Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If you find topiaries offensive come back tomorrow because this blog is not for you.

I've decided I don't want to send out negative stuff anymore. You know the stuff I'm talking about. When that person that drives you crazy walks by and all these bad thoughts pop into your head (Ok, maybe this is just me). Actually that's not the big problem, I think I'm worse when it comes to complete strangers. Like the lady who held us up at the grocery store for 20 minutes so she could have a price check on a topiary! Who comes to the grocery store for a topiary? Or better yet who buys topiaries??
This whole topic stems back to my truck (always with the road rage issues eh?). The door-ajar light keeps coming on even though the doors are shut. This isn't an uncommon problem with the suicide doors on this model, my sister has the same truck and the same problem. But the real issue is it's getting worse. I started thinking yesterday that it gets me all angsty how the door ajar bell rings about every 5 minutes. And then by the time I get where I'm going I'm slamming the doors half trying to fix the problem half trying to work out the irritation, but it keeps on getting worse. So I was thinking that maybe the more negative thoughts you have in your car the more bad vibrations your sending too it and the more bad stuff happens with it. Now obviously the slamming doesn't help but it started getting worse before I started slamming so I don't think I can completely blame it on that. And of course it may all be coincidence.
But then I started to branch the idea into other areas of my life. What if negative thought patterns create bad energy and make bad stuff happen. This is where everyone says I'm crazy but they've actually done studies in Japan on water crystals (This may only make you think I'm crazier, but in case you're interested:
http://www.life-enthusiast.com/twilight/research_emoto.htm )
where they take water in vials and tape bad words and good words to different vials and then they freeze the water and look at the crystals under a microscope. The water with bad words make incoherent crystal formations, but the good words water-vials make beautiful snowflakes that are intricate and perfect looking. So considering how much water is in the human body why wouldn't negative thoughts have an effect.
And even if it doesn't effect your body and stuff those negative thoughts have to have some impact on the brain pathways your neurons create. So I'm giving it my best attempt of replacing those negative thoughts with ones of compassion. Like maybe that topiary lady had obsessive compulsive disorder and if she doesn't buy a topiary every day she goes into a deep state of depression. Or maybe the guy who tries to hit me with his truck is going blind and can't see my perfectly clean (or not so much) white truck against the backdrop of the road. I do say my truck is winter camouflaged, although there isn't much snow to hide it in lately.
But this is all besides the point because I don't know what these people issues are and I guess that the point is they don't know my problems and I don't know theirs but maybe if I cut everyone else some slack they can cut me some and things will get a little easier.
At this point I just thought I'd throw the word topiary in some more because really how many opportunities do I have to throw it in a sentence. Maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Road Reflections About Getting Enlightened

I've been reading about anger today. Trying to get a handle on that emotion before it messes up my first Ahimsa practice of not thinking mean thoughts about bad drivers. That same truck tried to hit me again today and I found myself glaring at them and feeling all knotted inside and I thought, boy this is the second day I've dealt with this and both times it's left me feeling bad inside. So I decided to read a little yoga stuff to see if I could figure anger out. Here's some of the info I've gathered.
One of the articles I was reading said there's a misconception that yoga people never have negative emotions and that they just float through life on this cloud of happiness. So not true. Maybe yoga people seem a little calmer then the outside world, but that doesn't mean they don't have emotions. Swami J says that it's funny how we're so educated and cultured but it only takes one little rise of emotion to tear that all down. And that's exactly the point. For many of us our emotions are our masters. So working towards being in charge of our emotional outbursts can bring us less frustration.
For me I need to understand my emotion before I can get a hold of it. So why am I so angry at these drivers? Well my knee jerk response would be because they're idoits but I don't actually catagorically know that and I think that probably not the underlying reason. I think the main cause of my anger is the fear of being hit by another car and then the anger rises because I feel like they're not valuing my life by throwing their car at me. When I look at it that way I'm sure I do the same thing. I don't put everyone else's safety on the road before mine, it's a man hit man world. So part of the lesson here is why do I expect everyone else to think of me first when I don't put their life before my own? Of course it's a flight or fight response which creates the anger, but by letting it fill me and control my thoughts and actions I'm just doing more harm to myself because I'm creating my own life stress.
So this is the part where I try to apply yoga practice to. A common way to work through emotions is to observe them, recognize they're there and let them pass. This detached method of dealing with anger allows you too experience it without supressing it or acting on it. Of course when big things come up that make you angry it's hard not to react to them and even to feel justified acting on them. But would you ever want anyone using anger as thier motivator for how they treat you, no matter what you did wrong. I'd much rather have people use compassion as their motivator towards me. So to practice for when the big waves of emotion hit I'm going to work with the little frustrations in my life, like people riding my bumper on the Queensway or people pulling out to quick in front of me. Then maybe when I do finally get hit by a careless driver I'll have practiced enough to react out of compassion instead of anger.
LOL! Hopefully that truck will try to hit me tomorrow so I can begin my practice.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ahimsa

