Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yoga Philosophy to the rescue….

In light of the previous conversation about discerning what comes as a response to the moment rather than from the ego space and my challenge to you, I can see from the e-mails I got and the conversations I’ve had with some of you in person that you may need extra help on the subject….

I turn to yoga philosophy and offer you what has been helpful to me along the way. Briefly. As the subject matter can and has filled up countless books indeed.

First we need to understand 2 basic concepts. What is dukha and sukha. Dukha is the state of unease and discomfort – mentally, emotionally, energetically and physically. I’ve seen it translated as “unhappiness”  as “bad space” or “restricted space” or “obstructed space.” The word comes from a reference to the space of a wheel on a carriage that’s been jammed and thus makes movement of the carriage at the least bumpy and at the most it halts it completely. Sukha is its exact opposite. A space that is “open,” “good” and movement can continue smoothly. So, it is also referred to as “happiness” and “ease.”

Everything about yoga and meditation (and let me state here that meditation IS yoga, the highest form and practice of yoga), everything about the practices of yoga is about reducing dukha and by doing so, increasing sukha. From suffering to ease and happiness in a state of what the yogi’s call jivan mukti. Jivan mukti literally means “the human soul liberated” but since Jivan is a term for the human self/soul that refers to the self while the human is living, we get “liberated while still living.”

Notice that one has to be “liberated” in order to be unconditionally “happy.” Right there is the answer to all questions of why we are unhappy, some of the time or all of the time. Unhappy with who we are, how our life is, our relationships, accomplishments, gifts and experiences. Unhappy can be anything from a low grade of discontent to major depression and anxiety, just like the wheel of the carriage can be only slightly obstructed to fully jammed and immobile. From complaining and grunting through life to being critical and aggressive to being suicidal – these are all behaviors that are connected to the same thing – being in an “obstructed space” mentally and emotionally.

Liberating ones’ self from the obstruction should then be helping the wheel roll down the road of life smoothly even if there are bumps on the road itself.

And…of course…the liberation process gets to be a little complicated. Complicated not by itself but by the way we go about it. But this is a totally different blog discussion.

To be liberated, the Yoga Sutras prescribe several simple things: The Yamas – those are restrains one needs to be committed to or else more suffering is created as you go along and therefore, instead of freeing your wheel from the jam you are adding to it and getting more stuck by the minute.

The first and foremost of the yamas (and in other spiritual traditions of other cultures and heritages, it also ranks of the highest importance) is Ahimsa which is non-harming. Non-harming is a practice of being considerate toward other beings and toward yourself. Honoring boundaries of others and of your own body. Considering the consequences or your actions to others and for yourself.  This includes anything from what you eat, to what you wear to where you live and how you do your yoga practice. We can be violent in so many ways without even realizing that we are. So, the practice of ahimsa is the practice we undertake to learn about our violent ways and consciously attempt to minimize them.

We do this by becoming truthful (the second yamas, or satya) in every moment. Satya is truth and the truth will set you free as we all know. One must be completely honest within themselves as to what they are doing and saying. Exaggerating? Why? Telling a story? Why? Manipulating a situation? Withholding the truth? A white lie? Yes, there are many ways we attempt to control reality and reshape it in our terms instead of accepting it. This mainly means, we are not accepting of the "who we are" and trying to create an illusion for others about us that we think we like better, or that they will like better than the real thing.

Either way, by not being truthful, by not practicing satya, we rob others and we rob our selves of the opportunity to experience reality as it is and grow from there in the mysterious way we are suppose to, or as the Bhagavad Gita puts it – to fulfill our dharma, our duty to ourselves, to all the beings and to the divine dance of life.  So, classical yoga recommends that we practice asteya: non-stealing. Stealing time by wasting time is still stealing. Channeling your energy in unworthy pursuits is stealing from yourself. Hording things, taking things that are not yours no matter how you rationalize it, not giving others what they’ve worked for or is rightfully theirs, not giving your kids or pets attention they need….all those are forms of stealing. It weighs on your consciousness and therefore it jams the wheel of your carriage more than you imagine.

