Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do you know if you are doing the right thing?

1) Check the facts.
2) How much discomfort - mentally and emotionally, is your decission causing you?

3) Do you feel free to change your mind and open to suggestions without getting emotional about it?
4) Do you think that it's someone's fault and doing that is causing you to....whatever....? 
5) Are you at peace with the consequences of your actions and decisions?
6) Check the facts (about the consequences of your actions).

Well, of course this all assumes that you are willing to be totally honest with your self regardless of what you find. It also assumes that you are ready and willing to act in the right direction at all times without judging your self....which incidentally can shows up as judgment toward others and projecting your feelings and shortcomings to them.

Finally, there is something to be said about being attached to your own drama. After all - it's all you may have known your whole life and most drama does come with benefits - attention, sympathy, bitching rights...and variety of others including things like always getting your way, praise and admiration (as in the case of a workaholic who manages to achieve a lot), top pecking order status....

Yes, it sounds complicated but not really. It requires moment to moment awareness to allow for the possibility to become conscious of all these forces. Once you become conscious of them - accept that this suitcase of old stuff is yours, put it down and move on. The 6 steps above are a way to check in to make sure you have really put down the suitcase not just repainted it or moved it to your other hand.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Spiritual Life vs Regular Life

So, I've had this blog now for a while and those of you how have read it know...well, i don't keep it up very well. This morning I woke up thinking about that and decided that i should post more often onto it and really "share the journey." Therefore, here I am and committing my self to regular posts (hopefully one per day) with something that will hopefully be useful to all.

This is open to discussion and comments, so if you have  a contribution - bring it on!

This one is on spirituality and life.

It's come up in a few of our meditation sessions on Sundays in my house. I've said some things about it and now I share this with anyone who's reading it.

Spirituality and "regular life" are, in my book, not two and different lives we live. Tantric yoga text, Buddhist scripture and in other places one can get a glimpse of the concept. "Spiritual life" and "everyday life" are one and the same thing. It should be...if you intend to stay sane! In fact, the purpose of spiritual practice IS to enlighten you to the possibility of seeing, feeling and living "regular life" as an expression and manifestation of spirit and your spirituality. Yes, even things like doing the laundry and washing the dishes can be an experience of spirituality. Raising your children, waiting for the bus, going through chemo therapy...everything is spiritual.

Why, you ask, it doesn't feel that way? Generally because of the ego-self's tendency to concur and divide, to want to understand even that which cannot be understood by the rational faculty, to assign importance to itself and by doing that to put you in the center of the universe as the doer, the expereincer of good, bad and neutral events and to hold on to the notion of it's own history and perpetuity.

Therefore, we end up thinking that being spiritual is wearing certain types of clothing, religious or spiritual symbols like the Om sign or a cross, doing things like hanging out with only spiritual people, burning incense, bowing, doing yoga, sitting to meditate.... Yes, being spiritual is all this indeed IF you are going about these things with attention, presence in the moment and wonder of living. What makes an activity a spiritual one is your ability to remain present in the moment and express the moment through the activity rather than express your ego's needs and preferences through an adaptation of behavior, or a dress code.

Being in the moment requires giving up your notions and judgments of what this moment is really about and intuit the right course of action from a place of openness and willingness to participate in the manifestation of life just as you are rather then as you would like people to see you.

This is not the same as giving up control in the conventional sense. It is about gaining control of the possibilities that lie ahead without being attached to any particular outcome. This is not the same as not planning for the future, or copping out by saying "It all doesn't really matter at the end" or "we are all one." This is about realizing the marvel of the oneness and the responsibility to do that which should be done for the benefit of all beings...which includes you :). By giving up your attachment to a particular outcome, you continue to work in the direction you think you should, but you keep your eyeballs open and you are available to change course, to refine your actions, to learn from them and if that which you were expecting to happen in the way you were expecting it to happen, does not happen, than there is no mental and emotional suffering in store for you.