Sunday was a sad but happy day. We graduated from our yoga program and were set free on the world to try to share whatever we've learned with the people that pass through our lives. We've had a number of good laughs in the past 6 months and shared a lot of smiles and some tears which will hopefully continue to move us along our path even though we will not be together anymore.
When we started the program we began moving through the Yamas and the Niyamas. The Yamas are five things that it is suggested yogi's avoid and the Niyamas are 5 things that is suggested we practice. Notice how I say they are suggested. One thing that they were always adamant about in our training is that you don't have to do anything you don't want to, all practices in yoga are an option.
So the first of the Yamas is Ahimsa or non-harm and in one of our first classes we were asked to make a commitment to something related to Ahimsa for two weeks.
Now since our classes have ended I've decided to continue to devote myself to a Yama or a Niyama for 2 weeks, as this practice has had a big impact on my life.
So for the next two weeks it's Ahimsa. I think it'll be easier this time because the first time I heard it I thought I was pretty much being told to give up meat. Ahimsa is really so much more than that. It's about not causing harm to yourself or anyone or thing around you either with your thoughts, actions or words. Of course to never cause anything harm is impossible. Just by existing we kill things or take things from other creatures that may need them. And yoga is not asking us to live a life where you never harm anything but to make little changes towards causing less and less harm.
So I've actually taken on three challenges for the next two weeks.
The first one relates to my driving, which for some reason really makes me a little mean. My goal for the next two weeks when people do stupid stuff around me int their cars is not to think or say mean things about them. This has already challenged me right away this morning when a big truck tried to slide into the side of my vehicle, but I managed not to react badly. And I know some people think what does it matter, they can't hear you. But I think that's the whole point. The only thing my negative comments do are make me feel junky and angry and the person who made the mistake just drives off doing their own thing without even knowing what I said. So I'm just harming myself and making me feel worse.
My second practice is going to be to stop apologizing for things I didn't actually do. I'm notorious for saying the word sorry. And that's not to say you shouldn't apologize for things you've done wrong, but I've apologized to people who step on my foot before. I mean all I'm doing is imposing guilt on myself for things I didn't do. So that's going to be something I try to stop doing for the next 2 weeks.
My last practice is less about me and more about the people around me. I plan to smile and say hello to everyone I pass when I'm out walking or anywhere I might be. I'm well aware of how crazy this will make me look, but you have to admit sometimes when you're having a bad day it's nice to have someone smile at you. I think this will definitely be the hardest. I always feel really awkward doing things like that. I think that's my fear of coming across as nuts! I think I'll just have to work on the idea that I know I'm not nuts (I think) and the people I say hello to will deal with it.
So three challenging practices for me. I know they'll make an impact if I can manage them. Look forward to hearing about my successes and failures in the next 2 weeks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Powerful Death-Grip

