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”

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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?

Meditation Monday #45 – Tapas: The Spirit of Inquiry

Gray Mondays seem to be a theme in my life. This one is being caused by the outskirts of Irma. Irma means goddess of war or noble and will likely be a retired name on the Hurricane List after this year. Her spirit will live in infamy.

What about your spirit?

Spirit is a hard topic to wrap one’s head around sometimes. Sometimes we put spirit in the same basket as soul and other times it’s attitude. Some people believe they have a spirit animal (I guess T would say mine is the gazelle). I remember our nanny telling our youngest that he was her spirit animal when he suggested that they bake cupcakes after her car had been broken in to.

I picked back up the Gates book today and read Day 77 about Tapas in which he defines it as “the spirit of inquiry”. And I journaled

“having the heart of an explorer” Gates writes about tapas. My mental health and the desire for it keeps pushing me forward to learn more in life. It’s part of this final month of My Best Body Happiness Project. It’s about a “willingness to work hard” and in my physical health, in my eating changes, I work hard without developing hardened and steadfast rules. Rather I work hard to achieve this feeling of “honestly knowing myself”, my successes and my limits. I don’t know that I have the “desire for spiritual health” the way that my grandmother does; the way that some of my friends express; and even how a a few of my students do, but I know more and more each day about what I stand for and still seek “to know more”.

So, what about you? Are you practicing Tapas?

What is your heart’s desire?

Your drive?

Your spirit?

Meditation Monday #44 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Anandamaya)

We are at the deepest or most subtle layer of your Koshas as we enter our final post on this topic (for now). The Anandamaya layer is often called the blissful layer or sheath; however, the bliss doesn’t necessarily mean a feeling of happiness, but rather a feeling of wholeness. This is sometimes referred to as the spiritual self or the true self…..almost like your secret identity that no one else can see unless you let them.

I wonder……how many of you live in your Anandamaya layer? Can you truly be your complete self? Your true self? Without reservation?

I know that I have moments when this is true for me. Pacheco asks the following questions:

  • How am I the hero of my own journey?
  • How am I following my bliss?

I think that at this point in my life, with my work, my kids, my training, and this blog I am as much the hero of my own journey as I have ever been. Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. There is so much more I wish I could do with my life; I plan to do with my life; I long to do with my life. There is a standard I have not yet reached. But, I am more aware of what each of that means at this point and am at a point of great understanding that the power to achieve or fail at this is within me and my ability to connect with others. I am following my bliss….I may not have caught up to it yet, but I’m still following along.

Pacheco also asks:

  • What is one act of spiritual generosity (small or large) that I can do for someone else?

In a world in which we are always looking for what will make us happy, we often forget to be of service to others. This is why I love to teach. I feel like I am sharing something that makes me feel so whole, so complete, so blissful with others while also giving a gift to myself. I hope that by reading this post you will consider what would make you truly whole in life and then start pursuing it. That by doing that you will consider the great gifts that you have to serve others. That by serving others you show them a way to make themselves be the hero of their own journey. And, that through all of this we create a world in which it’s no longer scary to live in the Anandamaya layer.

Over to you…..

Meditation Monday #43 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Vijnanamaya)

Who am I?

What is my purpose?

These are two of the questions that Pacheco’s book addresses when it comes to the Vijnanamaya layer of the 5 Koshas. The Jnana path of yoga is the path of knowledge and that makes sense as the Vijnanamaya layer is the intellectual layer.

In the practice of Jnana yoga we seek to understand deeper who we are and why we are here. This is a practice I have described before using the Dharmachakra Mudra. Asking, “What comes next?” “Why am I here?” and “How do I serve?” are all part of that deeper exploration and the path toward enlightenment.

The third question that Pacheco asks is

When does my intellectual layer thrive?

This is more important to me at this moment than the first two questions. Tomorrow is my last day teaching at CFCC for awhile. I don’t know for sure if I will return there, but I hope to. I have been teaching yoga there for the past 3 years and with each successive semester I have learned a little more about myself and about yoga. I have been growing intellectually through my practice and through teaching. That will be going away this fall as I transition to teaching a different type of curriculum at UNCW.

Does that mean that I won’t be learning anything new or anything new about myself? Not at all, but it won’t be yoga driven and I worry that I will lose a lot of that deep and meaningful self-study. I have new things to learn in order to teach these new classes and I will be challenging myself in a different physical way. I will also have access to a pool, so I will be challenging myself to relearn how to swim for fitness.

The Wellness Inventory program that I’ve been working through this summer has been a new learning experience and it has encouraged me to set new goals for connecting to the many different aspects of my own wellness. One thing that I have been motivated to do is meditate more and to spend time breathing and playing with my kids. I’m not as successful at these elements (so far) as I had hoped, but I hope that teaching this will also help affirm these practices outside of yoga for me. Remember, I’m an Obliger and it may help me to commit to changes by committing to my students.

Finally, my intellectual layer thrives when I’m reading. I’ve started a new Gretchen Rubin book and I hope to find more and more time to read. I have some introspection going on with that reading as well and I’m learning more about myself and how to be the best version of me I can be. So, now I ask

What is it that helps you grow intellectually?

Books? Meditation?

How do you learn?