Bones don’t move themselves!

Every movement you make is comprised of a varying degree of consciousness mixed with automatic anatomical functions in the body.

When you choose where you want to move the body, an automatic anatomical function is activated. Reciprocal inhibition is a process where one muscle contracts signaling its muscle pair on the same joint to release. This creates a give and go in the muscles of the body creating smooth and controlled movements. This is the body acting without consciousness.

When you engage movement consciously, precision of movement can be accomplished. Bringing your conscious attention to a movement can augment the powerful action of reciprocal inhibition creating more control through strength as well as greater flexibility in the release.

Yoga is a process of finding union. Mind and body is just one form of union in the practice of yoga.

Think about it

Think before you move!

Manifestation: How do you get where you want to be?

How do you get from before to after? How do you move from consciousness into action? How do you get the results you are seeking in life? Why does your brain settle on some thoughts more than others? Why move from what was, to what is, much less imagine what could be?

Purusha and Prakriti are Vedic/Upanishadic concepts of consciousness and turning your consciousness into action/result. Discussing this in a yoga class or two, I’ve been asked to simplify the idea. It think the secret lands in the word manifestation… and a connection to my previous blog post. It’s complicated. But does it have to be?

Purusha is consciousness, including the divine collective consciousness. Complicated.
Prakriti is the cosmic energy that exists within all matter. Complicated.
Manifestation is the actuation of your thoughts and efforts into a tangible awareness or even an object. Complicated.

Now… use your connection to purusha to manifest the prakriti you desire. Mind bogglingly complicated.

Without the fancy language, there are a few steps to follow.
1. Discern what you really want in life by sorting through your thoughts and setting goals. Those goals should read as positive affirmations.

Now, this is the tough part. . .

2. Separate your efforts from the results of those efforts. When the right effort is put forth, results occur. There is no difference. The only way to control the result, is to control the effort you put forth. Release connection to the result. Completely. Like I said, this is the hard part.

Keep your mind focused and continue making the “right” effort.

3. Wait. Change will come and you will have manifested exactly what you asked for through conscious effort!

Let me offer a few examples:
You make a grocery list (conscious goals set). You are hungry as you enter the grocery store and while you may pick up some fresh produce and protein, keeping your goals in tact, but you also pick up some potato chips for the drive home. While you made a list, it wasn’t super focused. Refining consciousness includes defining goals. The goal was really to purchase healthy food to nourish the body. So it wasn’t the effort that went astray, it was a lack of conscious refinement.

You need to stop dating needy people. How do you consciously define your dating goal? “I don’t want needy people” still associates the mind with what you do NOT want and likely the effort will still remain on needy people and therefore you efforts will lead you right back to needy people. Set the conscious goal on a positive statement. “I will fill my life will giving, happy people.” When your consciousness perceives something other than giving and happy, it can dismiss what does not meet the expectation. You may find new friends that fill your need for community instead of a date… what is the real reason you are dating?

It’s time to change jobs. You are in an interview and asked why you are looking for a new job. Don’t tell them what’s wrong with your current job. State the positive qualities you are looking for: challenging, collaborative, creative, flexible etc. If you are simply looking for something different, you might jump from the fire into a boiling pot! Be specific and keep your thoughts focused and effort on the path YOU determined.

Even more powerful, is aligning your consciousness and goals on the collective, the diving energy, true Purusha. The divine is a giving, loving, energizing, omnipresent force. Your efforts to align with the divine, result in a truly blessed life!

Do Something!

Define your life goals.
Commit to the continued effort of staying on target.
Then wait for it….
Because the results will MANIFEST.

Helping Hands

Helping Hands 2
While I was in my amazing home, warm and safe from the blizzard, I had some irrational thoughts about the absence of love in my life. My husband was working out of the country as the snow fell and the shoveling began. Momentarily, I felt alone and helpless. But that feeling quickly faded.

In this image, the first and most obvious helping hands I see are my own. In this bind, the connection of hands work together to stretch opposing muscles shows an obvious form of help. My own hands and body are amazingly healthy and strong. I can help myself.

Some amazing friends appeared, like snow angels, and we all shoveled, laughed, ate, and shared space, energy and joy. Kevin was among these friends, and he took this picture. I never could’ve taken this image myself, nor could I have shaken the sense of lonely so quickly without these amazing people. They surely offered me their helping hands.

If you look closely in this image, you see sun and snow. Our connection to Mother Earth should not be denied. Through a blizzard, she slowed the city down enough to get people out of their work lives and into their communities. I have  heard and experienced amazing stories of neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends. Mother Earth may be sneaky, but her results are clear. She helped us to remember that people are good and willing to help each other.

