Meditation Monday #31 – Finding Inspiration for Discipline Everywhere

Yesterday was National Plant a Flower Day….and although I couldn’t plant anything new because of the weather…this tulip persisted!

Happy Monday All! Today is a good one! I made some decisions last week regarding MY BEST BODY Happiness Project and all of the pieces are falling in line. I hope that you find the time to go back and read more about this project and enjoy the process this week and beyond.

Today I decided to get back on the Gate’s book and opened to Day 75 where he was covering Tapas. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #31 – Finding Inspiration for Discipline Everywhere”

Five Yamas Friday #5 – Living Them

Another Friday, another reflection on my Yoga Life…..

How has your week been? Mine has felt like catch-up due to late flights and sick kids. I have skipped all of my workouts so far and this has added to a feeling of unease and chaos.

What’s going well? I’ve been on task this week when it has come to work, I feel a little bit better about my future, and I am starting to live the Yamas so well that they feel like part of me instead of just something I’m having to make a conscious effort to exude.

Nonviolence

Honesty

Nonstealing 

Moderation

Nonhoarding

This week I had two moments that bookended my week of Yamas. They were moments in which I felt like I lived my true self and maintained an authentic practice of the Yamas.

The first was during an argument when I realized and stated outloud that one of the worst things I have been doing in life is spouting angry words toward others during fights as a defense mechanism. I don’t like to say hurtful things, it hurts me to say them and it doesn’t feel like me at all. If I am mad, I want to be heard for the honest expression of my feelings instead of feeling forced into a corner and made to fight like an animal with words as my claws. I am a nonviolent person; I feel that in my soul. I am choosing from now on to practice the nonviolence that my heart aims for.

The second time was during class today. I was expressing honesty to my students and told them that it is easy for me to be kindhearted toward and accepting of others far more than myself. I know, because we’ve all heard it before, that the hard work is supposed to come from inside first. It just hasn’t worked this way for me. For me, it’s been easier to find ways to be more accepting of others and then, slowly, turning those skills inward.

I am trying hard not to hoard, any longer, ideals about myself that do not fit who I am. I am trying hard to shed those same images that others may have of me. I am embracing aging this week as a tactic to stop judging myself. I haven’t pulled a single gray hair out all week. That might seem superficial to someone else, but it’s one way that I can accept who I am and how I am in this moment. By doing this I am not stealing the experience of life….of the present.

My yamas are becoming more and more a part of my daily life….

How are they doing in yours?

Five Yamas Friday #3 – Back to 530am

So, it’s happening, I’m going back to working out at 530am and I started this morning. Why? Because I’ve been unsatisfied in the way things are going with my schedule of late. This month, so far, I have skipped 6 runs, 5 meditations, and have practiced Garland pose more in my classes than on my own. So, 530am time is coming for ME as a gift to myself. A way to celebrate each day as a present (at least Monday through Friday).

So, now that that’s out there, How has your week been? Are you ready to talk about the Yamas again? I am!

Nonviolence – I haven’t really considered a way to be less harmful this week except for continuing to try and be patient in my interactions. I had midterms to grade this last weekend and I extended some leeway to a few of my students who failed to accept. This was disconcerting for a few reasons, but did not deter my positive attitude toward the students themselves. They are adults and will make their own choices, I just have to trust their judgment is the right thing for them.

Honesty – Owning up to my lack of ability to commit to the goals for this month is about as honest as it gets. It’s also about being realistic with myself and realizing that my heart may not be in some things from time to time and therefore I need to prioritize the things in my life that truly make me happy.

Nonstealing – We are currently under a water usage restriction in my town due to the flooding in NC from Hurricane Matthew. I know that this means that every time I choose to use more water than I need I am stealing from those most in need. It also means I run the risk of a $500/day fine, so we’ve been taking quick showers (even when I feel like I need to stand in the water longer) and flushing our toilet less. I know that sounds kind of gross to some people, but imagine those without the option to shower at the moment! I can stink a little more for their sake.

Moderation – I’ve been trying to sleep a little more this week because I feel like I don’t need as much tv time at night and I need more rest instead. Moderating the way I’m spending my time also provides me with more energy which means I’m not stealing from myself and I’m being honest about what I need and not harming my body.

