had the privilege to be present for several people who knew they would be leaving this earth soon.  There is no experience more profound than to be a witness for someone whose journey is coming to an end.  Visitors usually want to talk about the weather, what is going on in the family, etc.  Anything except what that person is experiencing, thinking and feeling.  These visitors don’t mean to belittle the person’s experience, they are simply hindered by their fear.  There is the fear that you will remind the dying person that they are in fact dying.  And there is the fear that it will someday be you.  I promise you, the dying person KNOWS they are dying and they do not forget it.  I also promise you that it will someday be you. I have also had the heartbreaking experience to be there for someone who has suffered a terrible loss.  This is harder, because you know the pain is not going to end soon, if ever.  People at funerals want to put on a happy face and feed themselves until they can’t feel the loss.  I have heard many people say that they never know what to say to a widow or widower.  It is simply and very hard.  You don’t say anything.  You don’t say “they are in a better place”, you don’t say “it wasn’t meant to be”.  You center yourself, look them in the eyes and say “I am sorry”, then you shut your mouth and let them speak.  Don’t interrupt, don’t look at the clock, just sit with them and listen and feel their pain with them. When you are present for another human being, you absolutely will feel their pain, joy, sorrow, etc.  This is what makes us human.  It is OK to have these feelings.  It is good to have these feelings.  But you can not let them find a harbor in you, you must make a time and space to sit and meditate or do some deep breathing...

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When the World is Falling Apart

Posted on Apr 5, 2011 | 0 comments

It seems like there is nothing but bad news everywhere right now and it can really start to affect your outlook on life.  Between the tragic events in Japan, the state of the global economy and frustration with our political/economic situation, how does a Yogi/Yogini keep perspective and frankly how do we keep Hope alive? Something very interesting happens when we begin to practice Yoga.  The very essence of Yoga is to reconnect to the Divine in ourselves and others.  The result is that like the Grinch our heart grows three sizes.  We find that we FEEL others pain much more acutely.  It goes past knowing or understanding, these take place in the head.  But when we FEEL with others – that takes place in our Soul and our Heart.  It is much deeper and more profound.  As a result we may find that the pain of people a world away makes our chest ache. Don’t forget that there is Divine in each of us and since Divine is universal – we are ALL connected at a level that can not be explained away.  So it makes sense that we can physically hurt for people we don’t even know.  But this burden can be very hard to bear.  So how does a Yogi/Yogini protect their sanity and keep Hope alive? The answer is in Loving/Kindness on the mat and off.  Remember that when we practice Loving/Kindness meditation it is like ripples in a pond.  It doesn’t matter what words you use – it is the power behind the thoughts that makes the difference.  So when everything seems overwhelming take a few minutes to do the following: 1.  Send YOURSELF love and kindness 2.  Send your Family love and kindness 3.  Send your Friends love and kindness 4.  Send your ENEMIES love and kindness (VERY important) 5.  Send ALL beings, born and to be born, love and kindness The very action of concentrating on love and kindness will help you, the Yogi/Yogini, to feel more balanced and positive.  And by the way, there is science now to back this up.  Scientist have used functional MRI’s to map brain activity, and when the subject focused on positive thoughts the portion of the brain that drives positive emotions activated and stayed activated.   I have always said it is easy to be a Yogi/Yogini on the mat, in class or on retreat, the real test comes after.  The real work of a Yogi/Yogini happens off the mat.  This is where the rubber meets the road. Send love and kindness to EVERYONE you meet.  Yes even that person who cuts you off in Houston traffic.  Yes even the person at Starbucks who is complaining.  Yes even to your boss or co-worker who is on your last nerve.  No exceptions – Everyone.  This is tough.  Remember I don’t ask you to do the easy thing – it is the hard stuff that transforms your life and the life of others. When you respond to ugliness with love and kindness you take the wind out of the sails of the situation.  I am not talking about being a push over – remember a Yogi/Yogini is strong in body/mind/soul.  But you do not have to buy into the hype and perpetuate the negative.  So how does that help someone a world away you ask.  Well like the ripples in a pond you never know how far reaching your action is.  Someone you smile at today may be on the phone with someone in Japan and that positivity will transmit over a phone line.  It really does –...

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Who we are – Really

Posted on Feb 15, 2011 | 0 comments

What makes us who we are, or more correctly who we think we are?  When we really stop and ask ourselves this question lots of answers come to mind; husband/wife, daughter/son, father/mother, accountant/yoga teacher, etc.  But does this tell the whole story?  Absolutely not. From the time we are born we are labeled.  We see a newborn baby and the labels just start to flood the air; cute, sweet, angelic, etc.  And they don’t stop throughout our life.  In the end we may be labeled; feeble, strong, nutty.  Any number of descriptions from everyone around us including those who know us and those who do not.  Society is full of labels that stick to us like glue; single, married, single mom, divorced.  And we actively participate by labeling ourselves; fat, skinny, ugly, beautiful, good, inadequate.  And of course the list goes on and on.  The labels that we stick on ourselves are often the most negative and surely the most fixed. All of these labels get stuck to us to make up a kind of shell that in the end calcifies to build up our persona.  This shell is our ego and we work hard to keep it in tact because we don’t know who we are without it.  Some people even go so far as to bolster their ego with material possessions like cars and houses.  In this economic climate we see many individuals suffering because they have lost part of this shell that has been built around them and they feel exposed.  So who are we really if we are not these labels or things?  We are the person who is hidden under all of those labels and things.  We are like an onion with many transparent layers and when we peel those layers off we get to the heart of our true self.  Yoga and meditation help us to peel these layers away.   When we come to the mat and integrate our body and our mind through the breath we meet ourselves.  On our mat we face our limitations with our mind fully engaged in the action of the pose and we are humbled.  Humbled first because we find a seemingly easy pose as actually very difficult.  And we are humbled again when we find that our body can do this difficult thing and we see the miracle that the physical body truly is. In meditation we find the silence that is so very rare in our world today.  At first the silence is scary and the ego scrambles to fill the space.  But it is in this silence that our true self speaks.  The silence creates the space where Divine can be heard because – Divine speaks in a whisper, never a shout.  The basis of Yoga is that Divine resides in each living being.  The practice of Yoga is the search for that Divine in ourselves and others. The road of Yoga is long – life long.  But on the journey we meet ourselves.  All of ourselves, including the pleasant and the not so pleasant.  But if we take the journey with an open mind and heart we will be able to answer the question: “Who am I?” with more honesty and clarity. Namaste “The Divine in me recognizes and salutes the Divine in...

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