My husband is an amazing human and a phenomenal source of love. From a distance, he listened to me complain and offered solutions to snow challenges (including using a blow torch over a shovel)! From a distance, he still offered help… and I see a reminder of his help on my hand. My wedding band in the center of this image cannot be denied as constant help and support.

Thank you for all the help I’ve received in my life.
Thank you for an amazing weekend.
Thank you for your patience with mother earth.

Do Something!
Do you need to help yourself or can you offer help to others?

It’s just a process: The Mandala

I haven’t written in a while. It’s not been a lack of inspiration or even time. I’ve just been going through a process. It feels like life is changing and I bounce between feeling in control and feeling purely like a witness as life swirls around me. As I sit to write, I cannot pinpoint one single idea to articulate as EVERYTHING seems possible and tangible and yet, just a finger tip away…

TODAY, September 21st, is the real 8 year anniversary of JOURNEYoga. I claim to be the owner, but JOURNEYoga is about the people and community. It does not feel good call myself the owner as I do not own the people so I will take the title “Fearless Leader”. On Saturday we created a mandala as a community however in the end, the community encouraged me to be the destroyer. In the moment, it was exciting and fun and a total rush to step into the mandala, and in reflection it was a great honor. How did the community know that I needed to have a ritual destruction? It is time to move forward!

The Mandala as representation of life:

It changes as we build it.
We change as it grows.
Brahma

There it is.
Pretty and clean.
Vishnu

Until we step into the fire.
And it changes again.
Shiva

Opportunity now that the slate is clean again.
What comes next?

Free Will. Choice. Change. Consciousness. Nothing. Everything.

And on a professional note of gratitude, Thank you to Girish for the song, Mahadeva. I used it without his permission and hope that I have his forgiveness. It is a chant to Shiva, destruction, and the great power for change in the face of fear that lives within all of us. After the destruction, shankara remains…. a peaceful state.

And to Melissa who designed and organized the mandala event!

A continuous state of love

My niece is super easy to love!

My niece is super easy to love!

How are you doing with your Love-a-lution? I’m still working on mine… but it is more than just an idea. The spark of love absolutely lives within me and I try to share it. What is love? I can’t find a definition big enough to encompass all that I believe love to be, but I JOURNEY on…  with friends, family, my husband, and strangers.  Love is everywhere.

This quote from Eckhardt Tolle is amazing!

Love as a continuous state is yet very rare, as rare as conscious human beings. – Eckhart Tolle from The Power of Now

  1. By saying love as a continuous state is very rare, says that someone is doing it!!!! It might be rare, but someone is doing it! I would LOVE to meet this spectacular human who lives in a continuous state of love.
  2. As rare as conscious human beings.  Is this the answer?  Do we simply need to become conscious humans?

I believe that part of being a conscious human being is about making choices.  We simply need to continue to choose love. When I make a truly thoughtful decision, it is influenced by love.

Now you choose….
Hate or love?
Frustration or love?
Dislike or love?
Prejudice or love?

I choose LOVE every time! This choice integrates compassion into a situation and makes less room for unwanted emotions. By consistently choosing love, you are conditioning your body to have loving reactions.

Another way to practice being in a continuous state of love is to meditate. Maybe practice using the mantra, “I choose love.” This places your entire being into the concentration of love.  Sanyama – When your Daryana becomes your Diana you benefit from Samadi.  When the object of your concentration becomes your meditation, you receive a profound knowledge of that object.  Think about the power of meditating on love.

Think about it

Would your world change if your reactive emotion was love? What would that look like? Could you find a continuous state of love?

I’ve started flossing again!

floss

Flossing can be awkward and even painful… so can meditation.

As I began class on Sunday, I was telling everyone that I was flossing again.  But with flossing, I’ve found a new challenge. Now that I’ve cleaned out the grooves in my teeth, more things, like kale, are sticking in them! A regular student looked at me and confidently asked, “So what’s the yoga spin?”

Let’s use flossing as a parallel to meditation or asana. Flossing is awkward and can be painful. Same for meditation or asana. Flossing gets rid of what doesn’t belong (plaque) and makes space for healthier items to get hung up (kale). In meditation we take time to remove thoughts that don’t belong. We replace them with healthier, positive statements; cleaning our minds in the same way we clean our teeth.

kale

Carry with you healthy and useful thoughts.

