Meditation Monday #55 – Valuable Reprogramming

I decided to go back to reading Gates today. It’s been on my “to do list” for quite some time, but always seems to be pushed to the side for other Monday activities. Today I did the Day 90 reading about Svadhyaya and asked myself the question:

What are my own limiting beliefs?

My husband is always saying that I have a problem with “men”. I don’t believe it to be true. I work with male students, colleagues, have two sons, and used to be almost exclusively friends with “men”. I see most “men” not as “men”, but as people just as I see “women” as people. It’s only upon interacting with people do I then make judgements about who/how they are.

How very anti-yoga of me to make judgements?! But, also, how completely yoga of me to admit that, to be truthful, honest, and self-aware.

I have written a few posts about judgement (prejudice) and self-study (svadhyaya). I think that learning where we fall short is important for growth in our lives. However, Gates mentions the way that we’re programmed to think based on what we’re told by tv, newspaper, or (now) social media. He writes:

The world is not safe, you are not safe, you need X-Y-or-Z to be safe. Your life is not enough, you are not enough, you need X-Y-or-Z to be enough. p.120

In the past few years we’ve been bombarded with ways in which people (mostly men and some women) are acting in ways that we (as a society) no longer feel comfortable with. I have always stood by these values that people should be treated equally and with kindness and compassion. I don’t always succeed at this, but I keep trying.

Last week a woman came up to me in a parking lot at the beach. She told me that she was homeless and asked if I could help her out because she hadn’t eaten all day. I told her, honestly that I didn’t have any cash. She asked if I would go to McDonald’s across the street and buy her a burger. I told her no, that I couldn’t do that either. This too was the truth. I had my children with me, we were out of time on our parking meter and they were tired and wet from having been at the beach. We had somewhere else to be soon. And my summer money is tightly budgeted as I don’t often work over the summer. But ….those are all justifications. Part of the truth was that I had watched several news reports in our area about people who were pretending to be homeless! People who went on camera (with their faces blurred and their voices altered) and admitted that they sat on a corner for a few hours each day to make money instead of going to a job. They also went to food pantries and other handouts and were letting others pay for their rent and food and utility expenses by pretending to be homeless. So, my instinct in this situation was not to give her the money.

This all made me wonder:

How much of the media influence makes me weary of being open, trusting, and sharing with people?

How much of our culture is making me seem like I have a problem with men when I speak up for equality?

How are my judgements limiting me and am I in need of some valuable reprogramming?

Meditation Monday #54 – A Prayer for Jeannie

I’ve been heavy in the heart of late. A good friend of mine and neighbor has been battling Stage 4 Lung Cancer for over a year now. She is currently in the hospital and they don’t know what made her sick enough to enter the hospital, how to fix it, and if she’ll make it home ever again.

My usual nature and pulling on my Yoga teachings tells me to be accepting of life and the challenges that come with it. My normal instinct when someone of Jeannie’s age ends up facing the eternal is that we look at the wonderful life she’s had and empathetically look for a way to see this as a blessing to end the pain. However, just a week before she entered the hospital we were chatting in her living room and she was making plans for a trip. She has been battling fatigue and some pain, but perhaps more than she’s let on. Now, three weeks later, when I saw her in the hospital the other day she said she has accepted that she may die soon. My heart broke and I told her not to lose hope and to believe that miracles can still happen.

My heart strings pulled and I reminder her of a beautiful story she told me of her own mother. Jeannie’s mother had gone in for a flu shot and slumped over in the waiting room. She ended up in the hospital in a coma and on life support. After 90 days Jeannie was asked to take her mother off of life support. She asked the doctor’s for one more day to make arrangements and say good-bye. The next day she came in and her mother opened her eyes and pulled out her trach tube and went on to live for 2.5 good years. I am usually a realist, but I also believe in miracles. I believe that people are watching over me and all of us. This surrender to some bigger connection to the universe around me is part of the yoga practices of Isvara-pranidhana.

I want to believe that Jeannie will pull through and have a few more great years left. I want to know that this person I care about and love in my life will not leave us in this way. I am unready to face the fact that for the first time my children may lose someone who they are close to. They have been sheltered from that kind of loss thus far. And so, I turn again to yoga for guidance, hope, and healing.

One of my favorite yogis is Deva Premal and she shared this mantra on her Facebook page last April:

Om Shree Dhanvantre Namaha (Healing)

Salutations to the being and power of the Celestial Healer.

This mantra helps us find the right path to healing, or directs us to the right health practitioner. In India it is also commonly chanted during cooking in order for the food to be charged with healing vibrations – either to prevent disease or assist in healing for those who are sick.

