Working In

Working In

Everyone talks working out.

Gyms and classes

Bikes and stair masters 

Shaking and toning 

Beautiful asses.

Push-ups and pull-ups

Crunches and core

Machines and mats and weights galore.

Or perhaps it's a run or a swim

Losing that flab

Making us thin.

Sweating and grunting

Strengthening and fat hunting.

 

But what about working in?

Where do we start?

How do we begin?

Do we dump out the mind with meditation?

Swirling thoughts and ideas 

Smeared across our consciousness screen.

How do we make that trim and lean?

Perhaps we follow the breath,

Into the belly and up to the chest?

Exhale long and slow

Will that help?

What sort of results will show?

 

So, what about our heart and emotions

All that internal commotion?

Happy and sad

Joyful and mad

Crappy and glad?

What do we do to unglue

From the yucky, icky, feeling brew?

What sort of therapy will help me find

Peace and tranquility 

Calm and serenity

Harmony and equanimity?

 

What about our intuition?

Does our instinct really have a solution?

How do we know?

How does it show?

Is it a sensation or feeling that has its place?

Indicating a trail or a trace

A course of action?

Is it an impulsive reaction 

In our gut or center mass?

How strong is it?

And how long does it last?

 

This working in can be tough as can be

Especially because the muscles, we can't see.

If we could even call them that.

May have to invent a new way 

To bring about change that stays.

A new language or code 

In with the new, out with the old.

This exploration is only for the strong and bold

And keen and crazy 

And slow and lazy

And anywhere in between 

I mean 

It's the inner areas that we can choose to seek,

Ok, let's go in 

And take a peek.

Get Your Head Out of Your Asana

Get Your Head Out of Your Asana

I read a quote recently about yoga and it goes something like this: yoga is not about getting your head to touch your ass, it’s about getting your head out of it (credit to the human, who's name I do not know, that delivered these words).  Boom!  Love it.  For all of us yogis out there, that’s a good one.

As a practitioner for over a decade and a half, I wasn’t always into breathing, meditation, and the personal ooey-gooey stuff.  I started practicing in college because I had a crush on a yoga gal.  Once I stepped foot in class, all my mental and emotional stuff started coming up.  I was completely intimidated by the bendy women.  I was embarrassed because I couldn’t do a lot of the movements, had a hard time focusing and the breath, forget about it — I mean, ujjai (victorious breath) was more like Darth Vadar restricted my airhole. 

It was not just physically challenging though, my insecurities around attraction and rejection related to women surfaced.  I was 15 again and being turned down for a high school dance came up.  My embarrassment around even talking to someone whom I thought was cute reappeared.  My anxiety in regards to social acceptance and my appearance came into view with the volume turned up.

Instead of being excited about landing in a place filled with women in tight clothing, like a typical college guy, I sunk into shyness and fear.  I would get to class 20 minutes early and place my mat in the back of the room.  Then I would hide in the bathroom, until the exact class time and slink into the room next to the exit.  As soon as class was over, I would rush to put my mat back, avoid eye contact and speed out without talking to anyone.

Despite my emotional discomfort, I returned to class because my body felt great.  My energy levels improved, sleeping habits got better and I was thinking more clearly; the emotional instability, the tenderness, the vulnerability — I was a wreck.  My neuroses and insecurities, my particularities and pecularness, my dysfunctions and imbalances surfaced.  It wasn’t just around women, it was now seeping into every aspect of my life. 

Was I smart enough?  Was I strong enough?  Was I good enough?  Despite all the positive affirmations my teacher offered in class, I was feeling unglued and anything other than unified.

The process of removing my head from my ass had begun and I had no idea.  Looking back on it, I realize what was happening — yoga was, my de-assing was, purging was, shedding my untruth was.  My witness consciousness was pushing out some of my crap so it could be seen, heard and ultimately integrated.

The yoga practice brings these issues to the surface because the space I was in was safe.  When non judgment and compassion are present and a deep sense of respect offered, I was allowed to let parts of myself hang out.  Emotionally I was in an environment that allowed me to go to unsafe places.  Not all yoga classes can create such a container, but many do.  Along with the emotional security, the physical practice teases out what is stored in our organism.  “The issues are in the tissues,” is a common line and they certainly pop out when doing hip openers, backbends or anything that pushes boundaries.  The physical practice on its own is enough to surface stored emotions and past traumas.

