Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Finding the Balance Button

We may outrun
By violent swiftness
And lose by over-running.
~ William Shakespeare

So, I haven't really gotten into the details of my first month in training, but I will talk about two things I've been focusing on that I think a lot of people could benefit from as well.

Part of our "homework" after last class was to pick one of five Yamas and one of five Niyamas to focus on. Yama means "Right Attitude" and Niyama means "Right Observances."

The attitude I was drawn to for this month was "Brahmacharya" — Moderation, Channeling Emotions

• No overindulgence of mind, intellect, speech, body. Moderation on all levels, physical desires, food, all aspects of daily life including the environment. Practice not repression, but control of sensual cravings.

And the Observance I chose was "Tapas" — Austerity

• The willingness to do what is necessary to reach a goal with discipline. Practice cultivating determination to pursue daily practices, enthusiasm for the spiritual path. Joyfulness with outer discipline will lead to inner discipline.

So far, it's been a bit of an ebb and flow. I've had days where I've felt quite balanced and disciplined and others, where I've felt like I overindulged or did too much of one thing and not enough of another, etc.

I felt they both kind of went hand in hand and I've tried, especially with "Tapas," to get things done I've been putting off and focusing on the good vibrations I feel afterward. Same with the times I feel balanced emotionally, mentally and physically.

Perhaps those reading might want to try these goals as well, but molded to fit your own lives.

It's not easy ... But I've been making an effort to do 10 to 15 minutes of Yoga in the morning, to take stretching breaks throughout my work day and observe when I'm getting too engrossed in any one task or bringing tension to my body.

I've been trying to eat better, though I've had my days ... and I've been trying, especially right now — in the dead of this season, when depression tends to swallows me up — to channel my emotions, desires, frustrations, ego wants, etc. into more creative, distracting or relaxing ways. Whether it's reading, sketching, getting out and seeing a movie (even on my own), writing, pushing myself to walk L even in the cold, going out with different people, hosting small gatherings at my home, etc.

Yoga, in the physical sense, is all about tension and release. It's all about cycles.

Each person's life entails its own combination of tension and release moments. All throughout the day. Even something as simple and natural as your breath demonstrates this. The pulling in of air, the expanding and tightening of the lungs, the gentle release and subtle relief that ensues.

The important thing is to find more release moments throughout our day. To stop wasting so much of our life force, our energy, on fixated thoughts, stresses, work, tension, drama. Most of which doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of life. So, the first step is awareness, just be aware of yourself.

Then, make small adjustments. You're driving and you feel your body is tense, notably relax it. You notice you're straining in front of your computer screen, release your neck, back, take a deep breath and refocus. You're walking to the car and it's freezing out and you're tense and shivering, try to relax your muscles and refocus your attention elsewhere, on your breath, maybe take in the sky or the trees.

Perhaps you're listening to someone and feel your patience wearing thin or you're noticing that you're focusing on all negatives going on with your day rather than the numerous positives, like the simple fact you're alive, breathing and in motion. Maybe with that person, readjust your attention to focus on the things you actually like or love about them. Same with your "bad" days. Find the release moments in your day. Find them and envelope them.

These are just a few random things that came to mind, but I assure you, the more you pay attention, the more you realize just what needs adjustment in your life, what you are lacking, what you need more of or less of for your own well being. Let your own body and intuition tell you all you need to know.

And then, it's just a matter of discipline and moderation :-)


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Do You Resist What Is?

There's this common theme I've been noticing, learning about and expressing for some time now, even if it's hard for me to always practice myself.

I think Tolle says it best here:

“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly. Things, people or conditions that you thought you needed for your happiness now come to you with no struggle or effort on your part, and you are free to enjoy and appreciate them — while they last. All those things, of course, will still pass away, cycles will come and go, but with dependency gone there is no fear of loss anymore. Life flows with ease.”

I still struggle with this one sometimes. Because my attachment to people, relationships, situations is still strong sometimes. But I'm noticing that the more I "let go" and not resist what my life is right at this moment, the more positive things, things I've yearned for are crossing my path.

Think about your life for a minute, the things in it that you "aren't happy with." Now, what makes that judgement? Your brain? Or is it something you "feel" inside. I think sometimes we "think" things are worse than they are or we're supposed to be doing this by now or doing that by now, etc. But are those thoughts REALLY ours? Or are they manifestations of societal norms, outside influences, etc.

I guess my point is, there is a difference between what you're thinking and what you're actually feeling, instinctively, intuitively. When you learn to decipher between them, then you'll have an easier time figuring out what you really need to change for you to feel more in sync with your true self and the universe.

And you'll notice that once you get in sync, good things start to happen and opportunities begin to arise all around you.

That being said, the other part of this is relationships/friendships. I used to think if I was friends with someone, like really good friends at one point in my life or another, we would be friends forever. But that's just not what happens in life. There are people, the soul mate kind, who no matter what happens, you're always connected over the years. And then there are the people who come and go, help us along or teach us a lesson and then move on.

I speak generally here, because this is something that I've come across now in my own life more times than I can count on both my hands, whether its been someone wanting more out of my friendship than I'm giving or wanting the direction of the relationship to go a way that it isn't going. And I've been on the other side of this as well.

It often leads to resentment or projection, anger, passive aggressiveness, manipulation, etc. All "out of sync" things.

Which begs the question, why do we sometimes get so caught up in the label we want our relationship or friendship with someone else to be or the direction we want things to go in that we fail to appreciate what that person or situation is offering us just as we both are in this moment?

Why do we focus more on what isn't happening than what IS happening in our lives? Because our egos are trained to constantly hunger for more, to want more, to be dissatisfied with what's in the here and now. Because that would mean the ego is useless, which would lead to its utter demise.

This can be applied to our jobs or perhaps other unsatisfying situations in our current lives, money problems, legal issues, family drama, etc.

There is nothing wrong with changing things that don't feel "right" in our lives anymore. But I think it's important to examine where those feelings are truly coming from, deciding if they're coming from the heart and soul or coming from the mind and outside influences. The answer to those questions will help in deciding where we step next. Another tool to use is that whole "upstream, downstream" analysis I gave a few blogs ago. If you take a step in one direction and you continue to feel "hungry" or unsatisfied or depressed, anxious, etc. then LISTEN to that feedback and adjust your steps accordingly.

Resistance is a mark of the ego—our false self—not our true being. Our authentic self flows with life, instead of resisting it. ~ David Robert Ord

Remember ... you are your best teacher.