Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Few Words on Fulfilling Relationships.

The English poet John Donne told us:

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.”

Yet, we act as islanders, entire of our selves. Worse, we often act as if the entire Universe revolves around our island. We also complain that we feel alone, isolated and frustrated with our relationships which don’t go according to our preferences. We rely on medication to keep ourselves up, and beat ourselves down when we find ourselves in the same kind of relationship trouble we swore we will never repeat again.

We know that we cannot live without other humans. We learn from each other about each other and about ourselves. We challenge, inspire, help, support and get in the way of one another all the time. In and through relationships we discover who we are, what we are all about, what we like and dislike, what to do with ourselves.

According to human needs based psychology, we are all after the same things. Universally, across cultures, we all strive to fulfill the same six basic human needs. The only difference is the strategies we develop to do that. These needs are for safety/ security, variety /novelty, significance, love/connection, growth, and contribution. Poor strategies for fulfilling these needs result in poor results, backfire and we often feel worse off than we started out, even if initially we get to enjoy some benefits. A slight complication to the theme is that for each individual one or two of those needs are predominant. There are developmental reasons for that, but suffice it to say that, two people with conflicting primary needs who are unaware of what drives them can easily cause each other more hardship than necessary when in reality they could be helping and complementing each other instead.

Fulfilling relationships are built on understanding each others’ needs and being willing to extend ourselves to the other person for more than just selfish reasons.

It is amazing how the world opens up when we are there for each other and how each one of us can blossom in a wonderful relationship. At the same time, it is equally amazing how too often we are the ones who shut the door on happiness because we are unskillful in fulfilling our own needs and making it someone else’s fault.

Consider all of the things you think are wrong with one or more of your relationships. Where do you assign the blame? Are you accounting for your own part in them? What needs are you trying to satisfy by the way you are acting? Could you do something different? Do you understand what the other person needs? These are but a few questions you can ask yourself to figure things out. If you are interested, you can join me for THIS online 4-Weeks course on Exploring Relationships and Sexuality, from the privacy of your own home.

Wishing all of you fulfilling relationships! You can make it happen.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Act And Let Go

We often hear “surrender,” “be at ease with whatever comes,” “wanting causes suffering,” “let go and just be…” It seems to make sense in a yoga class. But when hear the same being said off the mat, we often have something else to say. We have responsibilities family responsibilities, friends, jobs, clubs, hobbies, dreams, plans, and goals… What does it mean to let go and to be at ease with whatever comes? Is everything really perfect? Just one look at the news and you start doubting. Your dysfunctional, habitual patterns, procrastination, failed attempts at achieving your goals, job losses, divorces, kid troubles, how can you accept yourself as perfect? You keep going to yoga classes and letting go while you are there and you keep your ambitions, frustrations, goals and greed to your self. 

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, the great warrior who is no longer sure he should fight, that any action is better than inaction. He also tells him that he has the right to work, but not to the fruits to his work. That selfless service is sure to grant you passage to immortality. Krishna tells Arjuna that the ego-mind uses the senses for self gratification, and those who dwell in the ego-mind find no grace, no contentment, no joy and are subject to the continual cycles of rebirth. So, how do you act without acting? “Established in the Self,” Krishna answers, one is in a state of equanimity, at all times. In equanimity, there is calmness and there is space full of potentiality. When one is established in the Self one is connected with Divinity at all times. Therefore, one is at ease with whatever comes, knowing that impermanence is the name of this game.  Everything will eventually pass.

When in this state the mind does not flicker uncontrollably and franticly in all directions.  Established in the Self you see your situations for what they are and through the calmness of equanimity you also see what needs to be done, what must be done, and how. In essence, the necessary actions reveal themselves because you have allowed the space for that to happen. You will be wiser in your choices and you will be acting with compassion, faith and certitude. You will also not grow attached to anything you do and anything you have.  Instead you will live with gratitude.  Your actions will no longer be for you alone. They will be in service and with purpose.  When acting in line of your dharma (duty) no bad karma can be accumulated, teaches Krishna.  When acting in selfless service all karma is dissolved.  Established in the Self the mind becomes a useful tool, which you can put away when you are done and call upon it when it’s needed. The mind is not a bad thing; it’s just a busy thing that needs taming. As Eckhart Tolle puts it in the Power of Now – you are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold – that is how important you are….

This sounds amazing and simple! Unless you don’t believe in Divinity or the willingness of the Universe to help you out. And if you are confused as to what actually constitutes your all wise, centered, and Equanimeous Self, what would you surrender to and who can you trust for inner guidance?

In that case, trust yourself. Your own life with its twists and turns has a way of showing you what you need to know. Look at your relationships. Look at past events when you felt hurt, angry, misunderstood, justified to commit random acts of unkindness. Look at how you handle similar situations. Look at the results you get from such handling of similar situations. Ask people close to you for feedback. See a therapist, a life coach, or read a book or two, or a dozen. Educate yourself and study yourself. Examine your life because you’re worth it. Then make the choice to do better. “Action is better than inaction,” said Krishna to Arjuna. And I concur.