Just by showing up to class I needed to confront my issues around women and my physical abilities.   After class, I had more strength and stamina to face my day and the other mental/emotional musings that popped up.  Breathing deeply became a bedrock during tough times.

Ten plus years later and the idea of “process” came into view.  Yoga isn’t always about feeling great or even good.  It’s not always about bringing things into order.  It’s not always about love, light, positivity, unicorns and rainbows.  Sometimes the rainbows are brown, the unicorns are stabled, negativity emerges and darkness surrounds. 

The practice bores a hole, like a drill, and all our stuff rattles off and ripples out.  This shedding of story, emotion, thought, and yuck-yuck can get quite sticky, crunchy and even uncomfortable.  Warning: Possible Discomfort.  No worries, it is all part of the process.  If some or all of this is happening, don’t worry, it means the medicine is working.

To me, this is the sauce, the juice, the guts of our practice.  Yoga puts a spotlight on the areas of our person where we need to work and it isn’t just the gluts.  It invokes, engages and inflames our parts.  This is the process, and it sure seems like it continually works us while we journey this path.  Regardless of age, gender, race, or affiliation, yoga offers up an equal amount of ass whooping across the board. 

As yogis we can challenge ourselves to go further, we can challenge ourselves to dig, we can challenge ourselves to grow by letting parts of ourself die, shrink and wither away.  By accepting the invitation toward transformation, we have the opportunity to step fully into the process — to engage intimately with all our parts.  Not necessarily to purge the ego or karma (Sanskrit term for one’s actions, in this and previous states of existence, that can determine our reality/destiny) but to partner with it, engage with it, to go deeper into relationship with it.  Inviting in our shadow parts so we can ally with them is to be paramount for a fully expressed human experience.

So, the getting “head out of ass” can be a bit awkward and smelly — but it’s worth it.  In the meantime, we might achieve a great butt and get our head to it.  Wouldn’t that be ironic?!

Ahhh, the multi-dimensional human experience — why not turn up the volume with yoga.

 At the end of the day, “showing up” for ourself by stepping into our vulnerability is courageous, cool and attractive. 


10 Commandments - For A Deeply Fulfilled Life

10 Commandments - For A Deeply Fulfilled Life

Ten Commandments, 
i.e. strong suggestions, insightful invitations, righteous recommendations,
gentle guidance, purposeful propositions, astute ideas, knowledgeable notions:

 

1) Laugh, hearty and often.

2) Smile, lots.

3) Love, self and others.

4) Express gratitude daily.

5) Learn to forgive authentically.

6) Learn to apologize genuinely.

7) Co-create joy, peace and harmony in the world.

8) Steward nature.

9) Embrace spirit, whatever that means to you.

10) Strive for fulfillment on all levels.

Accomplishment Lists

Accomplishment Lists

Have you patted yourself on the back today for all the things you have accomplished?  Or have you shamed yourself for not doing enough?  

All too often we focus on what we have not completed as opposed to what we have achieved.  Why do we do that?  I tend to push the bar of accomplishment further away, never really giving myself time to enjoy the success.  Bigger goals, more to do and higher achievements impair the brain and put us at a disadvantage down the line.   And I thought I was actualizing by staying organized with my “to do lists.”

Shawn Anchor, positive psychologist (http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work) discusses how “continually raising the bar on achievement is scientifically broken and backwards,” because “if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there.”   This means that, “we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon.”  It’s like catching the carrot, but then immediately putting it back on the stick.  What we need to do is start from a place of positivity and success.  In other words, being positive in the moment.  Anchor calls this the “happiness advantage.” 

The happiness advantage — doesn’t that just sound cool — increases intelligence, creativity and energy levels.  By finding a way to be positive in the present moment, dopamine is released in the brain providing happy and even euphoric feelings.  Dopamine also functions to turn on the learning centers in the brain, making us more attuned to success and ingenuity.   So, we get to feel good and be smarter at the same time — that’s f*cking awesome.

How does all this relate to making lists? 

Sitting with a dear friend of mine Brian many months back, we were having a heart-to-heart, laughed filled conversation in which he encouraged me to look at all my successes from the past week.  His query was, of course, directed at my usual course of action, which was to discuss the things that I had not yet completed.  