So, the yogis recommend a “godly conduct” known as brahmacharya. Often this is translated and understood as restraint in the sexual energy and expression. Therefore, there are yogis who take the path of celibacy. For householders the recommendations is to be faithful to your partner and use sex for reproduction mainly. There’s a lot said in the yogic literature about sexuality and how the energy that is channeled into sexual activities is a vital energy you can use for creative endeavors, getting closer to God or varieties of practices that would make you a better human being. The literal meaning is under the tutelage of Brahma, or God. Godly conduct goes beyond sexuality into every aspect of our lives. Sexuality is a primordial instinct we have for the reason of perpetuating our species, just like hunger is for survival of the organism. Eating is always a good thing, unless one is indulging in it for other reasons and excessively. Same with sex, or any other human behavior. Whatever you do, if you are excessive and doing it and coming from the wrong place into it, there are going to be consequences which amount to creating more “obstructed space.”

Wanting too much of anything, or for that matter, wanting a specific outcome and going into things with a predetermined idea of what you should get out of it, borders on the need to practice the final restraint – apargraha: greedlessness. Acting for the actions alone and from an authentic place within you not yearning for specific fruits of your labor, says the Bhagavad Gita is the way to live without creating more karma, or consequences that cause suffering for yourself. Greedlessness is the ability to say – I had enough. I am good for now. I have what I need. I feel secure with what I have. I am confident in my abilities. More is not always better. Sometimes more is just more stuff you have to worry about, take care of and pay attention to that tie you down a little too much for no particularly good reason. Generosity is a way of acknowledging that you are full, good way to lighten yourself up and to contribute to someone else’s needs.

For these restrains to be valid and have an effect on your mind and life, they have to be done in speech, in thought and in deed. You can’t smile on the outside and plan revenge on the inside…. The yamas are practices that we undertake at first because we need to, and as we become more educated and grow, we practice because it becomes how we really are.

These restrains prep and maintain the ground for the practices of the Niyamas (Observances) to naturally grow out of. While the yamas address your conduct in the world around you, these practices address the world within you.

The first one – shauca: purity, includes the purity of body and mind. From a place of purity, non-violence and non-harming as well as the other yamas, naturally arise. This has implications not only to what you put in your body but what you choose to put in your mind and what you include in your life. Your friends, relationships, the books you read and the movies you watch – are they contaminating you? Is your attitude toxic? Are your intentions pure?

If there’s purity, then there’s contentment. Samtosha: contentment is being in peace with whatever comes, with oneself, and with one’s life exactly as things are….so it requires acceptance, which requires honesty. There’s also gratitude in contentment. It is a place from which, with gratitude for the way things are, you guild the future. It is not a couch on which you complacently snooze. Contentment recognizes life, so far and how it has brought you to where you are, and says: “Great! Let’s see what comes next!” You contently put one foot in front of the other to get to where you are going, and every step of the way the contentment says: “Great! “  It’s a positively charged productive place of discovery of every moment.

The last 3 of the niyamas are the 3 legs that create the utmost balance in the human psyche and are the absolute definition of yoga itself. Those are: Tapas, Svadyaya and Ishvara Prhanidhana.

Tapas is translated as austerities. But it also means fire. Either way, it means a method which transforms one thing into another things. Your yoga practice on the mat is tapas; a willful practice to cook out the impurities.   It is just like making ghee - starting with regular butter and cooking out the solids, one gets a golden gleaming substance that has been transformed from a not so healthy butter to a healing substance known as ghee. The postures cook out the kinks and the energetic blockages through the body. By doing so, they free the flow of vital energy and free our movements, giving us a more lively ability to enjoy life as an embodied soul. One of the obstacles to practice is said to be ill health. The mind becomes preoccupied with survival and tends to the parts that are broken in this body. A healthy body is no longer an obstacle. It is a well oiled vehicle for transformation. But your yoga practice on the mat is only tapas if you practice with all of the above in place! Otherwise it is just an exercise and some exercises can lead to injury :)

Furthermore, as we diligently work with the body, we make self discoveries. This is the practice of svadyaya: self – study. What was mental has become physical. What is emotional has a physical expression. What is energetic has a physical imprint. So, this body is a map to what is within us and a solution to many of the bumps on the road itself. As we work with it we observe how we are with it. Are we practicing the practices mentioned above? What is happening mentally and emotionally? What is our attitude? What moves us? What inspires us? What drags us down? We see it by being willing to practice mindful self-study.  Self study is also learning through books and teachers. It is also observing and learning through experiences in life – pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, exciting or ordinary.  Every moment is an opportunity for self-study.