And while you are at it, keep your eyes on the prize – better life, better job, better relationships, better fun, and yet, remember that only your actions are within your control. Things can happen regardless of what you do, and how hard you try. You may do better than expected. You may get lucky. You may find something along the way you did not expect and get side tracked. You may do worse, or never reach your destination. But just trying, just learning, just figuring things out, changes you forever.

You can never step in the same river twice, says a Chinese proverb. This includes the river of your life. Every day a new You lives to see the sunset. Rejoice at this opportunity. Make the most of it. Let go of holding on to your old mistake. Let go of holding on to old stories. Make new ones – mistakes and stories. That’s what you are here for. And that’s what being a human means. You’ll never get anything right, even though some people will tell you can or you did. In your own mind, you’ll always know what you could have done better, the short cuts you took, the imperfections. Let go of holding on to the idea of perfection. Being awesome is not the same as being perfect. Being perfect is unattainable. And that’s perfectly OK. Everything is perfectly imperfect at all times, including you.

If everything is totally perfect, as in no need for any changes, improvements, enhancements, modifications, and experimentation beyond what already is, then what would you do with this life of yours? That’s the very perfection of the situation!

Enjoy.




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

7 Things To Keep In Mind For a Rewarding Yoga Practice

By now, if you have not heard that yoga is good for you, you must have been living on a different planet for at least a decade. Yes, yoga is great for anyone and everyone. But not all yoga is created equal and not all yoga teachers are equally inspiring, knowledgeable, or qualified. It also matters why you want to practice. Here are 7 things to help you along the way so you can have a rewarding experience.

#1 Pick the style and level that works for you.
An internet search on the styles of yoga can be a good start. A call to the neighborhood yoga studio can help too. But ultimately, trying a few classes and figuring out what your body appreciates most, is the most reliable way to know. Start with the easiest thing you can find. Take an Intro class. Book a private to get evaluated. However you decide to start, please, go slow and be patient with yourself and your body.

#2 Shop around for a yoga teacher.
 Just like with the yoga styles, you can look up teachers’ bios on the websites of each yoga studio and kind of get an idea of who is who. However, all yoga teachers know to write their bios in the most compelling light, so even the most inexperienced ones out there sound good if they have a little writing talent. Also, as a newbie, you may not know any of names each teacher lists as their teachers or be unfamiliar with the yoga language used. Again, the best thing to do is give people a try. Talk to your friends and see who they recommend. Go to a class or two with each teacher that peaks your interest and see for yourself which one you jive with. Your teacher can make you love your practice, or hate it. Your teachers must be patient with you and your body. Hopefully humble. Hopefully not show off what he or she can do. And hopefully, encourage everyone to pay attention to themselves in a kind and mindful way.

#3 Don’t do it if it hurts.
Yes, you are not required to do every single yoga pose offered in a class. You do have a choice. Skip things, rest, just watch if something is unfamiliar. If your body hurts, it’s screaming at you to stop doing whatever you are doing. Yoga is not an Olympic sport and no one gets any medals at the end of a class. So, don’t push the envelope. Get to intimately know your limitations and your body’s quarks and peculiarities and rejoice that they are there. It means that you have something to play with and observe. You have a body. This means you are still alive. That’s good news. We condition this body by repetition mixed with compassion. We also condition this mind with mindfulness mixed with surrender. It all works out at the end. I promise.

#4 Don’t look around the room.
You are not the person on the mat next to yours. Also, you won’t like it if someone is staring at you all the time, even though you may be wearing the coolest Prana pants in the class. Keep your beeswax on your mat and remember:  you got this body, just the way it is, partly from your parents, partly from your attitude, partly from your experience. Therefore, you have a unique combination of body/mind that does not look or perform like any other one. Enjoy your uniqueness. Explore it. Embrace it.

#5 Do connect breath and movement.
This is the essence of the physical practice of yoga. If you are not keeping track of your breath and moving from it, you are totally missing out on what you are there for. Slow down. Breathe. Feel the body and the breath express the postures. This breath can show you where you are tensing, resisting, loosing focus. It will help you stay present. It will keep your mind relaxed and at ease with whatever comes. 

#6 Use your core muscles.
Yes, you have them. They could be in need of some attention, conditioning, and reconnecting to, but they are there. If you are not moving from your core, you are a rootless, wobbly pile of an injury-waiting-to-happen.  If you move from your core, you are elegance and confidence in action, deeply rooted and gracefully flowing…like a pro…even in the gentle class.

#7 Don’t be an armchair yoga practitioner.
Yes, you know those folks who always talk about something and how awesome it is and don’t do it. That’s an armchair yogi/yogini. While you may be exercising your brain imagining the possibilities, you are not getting anything else done. Stop talking and start walking….to your neighborhood yoga studio. I’ll see you on the mat.


You can reach me for a private lesson at 805-909-1401. Or take one of my classes. Text me for a schedule. 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Technology changes everything.

Hello, folks.

It appears that I am writing less. That's because instead of writing, I am using video to communicate. You can find my vlogs on my YouTube channel.

Go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeJKrPrNJN3z78Vd45D7Fsg

You can subscribe to the channel and all new videos will be delivered to you. Or you can sign up for my newsletter and once per week or less, you will receive and email from me which usually contains the links to the latest 2 or 3 videos.

As always, thanks for your support.

Valentina