I'm having an off day on the blogging thing. I had a topic that I wanted to write about, and even got out a few paragraphs on it, but ended up erasing them. I'm not sure I want to bring down your beautiful Friday with that subject and in all truth I don't feel fully into writing about it anyways. Instead I'll just write what I'm thinking.
See the thing is I got a call two weeks ago about going North for the summer for some nursing and they sent me the package with a doctor's exam to fill out and it said once they received that I would get my official offer for the position. I sent the form back to them and they should receive it today, but I don't know whether they'll get to it today or if I won't hear anything until next week.
So I called yesterday and left a message (with my new number) and told them the paperwork was in the mail and to call me when they get it, but it's kind of funny because I feel like I'm dating this job.
It's like I went on a date with it and it seemed promising and now I'm just waiting for a second call. And I know they should call me either way, but when a deal this awesome comes along it's hard not to doubt it'll work out. It's like what if they don't really like me, or what if they were just leading me on, ya total second date paranoia. So here I am trying to tell myself if it doesn't work out it'll be fine, I'll just do something else. Which I'll have to do either way because of soaring gas prices making this job unfeasible anymore.
I think my two issues here are the waiting (purgatory is my pet peeve), and related to this, my lack of control in this situation. Both are obvious attachment issues an obvious sign of my need to practice Aparigraha (non-attachment), one of the most challenging ideas in yoga for me.
Could you imagine being unattached to anything? I know it seems like a crazy idea to many people. And that's not to say we shouldn't have goals for ourselves, just that when we try our best and don't reach our goals we need to be OK with that. The strange thing is that as you learn to let go of your expectations and your death grip on life you begin to be happy. Which seems counter-intuitive because we've all been told it's our achievements that make us happy, but I know this from experience. And even though I've experienced the happiness of non-attachment there are still times when my fingers start to slowly and sneakily curl around my life again and it takes a real conscious effort to get them to release once more.
So for my weekend I will be practicing Aparigraha and choosing to be OK with what happens with this job, because whether I get this job or not I'll still be me.
As one of my favorite yoga teachers used to say- "Let go... Let go....."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pleasantly Confused

LOL- I love that term "Pleasantly confused" it's what doctor's use to describe patients that come in with a delirium but they're not pulling IV lines out of their arms or screaming profanities. The picture this always brings to my mind is a cow in a field just hanging out, no real clue what's happening but they're content so they don't go looking for more answers. We'd all probably be a little happier if we were pleasantly confused (indeed the people I know in this state are generally happier than most). It's human nature to look for answers to all our problems and let's face it there aren't always answers, sometimes your choices have to be made without any solid evidence that one choice is better than another and sometimes all the information in the world won't make your choice any easier or more pleasant to make.
In yoga they teach that once you start existing in your Atman (Your true self) the right choice for you will become more apparent. This of course takes a lot of practice to clear away all the diversions of the ego that come in between you and your decisions in life.
I know I'm feeling that issue right now with my second job. I recently took on an evening job three nights a week helping a Parkinson's client get ready for bed. Which you think wouldn't take that long, but this actually manages to drag out into a 3 hour or longer experience. By the time I get home at 1AM I get to sleep for 6 hours (If I can fall asleep, I'm usually wired by then) and get up and go to my day job and repeat the cycle again. This is all well and good except for when something disrupts the cycle, like I get a bout of insomnia or end up with a cold or something. Then I can't seem to stretch myself any thinner and my brain gets wonky and I start feeling all kinds of emotions I can't clear out because my heads too fuzzy to function.
So as I was holding my patient's arm while he transferred himself from bed to chair last night (A half hour journey, no joke) I started thinking about the futility of it all and decided it was time to give my two weeks notice. I'm still sure about it this morning which is a good sign but I worry I'm just giving up because I don't enjoy the emotional turmoil of the job.
So I'm working on thinking like a cow (most Westerners would find this insulting, but cows are sacred in the East), and not let my emotions force me to dig to deeply into whether I should do this or not. I mean all the facts in the world won't tell me whether I should stay or not so dissecting myself mentally will only give me more stuff to watch rolling around in my head. Instead I'm going with the fact that when I don't let my thoughts get all stirred up, when I'm feeling calm and unemotional I still know it's what I should do. And maybe I don't have a good reason to stay or to quit but in this pleasantly confused state it has a true ring to it. Wish me luck! Moo...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yoga Blush