While working though asanas, I encouraged people to replace their thoughts. Instead of challenging or judgmental thoughts (this is hard, I am tired, I can’t do it) with the directions on how to do the pose (press your heel into the ground, engage your inner thighs, tighten your belly). Once concentration was focused on accomplishing the alignment, change began to happen! In meditation, mantras can be used as positive affirmations. Make a conscious choice to remove selective thoughts (vrittis) and replace them with the a mantra.

The same student who challenged me to spin flossing into a yoga lesson asked me to write this class down and do it again! So here it is and I’ll see you next week!

Do Something!

Floss. Eat more kale. Selectively remove thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations.

Hari Om, Namaste

My tongue: Out and to the left

Story time!

Kali State

Kali statue on the Parikrama walk in Vrindavan, India.

Kali is an avatar of Durga, who sprang from Durga’s third eye in order to save the world from evil… which she did! Part of her success was in stopping demon blood from toughing earth by licking it up with her tongue. This battle was a tough one however Kali was a ferocious warrior and protector who was inspired to battle for all the right reasons and liberating us from our egos!

Well, Kali was on a roll!  Swinging swords and using her giant outstretched tonge, her determination was so great, and her fight so intense, that she didn’t even notice when the fight was over and love for all things good had won! It took a dramatic intervention from Shiva to help Kali recognize that her fight was over and her mission accomplished!

How often do you fight, struggle and overcompensate after a fight has ended?  When peace and love reign in your life, do you know it and can you allow yourself to fully enjoy the benefits of your struggles?  My mom says I always choose the difficult road.  Is that because I love the fight?  I am certainly comfortable in the seat of the under-dog (or down dog) and I thrive on challenge!  But what do I do with the good, even, peaceful and loving times I struggled to create? I look for the next challenge. Sigh. Clearly this is something I need to work on.

When I struggle, I unconsciously stick my tongue out and to the left, especially when concentrating on a physical endeavor. Am I channeling my inner Kali? Loving fiercely? Am I finding union among multiple aspects of self? Am I slaying my ego one struggle at a time or am I struggling to win? I am watching myself and trying to answer many of these questions all the while feeling the Warrior Kali inside me.  I am hoping to find a moment like Kali did when Shiva intervened to help her see and feel love and then sustain that moment for as long as possible.

Think about itLook at your life objectively or maybe through the eyes of another person. Can you see love, peace and spiritually happy times in your life? I bet they exist. Look a little deeper and take time to live and frolic in the glory of the love and peace you have so valiantly won!

Hari Om, Namaste

 

I got your 6! Who’s got mine?

While watching a shoot ’em up movie with my husband, I heard a term that has been used in many movies and by people around me.  “I got your 6!”  was meaningless, without context and sounded like a jumble of words. So I looked it up on Urban Dictionary.  If you are giving directions via the face of a clock, 12 o’clock is in front of you, 3 to your right, 9 to your left and 6 is behind you.  So, I got your 6 means, I’ve got your back!  What a fun term.

WatchfaceAs you roll through life, who really has your 6? Who is there to catch you before you fall? You may have work or personal partners who help… but it is rare to have someone everywhere you go, at all times. I think that personal responsibility is a key to success. BUT?!?!?

When you discern your atman (energetic soul) as being without beginning middle or end, and as connected to the great divine, you realize that there are no limits to the forces of greatness that can say “I got your 6!”

The Bhagavad Gita presents the relationship between Arjuna and Krishna as a friendship.  Then, in chapter eleven when Arjuna realized the magnitude of Krishna’s reach, he was terrified at the limitless power of Krishna. The Narrator, Sanjaya says

Having spoken these words, the Lord once again assumed the gentle form of Krishna and consoled his devotee, who had been so afraid.

Excerpt From: Eknath Easwaran. “The Bhagavad Gita.” Chapter 11, Verse 50.

What terrified Arjuna realized, is that Krishna is really everywhere, in everything and even Arjuna himself makes up part of the great divine Krishna.  The human form, Arjuna’s friend Krishna, was consoling but also the same all pervasive divine force. When you can see your best friends, lovers, family members and strangers as divine, you know they all, “Got your 6” in one way or another.

Think about it

If all the people you encounter are divine and “got your 6”, then you also have the responsibility to look out for everyone else. Do you live in a way that is looking out for others? Covering someone else’s 6 is one way to express your own divine nature!

Hari Om, Namaste

 

Peace is complicated… but everywhere you look!