The more we know about who we are, the more in awe we are of the magical mystery of being. Or at least the more opportunity there is to practice reverence, gratitude and love of being. (You can also be learning and bitching that you are not that which you are reading about and how it is really someone else' fault because they did something to you in the past!'s your choice which way you want to be learning.) This practice is called Ishvara Pranidhana. It is often translated as love, or reverence for the Lord. But knowing that Patanjali (the author of the Yoga Sutras, from where all these categorization comes from) subscribed to a philosophical system that was dualistic in its nature, I have to say, he wasn’t talking about God in the conventional sense.  Ishvara here is more like your full potential, your connection to the wholeness of things making up this Universe. Still for those who feel a connection with a deity – then this is your Ishvara, your Jesus, your Krishna, and your devotion is right here. Offering your practice to the good of all beings – this can also be Ishvara Pranadina. It is also translated as surrendering. But surrender to what? Does it mean giving up? Does it mean sit around and do nothing?

Surrender means trusting that you can do what needs doing, and that whatever needs doing, you do it because it needs doing, not because you are seeking a particular outcome. It is really surrendering attachment to our ideas and expectations. It means surrendering the notion that you have ALL control of events and circumstances. It means acknowledging that the only control you have is over your attitude and your focus.

There are always obstacles on the road. Some obstacles are more like potholes. Some are more like rivers.  Some are more like the Grand Canyon. This is just the topography of life. If you live by the ocean, learn to enjoy the surf and the smell of seaweed. If you live on a mountain, learn how to enjoy the storms, the snow and the clarity of the thin air. And know that sometime you can go down the mountain to the beach, or from the beach to the desert, or to a concert at Carnegie Hall. Whatever is happening on the outside is just scenery.

Surrender the egoic judgments and self judgments that are built around taking things personally. Surrender the notion that everything is happening to you. Everything is just happening. Pain is just pain. Pain is not suffering. Suffering is optional, teaches the Buddha.

This is the wisdom of yoga that one learns only by practicing. Practicing once will make a difference once. Just like taking a pill helps for a few hours but then the symptoms return and you need to take more pills, your yoga practice must be regular. Dedication to your yoga practice guarantees results. The level of commitment and sincerity will determine the results. So, results will vary! Unlike pills, your yoga practice helps you grow as a person and a soul, and the only side effects that exist are actually things you’d really like having as a part of you.

The only way to learn what comes from the ego, and what comes from the moment as it is…is to learn what is in your ego. These practices do the trick. Knowing this, you can move pass the habits of the ego and perhaps retrain it. The ego is only a tool for evaluating a situation and executing actions accordingly. So, you can use this tool to execute the actions that are inspired by being present in the moment and grounded in your deep, authentic self (or Ishvara). The ego knows how to drive a car, cook a meal, and keep this body from crossing the street in front of a truck. It has skills. It’s just a matter of employing these skills in the right direction and not just for the ego’s own self perpetuated illusion of realness.  Think of the ego as a kid that’s been growing up unsupervised for a long time and now you have to retrain it a little and refine its manners. That’s all. Surrender the games, the stories, the attachment to them. Awaken to the present moment, free of the unnecessary load that these games, stories and attachments to them represent. Be a liberated soul, a jivan mukti.

PS…these practices are the long way there…. The short way to becoming a jivan mukti is to….just be it. Hehehe.

PPS: these practices are the short way there....The long way there is to take all of this and use it as rationalizations for acting the way you usually do, calling what you do what it is not. Remember, words are just labels. Slapping a "Gourmet Chocolate Truffles" label on a can of tomatoes, will not change the content of the can. Hehehe....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Your Challenge!!!

Well, I have been wondering if i should just tell people the difference of what comes to mind being of the mind or inspired from a deeper intuitive place you should pay more attention to and trust... It seems that we all want to "know" things and want to know them NOW! This can be attributed to the way we live, the character of our society. There's a solution for everything and most things lay claim to making a difference NOW.

Go to the hardware store and you will see all the stuff you can buy to clean fast, to fix something fast, to make something as easy as 1-2-3.... The commercials on TV promote products that will help you now, make this easy, or that easier, get better results faster! These are words we hear in our heads like mantras.

