Tears and Fears – The Greatest Test of Santosha

I had originally intended to write a post about Santosha this week and my meditational practice with this Niyama from the Gates book. The idea of Santosha practice has since taken on new meaning to me. I am going to be honest, I wanted very much for much of this election season to vote for Hillary Clinton. I also very much wanted to be neutral when discussing the candidates with my children (most specifically my oldest who is almost 6). I wanted to make sure that while I instill my values in my children…..values that respect others and embrace a world in which each person has a say and a place…..but I also want to respect the fact that my children deserve the right to make their own decisions; that they should be well informed; that all discussions should not be one sided “because I’m the parent”. Many people will disagree with this philosophy and that’s okay in my book. My children are too young to make all of their own decisions, but they know what they believe is right….most children do.

My oldest son goes to a Montessori school where he is taught to make his own decisions and to respect others. He chooses who to be friends with and what work to do. He has his own interests (mostly dinosaurs right now) outside of those of myself and my husband. He is his own person and he has opinions about what’s been said on TV regarding candidates at all levels. Yesterday I told him that this morning, when he awoke, that we would know who our next president would be. He told me very bluntly that he hoped it would be Hillary Clinton. I was a little shocked by this as he wouldn’t let me vote for her when we went last week. It was my vote, but I felt good about sharing it with him. We voted for Jill Stein. I regret that decision to some degree because a vote for a third part candidate is a vote against both major party candidates. That is also the reason that I voted third party; to express my disapproval.

I wasn’t happy about the image that Hillary Clinton had portrayed in her campaign. She had the chance to be honest and up front about the email situation. She had the chance to take the high road and to not sling mud. She has so many amazing qualities as a politician, an activist, and as a woman. I was just disappointed that she didn’t hold true to those and disregard the rest. Dear Hillary, people will forgive you if you’re upfront and honest. I told my son that she had been caught in a lie. I also told him that Donald Trump was a successful business man who employed many people and cared deeply for his family. I tried to present both sides of all candidates the best I could.

His reasoning for wanting Clinton to win…..my son has lied before and been caught, but he’s a good person and his parents and friends know that. He made a wrong choice, but he was forgiven by those who believed that he could do the right thing. His reasoning for not wanting Trump to win…..my son believes that everyone deserves a chance to come to this country, that families shouldn’t be separated, and that women are as good as men. He worried that my boss would believe Trump’s stance on wives at work and take away my job. He worried that other people couldn’t find a safe place in this country. He worried that the guy who seemed the meanest would get to tell us all what to do.

My almost six year old doesn’t understand all that goes into being president or how our full government system works. What he does understand is that “his candidate” lost. He almost cried this morning when he found out. I hate that for him.

What does all of this have to do with yoga and Santosha? Santosha is the practice of contentment. In one of the recent meditations it states a quote by Judith Lassater:

We can easily practice santosa in the beautiful moments and joyous experiences of our lives. But Patanjali asks us to be equally willing to embrace the difficult moments.

Donald Trump will be our 45th President in this country. I have a choice as to how I will live my life in response to this news. I almost cried, myself, when I heard the news. I have fears for what this means for my country, my family, my children. I also know that in order to live a Yoga Life I must accept that this is the way things are and to move forward as such. To find contentment where I can and to work toward a better tomorrow.

http://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/804768835868

Please click on the link above to watch Hillary Clinton’s very brave concession speech. She exemplifies the greatest test of Santosha and I admire her for it.

Can you find contentment in the hard times?

How did the results of this election make you feel?

Meditation Monday #21 – Not Ready for Santosha

Santosha is one of the Niyamas (observances) in yoga. It really means being content with our lives as they are in this moment. This contentment asks us to play on other aspects of our yoga practice, but for me, today, I am not ready for Santosha.

Why?

Although the 8 Limb Path of Raja Yoga is not a step by step path in which you master one element before you move on, there is something that I do need to do before I can move on to contentment. That is to deal more thoroughly with the first of the Niyamas – Saucha (cleanliness). Continue reading “Meditation Monday #21 – Not Ready for Santosha”

Wellness Wednesday #6 – Under Pressure!