This mantra can be chanted for any situation that one would like to be healed or remedied. Good to remember and be open to the path of healing not necessarily looking the way we expect it! Dhanvantari is the celestial healer/physician – the patron saint of Ayurveda.

Jeannie needs healing from some divine power and I need to remember to be open to the path of healing my heart in whatever may come. So, today in my mediation practice, I will be using this mantra for her and for me. I will chant it out loud so that the reverberations of my words may travel to her and out into the universe for her. I will say it in my heart and my head so that I too can feel healed. This is my way of praying and may it connect us both in this world and all others to come.

Namaste.

 

Meditation Monday #53 – My Own Kind of Beautiful

Let me first start by telling you that last night did NOT go as planned. My flight out of Augusta never happened and I had to be shuttled up to Charlotte to catch the late flight. Such is travel….

Second, I am completely voiceless today. This is what lecturing with an allergy situation will get you. And finally, let me note that it’s been more than a year since I last posted an official Meditation Monday post…..when I completed my 108 Sun Salutations! Life was much different for me then and that brings me to….

Affirmations, aka the topic of today’s Meditation Monday post. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #53 – My Own Kind of Beautiful”

Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations

Welcome to March!

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile now….unsure of what all to write and which day to post it under. I’ve got a lot to write about this week and so I thought I’d start here with some yoga. Last fall I started building up to performing 108 consecutive Sun Salutations. Don’t know what a Sun Salutation is? Check out my post about how I do mine here. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations”

Meditation Monday #51 – Impromptu Meditations

Last Thursday my youngest didn’t want to go to school….it’s preschool and to some people that doesn’t “really” matter. However, I have to go to work on the days that he goes to school. I specifically scheduled work while he was in school so that I don’t have to have childcare any more. I also pay for his preschool and it’s not cheap. At preschool he’s learning A LOT of important lessons and by making him go to school (even when he doesn’t want to), I’m trying to teach him another lesson: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.

On Thursdays I usually workout after I am done teaching. Sun salutations or swimming are the norm, but this Thursday I had another matter to deal with: parking ticket. I went to the parking office and appealed my ticket. I won. It was a good day. This left me some extra time before the little guy was done with school. Because he hadn’t wanted to go in the first place I had promised I would pick him up early. Once I arrived at his school I thought about the importance of two things: keeping my promise and his need to be in school the full time. I opted to pick him up only slightly early (I’m usually one of the last parents to arrive for pick-up) to meet both.

So, I took a seat on the bench outside the school. It was a nice day and no one was around. I sat in Sukhasana (easy pose), closed my eyes, turned my face up to the sun, and started an impromptu meditation. I haven’t spent enough time meditating lately. I’ve done a lot of journal writing, which has been good for my soul, but is not the same thing as meditating. I decided that day that I needed to just listen to the world around me and within me.

In general I recommend that you have a focus for meditation before beginning. However, I know the need for impromptu meditation is strong; especially in the world we live in today. So, I encourage you to take the time today to be in the moment. Give yourself the present of impromptu meditation…..maybe even this minute. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and listen. Listen to the sounds around you (or lack there of) and be aware of your present surroundings. Listen to the voices in your head (don’t think about them, but hear them passing through). Listen to your body and all the things you ignore that are both good and bad. And, if like me, allow yourself to smile or cry or both.

Life is tough for me these days….hence the reason I stepped away from the blog mostly. However, life is also life and being alive is good. Impromptu meditation reminded me that warm sun, the sound of garbage trucks/traffic flowing by, and the ability to breathe freely are all great things in life because it’s life itself.

Happy Monday! You’re alive!

Please feel free to share your impromptu meditation moments or any other thoughts in the comments section below.

Meditation Monday #50 – Wisdom from Within

A lot of Gates’ writing in this section of the book talks about discipline (tapas) and turning inward. In Day 82 he notes that we all start out learning from others, but eventually have to trust our own judgements. Thus is the story of life.

Discipline is about creating our own path by following in the footsteps of others before us. Our parents probably taught us differently and therefore we have a skewed vision of the word. But think about it…..

If I am your parent, teacher, trainer, etc….and I want you to follow what I do, then why would I punish you? Instead I should model and teach you to be my disciple, to follow me, to cultivate your own discipline.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through yoga and I’ve learned a lot from others teaching me. In the end, it’s all about choosing what is right for me in life. This is a lesson I’ve learned along the way in blogging too. The “right way” to blog may not be my way.