Some days I like Wednesdays, some days not so much. There's nothing wrong with this Wednesday in particular, I just think it needs a little oomph...
So I went out yesterday for my first lunch yoga practice of the year. That's one of the awesome things about this weather. Suddenly I don't have to spend my lunch break crammed in at my desk, which always made me feel like I didn't even get a lunch. Instead I get to walk out to the field behind the hospital and roll out my mat for a bit of yoga flow in the warm sunshine.
No matter how much I love doing yoga outside I could see how this might not be everyone's idea of a good time. I mean you roll out your mat, hopefully avoiding any dog doodoo and then all the ants in the area like to join you in your practice. And when they say it's a sticky mat they mean everything sticks to it, including all the creepy crawlies preventing you moving into Cobra Pose.
But I think most people could ignore these little inconveniences for the sake of their workout, the hard part is ignoring the people looking at you, it really takes your attention away from the moment, if you let it.
People always laugh when I say I'm shy and I guess compared to the average person I'm not, but that doesn't mean I don't have my reservations about what people must be thinking of me as I bend myself into pretzel poses in the middle of the lawn. Someone walked by with their dog the other day and my first thought was to come back out of my headstand and try to act normal. I think I might have been a little to late for that though. That's the funny thing about shyness. It's a bit of a knee jerk reaction at times. You see someone looking at you funny and you decide for yourself all the things they must be thinking. And how realistic is that? I mean that person walking by with their dog could have been thinking a million different things, all completely unrelated to me, or maybe they were thinking I look nutty, but I'll never know one way or the other. So instead my ego decides for me. So where I could just be fully enjoying my practice I let little doubts and reservations get in the way and I pretend they're the thoughts other people are having about me, but they're really the thoughts I'm having about me. And maybe I should look at those thought and question why I think those things about myself.
We're often our own toughest critic, much harder then we would be on anyone else we loved.
So I kept doing my headstand and by the time I came down the dog walker was gone. A brief appearance in the story of my life. I hope he was thinking he needs to get home and get on his yoga mat...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring in Your Step

Another gorgeous day! The breeze is soft, the sun is warm and mellow. I hope I wake up on every day that's like this and appreciate it. I took advantage of the fantastic weather yesterday and headed out to Mckensie Pond near Saranac Lake for some bouldering (climbing without ropes). It was the perfect temperature there and the rocks were dry and warm. It was a really good opportunity to practice being present. There I was sitting on my crash pad with my hands in front of me on the rock, getting ready to pull myself up, and for a moment I really noticed my hands. They were right in front of me so I took a minute just to focus on them. Such simple but complex things, 10 digits made of 3 parts which lead down to hands which are a mish-mash of delicate bones and tendons. There actually isn't a ton of muscle in your hands, most of the muscles that contract your fingers reside in your forearms. And the more I focused on my hands and how I was about to use them to lift most of my body weight off the ground the more present I became. It's such a wonderful, peaceful experience when I can do that.
But I have to admit I had the advantage, being out in the middle of the woods with no distractions. It's harder to have these moments in the office (like today) when no matter how present you want to be you have a pile of files you need to work on for the future and faxes rolling in quickly and a phone that likes to ring. So accepting that staying present in the real world is a challenge I thought I'd write up a little bit about walking meditation. This is a great practice for the beautiful weather we're having and it's not nearly as fidgit inspiring as sitting meditation so I'll give you the run down on it:
Walking meditation begins with standing still for a moment with your eyes closed and moving your attention into your body. First notice how your feet are connecting to the ground and the little movements your body is making to keep you standing upright. Really try to notice how the soles of your feet feel and how the rest of each foot feels too with their socks and their shoes around them. When you're ready open your eyes and set your gaze (that means looking with out intensity) 2 meters ahead of you. When you are ready you can begin walking. Your focus only returns to your sight when you need to move around something or stop for something. The rest of you time your focus stays in your feet. There are all kinds of different things you can focus on here: The feeling of your foot as it rolls from back to front. The different pressures on different parts of your feet. The tightening and releasing of muscles in your feet as you move. Try to keep the foot relaxed, not tense as you move forward. There's nothing you need to change about your stride, or the style of walk you have. Every time you start thinking about something other than your feet return back to your foot and explore all the interesting sensations there.

And that's it, you're practicing walking meditation. Even if you only do it for 5 minutes out of your whole walk you're still going to get some benefits. A calmer mind. A greater appreciation of the moment you are in. Less stress.
This beautiful weather and the opportunity to walk are tools we can use to our advantage, why not use them?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Shootin' for Monkey Bums

So here's an interesting one for you off the Spoon myspace site, "Higher the monkey climb, the more he expose."
That means a couple different things to me but I'll let you figure out what it means to you.