The truth is - things in life that are worth it take time. How long does it take the Earth to produce a diamond? How long does it take an artist to create a musical piece, a painting, a poem? How long does it take a baby to be born and then to be an adult?

We seem to want magic. Instant results, rather than be involved in a process, much less being mindful in the process. So we look for teachers, for postures, for books....something that would give us all the answers so we can just hear it, see it, read it and not have to bother discovering it. It takes too long to discover something!!!

Unfortunately, even though it works to listen to some good advise and not have to rediscover ALL things on your own, it is also much more valuable to discover all things related to your self on your own. No one has access to your heart the way you do. No one has access to your mind the way you do. Therefore, for things of this nature, you have to find the answers pertaining to your self, by your self, or else it won't be nearly as valuable.

Think of the addict who's been told by friends and family "You are an addict" and who says "Whatever! I know what i am doing. Leave me alone." For there to be an opportunity for transformation, one must know what needs to be known from within.

That's not to say that reading something will not have an effect on you. If you are in the right place, reading something that means something to you from within will definitely cause a deep impression. But in this case, the only thing that's written and needs to be written is "Listen for the difference between thoughts that come as a result of your egoic mind constructing things and your intuitive self suggesting things." This is all that's necessary for you to begin exploring the content of your own inner space.

I can tell you how i know the difference, and how it feels to me and what my challenges are and, perhaps I will some day. I can also tell you the theory. But theory, when it comes to matters of the Self is not as useful as practice.

So, I challenge you to practice. Practice being present and mindful of the content of your mind. Use the breath to quiet your self when necessary, or a mantra, or your yoga postures, or whatever you are used to doing. (I assume that people reading know the basics of meditation, if not, i will gladly present those) Then just listen. Listen to what comes and how it feels and where it goes without making more thoughts out of the ones that already arise naturally. Just listen, pay attention to the way things make you feel. Be honest, objective, open and without any expectations for a particular outcome. Just be there. Then also try to be just like that during the day as you are involved in your work, conversations, shopping, cleaning, walking the dog, whatever you are doing - watch your self do it and watch what happens within you while you are doing it. If you are willing and if you are diligently practicing, you are bound to find out where things come from...even why the do so!!!

Practice is the mother of all skill.....It takes practice and this practice over time evolves into a skill. Mindfulness is a skill. Trusting your intuition is a skill. Skills cannot be imparted on a person, they can only be gained by practice. Remember the first time you tried to ride a bicycle? If you read the theory of what makes bike riding successful and how it feels, do you think you could have just got on the bike and rode like a pro?

Furthermore, a skill can become your permanent trait rather than simply a passing state. Imagine if mindfulness was your permanent trait! What would your life be like then?

Good luck & report back when you have some ideas and experiences :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Part 2 - Past, Present & Future all happening Now

OK, I was suppose to write the rest of it "tomorrow" and it's now been a week, or so.... my bad. But as it often happens with these things, when i get a bright idea it's like fireworks - goes up, makes a big bang and then fades away, and I can't possibly describe it in detail. So, when "tomorrow" came i was thinking to myself..."what was that?"

Let's see if i can recapture and relate the fireworks....

Last thing that happened was that we watched "Mr. Present" and "Mr. Responsible" about to battle out the contradiction between being present in the moment and paying the bills, raising kids, planning for the future.

What contradiction? There's no contradiction!!!

At least - it doesn't have to be one. I will explain.

It is only an apparent contradiction. It appears that if you are present in the moment, you shouldn't/couldn't be planning for the future because then you are in the future and not in the present moment. Well, almost.

If planning comes, than planning is in the moment. You see. The planning happens in the Now. There's nothing wrong with that. You are observing planning and just planning. The problem arise when you mentally transport your self to the future and start worrying about the "what if" this and "what if" that, or building sand castles you hope to live in.

