How do I want...

How do I want...

How do I want the experience that I'm having?
With all the topsy turvy,
Upsy downsy
Kerfuffling about.
How do I sink into the sadness
And embrace it as a gem in the human spectrum?
How do I revel in the madness as a highlighted sensation of being alive?
How to I celebrate in the confusion,
Thrive in the awkwardness,
And relish in the anger, pity, guilt and loneliness?

Oh the interconnectedness of it all.
Oh the moments of sheer ecstasy and joy and bliss and jubilation — just as potent and significant as the dastardly, devilish polarity.

This range of human sensation is overwhelming.  Worth it I'm sure.

I have a full, burstingly bountiful palate of emotion. 
No one more or less important than the other. 
No one better or worse.
No one more desirable. 
They are all for me — and us —
To dance with,
To investigate,
To join and commingle. 
To experience as we breathe.

How is it that I want the experience I'm having? 
Without trying to push it away. 
Without trying to change it. 
Without trying to be somewhere other than exactly where I am.  

I'll stumble along this topsy turvy,
Upsy downsy
Landscape of kaleidoscopic Spirit at Play within my corporeal design
As long as I feel.

We get it all.
The wide array,
The fullness, the allness, the overwhelming — and underwhelming! — everything
To show us that we contain all.
To show us that we can feel so many capricious forms of concrete consciousness.
Our vessel is a highly tuned antenna
Suckling at Grace. 
The magnificent and dispassionate Grace. 
A Grace that we must radically accept as having no preference. 
It doesn't take sides on the feeling game.  
It gushes forth.
It entirely encompasses sensibility, 
Appealing to every possibility,
Every desire, want, wish, realm,
Reason and rhyme.

The everything of everythingness.
Is that what it means to be titilatingly alive?

So how is it that I go about wanting the experience that I'm having?

 

Presents Inside

Presents Inside

I have presents inside me
And so do you
Little packages of experience
Big boxes known and unknown

When we meet
When we chat
When we interact
When we dance and sing and love and fight
My packages, my boxes, my presents
open

Some contain stories of truth and wisdom
Others are epics of miss adventure
Some are fables of fancy
Others are tales of triumph and valor
Some are volumes of emotion
Others are catalogues of false notions

My presents burst open without even knowing
Showing me my self-storage
I wish it was free
It costs my time and energy
I spend my thoughts and emotions
I owe debts on my doubt
And interest on my interests

These gifts open themselves sometimes
Whenever I see or feel something
Who knows when it will happen
Sometimes a message or song
A note or a voice
Will remove the wrapping
Whether I like it or not
My packages
My stuff
My storage
Is raw and ready
To be ripped forth
To be delicately undressed

There are some that are hidden
Memories long lost
Reveries of relevance
Experiences of inapplicability
That come forth when least expected

They pop and explode sometimes
Nothing but a blur
Nothing but crude, raw sensation
Nothing but an emotional outburst 

As I slip and slide along this thing called life
My present and past and future presents
Reveal aspects, components, pieces and parts
Of my told and untold experience
They are displayed and played
For anyone and everyone close to the blast zone
These internal explosions
Are triggered by you and things and stuff
They allow, invite and challenge me to look
To see what's there
To behold and bare witness
To become plundered like a protagonist
In an internal play
For all to see
For others to play in their play
To be played like players in our own worlds
Our own tiny universes
Crossing over and intersecting
Into the human drama
Into humans' dramas

Like Christmas
We each play Santa for each other
Giving opportunities to rip open our presents
Stimulating new and old openings
New and old chances to dance
In our exposed hidden self

We bump and rub
Celebrate and revel
In what's there inside of us
What's stored
What's hidden
What has come out to play
In this collective and respective
Self and community
Revelation

 

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.