So, this week I am taking off to enjoy Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. I am taking my own path. I have a pre-scheduled post for Friday, but other than that you won’t see me here until next Monday. My family, my friends, and myself have taught me that holidays are for enjoying. I encourage you to find joy this week….away from the news, the internet, and other things that force us to disconnect from those directly in front of us.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Meditation Monday #49 – Answers Within

In the Day 81 Reading Gates writes

….we always have everything we need. When we fail to believe this, we suffer. (p.109)

How many times have I looked inward for the answer, seen it, and still kept searching? External validation doesn’t equal internal happiness…yet, it’s a hard cycle to break.

Today when I was doing my 68 Sun Salutations (more about why I’m not further along on Thursday) I asked my youngest to help me finish them out….because doing them with someone else somehow makes them easier to finish. I suffered and struggled through the first 67 and there it was…ease on number 68 with his little arms and legs moving beside me.

But, I need to listen better to myself because I am sure there are signs that I’m ignoring. This takes discipline….tapas

Are you still stuck in the cycle of seeking answers outside of yourself?

Do you know that the end to your suffering is within you?

What is always easier for you to do with someone else?

Meditation Monday #48 – Paradoxical Yoga

A short post for you today on Tapas….

In the Day 80 Reading Gates writes

The desire that is tapas comes from wanting…a place of lack…yet yoga is about detaching from the outcome (paraphrased p.106)

So, through the practice of yoga we become whole and fill the internal hole.

Sometimes, in my life, there is a disconnect between what I want and what I have…I am always faced with the question of

Can I get what I want or can I be content with what I have?

The answer still hasn’t come to me in all situations, so still I ask.

Desire, ask, believe, receive.

Stella Terrill Mann

 

Meditation Monday #47 – Will and Laughter

It’s Monday again! Did you have a great weekend? I did! We had our annual chili cookout on Saturday night. I squeezed in 46 Sun Salutations and a shower right before people started arriving. It was a wonderful night in which I learned a little something about making chili with dried beans…..don’t cook them with acidic ingredients until they’re soft….or else they’re never going to get soft! If you want my chili recipe you can go way back to here to find it.

But, enough about chili and parties and Sun Salutations for today….today I want to talk about Tapas some more.

Tapas is the will both to look at what we have lost and to see what we can reclaim. (p.106) Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates

So, I’m finally on the Day 79 reading because I have realized that I only have time, right now, for meditation once a week. This is part of my scheduling for my habits and my posting for the blog, so I am keeping things simple. I have looked at what worked in the past and what didn’t and I’m figuring out how to move forward in a more even mannered way.

While I’m constantly trying to move forward and plan ahead….I still need to acknowledge my past and all of the elements that have shaped me to this point. I still need to live in the present. That quote made me feel like a lot of the things on the blog have come together into one. My schedule, my need to meditate, my need to be active, my need to read and recenter myself, my need to write and get it out, and my need to be inspired.

My Word of the Day today is LAUGH. Why? Because laughing has healing powers. I plan to teach Laugh Yoga to the kids I have been teaching on Monday afternoons. They need some serious aspects of yoga, but they also need fun. Laughter is part of life and childhood and freedom! It’s happiness and sadness and anger and success and defeat all in one. The activity I’m most looking forward to doing with them today is to laugh a conversation with all of the emotions.

You should try it with a friend…..laugh the words you’d use to greet someone and laugh the words you’d talk with them about. Imagine that you’re nervous and excited and angry and happy and sad and hopeful and free and burdened. Explore your laugh as fake and genuine. Allow someone to make you laugh today. Laugh at someone or something, but not in a malicious way. Laugh as if no one is watching. And laugh to begin anew…

There were so many things that this quote from the reading made me think of….I could have written for days on this topic and in so many directions. The reading actually starts with a quote from Gloria Steinham about how the karma of her life circumstances have shaped where she is today. This immediately brought me to thoughts of the #MeToo movement that is in all discussions at the moment.

I don’t care to share my own stories of times I’ve felt like I was less because of my situation in life. Instead I choose to use my tapas to move on….to reclaim the life I have yet to live…to choose not to let external forces define me. I acknowledge the journey, I support those of you who have taken a similar path, I laugh to the future because it’s going to be a good one!

Meditation Monday #46 – Trying

In the Day 78 reading Gates writes about being emboldened to try new things, but knowing that someone is there if we fail….someone to lean on and support us….like our yoga teachers.

I wonder, with all of the new things I’m trying to accomplish in my life with habits, can I be there for myself if I fail? In what ways can I pick myself up again? Do I embrace myself with an unconditional heart?

This is a topic I’ve written about before.

Saturday I didn’t do my Sun Salutations. I just kept putting them off all day until the day was over. I thought about getting out of bed and doing them, but I let myself not. Sunday I picked up where I left off and now I have 1 day to “make-up”. So far, my attempt to create habits and discipline….Tapas….in my life also means that I need to discipline myself to love myself despite my stumbles.

Can you?