When expectations arise and you become attached to them - that's when you are really in trouble. There's nothing wrong with expecting that your children will love you when they grow up and be outstanding citizens making you proud. But, if you get too attached to the idea as if there is no other possibility, you may set your self up for disappointment. If you don't believe me, just ask my mother. She though that her daughter's love and care was a given and blood relationship is all that was necessary for that condition to be fulfilled. She still can't figure out why her daughter is not acting as expected.... well, i wasn't there for the last 20 years to even know what is expected and she wasn't there for the time before to lay the foundations for it either. On the other hand, my brother turned out to be a drug addict (in recovery now for many years). I am sure that's not what she was envisioning for the future when she first decided to get hitched to my father. Not even when she found herself a widower at 32.  She was going for a nice house, love, security....or whatever she was doing for. I suppose she's the only one that can answer that.

Whether it is in relationship to a job, a loved one, a vacation plan... whenever you get your self too transported into the future and start tasting the expected outcomes you are fantasizing about, be ware - it may or may not happen and often when it happens it isn't nearly as spectacular, pleasant, or even scary, uncomfortable and horrible as you may have expected. Meanwhile, since you have transported your self in the future you are missing out on important arisings in the present moment around you that constitute the process of "living and being." To plan is fine. Even some expecting is in "if you touch a hot stove, you are likely to get burned." (this one is called learning) Or, as in "rain is expected - i better pack the umbrella." (This one is call, preparation.) Or as in "If i save some money today, some day i may be more comfortable and won't have to work as much." (This one is called Being Self Reliant.) Or, "if i pay my mortgage on time and regularly, the bank won't take the house away." (This one is called paying the bills) That's not to say that mother nature won't take your house away - don't get attached to the house. It's just a place where you are living now. Or that you may or may not live to enjoy your savings, or your saving may or may not be worth anything later - time will tell, just don't get attached to your ideas on how you are going to be spending your savings.

As it is said in the Gita - Action is better than inaction, but be not attached to the fruits of your actions. Krishna advises Arjuna that one should act from a place of non-attachment only because one is simply participating in the cosmic game fulfilling his/her individual purpose for the benefit of the whole. If one acts from a place of expectations and self benefit - those would be considered "karma producing" actions. Wise are those who are the same in success and failure, in pleasure and in pain. As they are rooted in the true self they are not diluted and affected by circumstances.

That's great wisdom, but one only feels it when one is fully present in the moment. Intuiting, acting as the moment requires. If the moment requires planning, than plan. If the moment requires listening to your kid's story for the 10th time, than do it like you've never heard it before. If the moment requires, dropping everything you are doing and helping a neighbor, than do it. Whatever the moment reacquires, just do it. But you only know what that is if you are present in the moment as the moment.

Therefore there is no contradiction. 

Warning: The ego is clever and tricky. How do you know that what you are feeling as necessary action comes from the moment itself as intuited by your authentic self , rather than a rationalization from the egoic self looking for a particular outcome, or acting out of fear, insecurity, hope, or something else? Hehehe.

May be next time....


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Past, present or future all happening now...

Well, i may actually irritate people with this post, but those of you reading, please keep an open mind. An open mind is a mind which hears and considers different points of view without judging them as wrong ONLY because they may be different.

Before i begin, I ask that you forget all that you know from reading and studying about what it means to be "present in the moment." Just forget about it. I am going to say some things you may already know but humor me and act surprised. Then hear the things you may have not read, or heard about and lets see what happens for you. As for me, I am just writing this as it comes, so i am just as curios as you are about what comes next.

Here's something that seems logical and true to a degree: The past is history, the future hasn't arrived, so all you've got is the present moment (whether you like this present moment, or not).

Now consider - the past is your karmic record, you experiences, learning, growing, pleasant, unpleasant, important, or unimportant....that past has shaped this body, mind, beliefs and quests as you have it at this moment.

Now consider - all your hopes, dreams, anticipations, preparations and planning for the future has shaped your choices for action and direction...which are now actions of the past, although some are still in the future, but also bound to become the past some day.

Finally, you can say that NOW you are where you are as you are as a manifestation of your past and your future together at this moment. The past and the future collapse into This Now.

Eckhart Tolle said (paraphrasing here) that when you think of the past the memory arises in the Now. When you think of the future, the idea of it arises in the Now. By the time you get to executing the idea you will be doing so in the Now. I am only adding that Now you are what you are as a result of your past experiences many of which are influenced by your future desires, goals and inspirations based on which you were taking actions, therefore gaining experiences which are now part of your past. Or you can turn it around and say that your past experiences have shaped the kind of future you want to envision which then has shaped the kind of actions you want to take or not take, still resulting in more experiences which are now the past, leaving you who you are at this moment. Therefore, the nature of who you are and how you are, who you are going to be and how you are going to be is always manifest in the Now.