It’s been 15 days since my last post. However, I’m not too bummed about it. I’m still being far more regular than I was last fall and that is an improvement by anyone’s measure. The last Wellness Wednesday post was about Eating. That can cause a lot of stress for anyone to handle in the best cases. For me, my eating of late has been all over the place. I find myself choosing and wanting to choose more things that I consider “healthy”….although I hate using that word.

Recently I read a post on Fit is a Feminist Issue about tracking the variety of foods you eat. We are kind of in a rut at our house with meals and produce and other plant based foods. Tonight will be one of our favorites….burrito bowls. This usually consists of rice and beans and avocados and salsa and whatever else we dream to put into the bowl. I know, I know….the last post was about EATING, so why am I still talking about it? Well, because Eating tends to lead to stress for some people and stress is one of our FEELINGS, and that’s the main focus of our discussion today… Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #6 – Under Pressure!”

TOLT: But I Won’t Do That!

You all remember the Meatloaf jam from back in your middle school days…..I will do anything for love…..but I won’t do that!

Well, welcome to another TOLT hosted by Amanda at Running With Spoons. Today I want to expand off of my post from Monday and continue with a series on my own Happiness Project: MY BEST BODY.

I’ve spent a little more time considering my post and my goal and what I will do moving forward and I’ve come up with only three things so far that I promise not to do:

  1. Take before and after photos
  2. Go on a diet
  3. Use exercise as punishment or food as a reward

These are three things that align pretty well with my own living principles as well as some of the tenets of yoga.

Ahimsa – Cause no harm

I, as a fitness professional, know that dieting is harmful to the body. I hate the fact that this simple little four letter word that means all of the food you eat has become something so vile and negative that I have to make a statement about how I won’t go on one. Technically we’re all on a diet…..we all eat. I decided not to harm myself in other ways during this adventure by being mindful of my workouts, checking in with myself on the regular through meditation, and keeping in mind that this is a journey of my whole body getting well….not just trying to get thin.

Santosha – Contentment

I need to remain content as I travel this path. It’s okay that right now I am battling my body, this too will get better. It’s okay that I will never again be a size 2 Juniors. I’m 36 and have two children and care more about being able to someday do a pull-up than to bare my midriff for attention. This is a project and a process, I have to be ready each day to face the challenges with an air of contentment: I AM.

Svadhyaya/Satya: Self-Study and Honesty

I paired these two together because they both also encompass the idea of non-judgement of myself and others by living who I am and by learning about that. This is why I don’t need before and after photos…..I have before and during and after blog posts. I have my meditation journals. I can track my fitness and all of the other measurements I will use along the way. However, as I track I need to go back to Santosha and remember to be content with the progress that does and doesn’t come.

NUMBER THREE

On a side note, I found myself trying to do number three a lot this week. Yesterday I ate a snack with my little guy. I had a super hungry moment (most likely fueled by the Prednisone) in which I ate the snack so mindlessly and then had the thought pop into my head “Thank goodness I’m going for a run now”. Bad me! But I also need to be kind with myself in my thoughts…..I need to avoid falling into the disordered eating traps of rewards and punishments that come with food and exercise. This project needs to be about me being well and functioning.

I can’t guarantee that this is going to work and I’m still in the process of defining my plan, but this was the next step.

Have you ever entered into a Happiness Project?

How do you incorporate the yoga principles into your life challenges?

What won’t you do?

Meditation Monday #28 – Muscles Gotta Eat

I spent the weekend in Delaware, Ohio presenting the NETA PT Workshop to the fabulous people at Get Fit LLC. My room at the “Quality” Inn left much to be desired…..

Crooked lights, random things in my sink, a shower curtain that wasn't installed correctly the first time, a drain that fell apart, curtains that don't close around the heater....and VALUE!
Crooked lights, random things in my sink, a shower curtain that wasn’t installed correctly the first time, a drain that fell apart, curtains that don’t close around the heater….and VALUE!

