25 July 2015

About You and Your "STUFF"

[* insert word of choice]

When you go home. Don't take your shoes off. Leave them ON and go walk on your carpet. It is MEANT to be used, abused, enjoyed, and--when the time comes-- REPLACED.  IT is MEANT to enhance your life, not provide another stupid opportunity to "keep yourself in check." 

Carpets are dispensable, disposable, replaceable. You, on the other hand, are NOT. 

There is only one of you; there is not one person in this entire world who has the exact same iris of the eyes as you do; not one person who shares your fingerprint or your voice intonation. You are thoroughly, utterly and literally an unrepeatable miracle!!! Your living room is not a museum. YOU are a museum, harbouring, adorning, and nurturing the essence of YOU, your soul.

Don't ever sell yourself out for "stuff" that doesn't matter, or for people who don't offer you the respect you deserve. Not me. Not anyone. I won't say it again. 

23 July 2015

Design Your Life

Train Your Mind and Design Your Destiny

Never underestimate the power of your mind. The Bhagavad Gita tells us that in any given moment, the mind is your best servant or your worst enemy. From the moment you wake up to the moment you lay down to sleep, consciously determine where you are going, and know that alongside faith and discipline, you have the power to get there. 

21 July 2015

Core Strength: 3 Exercises

I've often heard the instruction to take "deep belly breaths" when practicing yoga. In fact, I used to practice this way, all the time. Inhaling for a count of 4 exhaling for a count of 4. The result? A calm mind— and an aching back.

The truth is, if you're doing a vinyasa or power/flow style of yoga, you really don't want to be taking 8-second breaths. Nor do you want to let it "all hang out" from the abdomen. Deep Belly breathing won't cut it in a vigorous yoga practice. You want to practice engaging Mula Bandha. If you're a woman, you might be familiar with "kegel" exercises. This is a good way to start learning mula bandha. You might also try "holding your bladder" to activate mula bandha

If you're core has suffered from softness and you'd like some quick fixes to tighten things up, check out this article in Sweat Equity Magazine These 3 core exercises will refresh your awareness of the inner strength and solid backbone you need to sustain your power yoga practice. In the meantime, engage mula bandha while you flow, through your entire practice. This will require some effort at first, but soon enough, mula bandha will engage as easily as you can say "Ommmmmm."

19 July 2015

Simplicity Rules: 5 Tips for Clutter-Free Living

One guideline to success on the path of yoga is moderation. If we remember that the intention of yoga is to reduce suffering (not limit our fun!), it’s worth considering why excess might be a hindrance on that path. The reasons are simple: a cluttered space reflects a cluttered mind. If we follow the pull of our senses, our primary purpose becomes getting what we want and not losing what we have. The more we acquire, the more we have to worry about. Here’s an example: there was a time when I drove a beat-up old car that I cared little for. I paid minimal insurance, parked beside shopping carts in busy lots, and put on as much mileage as I could to visit friends and family. 

Shortly thereafter I purchased a new car. My insurance spiked, I parked blocks from the nearest store to avoid scratches, and I walked everywhere to keep the mileage low: few friends, no family. 

In which instance did I experience more freedom? 

In simplifying our lives through practicing moderation, we make space for contemplations that matter. 

Here are 5 tips for de-cluttering your life (and, thus, your mind):

1.     Ditch Sales. Don’t purchase something just because it’s on sale. Often those things stay in the closet anyway; that means no matter how cheap it was, you wasted your money. 

2.     Find a Charity. When you feel the desire to shop, hop online and find a meaningful charity. Donate $50 or $100. If you’ve got disposable income for electronics or clothes, this shouldn’t be a problem. 

3.     Wait 48 Hours Before Splurging. Impulsive buys are a recipe for regret. If you find something you love, sit on it for 48 hours. Often you’ll change your mind, and if not, the item will still be there. 

4.    Clean Out Your Closets. Several times I’ve “gifted myself” with something I already owned. I purchased a dress for a “special occasion,” only to forget about it days later. Nothing beats shopping for free! 

5.    Raise Your Karma! In switching cycles from summer to fall, toss anything you haven’t worn for three months into a pile. You won’t even notice it’s gone, and the buzz you’ll get from sharing with someone in need far surpasses that of new shoes. 

Clean your space, clear your mind, make room for realizations to arrive. 

18 July 2015

Yoga: Happiness is Freedom From Desire

 In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali tells us that in choosing to be content (with who we are and where we stand, with what we have and how far we’ve come)—in choosing to be content, supreme happiness is obtained (sutra II.42). 

Consider the gravity of this claim. Not when you marry or divorce, not when you retire or win the lotto, not when your beat up old car becomes a brand new spang hunk of sparkling metal—not at any time in the future, nor any return to the past, does happiness lie waiting for your retrieval. Not then. Not ever. But NOW.

17 July 2015

How to Know When It's Time to Forgive

Sex in the City offers a fabulous reflection on spiritual living. Miranda's husband has cheated on her, and she's furious; she holds it over his head for some time before agreeing to try counselling and possible reparation. At the end of their sessions, the counsellor said, "Here is how I see it: Either you decide to forgive and move forward together, or you break up, be done with it, and move on. Take 3 days apart, and on Day 4, if you choose to "stay," then go to the Brooklyn Bridge at 7pm.  If only one of you shows up, or neither, then its agreed the marriage will dissolve. If you choose the former, and if you both meet on the bridge, it is with the understanding that your husband's transgression is forgiven and will not be spoken of again." 