He asked me if I made lists.  At times I do and other times, not so much.  He encouraged the use of lists as a way to feel good about the things achieved during the day, week or month.  His concept was a reverse list — what I like to call an Accomplishment List.  Anchor would love this idea.  Crafting a list, mental or physical, with all the things we have completed puts us into the “happiness advantage” zone.   In alignment with Anchor, Brian had found a way to get himself on the success train.

I really dig on this idea.

Even though Accomplishment Lists were something relatively new to me, I quickly realized that it was a great way to pump myself up.  Now, at the end of every day I write down what I have accomplished.  Even if it is something small like writing an email, cooking meals or sweeping my room, it feels good.  There is always something.  It only takes about five minutes and allows me to hit the sack feeling great about myself.  I also add three things that I am grateful for.  Studies have shown that people who write down what they are grateful for are more productive and happier.  Pretty sweet, right?  Also, handwriting, rather than typing or just thinking, stimulates the brain far more effectively.

My happiness advantage is set and now I can tackle that “to do” list stuff.   Oh wait! A “to do,” list… How is that affecting my brain?  Having a “to do” list always present puts us at a disadvantage because it is a constant reminder of what isn’t complete in our lives.  Over time, that can drain our self-esteem, energy and even stress us out.  Sometimes things to get did, do need to be written down though... Hmmmm?  

Clearly, languaging is important.  So, instead of a “to do” list, I make “to be” lists.  It is something that can sit and be unfinished if necessary.   It is allowed to be — makes me feel as clever as Shakespeare.  This mentality allows fluidity and flexibility with the stuff we want to accomplish.  It is allowed the time and place to choose us.  We’ll be inspired to do something.  We’ll feel it out.  Then, bam!  It essentially does itself.  And, since it’s written done, a success in and of itself, you bet that’s going on my Accomplishment List.  

I’ve been doing this about a month now and it feels great.  I feel like a winner because I am (accomplished & being).  I’m proud of myself everyday and enjoy the relationship I have with my work.  Interesting. 

Check it out and let me know what you think. 

 

The Goldilocks Principles

The Goldilocks Principles

There is so much wisdom in children’s stories.  Perhaps they’re not really for kids, but aimed at adults.  Sometimes it takes a re-visitation of these charming tales to find some gems we may have missed the first time around.  

 Just look at Goldilocks.  There is a basic principle rooted in that tale that is quite applicable to daily life.  It’s the idea of “too much, not enough, just right.”  It may be an inexact science, but it is quite a useful tool for navigating life.

 Too much of something even if it’s a “good” thing may not be such a good thing after all.  Not enough of something can be unsatisfying or insufficient.  It’s a balance and a harmony that we must find within this inquiry, this life experiment.  The Goldilocks Principle is layered indeed, so let’s break it down.

 It implies a willingness to try, to embrace the mystery, to venture outside of your comfort zone.  Goldi has some courage in that department.  This courage allows her to fully participate in the game of life.  Unpredictable and unknown, she gives it a try.  Kudos to her!

 After trying something, it reveals preferences, i.e. what we like and what we don’t. What is right for us in the moment.  What we want in our life and what we don’t.  This doesn’t just have to be porridge, it could be a relationship or job.  We give it a go with all that courage and see if it works out.  We take what we like and leave the too hot, too cold behind.

 She also has a quiet inner strength to speak up.  She doesn’t just swallow things whole or sleep uncomfortably.  Goldi is confident when using her voice — speaking her truth.  Her power lies in her sovereignty and her expression of it.  Something deep inside recognizes that having a voice is important to create the life she wants — even if it means saying "no."

 Her actions embrace the freedom to say “no.”  By accessing this choice it allows her to offer a more genuine “yes.”  Isn’t that great?  An authentic, heart filled expression that carries true meaning.  By allowing ourselves this same freedom we can engage more fully and truly experience choice.  For many years, I said "yes" to things that I really wanted to say "no" to.  For those of us "yes" people out there, there is always a hidden "no" just on the other side.  Oftentimes that "no" could be aimed at ourself.