There is only the joy and excitement of stumbling along the path you should be on, which beats any day zooming along a path that's not for you to travel on. As it is said in the Gita - "it is better to struggle in your own dharma that it is to succeed in the dharma of another." Another way to put this is - if you want fulfillment - travel lightly on the train you should be on in the direction you should be going, not just any train, any direction just because you can.

More on that another time.....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yoga For Life - TV program!

Yes! You can watch the Yoga for Life program on Ch. 2 (Charter) SLO County! 1 hour of yoga information and practice. Educational, inspirational and experiential.
Every Thu at 4:30 - 5:30 pm and Sat at 8:00 - 9:00 am. Starting Jan 7, 2010.

These programs are made possible by the support of our sponsors.
The January program was sponsored by the Trust of Clare Telford - Supporting Spiritual Growth and Compassionate Living.
The Feb show is sponsored by the Trust of Clare Telford and also by Barbara Strassel, the owner of two of our locally famous stores: Poppy (805-771-9738) & Sole Mia (805-772-4249) on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay.

If you are interested in sponsoring a show - we can use it! Please call me at 805-909-1401.

We hope this program will be of value to the community. We thank our sponsors and suppprters and we wish you all a wonderful and successful 2010! Cheers.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Beliefs, Yoga and Meditation

A quote from Robert Dilts, one of the a developer, author, trainer and consultant in the field of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) on the nature of beliefs: "The thing to realize about beliefs is that they are not intended to match existing reality. They are intended to provide a motivation and a vision so that your actual behavior can begin to develop and rise to meet them."

This quote has stuck with me for years now. Right there you can see why we are often in conflict with each other and in a conflict within. If i believe one thing and you believe another we will manifest different behavior and sometimes this can be a cause for contention. On the other hand, if i have a belief about my self that is unsupportive of a goal and intention I have to manifest a certain action and an outcome, I will never get it right or get it done because my internal "programming" does not support it.

Those of you who know me, know that i am a big fan of NLP and now EMDR which works on the same principles, acknowledging how beliefs about one's self, reality and the world around are programs constantly running beneficially, or detrimentally as one navigates through life.

How's this related to yoga, you may ask?

The concept of samsara, samskara and karma and the transcendence there of are greatly related to the findings of NLP and EMDR.

 Samsara is your daily grind in which you chug along karmicly bound to whatever is happening, with the illusion of free will always choosing the same action in particular situations - "your way " of doing things and therefore pretty much getting a similar outcome from your actions. Life after life, death and rebirth - that's the domain of samsara.

Samskara are the mental conditioning that cause the above manifestation of samsara by virtue of creating karma. Mental conditionings - learned, adopted, self created - either way, that which works in the background to make your decisions for you while you think you are freely making decisions.

In other words - may i suggest - we are all programmed. What are we programmed with? Our beliefs.
Beliefs are the tools in your tool box you use to operate in this world - from assessing the environment, to who you are and how you are, to what to do about this or the other. In other words - your beliefs are your software package that make this enactment of life...well, enact living.

A belief can be "causal" as in what the causes what - the causal relationship between experience. A belief can be "meaning" as in what is the meaning of one experience, or another. A belief can be about limits. Based on these 3 things you decide what causes this experience, what the meaning of the experience is and what your limits are in relationship to it. Based on those you then chose a course of action. But as you can see....your belief may or may not be representative of reality so therefore, your course of action, may or may not be the most appropriate one. Furthermore, the results you get will at best confuse you and at worst really piss you off, disappoint you or leave you in wonderment of "why does this always happen to me?"

Here comes yoga and meditation - the practices where, if you so decide, you can learn to observe what comes and without judgment recognize it, own it, and then transcended. Basically, you can rewrite your software package. Keep what's useful, dump what's not, upload something new. Ask anyone who's sincerely undertaken the practices of yoga and meditation for a while and you will see that everyone acknowledges "shift of consciousness," "insights," epiphanies," "mental change," etc. all of which results in life changes.