I reflected on forgiveness in my own life and realized the following:

1. Forgiveness is not the same as saying "What you did was ok." To the contrary, it is somewhat of a selfish act (harbouring resentment is, too, as it gives one a sense of superiority). But it is impossible to be truly happy, in a profound and transformative way, when resentment lies lurking in the heart.

2. Few things feel as good as offering forgiveness.  It's a gift to be in the position to do such a thing, to offer someone freedom from a mistake they made- would you not want the same to be offered to you?  

3. There is one verse in the mere 196 verses of the Yoga Sutras that defines the path to self-realization (in other words, eternal bliss): it translates, generally, to say that, "Through contentment, one achieves supreme bliss." 

That is, not meeting your soul mate, not living downtown or up town or out of town, not living alone or working a new job or travelling the world, not changing your hair or religion or last name—none of these bring bliss. Rather, choosing contentment where you are--right here and now—the capacity to make that choice-- that holds your key to happiness. 

Perhaps right now you are in exactly this position: To take ownership of your own freedom and joy. This place is both scary and enthralling at the same time, as it means taking accountability for the good and the bad. No more victim mentality. Do you realize how empowering that is? To know that your happiness, your contentment, your peace of mind and freedom from fear, stress, tension, and anxiety are but decisions awaiting your resolve. What could be more important? 

16 July 2015

Falling in Love . . .

@sweatequitymag June/July 2015

"The elite don't just work harder than everybody else. At some point, they fall in love with practicing—To the point where they want to do little else."

15 July 2015

Meditation Made Easy: 5 Tips

Few things strike fear in the hearts of stimulation seekers and sensory addicts more than the concept of Meditation. But psychology studies, credible statistical reports, peer-reviewed journals, and the science of yoga all cite meditation as the number one tool for encouraging self-development. 

Meditation: Where to Start
When I first started meditating, my mind was so busy I kept a pen and paper nearby for “imperative to-do notes” that came to mind. Months later I dropped the pen and committed to   3 minutes of stillness (that is, physical stillness). And now I meditate each morning for 20-25 minutes and it has become one of the most enjoyable activities of my day.

Rest assured, meditation is not always easy, but it IS always worth it!  

These 5 tips will help you to cultivate an affinity for stillness: 
  •  Designate a small area in your house that will be your “sacred space.” Here you can go to reflect, read, journal, do yoga, or just take a break away from the world. These activities help cultivate a sense of introspection that supports meditation. 
  •  Determine a length of time you can commit to. Mine was 3 minutes. Your may be more or less. What matters is that you stick with it.  
  •  Create a ritual around this time. Light incense or candles, say a small prayer, or just pause for a moment of silence to acknowledge your discipline to and respect for the practice. This moment creates a desirable space between the "here and now" and the rest of your day. 
  •  Determine up front that any effort made is a success. There is no “bad” meditation. Simply finding your way to your cushion (or yoga mat) and staying put for the allotted time means success.

Nothing worth doing comes easily; and transformation doesn't happen overnight. But every step forward is one step further along your path to self-discovery. And nothing is more rewarding than that! 

14 July 2015

Real-Life Miracles

We've had little choice but to label ourselves with the cultural and familial identities we've been handed down from birth. The most trusted people in our lives have told us we're smart or funny, bad-tempered or ugly, naturally graceful or frustratingly frumpy. But none of these express our true nature.

Everything you think that “you” are is just a concept, a word. And as such, it will always fall short of the magnificent being that you truly are. When you think, “I am fat” (or skinny or short or tall), you have incorrectly identified with some aspect of the mind; and mind will always fall short of reflecting your greatest self. These labels and identities are just expressions of ego and a distraction from connecting with Source— an unchanging and immortal expression of the Divine. 

Listen up, because this is important: No two people have identical fingerprints. No two people share the same voice intonation. The iris of your eye is exclusive to you. These tools that mark our "identify" are proof for the fact that YOU ARE an UNREPEATABLE MIRACLE. 

11 July 2015

Age-Related Inspiration

Challenge Your Assumptions About Aging

Most of what we consider an inevitable part of aging is nothing but the repercussions of a sedentary and oblivious life.

  • Frail Bones and Osteoporosis (granted, this IS an issue if you still drink milk from a cow)
  • Stunted strength and negligible flexibility (start yoga NOW. It’s never too late and will serve you well throughout your entire life)
  • Kyphosis (known as “humpback” posture—the inevitable distortion of couch, car, and desktop living)
  • Senility and Depression (eat live and unprocessed foods. Dead food = dead energy
  • Loneliness (meditate to connect with your Source, who is always and forever with you)

Don’t look around you for an example of the norm. You can find these “age-related” deteriorations among the status quo at any age, even adolescence. Most people today are living below the poverty line of optimal health. Most people are barely getting by, “putting in time,” and tolerating a less-than-satisfying existence.

Don’t buy it. 

What’s important is not the number of years lived, but your quality of life when living them.