Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Asteya – Non Stealing – Third Yama of Patanjali’s yoga sutras

First, stop and think of what “not stealing” means to you. For most of us, the obvious comes to mind. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. But this Yama (like the others) goes far beyond taking material possessions that are not yours to take.

I agree with the precept from Ekhart Yoga (see original link below). We steal because of innate self-worth issues. We think that by taking what others have, we will become like who we THINK they are. We steal because we think we are not good enough. We feel disconnected and incomplete on our own.

I want to give you a personal example of an abstract thought on stealing. I encountered an individual that was always apologizing. For everything. All the time. Apologizing for the sake of apologizing. While the intention was not consciously malicious, the amount of energy and time it took to sooth and reaffirm this individual was extremely draining. This is an example of how you can unconsciously steal time and energy from another person. By becoming aware of how our words and actions impact others and by examination of the root cause of why we do what we do, we can start to elicit real change by speaking authentically, with full awareness of our intentions behind our words. After becoming more aware, I realize I too was unconsciously starting to do this. I now see the impact on others and myself from both sides of this situation.

Another form of stealing is spending too much time on social media. When you mindlessly "scroll" and hours go by, you are stealing time from your spouse, your children and from yourself. We have all fallen into the "black hole" of the internet (I am guilty!) but when you start to bring your attention mindfully to where your time is going, you can make better use of it. Intentionally focusing on spending time on yourself by doing yoga, meditating, doing art, reading, etc. brings awareness to the present moment.
Being constantly late is another way to "steal" from people. You are stealing time from others when you are repeatedly late. Be mindful of how your actions impact others.
Jealousy is a way to steal as well. Although a perfectly normal emotion, it not only creates a dynamic where you end up wasting a lot of time and it steals friendships and relationships. If you use Jealousy as an indicator of what you authentically want, it can be a transformative tool. For example, if a person is jealous that their friend is spending time with another friend, maybe that is an indicator that you miss that person and you want to spend time with them. Instead of creating drama and strife, focus on what you really want. If it is to spend time with the person, make a plan, pick up a phone and call them. Or if you are jealous your sister starts her Masters program, perhaps that is an indicator that you want to begin a new career or school path. Make a goal, make a plan and go! But misusing jealousy can steal moments from friendships, it can steal peace of mind and more. Just be mindful of your authentic needs and desires, what lies beyond the superficial, holds the answers to your peace of mind.
Ways to steal on the yoga mat...well I think the first and most obvious is comparing yourself to others. It is so easy and we all do it. Being mindful in your own practice and bringing your awareness to you and where you are at RIGHT NOW can bring about an acceptance, a letting go of any expectation. It is freeing. So don't steal your neighbors practice, focus on you and this moment.
Can you think of any other ways that we steal from each other? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear your thoughts.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Satya – Truthfulness: the second of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Satya – Truthfulness
What does truthfulness mean to you? How are you truthful? How are you not?
Satya is the second Yamas and it means “Truthfulness”. Being truthful in our thoughts, deeds and actions is the basic precept of Satya. I find the correlation between Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satya (truthfulness) very intriguing. For example, we all know that one person that is praised for “telling it like it is”. Sometimes they are unkind in their delivery and that causes harm. The goal is to be truthful without doing harm. I know I struggle with this because I can be very blunt. But by having the awareness of Satya, I am finding the balance in telling the truth but doing no harm. Of course people will interpret your actions and words through their own filter, but as long as your own intention is pure and unselfish, their lesson is their own and you hold no responsibility for that. Carefully choosing your words with thought and compassion or even choosing to remain silent at time
The word “sat” literally translates as “true essence” or “true nature”. It also means “unchangeable”. ‘that which has no distortion’, ‘that which is beyond distinctions of time, space and person’, and ‘reality’.
Satya also means being truthful with ourselves. It means looking in the mirror and being able to distinguish those things in our lives that are ever changing (our emotions, irrational thoughts, perceptions) and being able to see past them and focus on the unchangeable truth. This means to focus on responding to situations rather than reacting.
Feeding our egos to the point of injury or pain is not conducive to Satya. How many times do we push ourselves in life because we think we “should” be able to do something? By listening to our bodies and being aware of our breath we are able to let go of our egos and accept where we are right now in this moment. Embracing that is embracing the essence of Satya.
Truth is righteousness. Righteousness is light, and light is bliss. Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, purity, justice, harmony, forgiveness, peace are forms of truth... Truth stands even when there is no public support. Swami Sivananda, Bliss Divine
Working to become more aware of our beliefs and constructs, our perceptions and judgments (and it is work, my friends, hard work, constant work…work done in this moment and the next) will lead us closer to truth.
Expressing our desires clearly and concisely is another way we can practice Satya. For example, you have a friend and that friend hasn’t contacted you in a while. You become angry or upset. You start to make judgements and assumptions. When they come, acknowledge them. And immediately invite in the opposite of your assumptions. Maybe they are sick? Distracted? Busy? Most likely it has nothing to do with you. Now, get the heart of your emotions. Do you miss your friend? Pick up the phone, and just simply say, I miss you. Let’s get together on x day. Clear and concise, minus all the emotional constructs.
Challenging your personal judgments and negative self-talk is another way you can embrace Satya. The other day I am talking to a person looking for a job. I suggested they apply to a company I knew that was hiring. Immediately this person launches into negative self-talk and constructs built on a past experience. “They don’t want me…”, “I applied before and they didn’t hire me because…”. But if you let go of your self-limiting ideas and just “do” without judgement of yourself or the situation, the truth is you don’t know what might happen or what door may open. Just DO…and don’t tie yourself to the outcome. When we overthink our minds make up stories, they chatter on and on and take us on a wild ride. We tie ourselves to the shadows of the past when the past no longer exists. Don’t let your mind hold you in bondage. Just do, and don’t tie yourself or self-worth to the result. If you apply and get the job, great. If you don’t great.
Think about other ways you can incorporate Satya into your daily lives, your thoughts and actions, words and deeds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shadow of the Sanctified