Context: I gave up on India for a moment and checked myself into a 5 star American Hotel chain and was running on a treadmill with Bon Jovi blaring in my headphones. I realized that while running and breathing (much cleaner air than I had in weeks), I felt alive! Vibrant! And yet peaceful.  How is that possible?  To be so filled with energy and appreciation for the action of life, and yet peaceful.
Explanation: For many years, I tried to make my life fit on a single line continuum with peace on one end and chaos on the other. I felt as if I always lived somewhere in the middle of these two points and rarely ever at peace. Peace is always present. It is in the middle of our being and available if we look for it. We may not always sit in the heart of peace, but it is never far. Among all our other emotions and actions, if we look for peace, it is present!Peace is Complicated
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains this phenomenon in the third chapter, verses III.4-7. This translation of the Yoga Sutras is by Alistair Shearer from the book, The Unadorned Thread of Yoga.

III.4 Dharana (conecntration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (shining knowledge) practiced together are known as sanyama.

III.5 When Sanyama is mastered, the light of supreme knowledge dawns.

III.6 But, sanyama has its application at every stage of the development of this knowledge.

III.7 It is the heart of yoga, more intimate than the preceding limits.

Explanation of these sutras tells us that we must practice. When concentration on an object (dharana) flows into meditation of that object (dhyana) and then the meditation flows to shining knowledge of that object (samadhi), sanyama is gained as a tool.  Once knowledge is gained, it never departs.  I meditated on God while on the banks of the Ganga and in temples and felt profound peace.  My concentration and meditation on God flowed into a shining knowledge of God.  I can only describe this knowledge of God as a profound sense of peace.

While running and feeling an active sense of life, I looked in my heart and mind and could feel, within the intensity of life, a profound sense of peace!

Application:  Now that the knowledge of God (peace) is present in my life, I can use Samadhi or sanyama as a tool to reconnect with God (peace) anytime I wish.  This understanding of peace in my life provides stability and an ability to let go while practicing non-attachment. As Alistair Shearer translates the sutras, “This is the heart of yoga, more intimate than the preceding limits.”  Connection. Union. God. Peace. It’s all here and this is the goal of yoga. Peace is always in us.  We simply must practice observing it and making space for peace to reside.

Do Something!

Sutra III.6 says it is the application of sanyama at every step that allows the development of the knowledge of peace or God.  We must never stop applying concentration, meditation and samadhi. So get on it!  Shut down the computer and take a few minutes to meditate of the object of your desire. God? Love? Peace?

Hari Om, Namaste

Who are you and what are you made of?

Ever notice a conversation that comes up over and over again with multiple people? It’s been happening in my life.  People are asking me, “How do I live so that my perception of self is the same as other’s perceptions of me?”  Key word:  Perception. Who you are doesn’t change, nor should it.  You are perfect. Who others are doesn’t change either. Our perceptions  and koshas change.

So who are you? You are made up of many layers, sheaths or kosha that work together. The koshas are often represented in concentric circles as the outer later, contains all the ones inside it. As you  move from the outside of this image towards the center, the outer layers support the inner layers.

Kosha Image Annamaya Kosha – Physical Body
Pranamaya Kosha – Energetic Body
Manomaya Kosha – Mental Body
Vijnyanamaya Kosha – Wisdom Body
Anandamaya Kosha – Bliss Body
Atman – True self, Soul, Spirit

The self is the atman and it is surrounded by your koshas. People can perceive your physical body and energy levels. They can interact with your thoughts and emotions. As you get closer to the atman, the layers of self are both harder to alter and more difficult to perceive. If you can be aware of of each kosha, you are aware of your total being and the layers surrounding the Atman begin to become in-consequential. They do not alter the true self and so the perceptions that others have of you are the exact same as who you are!

The koshas are described in the Taittiriya Upanishad (translated by Eknath Easwaran).  After describing the relationships among the koshas, this is said:

The Self in man and in the sun are one.  Those who understand this see through the world and go beyond the various sheaths of being to realize the unity of life.

Finding a non-dualisitc view of self (you are not separate from your koshas) can help you find a non-dualisitc view with others. Your true self shines and others will see themselves in you and you in them.  Genuine connections are made as the illusions or perceptions of differences fade.

Am I in a place where my koshas work together to fade into the background allowing all my true self to shine?  Well… when I am hangry (so hungry I am angry) my physical kosha causes my energetic kosha to crash.  When that happens, I am less likely to be in control of my thoughts and emotions. Then, my wisdom body kicks in, sensing the conflict away from true bliss to hungry.  What’s next?  EAT! So yes. When I am attentive to my needs, I can live with my atman on the out side for all the world to see!

Think about itThe trick is to meet the needs of the koshas before trouble happens…  seriously. I am saying that self care can allow you to show your true self. Not just eating for your physical body but concentrating for your mental body and meditating for your bliss body!

Hari Om, Namaste