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Release Blame & Bring Comfort

I sometimes think in my fantasy I am a transcended yogi free of blame and suffering. But that’s not true. I had an experience recently that revealed to me how quick I am to assign blame.

Somehow if I can blame someone for something that’s irritating me, it justifies my discomfort. I feel righteous in some way that reduces the pain of guilt or shame. It seems silly to think that projecting anger toward someone or something is a way of unburdening myself. But really, does that help? Does blame unburden anyone? Well, yes, in the short term but never in the long term. Blame is a way of venting pain or discomfort in an attempt to quickly relieve myself of the pain, hurt, anger, embarrassment, or humiliation. It’s an attempt to solve the problem quickly so that I can get on with my life. (Code for skimming over my pain and not embracing my shadow as though life should only feel good always.) This isn’t anyone’s fault. Our nervous system is wired for moving toward pleasure and resisting pain. This is a survival mechanism we absolutely need.

But there is another way to deal with discomfort. It’s yogic: hold the posture and breath into the pain. In asana practice, we are encouraged to go to our edge of discomfort, pause, breathe into it, become aware, release and let go of tension or self-judgment, and try to bring comfort to our discomfiture. Yoga is the life training to “hold the pose” of the unknown and the uncomfortable momentarily before doing anything, deciding anything, or assigning blame.

This moment of awareness is the gap, like the space between two trapeze bars. If you can put a space between […]

Healing is Part of Our Nature

Healing is part of our nature if we allow it.

Since having my hip replaced the first week in January, I’ve been recovering at home and learning a lot about letting go and allowing nature to heal me. The first week was a little challenging.  Physical challenges from digestive issues to a fever thankfully passed in a couple of days. The second week was much better. Now walking without crutches and doing my PT and yoga exercises, I started to gain back my strength.

In the first 10 days, I tried to soldier through the pain. I had an aversion to taking the pain medication since I have heard so much negative about them. However, I was in more pain than I knew and lost hours of sleep every night trying to tough it out. Then I learned that getting a full night’s rest is the key to healing.

Inspired by a friend who had hip surgery recently and claimed her healing increased when she took her medication regularly and slept well, I decided to surrender my resistance and take the pain medication. What an amazing difference that made! I slept well and found new strength the next day. In fact, that day, I added on more yoga poses and then drove to my friend’s house to watch the Patriot’s game. What an amazing game! I really enjoyed myself. Just the release I needed after feeling so bound up with pain.

Now in my third week post-surgery, everything is going well. I feel less pain, am able to move around better, and I can finally flex my hip a bit. Hip flexion takes a while to come back but it helps tremendously with walking, putting on socks, and getting dressed! Today […]

By |February 13th, 2018|Yoga Off the Mat|1 Comment|

Enlightenment: Simple Pleasures & Regular Practice

Welcome to 2018! May this be your best year yet!

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the term “enlightenment”. It’s a big word that holds a lot of meaning, power, and misconceptions. I honestly do not know what enlightenment means, nor am I focused on reaching it. In fact, I think the whole idea of achieving enlightenment is a diminishment and insult to consciousness itself. If there is an “end game” called enlightenment, is that something we’re supposed to be going for? Doesn’t that suggest that we are deficient and somehow flawed as we are now? If you believe that, then you might also believe that the universe is flawed. And if the universe is flawed and has made a mistake, then you might subscribe to the belief that YOU are a mistake. Yikes! This kind of view really smacks of a shame-based paradigm that is outdated and no longer useful. The superficial understanding of enlightenment to me is tinged with perfectionism, hierarchy, and judgment.

In the Tantra, you are already free.

Enlightenment is not something other than you that exists somewhere else. It’s a state of recognition that comes from the heart with clarity of perception of what’s happening now. It’s like trying to tune into a radio station (non-digital) with a fuzzy connection compared to a clear, pristine, static-free connection. When your connection is clear, you hear the music. When it’s fuzzy, you hear the static. Instead of being a state of consciousness or a place you go, to me enlightenment is a simple experience of clear perception, free of past conditioning, free of the angst of worry, free of any pattern of unworthiness or personal struggle through your willingness to embrace all states and experiences […]

The Brahmas Viharas: Four Celestial Abodes

Given this time of holiday cheer, we usually find ourselves visiting our families or hanging out with friends more than normal. If you are anything like me, being with family can bring up old issues and minor irritations. I’m pretty good at letting things go and using my yogic practices to ward off judgment. But there are times when, for instance, your Uncle Lester just won’t stop talking. Or in my family, I often get triggered by well-meaning, bothersome patterns.

My mom is very loving and I adore her. But I still get activated sometimes when she tries to suggest things or take care of me without my asking for help. I go back into my pattern of isolation because I feel smothered. Clearly that’s my issue and no matter how much I work on myself, I tend to fall into that old habit. Or it could be something my dad says. He tends to be prickly on the outside but a sweet, mush ball on the inside. He is a very loving and generous man. But I still get activated sometimes when he uses judgmental language and a harsh tone. Even though I practice yoga, I still get activated. It happens. What’s different now after many years of practice, is that I can more fully witness my patterns without getting caught in them for too long.

In terms of the Holidays and the practice of gratitude, it can be really difficult to feel authentic gratitude when you’re with the people you love most. How do you manage your relationships and your reactions to family and/or friends? This is a great contemplation worthy of your attention.
Ancient Meditation Practice (with a few personal twists)
I want to share an ancient meditation practice […]

By |December 13th, 2017|Yoga Practices|0 Comments|

Ocean & Wave

We are both the vast ocean of consciousness and the wave on the surface. The ocean represents unlimited possibilities and unbounded spaciousness. The wave, which constantly rises and falls, represents our individuality as no two waves are identical. Tantra embraces both the ocean and the wave.

To remember the vastness of our true nature is difficult because installed within all of us at birth is a kind of “cosmic forgetfulness” – we have forgotten where we came from. We generally walk around like oceanless waves. But in reality, the ocean has never left the wave and in fact, the wave is composed entirely of the ocean.

What keeps a wave a wave? According to Tantra, it’s called “mala” – dust on the surface of consciousness. The malas are like tight rings that bind us to our limited identity. The most common mala is lack, which takes on many forms – not enoughness, unworthiness, sadness, depression, lack of motivation, and doubt. Being perfectionistic, I’ve had to learn how to embrace my feeling of lack. Especially when I first began to teach, I was extremely self-critical. I remember a time when I felt particularly self-critical. Even when the students told me how wonderful their experience was and that they had breakthroughs and insights, I couldn’t receive their compliments. However, over the years, I’ve been able to release my unreachable expectations and self-criticisms and appreciate myself a little more. In a humble way, I can share in the joy of my students’ insights and receive them fully in their experience.

This oceanic consciousness is already inside of you and is closer to you than your own breath. In addition, there’s a way to access the ocean again and again in […]

By |November 8th, 2017|Ashaya Yoga|0 Comments|