Not only did I manage to book myself, essentially, in a trucker motel, but I overlooked the fact that there was no fitness center. This weekend was meant to be my slow foray back into working out after being ill the last two weeks. Instead I opted for my current HIIT routine and only had one person come up to the third floor to knock…..squat jumps are not 3rd floor friendly in a trucker motel.

Maybe we should have more fitness themed hotels?

My favorite statement from the weekend was “Muscles Gotta Eat” because they do….they eat carbs and protein and fat….they are what eats when we’re burning calories. But, more on that later….

I thought about writing today about Gratitude Meditation, but decided instead to go back to the Gates’ book. The Day 74 reading was the last one on Santosha and I felt I needed to explore that theme a little further today. However, I was disappointed. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #28 – Muscles Gotta Eat”

Meditation Monday #25 -Positive Energy and the Authentic Self

I am siting in the airport on Sunday night and writing this on my phone. The airline took my bag and my laptop with it. I guess it was too big for my flight.

I was traveling for NETA again this weekend and taught a Yoga Foundations course to a small group of people in Manheim, Pennsylvania at a fitness center located inside of a retirement community. They were beautiful people who inspired my post for this Monday.

Each time I travel I fear, but only slightly, that the workshop will not go well….that I will not connect with the participants and therefore struggle to present. However,  this was one of the great weekends in which I felt my authentic self shine through and a connection established. Not only does that mean that I am more easily able to deliver the material,  but also that I gain a sense of self satisfaction in fulfilling my Dharma. I have most definitely been called in life to be a teacher. And recently I have been teaching a lot about the Yamas and Niyamas as well as studying them in my personal meditation practice. I have been re-reading Do Your OM Thing and keep resonating on the final Niyama: Surrender or Devotion to a Higher Power (Isvara pranidhana).

Pacheco highlights in her book that a) Yoga is not a religion and b) that the higher power can also be one’s Best Self. I have always reiterated the first of those things, but tend to seek something outside of myself such as the good of all humankind. This weekend I did a free writing exercise meditation to clear some negative thoughts from my mind. In doing so I came to one major conclusion: I really like my authentic self. However, something else struck me in my writing and that was that I think my authentic self is hiding in parts of my life where I need it to be expressed most.

My authentic self is naturally positive and caring and happy. I am happy with my children, my work, my friends, my yoga practice, but I don’t always live as if I am happy with those things. I don’t always devote myself or give over to my best and authentic self. This negates a few more of the yamas and niyamas.

First, your authentic self is living your truth (Satya). Second, the opposite of a happy and positive person is a negative one. When I exude this negative energy into the world around me I am leaving reverberations for others and infecting them with this negativity  (Himsa – causing harm). Finally, I hoard these negative thoughts and feelings (violating Aparigraha) and pollute my mind, body, and soul (negating Saucha).

I could go further yet and find that this leaves me ill content  (not experiencing Santosha) and this steals my own happiness as well as that which belongs to those around me (Asteya). But I have decided that I want always to make ripples of positive energy in my world because I felt them this weekend in my workshop. I felt them leave me and enter others and I felt them rebound back in a way that brought me peace and joy and fortified my spirit of myself.

How would you describe your authentic self?

Do you keep him/her hidden away?

What are the reverberations of your thoughts, words, and actions on the world?

How are you doing with the Yamas and Niyamas these days?

Most and Least of 2016 – A Brief Look Backward

our-flowerWith the end of the year just a day and a half away, I thought I’d look back at a few things…..

Most Viewed Post – Thigh Gap? – TOLT

Least Viewed Post – Five Yamas Friday #1 – Delayed by Hurricane Matthew

Most Mileage Month – March 46.25 miles

Least Mileage Month – December (so far) 2.52 miles

Most Accomplished 30 Days Goal(s) –

Least Accomplished 30 Days Goal(s) –

So, overall I’m about 50/50 on things….and I’m pretty good with that. Come back tomorrow to see the second half of this assessment….Looking Forward!

How did you do in 2016?

 

Meditation Monday #22 – Love that Moves the Sun

The publication of this post was delayed due to my poor scheduling habits and stomach flu suffered by my children. I’m behind again, but I’m taking a different stab at it this time around….I’m not stressing and I’m moving through my list as it was written instead of jumping around and falling further behind.  Without further ado…..Expanded Meditation Monday, this time on Thursday!

