Community

Community

When we practice yoga & meditation together as a community, we have the opportunity to learn how to “hold space” for each other. We are reminded that we all share joy and we all share grief. Perhaps this is why we do it :)

This poem, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver captures this opportunity beautifully:

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

Being Beauty

Being Beauty

Beauty is many things. Beauty is not simply a word we use to describe the external world. Beauty is also how we describe the way in which we live: how we think, speak, act…and ultimately, who we become.  As you walk your path, consider walking the beauty way. How do you do it? Start by paying attention to your words. Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say going to plant a seed of beauty in your field?” If not, think again. Beauty is a way of being.

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget. Like yesterday… I don’t typically watch the news. It’s just too much for me to handle. Luckily I have 2 reliable new sources, Christine and Peter …both who keep me “relevant” on a need to know basis.

So, yesterday…I was at the gym, doing the elliptical…TV was on…the NEWS. Words flashed, “ALL LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST”, an update to the missing Malaysian plane.

My heart sank. I could feel the pain start to overwhelm me as I looked at the faces of those who lost dear ones on that flight. I started to cry. Tried to hide it…in a public place, a gym after all.

Suddenly, my tears and deep deep compassion turned into sudden ANGER. Thoughts racing about “WHO is responsible for this, THEY will pay”, etc etc. RAGE started making it hard for me to breathe.

Then I remembered. Wait, I am no different from “them”. From any of them, really. I was reminded that it it this type of divisive, separate thinking, that makes us enemies. It starts with thoughts as simple as I don’t like what you said. Then it turns into, I don’t like who you are…. I don’t like what you stand for and now we must fight on some level.

Hmmmm. How to reconcile? Exhausted, I Surrender, remembering we are all ONE. Your pain and my pain, your joy and my joy are the same. With this I realize I can do nothing less than “BE the change”, no matter what, whether I “like” it or not. My anger unravels to reveal fear which melts to compassion and ultimately to love. Love for all.hearts

Wisdom

Wisdom
Last week I spoke about concentration (ability to focus our attention) asking you to consider where your attention goes, your prana/life force/energy goes. If you missed it, read more here.

Today we speak about wisdom. By wisdom I don’t mean intellect. When I think of wisdom the words that come to mind are enlightenment or the recognition of the divine in each and every one of us. For me it is also a felt sense that emanates from having an open, or awakened heart. Perhaps wisdom is the “state” we arrive at through diligent, disciplined practices of generosity, patience and concentration. Sound familiar? When we become wise we start to notice how often our ego tries to “separate” us from other, and in so doing, from our very selves, closing our hearts.

Try it: Call someone to mind you have a challenging relationship with.  Now, start to peel back the layers of how they dress, what they look like, the car they drive, the house they live in, the job they have, how they act, etc. What is at the core?

Wisdom allows us to see, feel, understand that underneath the physical and material, there is an open and loving heart waiting to be noticed, waiting to be awakened, waiting to serve. This may sound “out there” or even “wrong” to some. However, when you talk with people who are truly full of love and joy, people who have no regrets in their life, most often they describe that sharing love has been the most important aspect of living and has brought them the greatest joy.

Years ago I read something to the effect of “on your deathbed, you won’t wish you spent more hours at the office”. If you are still with me reading this, stop here. Take a breath and imagine what I just said. Then feel it. Does your heart open just a little bit more? Or maybe you have to imagine losing someone you really love to help crack that heart open. How would it change you? I know how it has changed me.

Perhaps if we are lucky, when we look back we will realize through the cultivation of wisdom there is no difference between you and me. What seems a difference is really lack of accepting another fully.

To help me remember, here’s something I often say at the end of my yoga class: “Sit still. Notice your breath. Bow your chin to your chest as you silently allow the intellect of your mind to bow to the wisdom of your heart.”  People will often forget what you said…but they will remember how you made them feel. How do you wish to remembered?

Concentration

Concentration

Last week I spoke about the importance of diligence to keep us in action and out of laziness. If you missed it, read more here. Today we speak about concentration, or the ability to focus our attention.

Each of the previous weeks topics have built upon us arriving at concentration. Think about it. Practicing generosity, discipline, patience and diligence has the added benefit of strengthening our ability to concentrate, to focus our attention on whatever it is we are doing or trying to do.

You may be thinking what’s so important about the ability to focus?  I am not sure how effective we can be in manifesting the vision we have for our life without it, or even how much we can enjoy life, if we are distracted. In my own life, there was a time when I was “proud” of my ability to do 5 things at once. Multitasking was my way. Over the years, while certain times still call for this skill, I much prefer dealing with life one frame at a time. As I do this, I find myself more able to concentrate while freeing up time and gaining energy. Pretty cool.