I had an awesomely busy and fun weekend and it looks like I have a bit more to come before I buckle down and get to work. The funny thing is I had all these ideas of exactly how my weekend was going to go and then plans kept changing and nothing went how I originally thought it would, but I still had an awesome time. Of course it's really tempting to focus on the fact that I had to keep changing plans. And I've definitely done that to myself in the past. I feel weird if I'm not busy, so I get a little panicky when plans fall apart. So if I make a bunch of plans and then they all get cancelled it can put me in a bad mood. Yet, I'm always saying I wish I had time to do this or that, but when this free time suddenly appears instead of using it I focus on the fact that the free time shouldn't be there because I didn't plan it there. I know that's just my ego's never ending need to be in control.
I have to keep reminding myself that nothing is static or permanent in life. But as humans we're always trying to make things solid. We're building houses to bring us stability and careers that should have a clear expected course and we get ourselves into relationships that seem dependable and predictable. Then just to prove the fact that nothing's permanent a storm blows the roof off your house, you lose your job and you make up and break up with whoever you're with a million times. Nothing's permanent except for the part of you that has always been and will always be (your Atman). It's like we're trying to build our lives in the middle of river and just when we think we've got a solid foundation all set out something tugs us loose again and we get all irritated at life. But we're the ones trying to make a solid surface in white waters (and by we I mean me). I think it's a hard thing to learn though and very much a part of our animal natures to want a safe place in life. Just like monkeys who climb trees to get away from danger.
Just some food for thought on this late night.

I hope everybody had a chance to look out at that amazing moon as it was rising tonight. And if you're reading this on Monday I'll be wishing you a glorious Monday full of happiness and all good things unMondayish.
Shanti!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy 21st!!!!

Ok, so a little break from the yoga lessons, but they'll continue next week.
It's my sister's Birthday!!!!
Happy Birthday Kait!
Wew! Just had to get that out of my system. I'm super excited cause Kait's coming up and we're hanging out this weekend. Doing a little rock-climbing, a little dancing, some dinner and who knows what else!
So instead of talking about specific yoga lessons I thought I'd leave you guys with some of my thoughts for the weekend. I hope everyone is doing something with this beautiful weather.

Thoughts:

Quote of the day- a Live 88.5 special: "We're going to look like fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance."
Doesn't that just sum up the importance of doing what we want in life?

Poem of the day- courtesy of Mom's email:
SLOW DANCE
Have you ever watched kids on a merry- go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down. Don't dance so fast.Time is short, the music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask how are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done do you lie in your bed
with the next hundred chores running through your head?
You'd better slow down don't dance so fast.
Time is short.The music won't last.
Ever told your child,We'll do it tomorrow?And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die cause you never had time to call and say,'Hi'
You'd better slow down. Don't dance so fast. Time is short, the music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere you miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.
Life is not a race, do take it slower
Hear the music before the song is over.

Words of the Day: Shanti and Shakti, that means peace and power. Peace of mind to help you make clear decisions and the power to turn your choices into action.

Lesson of the day: Take care of yourself. I made the mistake of only getting two hours of sleep the other night and I can tell you my body isn't thanking me. I think some of us take better care of our cars then ourselves. And some of us have cars that are falling apart like our bodies. LOL!
Which reminds me, it's an oil change week.

As I sit here with the doors and windows open enjoying this beautiful weather I'm thinking of all of you and hoping you get a chance to feel the warm breeze on your faces and smile a little.
Lots of Love.
Jayna.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yaksha and your split personality