Please, make no mistake, if you just show up to yoga classes, it doesn't mean you are going to get those benefits. Even though you can definitely get relaxed, stronger, more flexible and have better balance, it does not mean you are going to grow personally. Some people show up to yoga classes to work out. That's more like gymnastics. They steer clear from anything that looks like, feels like and smells like personal transformation. You can always spot those types - they fidget, are impatient in the beginning of class because the 3 -5 min the teacher allows for "centering" is way too much time to be quiet and still and they keep wanting to get to another pose, ready or not, just like in life they keep wanting another experience and never finding what they really want....because, they don't know what they really want!

This all being said, do you know what some of your beliefs are? Here's an easy one - who's better Republicans or Democrats? Why? Keep going with the questions. Sooner or later you will find out that you don't have a clue. All the answers that come out are likely to be just other beliefs. There's a difference between a belief and a fact. How many actual facts do you have to support the statements you are making?

Here's another one - My last relationship failed because......? Really?
And another way - If i had more money I'd feel much better? Yep, you and 7 bill other people on this Earth.
And my all time favorite - I am like this because when i was growing up my parents..... OK, then. I guess you just have to be that way forever. Happy suffering to you. 

I work with people one-on-one and often go into this as we practice yoga. Can't say everyone like to know that their own beliefs are running the show. It's much better to shift the blame and do things that make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Still there are others who as soon as they identify a harmful belief, rejoice in the possibility of dumping it and re-wiring the circuitry for something different. That's the fun of living, in my personal opinion. The ability to put the bags down and hop on a different train anytime!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

From the Scientists' Desk

I wanted to share 2 studies that came out very recently about some of the benefits of yoga.
A study called “Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Yoga in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” published in the Journal of Adolescent Health on Nov 3, 2009 found that practicing yoga can help people who suffer from eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

People with eating disorders, basically suffer from a strong disconnect with their bodies and do not know what the body needs. By doing yoga, people re-establish the connection. We become more patient and compassionate toward our being, which included the body, and so the road to healing becomes easier.

The study tested 50 adolescents from ages 11 to 16 who had been hospitalized for their eating disorders. The patients were put into two groups, and one group received the usual treatment, while the other group received the same treatment plus two hours of yoga classes a week with a certified yoga instructor.

The study found the group who practiced yoga in addition to treatment showed more improvement on tests of eating disorder behaviors and thoughts than the group that did not practice yoga. The study also found the group that did not practice yoga relapsed back into eating disorder behaviors more often than the yoga group.
This one is from Science Daily, Nov 9, 2009: ” Heart rate variability, a sign of a healthy heart, has been shown to be higher in yoga practitioners than in non-practitioners, according to research to be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics.”

The autonomic nervous system regulates the heart rate through two routes - the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The former causes the heart rate to rise, while, the parasympathetic slows it. When working well together, the two ensure that the heart rate is steady but ready to respond to changes caused by eating, the fight or flight response, or arousal.

Heart failure affects more than 5 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65, according to the American Heart Association. Heart failure occurs when the heart’s pumping power is weakened – by coronary artery disease, a heart attack, high blood pressure or various other conditions – and the heart is unable to pump sufficient oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream.
Though many heart failure patients are unable to engage in vigorous activity, regular exercise is an important part of rehabilitation and improving quality of life, but also can be custom-tailored to the individual.

From the Harvard Health Publications – April, 2009 – “By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body's ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”

Those who practice yoga do not need convincing of how important it is to their physical, mental and emotional health. “This is not a luxury for me” says Hilary, one of the many yoga students at the Holistic Movement Center in Morro Bay, “I need this!”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tonight's thoughts

Life is fundamentally difficult. This is what we fail to realize and hope that there is a place and a time where this may not be true. However, despite this fundamental characteristic of life, one is not bound to being miserable. Difficult does not have to equal miserable. Compassion and loving kindness, toward self and toward others, are two things that make life less difficult and less miserable.