So, how do I keep focus on an on-going basis?  As you might be able to guess, my daily meditation practice. My ability to sit in stillness (think discipline, patience, diligence) allows me to focus 100% of my attention on my breath. As I sit and my mind wanders, it is the perfect opportunity to practice bringing my focus, my attention, back to the present, back to my breath. The more I practice meditation, the more I am able to bring concentration and attention to my life off the “cushion”.

A quote I refer to: “Where your attention goes, your prana (life force) flows”. Meaning, if your attention is scattered all about, where will your energy be? And how will this impact your ability to create the life you desire? Makes sense doesn’t it? It’s a practice. If you practice something long enough, you will become proficient. Pay attention to what you are “practicing” :)

Diligence

Diligence

Last week I spoke about the importance of having patience while doing the work to affect change. If you missed it, read more here. This week we turn to DILIGENCE.

It may sound like the word discipline, yet I feel it goes much deeper. I describe diligence as the desire and ability to put forth effort, exertion and perseverance in pursuit of our vision. We invoke diligence to save us from laziness. We act with diligence when we choose to focus on positive influences. Diligence is an on-going commitment to learning and growth. When we practice diligence, we stay the course, pay attention more deeply, re-commit as much as needed, and keep moving forward. One day we turn around and notice the path we have created, the life we have manifested. As we do this for our self we inspire those around us to do the same.

There’s a quote that reminds me about the gifts diligence bestows: What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.” -Paul J Meyer

Patience

Patience

Last week I spoke about the importance of having discipline when working toward a goal. If you missed it, you can read more here. This week I want to talk about patience. Sometimes when we are doing the work…it takes time to see “results”. Our will is tested. Our patience may run thin. In particular, if we are digging “deep” and really shifting our internal world, it can feel uncomfortable. There might be a tendency to want to rush the process. It is exactly in these moments when we must take pause and learn to surrender to the present moment, sometimes over and over again.

Perhaps the best way to explain this is by sharing with you the wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke (1903, Letters to a Young Poet) that has helped me get through THE toughest times in my life: I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Discipline

Last week I spoke about the importance of being generous and kind. If you missed it, you can read more here. This week I am compelled to speak of discipline.
We are one month into 2014. Many of us set intentions in the new year to improve something in our life. Maybe we vowed to eat better. How are we doing? During my recent talk about “The Five Keys to Health & Well-Being” a wonderful question was asked: “I know what I have to do, but how do I implement it”. What I heard was: “I need a plan and I need to implement discipline”. Just because we “decide” we want to eat better does not mean it will happen. It takes WORK, you know, that “four” letter word. In the absence of recognizing that anything worthwhile takes work, we will falter. Do you think I always “feel like” sitting in meditation, drinking kale shakes for lunch or shutting off the tv/phone/computer at night so I can get adequate rest? NO! However, I have learned that when I get lazy and lack discipline around the areas of my life that actually nourish me, a downward spiral ensues. And the spiral down takes away more energy and feels far worse than the discipline I had to exercise to keep me on the path. With this awareness, it becomes easier to have discipline.  I remember doing the work is part of it. And it’s OK. A quote comes to mind, “What you DO speaks so loudly that I can not hear what you SAY.” Let’s stop talking and start doing!!

Generosity

While at Kripalu (Yoga & Health Center in the Berkshires) this past weekend I was reminded about the importance of being kind & generous, to everyone. On the walls in the stairways of Kripalu there are quotes. One resonated: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

WOW! Who knew? It makes sense when you reflect on it. We really don’t know what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes. How many times have you had a bad day & said or did something that was “less than kind” to someone, only to find out later they just lost a loved one? Or maybe someone treated you unkindly when you were already at your wits end. How did it make you feel? What if on that same bad day, someone instead did something unexpectedly generous for you? Would it lift you up? It’s certainly easier to be kind & generous when we feel energized, open, balanced and loved. It’s much harder to do when we feel tired, closed, out of balance and fearful…which many people feel too much these days.

I challenge you: no matter what kind of day you’re having, look for ways both big and small to be generous & kind to the people in your life. For example, tell someone how much you appreciate them. It might be exactly what they need that day. In my own life, I push myself to practice generosity even more so when someone is angry & acting unkind to me. I silently pray for them to have peace in their heart. I remember that anger is a sign of helplessness & the only way to dispel it is with generosity & love. When I live this way I feel peace in my own heart. It doesn’t mean I always “like” the way something is going down. I can still speak my voice and set boundaries. However, I do it with kindness. My daily meditation & yoga practice help me remember we’re all one. If I hurt you, I hurt myself. Imagine what kind of world it would be if everyone practiced this, even a little bit? It’s certainly worth a try.