I was discussing with a friend yesterday the topic of finding yourself and in retrospect realized this is such a common thing for people to be doing. I don't know how many times I've heard myself say if I can just figure things out I can get my life on track. I guess there's some people out there who feel like they're completely in the right place but for a lot of us I think we struggle with feeling a little lost and a little lonely and mostly confused as to what the heck we're supposed to be doing.
And I know people who say they just have to "take time and figure out who they are" (I'm sure I've said that too) but when you consider that statement it's such a bizarre plan. Like when we "take time" to figure ourselves out we don't go into some cave and meditate, or go on a vision quest. We usually just change a few things around and hope we'll suddenly feel like our perfect selves. Like if you "take time" you'll just wake up one day and realize exactly what you are supposed to be doing and it will all fall into place. I think the bad news is that even people who have a pretty good idea what they're doing with their lives still have doubt and bad days and feelings of emptiness. So why are we all looking for this ultimate change that will make us complete?
I've often questioned whether people can change, certainly it feels like somethings alter in people's lives and other things never change no matter how much you want them to. In yoga they explain a clear divide. At our centre we have the Atman. Yoga explains the Atman as the part of you that is constant, it's there with you from birth and is a steady source of yourself. Unfortunately much of our lives are filtered through our ego (A collection of impressions, ideas and biases gained throughout your lives to create who we think we are). I could see this as true for myself because when I sit still and just get present I'm me. There's no question about it, I feel like the same person who's always been here and I feel strong and confident in who that person is. But then my ego starts piping up, "What about those things you did wrong?" or "What about all those things you still have to do in your life?" and then I start second guessing myself. Maybe I'm not me, maybe I won't be me unless I walk on the moon or cure cancer. So then I ground myself and get present again, telling my ego to shut it, oops and there I am again, still me. No changes.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is you are you, full and complete, even with all your little weaknesses and great strengths. And whether you find your purpose in life or not you will still be you, still with your same strengths and weaknesses. So part of being happy is just accepting that there is nowhere in life you have to be. You're already here and no amount of searching's going to find anyone different.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

If a crazy person runs around naked in the forest and no one is there to see them do they make a sound?

I was going to call this entry "Keeping it Real", but the other title just seems more attention grabbing. I was reading this book on Prana (Life-force energy) yesterday and really getting into it. It was going on about how the magnetic fields in the body line up with your electric fields and how the main energy channels, your shushumna, Ida and Pingala run up your centre in a sort of spiral design which makes me think of a double helix. And when I finished a chapter I was like, "OMG, that's so cool I have to go tell someone!" At which point I stopped, put it in reverse, reviewed that statement and realized who would I tell that wouldn't find me crazy (Besides other yoga people and they probably already know this stuff).
This has been an ongoing challenge for me and my yoga teaching. I mean when you think about it some form of yoga has been practiced since at least 3000BC. That's older than most world religions. So there's got to be something to this stuff. But I still worry when I start talking about energy channels or breath control that people will get creeped out and turned off yoga. And I don't blame them. I mean before I started this teacher training I would have scoffed at the whole strangeness of it too. I think the important thing I have to point out is that yoga is not a religion, it's a personal practice and they say all through their teachings that if you don't believe what they're saying then try it and see and if it's not true for you that's ok. So at least there's that certain level of freedom. But I still see why devote yogis could be seen as nutty.
Here's one of my experiences with yoga nutty. We do this thing in yoga called one nostril breathing. It's where you plug one nostril and breathe out and in on one side then switch nostrils and do the same on the other side, alternating back and forth. This breath technique is supposed to help calm you and I've also heard it helps oxygenate the opposite hemispheres of the brain. Well when they said that my heels dug in "What? That doesn't make any sense, if breathing through one nostril oxygenates one side of the brain then why not do both at the same time?" So I struggled with that for a while. Plus I hate one nostril breathing cause my one nostril is always plugged. So after letting that put me off the practice for a couple months I asked Jamine, this awesome yoga teacher at Rama Lotus and she said to think about how when you fog a mirror one side fogs up way more then the other because your nostrils are not used equally. By using the technique you improve intake in both nostrils (kind of like how covering your strong eye when you have a lazy eye helps improve the lazy eye's strength), and therefore improve overall oxygen intake. I was like "Oh!" see that makes sense. And it is calming (If you don't have a plugged nose).
So when I move forward with my teaching I'm planning on working towards finding ways to explain yoga practices that aren't too 'woohoo' because it may be something I believe in but if it scares people off yoga then I'm not doing my job. And who knows, maybe if I give people enough time they might not think the full explanations of some practices are crazy. But in the meantime if I start to sound like I'm drinking the purple Kool-aid please feel free to ask me for an explanation based in your reality. I'd enjoy the challenge.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hey, where'd my breath go?