I can trace the outline of this she-energy but can't remember who I am
I've drawn this image over and over, time and time again, 100000 times
Trying to tap into something ancient and sacred, trying to remember.
As if tracing the lines on the paper will evoke a scent or song or feeling

This shadow of the sanctified is a reminder that divinity is ingrained in the Now.
Encapsulated in this second, there is a certainty in the covenant of the now. 

The waves and wind have come and blown away this goddess shadow-self.
this hallowed shadow is transient and impermanent, like lightness and dark
But it is me who is eternal and divine

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ahimsa - Non-Violence, the First of the Yamas: Come explore them with me!


Welcome to an exploration of the Yama's and Niyama's! First, what are the Yama's and Niyama's? The Yamas and Niyamas are yoga's ethical guidelines and are foundational to all yogic philosophy and thought. They comprise the first two limbs of Patangali's eight-fold path.  

Before you begin to read, stop for a moment and think "what does Non-Violence mean to you?" Take a breath and close your eyes, what comes into your mind? There is no wrong answer. Think of something, now try to think outside the box. What else comes to mind? Post your thoughts in the comments!

The word Ahimsa comes from the Sanskrit word “hims” which means “to strike”, “himsa” means “injury” or “harm”. The word ahimsa means “not to injure”, “compassion”, “cause no injury” and “do no harm”. Ahimsa is also referred to as “non-violence”. This applies to all living creatures, including animals.

Ahimsa is an ethical precept in ancient Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. In Hindu teachings the term appears as early as the Chandoya Upanishad. The Jain Religion constitutes Ahimsa as the first vow. It is a cardinal virtue in Buddhism. In yoga, it is the first ethical principle discussed in the Yoga Sutra’s of Patangali.

An important thing to note, however, is that Ahimsa is a multi-dimensional concept. It is not only, non-violence with action. It is harmful thoughts and words, not only to others, but to yourself. But even so it is more than that, BKS Iyengar describes ahimsa as having “a wider positive meaning – love.” That means ahimsa is really about kindness and love to all beings, including ourselves. Non-violence is defined by honest compassion and loving deeply, yourself and others.

Let’s talk about Ahimsa in regards to the physical. It is easy to think about not hitting someone. But let’s delve deeper. In your personal yoga practice could be not pushing yourself far into a pose and injuring yourself physically. It could be not littering and destroying the environment. It could be not over eating, or not smoking or not drinking to excess.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”  - Lao Tzu

Ahimsa means being mindful of our words and thoughts. Things like lying, jealousy, speaking poorly others, gossiping, self-deprecating thoughts, harsh speech, unkind words, judgement, anger and resentment are all things we should be mindful of because these things make us feel bad. Even expecting too much from ourselves and taking on all the responsibility is a type of self-harm.

We can condition ourselves to replace these bad thoughts and words with good, loving words and thoughts. This actually causes dopamine to be released into the body and will literally make us happier and feel better.  Violence can also be passive like failure to relieve another’s pain or approve of another person’s harmful action is an indirect form of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the total and complete abstinence of violence from your body, mind and spirit. So how do we manifest this in daily life?

