I’m delighted to continue the topic of the 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world. Last time I wrote about the importance of spiritual practices. Click here to review.

Study group at 200-Hour YTT in Portland

The third vitamin is education and study. As a yogi, it’s important to continue the learning process. Education is a life-long endeavor and should never end. In general, as the aging process progresses, it’s easy to fall into routines and avoid challenging our minds to think. But thinking is necessary in order to maintain a sharp mind. “Use it or lose it” as the phrase goes. If you don’t regularly challenge your mind, you will lose it. Whatever interests you, do that. Follow your passion and explore the wealth of information available to everyone today. We live in the information age. Well, actually it’s the digital age. But information is so easy to obtain. There are no excuses.

On a regular basis I attend trainings and spiritual retreats to sharpen my practices and refine my understandings. Boredom is essentially non-existent for me. When you follow your heart, you will never be bored. I’m currently studying with two Tantric scholars, Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks. Their teachings have been invaluable to stimulating my mind and contributing to my education. There will be two workshops with Paul coming up in October.

Paul Muller-Ortega

Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks

Education also includes spiritual study and self-study, Swadhyaya (one of the Niyamas of Patanjali). In addition to spiritual study, I listen a lot to NPR radio. I’m also a fan of streaming educational shows on PBS. I highly recommend the series called, “Becoming Human”, which traces the evolution of our species, Homo Sapien. It’s fascinating! Whatever stimulates your learning, do that. Our mind is designed to think, reflect, and solve problems. If you can derive joy from this process, then you are fulfilling one of the functions of our species – to think.

Painting

Even though educational documentaries are good things, they fill you with ideas from other people. The nature of being fed someone else’s ideas is that you don’t really think for yourself in terms of creating something. That’s why in addition to learning from other people’s ideas and creativity, be sure to think and create regularly on your own. Playing music, painting, making art, cooking are all good examples of engaging your mind to be creative. Writing is one of the best ways to create. More than anything I do, I write every single day, i.e., updating manuals, responding to emails, working out contracts, writing articles and books, and writing cards. It’s all good.

Last month at
Yoga Anatomy Training.

I recently hosted Ellen Saltonstall for Yoga Anatomy Training. This was so awesome! I learned so much. Her method of teaching was unique and instead of only being about anatomical terms, lecture, and using our heads to understand, at regular intervals she gave us exercises that got us into our bodies. I believe that the most creative learning happens when we use our whole self: body, mind, and heart. We did feeling studies, body palpitations with ourselves and others, and asana practice. Ellen and I co-taught which was such a joy. We didn’t plan much in advance of teaching together. But because we both felt comfortable with our topic, I was able to teach a class based on the anatomy she just taught and while I taught the asana, she interwove anatomical insights about which muscles we were stretching and toning. It was wonderful! The students shared with us afterwards that this was the most exciting and engaging anatomy training they had ever experienced.

May you endeavor to use your mind and think regularly. May you choose a topic and study it thoroughly until it takes you deep inside where you begin to think creatively on your own. The whole universe is within you. All external knowledge and information is thereto serve your own creative genius. Deep in your heart there is brilliance beyond measure.