Nonhoarding – Honestly (again) I haven’t gotten rid of one thing I need to at the moment. I’m not intentionally holding on to anything, but I just haven’t gotten to the point of clearing out spaces at this time. Trying to keep tackling that list that I am slowly crossing off and feeling, little by little, the weight lifting from my shoulders.

How did you do with the Yamas this week?

Do you have any tricks/tips to help me get better at my practice and/or organize my life?

What do you think of 530am exercise?

Five Yamas Friday #2

How has your week been? I know it’s only been since Wednesday, but it feels like I’ve been away from the blog for so long….and yoga, although I taught this morning. Something has had to give this week and for the next three days I have “CATCH UP” written on my schedule so that I can clear my lists. That and grade midterms. This is always one of my favorite times of the semester because I get to know my students a little better through their midterms.

The main theme of the midterm is to reflect on their yoga journey thus far this semester. I do this on the regular with meditation, the blog, and my teaching. I even wrote a whole series this spring about my yoga journey (12 Years of Yoga). But today I’m here to reflect on the week past and specifically the 5 Yamas.

  • Nonviolence – I have been careful with my body this weeks as I have still been suffering from allergies. With that mostly in check I tackled my Wednesday run like nobody’s business and dropped time and felt free. The run went great and even better was the workout after. However, my knees spoke to me the rest of the day and into Thursday’s teaching. I went back to my knee stretches and did some more supported deep squats and that took care of the pain for me. I was able to teach this morning pain free. I feel like my patience with others has also been high on the nonviolence scale this week. I’ve just been trying not to let too many things get to me and being as calm and understanding as I can in my interactions. Sometimes that means just shutting my mouth and walking away from a situation and other times I’ve lost my temper a bit in order to “Set the record straight”.
  • Honesty – If I’m truly being honest though, the “record” is subjective to the person speaking it. Things don’t always happen the way that you feel or remember them. I think that part of honest is realizing that your truth is only yours.
  • Nonstealing – I have tried to stay on top of my 30 minute work cycles this week so that I am not wasting my time. However, it has stolen a few other things from my schedule and this has not made me feel as satisfied with what I have accomplished as I had hoped. I stole away yesterday, twice, to take my kids to the park…..I mean it’s almost 80 degrees here in OCTOBER! Why wouldn’t we celebrate a cool 80 degree day at the park?
  • Moderation – I have tried to spend less time sitting down this week so that I feel like I’m getting stuff done, but it’s also led to a few early bed times. Moderation doesn’t mean go, go, go all the time….it also means I need to rest and I’ve been glad to recognize that going to bed before 10am once in awhile is not the end of the world.
  • Nonhoarding – I had to let go of the idea, this week, that I had some things figured out. I read a great thing in the Gates’ book about clutter in our physical lives and our emotional lives. I put a few things in the donation bag when I cleaned my room this week, stopped myself from adding more things to the schedule until after other things are completed, and let go of the idea that I have to have it all.
I feel like this painting today, but when I try to go to the blogspot that it was posted on I end up on spam, so don’t click on it.

Overall I have felt like this week has exemplified a lot of what it means to me to be yoga.

How did you live your Yamas this week?

Five Yamas Friday #1 – Delayed by Hurricane Matthew

I’m writing this post on Saturday instead of Friday for the simple fact that I decided to move my children out of the direct path of the hurricane yesterday. It’s “only” a Category 1 storm now, but I didn’t want them to have to sit in the dark for hours on end and wonder about if the water was going to come inside. So, we traveled north and west to family and are now just sitting through rain. It’s a horribly gloomy day.

But, time for reflection on the week past and the 5 Yamas that I am trying to live a little better each day….