One of the most famous displays of “ahimsa” was how Gandhi used it as a political strategy. Gandhi not only adopted the idea of non-violence, he assimilated it into his very way of life. He saw that violence could be passive and physical. Gandhi objected to violence because he saw that it begat hatred.

What ways can you incorporate Ahimsa into your daily life, words and actions?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Yoga Fit For Warriors

This coming weekend, I start the path to my second Yoga Teacher Cert. This one is through Warrior Fit. 

Copied from their site (full site link above):

What you will learn:
Polyvagal theory, the significance of the vagus nerve in trauma, and the role that yoga plays in its ability to function well  
The sympathetic nervous system’s role in understanding PTSD and trauma-­related stress response
Specific psoas release exercises, breathing techniques, slower movement, guided imagery, and meditation practices designed to release trauma stored in the body
How the language we use as teachers affects our students on a neurological and cellular level
How to use YogaFit’s transformational language specifically for this population to facilitate a deeper release of stress
The book we are going to use for class is: In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter Levine
I have not yet read anything yet by him, but I have seen a few of his speeches on you-tube.

I can't wait for this class and will report back with a blog post about what I learn.

Yoga, Art, Books, Philosophy, Travel - Stop, drop, refocus

Trying to refocus myself on what I really want out of life. Working towards my 200 hour yoga teacher certification has been a lesson in discipline (one I sorely need). I have 2 weekend training sessions left and then I can register with Yoga Alliance in January 2017. I cannot tell you how excited I am that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or is it really the beginning of the tunnel? Hmmm paradox. 

Random mid blog yoga picture from a month or so ago in Indialantic. Love that area SO MUCH. I have been trying to make it to the beach for sunrise more lately and I really love it. It is so restorative and peaceful.

I want to take the time now and really refine this focus. I have increased my reading palate to encompass more (much, much more on Eastern Philosophy). It is interesting to me the dynamics of Eastern vrs Western philosophy. So different and yet so alike. I have to say it has changed my life, down to the very core of my thinking. I have learned so much, yet know so very little. It is an exciting path to walk. In the Katha Upanishads, they speak of this path.

"Get up! Wake up! Seek the guidance of an
Illumined teacher and realize the Self.
Sharp like a razor's edge is the path,
The sages say, difficult to traverse." - Katha Upanishads

One of my teachers was speaking about this. That the more you learn, you must teach. Of course there is discernment there as well. Hence, the razor's edge.

I also will begin to work towards the Warrior Fit Certification. My first class is in the next few days. It is Yoga for the Warrior with a PTSD focus. I am so fascinated by how the body remembers trauma, even when the mind fails. It is one of the most fascinating things I have ever studied. I have taken Emerson's Yoga for Trauma course, read countless books ranging from neuroscience to psychology to anatomy to healing from trauma name it. Our bodies and minds are amazing creations.

Also my focus is going to be more art focused. I need to find the discipline to work on technique even when the mood doesn't strike me.

Being consistent is so extremely difficult for me. Tapas....which I will talk more about later...

As far as travel goes, I have made a short bucket list of the things I really want to see. I am planning it and doing it, even if I go by myself. I think the first stop is going to be Iceland to see the Northern lights. You can travel very inexpensively to Iceland. I was there once for a long layover (didn't even leave the airport!) and I have always wanted to actually go back and actually see the country itself. The northern lights are a big bucket list item for me.

I also think I may go to Vancouver next year. When I see my friends pictures from there, it looks like some sort of heaven on earth. I also think I can do this fairly on the cheap.

I guess time will tell.

And of read read. With my surger(ies) coming up in October, I should have a lot of time to dedicate to reading and art. Funny I am more worried about this surgery than I was about even my brain surgery. It is so weird! But at least a Robit (aka Robot) will be doing it. I just hope that the Robit doesn't achieve self awareness in the middle of my procedure. (note: the pronunciation of ROBOT to ROBIT was something I picked up while mainlining episodes of The Twilight Zone. Ever notice how they say ROBIT?)

I also intend to use this blog more and Facebook way less, as I mentioned before. At least for "meaningful content". Afterall, most people don't really care to talk about anything other than puppy pictures and politics. (not that there is anything wrong with puppy pictures).

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ideas for paintings

A few ideas for paintings...and I have learned some cool techniques that I am dying to try lately!!

- The Giant Space Octopus holding the earth. (in work)
-I want to do a take on Ophelia. Finding any reference photos to franken-shop is impossible. I am half tempted to do a photoshoot to get the shots I want.
-something with trees and vellum
-a new take on my concept piece "the duality of woman" (which I may do a few times in a few mediums until I get what I want...

Pictures are coming...