So I'm not going to lie to you. I've been feeling a little off center these past few days. I was working on my exam all last week, yoga all weekend, and then went out Sunday night, worked until 1AM last night and am not going to be home for an evening again until next Thursday. So my brains a bit fuzzy, plus I have some changes happening in my life and all it amounts to for me is I find myself focusing too much on the past and the future.
I find when I'm a little burned out it's easy for me to get in the habit of floating around in the future or lamenting about the past. I like imagining I know how things will go and what I'll say when I get there or sometimes I think about what I would have done differently in the past (although not as much, some people like to hang in the past, I'm definitely a future dweller- which isn't any better). So there I find myself just bumping around in these made up realities and it totally ungrounds me because there's only one place you can ground yourself and that's right now.
So I have to get back to now. One of the easiest ways to do that is focus on my breath. It's a trick they use in meditation to make yourself present, but it's neat cause it works just as well anytime you want to use it. One of our teachers says the breath is a great tool for staying present because you always have it with you.
Try it next time you notice yourself racing this way or another. When I'm walking down the hall I'll notice my breath and the next thing I know I'm moving slower and I can actually notice the world around me. Or I'll be driving and I'll notice my breath and then I'm driving a little slower and I'm noticing cool stuff happening, like the wild turkeys in the fields or the crazy driver swerving around in front of me. I guess there's always the fear that if we all slow down we'll be late, but if you drove 110km/hr instead of 100km/hr and you're driving half an hour to work you'd only lose 5 minutes. And the real funny thing is that when you rush around and don't stay present you're even more likely to be late because you forgot something and had to go back and get it or you got the details mixed up. Plus when you're present it doesn't feel like the whole day ran away from you, it feels like you experienced every minute of it so you have more time.
It's a really neat test of discipline too to notice your breath because it only takes a few seconds to forget it's there, it's so quiet and undemanding.
Maybe just start with 5 minutes, if you're at your desk or watching TV just stop what you're doing and breathe. It's amazing all the things you miss when you are not here.
So next time you're stressing about what's coming your way or worried about some past mistakes ask yourself "Hey, where'd my breath go?!"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Staying Shiny

Second last weekend of teacher training is done. We had an awesome time (it's so sad it's coming to a close) we did partner yoga and fell all over the place and meditated and talked about a very challenging subject, staying fresh as a yoga teacher. This is the one that makes me nervous. See on yoga teacher weekends we're in a group, sitting on the floor talking non-stop yoga or doing poses or mantra for something like 16 hours (Yes, I know that sounds a bit nutty). And then the weekend's over and your just feel, well, blissed out, at peace, shiny... Pretty amazing! And you take that with you into the world for the next two weeks between classes. Slowly the shiny wears off a little cause someone cuts you off in line or the bus is late or you accidentally burn dinner and these aren't reasons to be less at peace, but we're all still learning so to maintain that inner balance is a challenge. So then we go back to class for a recharge, but I worry about my ability to get back to that place of balance once the training stops. It's a bit scary. So I'm planning to set aside a chunk of hours every couple weekends to just focus on my yoga and hopefully get back to that place. Time seems so lacking and I think that's a challenge we all face, but I just have to remember that when I'm balanced things in my life flow a lot easier.
Now I've got my sister coming down for her Birthday next weekend and just the thought of getting to see her makes me even shinier. If only I knew what to get her for a present...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Meditate or Fug-ed-a-boud-id.