I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about my meditation on Santosha this month, and then the thing happened last week and I wrote something and my meditation changed. It changed in two ways. First it stopped and then my perspective shifted. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #22 – Love that Moves the Sun”

TOLT – Distractions

Yesterday I wrote a post about the election that has garnered at least one email response. It’s a post that is not the usual for this blog and I second guessed myself several times as I wrote. I still think that it reflects the use of Yoga in my life and I am glad that I penned it. Today, though, I plan to talk about things I’m considering in my life that are keeping me from thinking about the election and the impending future of this country.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO AMANDA FOR GIVING THIS OUTLET THIS IS SO NEEDED AT THIS TIME!

Things that are distracting my thoughts:

1. What to do about gray hair?

So, it’s finally happening….but don’t tell my sister. I’ve started to notice gray hairs appearing where they “shouldn’t” be and I’m contemplating what to do about it. I’ve always thought it would be nice to have the Stacy London single sexy silver streak….but now I’m thinking about doing something a little more drastic. Why? Because who gets their gray hairs to all grow in in one particular and well-groomed location? No one! That’s who!

I’ve considered the all-over hair dye method (although I’ve had bad experiences with hair dying in the past) as well as the highlights route. My mom has been dying her hair for years and is now “progressing” toward a “natural gray look”….whatever that means. My sister has tons of gray hair and is younger than me, so she has been doing the all-over dye method for some time now. I’m 36 and I feel like a little gray is okay. But I also fear that I’m not as ready for that as I should be (see more on my Santosha battle this coming Monday). So, I’ve come to the conclusion to both embrace the gray and go crazy at the same time. I’ve always been one to express myself in whatever way I see fit and I feel like, as I approach 40, that my hair may be a version of that. Silver-type hair colors are very trendy right now and this is what I’m considering doing along those lines….either silver/purple or silver/blue highlights. I like this woman’s example because it’s not too much nor too little. Am I crazy?

2. Does anyone really care about “Dad Bods”?

I keep hearing about this research on the radio regarding the longer living men who have what has now come to be known as the “Dad Bod”. Here the NY Times more blatantly calls them “Fat Dads”. What I don’t like about this discussion is that it seems like a cop out to taking care of yourself by taking care of your family first. Women are constantly being told not to do that, while at the same time….doing just that. And yet, we’re also told not to body shame and yet we’re body shaming. I have so many issues with this discussion and I’m really over hearing about it on the radio. Please, Mr. DJ, stop encouraging men to go out and drink a few extra to be “more attractive” to women!

3. Go Cubs Go on the Billboard music charts?

And finally, because I listen to the radio all the time in the car….today I heard that Billboard Music Top 100 now hosts the “Go Cubs Go” 1984 song written by Steve Goodman. Are you shocked? I was and had to confirm it. Great job Cubbies! My grandfather would be proud and since he didn’t get to see this or your World Series win in his lifetime….this is for you and him (a Chi-town native and lifelong fan):

What’s on your mind today?

How are you dealing with election results?

Thoughts on my distraction topics?

Where is my Donkey?

I’m in Columbia, South Carolina right now and awaiting the latest participants in the NETA PT workshop to finish their exam. It’s been kind of an unexpected week this week and since I missed TOLT with Amanda this week, I figured I’d just tell you all of this in that sort of brain dump format.

Parenting

On Wednesday I remembered something that my oldest son said to me not that long ago. I cannot remember the context of the conversation, but it began with him asking me a question about why someone was doing something. Do we ever really know why others choose to do what they do? So, naturally my response was “I don’t know”. To which he replied, “So you don’t really know EVERYTHING do you?!” Wow! You’re right and thanks for calling me on that bluff at 5 years old!

Politics

Why was this memory important? Because on Wednesday I decided to take my sons with me to vote. Many of us are ready for the election to be over and I, especially, will be glad when I can watch the news in the morning without exposing my children to political campaigns. However, it’s my civic duty to vote and I thought it was of most importance this year that my 5 year old has listened to the news, seen the political ads, and has such strong feelings about what is happening in our country and state. I won’t ever tell you who to vote for, but please get out there Tuesday and get it done if you haven’t already!