Now consider what does it mean to be present in the moment.....well, i guess you just can't resist saying to your self the things you've read, heard and tried to practice over time - "being present in the moment is knowing what is arising within and on the outside of you and paying attention to it without judgment." Great. Lets break it down a bit more - "paying attention to physical sensations, the breath, the heartbeat." I must have said this a million times in the yoga classes i teach. Definitely, more than once per class. Some of you are probably hearing my voice in your head "are you paying attention to your breath?" I know it because you've told me.

What else..."watching the thoughts, emotions and your reactions to them.....being in honesty with what is actually occurring....witnessing without judgment....and if you come from the Zen tradition - just seeing, just feeling, just listening...."

Keep going... don't you feel the uneasiness of a contradiction pushing in, if i am suppose to be in the present moment, who's suppose to plan for the kids schooling, my mother funeral, for graduation, for my next meal, for my vacation, for my wedding, for ..... If i don't do any planning, am I being irresponsible for my own life? Won't i end up like the crazy neighbor on the block taking care of 20 cats scattered, making no sense to anyone babbling about energy, vibrations, constellations, using too much patchouli oil and maybe with a foreclosure sign in front of the house?

To let go of the past seems not only wise and convenient but also much more easy than to surrender to...what...? Hmmm.

If this contradiction has never "baked your noodle", as the Oracle would say in the Matrix, you are really not paying attention. And if it has, than what did you do with this line of questioning? Ignored it? Pushed it back to where it came from - your suspicious mind....or perhaps your intuitive mind...or perhaps your tired mind...your not "true self" mind...egoic mind...or your "true self" mind...

I can just hear the non-dualist out there chiming in "Who's asking?" .... well, i guess the one that needs to pay the bills and get up for work....unless you think you can replay to your boss who tells you "Mr. Anderson, if you want to work here, you will have to show up on time. Can you make this commitment?" - with "Who's asking?" complimenting the question with an enlightened look on your face. If it works - then try it on your IRS 1040 too. After you put your name, SS# and address, where you income goes, you can write "Who's asking?" but do state all of your expenses. A tax deduction is a tax deduction and a good thing! apparent contradiction. In the right corner with red sorts we have "Mr. Present." In the left corner, with blue shorts we have "Mr. Responsible." ....what happened to peace, love and happiness.

While the two battle it out, i am off to get something to drink, enjoy the sun and give my chickens a squeeze. Stay tuned for the rest of this pondering tomorrow.... For now just sit back, relax and let it cook for a while.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Are you guilty?!?!

A Cop out is an idiom meaning to avoid taking responsibility for an action or to avoid fulfilling a duty.

It's funny how we humans can take wisdom and instead of using it to our advantage we turn around and use it to continue down the path to self destruction or at least distraction. Everyone of the following statements are widely used and many times perfectly legitimately, honestly, meaningfully and sincerely. Yet, other times, they are nothing but a cop out.

Here are my favorites:

"I am listening to my body"
If you are in a yoga class and your body is straining and screaming at you to back off, you better be listening. If you are sick and need to lie down to rest - you should be listening. But if you are reaching for the fatty burger or the 7th glass of wine today, telling people, you are a listening to your body and you feed it what it needs.....really? If you are zonked out in front of the TV for hours and for no particular reason, perhaps you are not tired and listening to your body, perhaps you are just being lazy.

"It doesn't matter after all. Everything around is just an illusion."
Really? Is this what you are going to tell the IRS when they come over to audit you? Or to your kids who are growing up without your guidance, attention and proper care? Or the electrical company when they disconnect your electricity for not paying your bill? A person who's had the actual experience of the emptiness of the form around us also understands the meaning of "emptiness is form". And if you don't understand this sentence, than you are definitely using this statement as a cop out.  Will you say that everything around us is just an illusion if your doctor just told you that you have a horrible, incurable disease which will cause you great suffering for many years to come?

"I am following my path."
Are you following the path you should be following? Or just the path you happened to be on right now and you don't want any one to question you. Is your path just a road to self gratification, or an actually meaningful experience, contributing to growth and the greatest good?