Yesterday was my first day not meditating in ummm, ya a really long time. Which is really not a very good thing. I know lots of you are thinking "So what?" but I thought because meditation's kind of a complicated (yet so simple) thing I'd shed some light on it.
So lots of people think of meditation as this thing where you close your eyes, relax and picture yourself in a big field or on a beach. And I agree that this has some of the benefits of yoga meditation but I think this is only so beneficial, it has its limits. I'll explain.
The classic reason to meditate is to clear the mind (The chitta in the vrittis). When you think about it- all day you are thinking about the past and the future, back and forth, back and forth, until your mind is completely wound up. There is very little time when your mind sits still in the present. So we meditate to clear the mind and just be here.
They say meditation is a daily practice and I like to equate it with cleaning the gunk out of your eyes more than anything. When you wash your face you clear away all the little pieces of stuff that aren't supposed to be there anymore. Think about if you never did this for your eyes. It would get harder to see, you might get an eye infection and it would get harder and harder to open your eyes. Meditation works the same way. We go through our day collecting stuff that isn't really supposed to be a part of us and when we meditate we help separate what's ours from what's not. So that's why I'm wishing I had meditated yesterday, I wouldn't go more than 24hrs without cleaning the gunk out of my eyes. Yep, no one said all analogies had to be pretty.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sobriety

So I just got some news that might end up being awesome, about a Northern Nursing contract, but I can't be sure yet, so I'm just breathing and keeping a level head. But it ends up being a good lead in to my most recent favorite quote.
This one was given to me by the morning guys for Live 88.5 but it's actually a Hemingway quote-
"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk."

It's funny that I like this quote so much because I don't actually drink but it means a lot to me because when people get drunk they really are more likely to do the things they want to do like dance all over the place or go talk to that cute girl across the room. The point is we have a lot of deep desires that when we're sober we let our egos (ego meaning your constructed personality not your belief that you're awesome) tell us we can't become or do the things we want to do.
Sometimes when we really want to do something and someone suggests we follow that dream we feel irritated or silly about the idea. Remember- whenever you feel uncomfortable it's important to ask yourself why. Is it because the suggestion is really a bad one? Or is it something else?
That's why I've made a promise to myself to start doing those things that I hear myself say I can't or I don't want to. Like this month I'm going to give blood (First time ever, and I'm a nurse?!). In the past I've always said I don't want to do it and made a million excuses as to why I shouldn't but the suggestion of me giving blood always irritated me. And the truth is I do want to do it, I think there's so many people out there who need people to donate, I'm just scared. So on April 16th I'm going to tighten my boot straps, grab some garlic to ward off nearby vampires and let them take it. Wish me luck!
So next time you feel irritated at someone's suggestion consider whether you might actually want to do it, and if you do then do it. It doesn't have to be a huge thing, it could be as simple as dancing all over the place, sober. LOL! Go for it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Only a few weeks from graduating...

Well, we started on this yoga teacher training last November and I'll be honest and say I didn't imagine this much change. The funny part is I just imagined being able to touch my toes easier and I haven't actually gained a ton of flexibility because I was pretty stretchy to start with. But my mind sure gained some flexibility. I can feel all my thoughts flowing a little easier.
In the beginning of our course the changes were slow. I would come and sit on my yoga mat for the weekend listening to our teacher and my foot would tap the whole time (I'm full of adrenalin) and my brain would take flight like a dragonfly from one part of my life to another, but the changes were trying to come, I could feel them. It was kind of like when you're in a deep sleep and your cat puts his paw on your nose (as mine tends to do) and you can feel yourself being pulled out. That was how the changes felt for me, slow and sluggish at first but then as I started to wake up my mind became clear and focus.
It started with Ahimsa (the yoga practice of non-harm) we were supposed to choose something to do for two weeks for our practice of Ahimsa and the teacher suggested not eating meat. Well I balked at the suggestion. Grrr. How dare he tell me what to eat. (The funny part is I don't eat meat hardly ever anyhow). Then the next class was Satya (The yoga practice of truth telling). Again I felt pushed, why are these people trying to change me. So my mind continued to fly around ignoring the teachings being handed to me, but somewhere, some part of me was listening. And quietly it began to whisper that maybe the changes suggested bothered me so much because I knew I needed to make them.
Half way through the course I consciously decided to begin practicing Ahimsa and Satya. This lead to a lot of changes. A split from the relationship I was in, moving out on my own, seriously moving towards a new job while learning to love the job I have (a miracle in and of itself).
Now we're almost at the end of the course and I hope to continue forward on my path to enlightenment. I still have more changes to come, they will be easier as my mind has become more still although I am still training it to quiet down and stop wrestling with the world around it, instead taking the changes coming and working with them. So much work to do, let's see how I go...