  • Nonviolence
    • I did some good things for myself specifically this week. If you check in on my runs this week I had a great plan for going the distance. However, Wednesday afternoon my tonsils and sinuses revolted as a part of this impending storm and allergies. I ended up not running that day. I thought I could teach yoga on Thursday, but chose to rest instead. By Thursday night I thought maybe I could run, but listened to the fact that things were still not clear in my head and waited until Saturday (because of travel yesterday). My run this morning was also strained and I’m still living on allergy meds, getting green stuff out, and feeling the pressure in my face. Have you ever had your upper teeth hurt with each bite?
    • For others I have been trying to be more patient and to continue to choose good things to think about the choices that others make and to say nice things about them and to them as well.
  • Honesty
    • I can’t think of anything specifically in regards to living an honest life, but I have been more honest about myself with myself. Understanding the things that are important to me and making sure that I prioritize those. Sometimes what you want is more important than what you think you should do.
  • Nonstealing
    • I’m trying very hard not to get distracted by other things and not allow myself to steal from my own time. I wrote earlier this week about distractions and mostly I’m sticking to not allowing things to take all of my time and to staying focused on one thing at a time.
  • Moderation
    • This is a big one for me in so many ways. I’m watching my calendar fill up and trying to make sure that I’m choosing to be more moderate as it goes. I am getting done with projects and not taking on more. This is also something that goes in regards to the way that I eat and exercise. Having a plan has been helpful in allowing me to remember that I don’t have to do it all each day. I can choose to eat mindfully (I don’t always remember to do this) and know that it’s okay not to eat the M&M’s just because they’re sitting on the counter…..but man that sounds good to eat right now. 😉
  • Nonhoarding
    • Letting go has always been my biggest struggle and this week I would love to finally get rid of a few things on my plate. I had to remind myself at a meeting this week that I am not responsible for everyone. Let go of that need to take charge of everything, to put everything on my plate, let go of control.

Each little step in the right direction is like a drop of water falling into the pond…..the ripples reach outward to making bigger and bigger changes in my life.

How did you live your Yamas this week?

Meditation Monday #5 – Courage

It’s Monday evening after a long and tiresome weekend. I traveled to Vermont this weekend via Connecticut and stayed in New Hampshire. You have to love how close and small the New England states are. But after the holiday it was hard to be away from my family for another weekend. I am happy to know that I won’t be traveling again without them for at least a month. But it’s back to Meditation Monday today and I actually have a whole week planned out for you that links well with Gates’ book and more on the study of the fourth yama, Brahmacarya.

The Day 40 reading (where we’re starting the next five days of passages) pairs perfectly for my thoughts today. And it says that in much of his research Gates came across Brahmacarya in regards to bravery and courage. Remember that this yama or moral restraint is that of moderation. I’m sure that many people in our society would associate being able to live a moderate lifestyle by choice with some kind of superhuman strength of will. However, his examination of this idea took me somewhere else entirely. He asks, in a sense, to consider what it is that you are in need of courage to do in life?

My workshop this weekend was at a very nice facility and I would be very happy to find out that any of the participants had stumbled upon my blog. I really enjoyed their company and would love to keep in contact with them. But, overall I had lower participant reviews than I usually receive. I know I can’t get all top marks 100% of the time, but as a type A person this is what I expect for myself and eagerly strive for. As much as I’d like to say that I’m 100% intrinsically motivated, that I’m finding a few situations in which I want recognition. However, I also feel that I want top marks because that reflects that I have helped someone and that is what I feel is my ultimate goal in life….Help.

So, I spent some time reflecting on this question of what I need courage to do in my life and tried to get over my self-doubt as quickly as possible. And my meditation brought me to this: I need to find the way to stop procrastinating and to go after my dreams. Because, what am I really waiting for? I have pretty much a 4 year plan in order at the moment. But what happens at the end of that 4 years and what I do with some things I’ve been working on at the moment are keys to answering the question on courage. The simple gist of it all is that I want to teach at the college level, but in more than a physical education class. I want to wear real clothes to work some days instead of just gym clothes. I want to be looked at as a faculty member and not a staff member. The question of it all is as follows:
Do I wait until the baby is old enough to start school and then start applying for jobs that may move us away from here?
Do I hope that the current school I work for works out and eventually I become full-time there or at the other school in town where we end up staying in Wilmington?
Do I work on securing us financially so that when it’s time for the big man to go to school that I can foreseeably head into a Doctoral program?

I think I am asking myself to find the courage to finish projects in the next 4 years and to push for my voice to be heard when I am ready to switch my career from full-time mom to full-time professional again. I need courage to put myself first at that point and time and to know, truly in my heart, what my path will be. I need courage and strength to know how hard to fight to reach those dreams, but at the same time, courage to be accepting of the great life that I have and the amazing family that we have created. I need courage to trust my judgement that I had before I started considering (and really only focusing on) others in my life.

Four years may seem like a long time from now, but the days go by as quickly as minutes. I won’t doubt my ability to affect change and to help. I won’t look to others for the answers. I will live in moderation and see, truly see, the beauty of what my life has to offer me at every turn.