Health

On Thursday morning around 4am I awoke choking….because my tonsils were swollen almost shut! This has happened to me in the past and has always been tonsillitis (except for the one time it was mono). This time, though, it was STREP THROAT! Ew! I spent the entire day laying on the couch shivering, sweating, in aching pain, and attempting to drink juice and swallow massive horse pills.

Teaching

By Friday morning I was better, but chose not to go for a run and instead just taught and packed up my stuff to head for SC. I was off my game while teaching….mentally and it carried over into my packing. I forgot things this week, but nothing that made a huge difference on my weekend. My scatterbrain also prevented me from doing my 5 Yamas Friday post this week, so in the interest of keeping it on Fridays, I’ll save #4 for this coming Friday as I travel to Columbia, Maryland.

Traveling

cib
I might know why this sign was outside….

I arrived at my hotel, the Comfort Inn Blythewood, on Friday night and anticipated taking a shower before I went to bed…..that didn’t happen because there was a ball of hair and a used bar of soap in my shower. I called downstairs about it, but they couldn’t do anything until morning as they were all sold out. I had skipped dinner that night because I was feeling nauseous from my meds and the post-nasal drip. Luckily I had a fig bar that one of my students had given me and this special drink.turmeric I didn’t think to take a picture prior to drinking it and honestly I won’t be getting it again myself, but I will say one thing….Turmeric is supposedly really great for inflammation and it really did help. Although, the taste was not my thing.

I will not recommend that anyone stay at the Comfort Inn Blythewood as breakfast consisted of something that looked like it might have once been eggs, the usual waffles and other dry bread products, some sugary cereal, and a coffee bar. Where was the fruit?! The yogurt?! The oatmeal?! Well, some of that appeared on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t worth my trouble. My food options this trip in general were less than stellar.

Finally, Saturday night, the wonderful extra hour of sleep in a hotel night…..was ruined by the fact that there was a flood light outside of my room and the curtains wouldn’t close. curtainsThis photo was taken at 12 midnight….it looks like morning is already trying to get in!

Training

As I said, I’m in SC for a workshop and I’ve been training future PTs and they have been wonderful! If I could ever stop getting lost on my way to the Jeep Rogers Family YMCA I would love to come here more often. While I’ve been here I’ve also had the opportunity to catch up on some work (YAY!) and get in a Saturday run (DOUBLE YAY!). This is where I met my Donkey.

On Friday night, as I was driving down here, I was listening for a moment to the John Tesch radio show and he mentioned something about looking at a point in the distance as you run instead of the scenery in order to run faster and smoother. I disagree John Tesch! I tried this on my Saturday evening run and I had to keep running off of the road to avoid cars which kept me in the sand, dirt, and straw. I ran uphill so much that my calves burned. And, my motivation was very low by not enjoying the scenery around me……until I saw him.

Now, I’m not an animal expert, so I’m not sure he’s a he or a donkey, but what I saw before I reached the turn around point was a pasture with horses, goats, and a donkey. The goats were butting the donkey and he was chasing them around so playfully that I smiled and wished I could join him! To my great fortune I was able to run right past him on my return and……he ran with me! Over and over again this little horse ran over to me and lifted his head to race. He took off down the side of the fence leaving me in his dust, looked back, circled around and played his game again. I almost decided to stay there with him for the rest of the night.

where-is-my-donkey
One of those little dots is my donkey!

I went back today to see him and take a little video, but they had moved pastures and were not around. Sadness.

The Week Ahead

So, it’s the end of my time and I need to pack up and hit the road again. Come back tomorrow for Mini Movie Monday #4 where we tackle Pigeon Pose! I will also have a post this week about Santosha and all of the great meditation I’ve had this week. Friday will have my 5 Yamas Friday and if I have a chance, I’ll link back up with Amanda to share what’s on my mind on Thursday. I hope you had a great weekend and DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!

Have you voted yet?

Do you have a donkey?

What did you do this weekend?