"I have to do things my way. This is my process."
Is your process (when it refers to personal growth) getting you stuck in the past and distracting you from what is actually occurring in this moment? Is your process actually helping you give up the stories and the excuses of why you are as you are right now or is it just "bitching rights" but leads to no actual change? What exactly does it mean "my process" and "my way?" Or perhaps you are using this one to indicate that you rather struggle trying to do things your way than take the advise of someone who's been there or suggesting to you how to do things and save time or get better results - whether for personal growth or just doing things.

"I am a spiritual person."
I met one of those today. She was saying it as if being "spiritual" is like a hat you wear or a political affiliation. Spiritual people normally do not call themselves spiritual. Others do it for them. Also, spiritual people do not make a separation between "spiritual things" and "regular life things" because if you are really spiritual, you see every things as spiritual and meaningful. Just naturally. Finally, if you are using "spiritual" to somehow mean "better than" know what i am going to say to that!

"We are all one!"
Great! Give me your money! Remember this one next time your next door neighbor, or your spouse, or you parent annoys the Bjesus out of you. If you have never actually had the experience of oneness, than you should really modify your statement to say - we are all interdependent, or something to that effect. Oneness is not just about peace and love and rock an roll, but don't touch my stuff.  Oneness is about realizing universal compassion and your responsibility to fulfill your part for the benefit of the whole (which includes you too, by the way).

There are other ones too, but it's past my bed time so, i am starting to forget things a little. Not to worry, since we are all one, and this is just an illusion after all, it's just my process as a spiritual person to listen to my body and say Namaste and good night.

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010 has a nice ring to it. However, it means that the future has already arrived! I remember the 1984 Science Fiction movie "2010 - The Year We Make Contact." I was 12 years old and 2010 seemed way out there in the future.... Well, little did i know then that 2010 was going to be the "Now." Goes to show you - it is always NOW. If you haven't noticed that yet, you are simply not paying attention. Nothing ever happens in the future. By the time you are there it's the NOW. Furthermore, as this 2010 movie shows...well the when the future arrives as the now, it can be very different than what you may have dreamed of.

As Wikipedia says about the movie: "The film was only a moderate success, disappointing many critics as well as viewers." Replace "the film" with "My Life" and "viewers" with "my own expectations" and you get how most people feel these days about themselves. "My life was only a moderate success, disappointing many critics as well as my own expectations."

Replace "The Film" with "My marriage" and viewers with "family members and friends."..... Get the point.

We often imagine something grand is suppose to happen in the future and when we get there, OMG, that's not what you were expecting even if you get what you though was coming your way! Well, who's fault is this anyway?! I mean this not as that you didn't do your best to get there. I mean this as 1) Expectations - what did you base those expectations on? 2) How attached are you to those expectations? - Did that narrow your filed of vision to the exclusion of awesome opportunities that may have come along and you didn't notice? 3) Everything is grand when you are present for it! Just the fact that you have over a million different processes in your body going on at the same time, with your body made up of 10 - 100 trillion cells, all doing something at the same time - is in itself an amazing manifestation. Every breath you take is amazing. Every time you open your eyes and they behold something - that's amazing too. Tiramisu cake is amazing. The process of growing and birthing a human is beyond amazing. So, how can you say that your life sucks. My neighbors playing Scottish bagpipes at midnight is amazing too. (I do not know how to even hold one)

Really! What you are you focusing on?!

Reality check! There's nothing wrong with reality, only perhaps with your perception and processing of it. Based on that you choose and develop behaviors and adaptations, a.k.a conditioning. That's where suffering comes from, according to the greatest teachers of the past. All of human suffering is nothing more than a psychological, emotional condition locked up in the box sitting on your shoulders and caused by inability to stay present and see things for what they are. Circumstances are circumstances. No circumstances cause an emotional suffering all by themselves. It's hard to accept that if your hubby, or your daddy/mommy uses you as a punch bag. I know. However, you wouldn't be there or stay there, if you were not already suffering. Furthermore, one can be the subject of mistreatment and misfortune and still not suffer. Pain is definite but suffering is optional, teaches the Buddha.

Try this for the New Year - ask the question "What is this moment?" Focus on what is going on within and without and see what it does for you.

Try yoga and mediation while you are at it. Get skills for happy living under all circumstances :)