Goldi has a certain amount of “trust” in and for her experience (especially when it comes to bears).  Trusting that she will not only be supported, but get what she wants.  Trusting in that we don’t have to know exactly what it is we want right away.  All we have to do is try and go from there.  Lastly, she trusts in herself, in her own inner wisdom to make the decisions that she deems fit.  She, in essence, is her own guide.  She is carving her own path based on what she knows inside of herself.  And that's pretty cool.

 Those are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom we can learn from this tale.  We won’t get to the places we want to go without testing, trying, speaking up and trusting.  Oh yeah, there is a bit of a risk factor involved in all that too.

When it comes to: too much, not enough, just enough, that’s the game.  With our physical practices — are we moving just enough?  With our emotional practice — are we caring for ourselves enough?  With our mental practice —are we de-stressing enough?  With our spiritual practice — are we in it enough?  And the list goes on.

 So, if you need a teaching, find a kid, pick up practically any story and entertain a child while educating yourself. 

The moral of this story is to have fun, enjoy the journey and make it a bit Goldi.

 

 

 

Truth

Truth

Truth dispels all myth,
All religiosity,
All indoctrinal practices.

Truth shreds and dices,
Distills into just the sweet, sweet essence:
Pure flowing God-juice

Truth is written down
                                                                                                                    Truth is spoken
                                                                                                        Truth is a picture show
                                                                                                                                     Read.
                                                                                                                                    Listen.
                                                                                                                                     Look.

The honest truth is
                 in laughter and tears.
The gospel truth is
                 in skid marks.
The naked truth is
                in a bowl of fruit.

Truth codifies and collects,
Unifies
And creates cohesion
With all its parts.

Hypocrisies of untruth are revealed when there is light.

God never runs from truth,
She is truth.
God never brags of the truth,
He humbly tells it to us.
God never rubs it in our face, when we don't get it,
It merely defrosts our foggy perception.

Truth can be so strong, clear and big that we can't handle it.

Whether we like it or not,
Whether we know it or not,
Whether we're ready for it or not.

Maybe, we can handle it (!) –  
Then we dispense
And delight
In it. 

Truth can be so small, hidden and obscure that we can't find it,
Yet, truth is truth, and it's everywhere:

                                                            Tradition,
Religion,
Old person,
Young person,
Plant,
Animal,
Plastic bottle
Toilet seat.

Look, it’s all around, it’s ubiquitous:
TV commercial,
Lipstick container,
Bicycle tire,
Gallon of gasoline,
Street sign,
Artificial sweetner,
Can of silly string,
Popsicle stick.

Can you see it?  
Can you discern what is truth? 
Can you avoid the falsehood?  
                             It's right in front of your face.

 

Some spout the truth like fountains of grace and wisdom,  
Others blurt and blast it like a fire hydrant. 
Let’s wet our whistle. 
Sip, slurp, gulp and guzzle.
Some lead by integral example.
Others lead by examples that we do not want to follow.

 

Truth has traveled miles, thousands and millions and billions of miles,
Yet it has never moved
To reveal to you its unflinching grip on reality.  Bam!
Never, could it always be so right, as it unfolds and
Infolds and
Engulfs
Us. 

Truth never judges.

 

Truth has power,
clarity,
simplicity.
No righteousness or brio.

 

Truth could give a shit if we like it or not.
Like it or not(?)
It's not getting out of our way,
Truth will laugh in our face -
                 until we laugh with it (?).
                 Laugh(!).

Truth lies in all the traditions,
In all the world,
We just have to truck through mud to get to it.

Truth can be like a treasure hunt,
Like a surprise birthday party,
Or like distant stars only accessible by telescope.

Truth is at our fingertips
And in our heart
And balanced on our big TOE
 And dangling from our nostril hairs
(Finely trimmed and manicured, of course).

Look and feel
It(')s clarity –
A cinematic display of rad colors and lights.

Truth synchronizes religions – into spirituality(?) –  
No amount of dogma can darken the glow
No amount of indoctrination can stifle the aromatics.  

The breath of truth revives the dead.
Truth is truth, so bring it on!
Truth bitch slaps the best of them.
Truth is a tidal wave
That crushes coastlines of ignorance
And blasts reefs of insanity.
It consumes the arrogant sufferer
And propels the skillful one.

So what is truth?
It’s outside of ownership
Outside of possession,
It hangs out with integrity and compassion.
If you want to know what truth is,
Just ask.