What do you need to find courage to do in your life?

Meditation Monday #4 – Thankfulness

Here’s another post that didn’t post yesterday, so I’ve updated it for today and this afternoon you can find your Tone It Up Tuesday post.

Meditation Monday on the week of Thanksgiving and we’re still talking about Brahmacarya. I have spent some extra time on this topic and my meditation because moderation is such an important part of how I live my life and the things I teach in my line of work.

I’m good enough; I’m smart enough; and doggone it, people like me!
In the Day 40 reading in the Gates book he writes that we (humans) live with “the mistaken belief that we are not ok as we are.” I took deeply to this reading at this time of year because what a better push to reflect on all the ways that we should be thankful than to realize that we reside inside of this misguided image of always needing to be more. That we are causing our own intemperance by doing more and seeking more that always ends in more strife. We view our lives as unsuccessful when we cannot find external validation for all of the hours we put in, the money we spend, the giving of ourselves. We live, very often, in a state of “keeping up with the Joneses” and very rarely in a state of contentment with what we have. It takes a lot of courage to walk away from the struggle that is life, from addiction, from the fear of not being enough. It takes mounds and mounds of courage to walk into a life of self acceptance and moderation. We realize that it is not about “thenwhat?” or “how does life get better?”…..it’s about “how great is this as it is?”
I am kind of behind in sharing this link, but purposefully waited until this week.
Let’s spend this next week appreciating what we have and not what we don’t. Don’t ask yourself what you could change to make yourself better, but what you could change about the way you look at yourself and your life to make your world better. Imagine if we stopped judging ourselves and others and just saw the light inside of each of us and were thankful that it was there. What if we let that light shine as brightly as it could without casting clouds of need and self doubt over it?
This week I am thankful to be here in Iowa. Thankful for my friends and their health (at whatever stage it is that has kept them to this day). I am thankful for my students and co-workers and that they exist to enrich my life in ways that are not measured in dollars and cents. I am thankful for my family and my children who are miracles beyond belief to me. I am thankful that I exist and that my lungs fill with air each day. I breathe in, I breathe out, I am in awe of the world around me.

 

What are you thankful for this year?

Meditation Monday #3 – Brachio whata?

Good evening, or late night, or whatever time of day you get around to reading this week’s Meditation Monday post. It may not even be Monday any more as I’m kind of behind on my day overall today. My kids have snotty heads and that means that no one is sleeping well at our house and when there are no naps, Mom doesn’t get a whole lot accomplished. However, I am making a little time in my night for you because you deserve it and I needed a pause from the manual I’m working on.

I want to post a little tiny bit here about the fourth yama, brahmacarya, because it’s probably the most misunderstood of all of the yamas and niyamas combined. Gates does a nice job of taking a chunk of time on this one and I’ll cover more of that next week and my thoughts on/responses to/meditations with this yama. But for today, a brief introduction to the yama that sounds like a dinosaur.

The yamas are the five moral restraints that must be practiced first in our actions, then in our words, and finally in our thoughts. Thus far we’ve been working with non-violence, truthfulness, and non-stealing, but now we get to brahmacarya which some yoga scholars have translated to mean “celibacy”.

Okay, so wait before you decide that yoga is not for you anymore. Other scholars translate it to mean merging with the one, but most often it is interpreted as a practice of moderation. Most specifically it is a moderation of how to use your energy and even more specifically, your sexual energy. Yeah, that’s why celibacy falls in there.

Think about it this way:

If you don’t use your energy and wall it up inside of you, it will build pressure until it eventually comes crashing forward in an uncontrollable outpouring.
But, if you use it moderately to connect to others around us in a loving way, then it can be a positive and spiritual experience which revitalizes and nourishes the body, mind, and soul.
And, if you use that same energy in a negative way, say to manipulate and use others then you create more bad energy and that can lead to feelings of hatred and jealousy, resentment and pain.
So, in remembering that moderation means not too much in either direction and before we get deeper into our study of brahmacarya, ask yourself:
Am I aware of my sexual energy? 
How am I using it or am I at all?
Have I ever used my sexual energy to get something I wanted?
Have I ever used it to hurt another person?
Do I use my sexual energy to hurt myself?
Have I been holding back from truly experiencing an openness with another person?