Saturday, April 14, 2012

An article to enrich our study of Surrender

This morning's reading from The Purpose Fairy from the following link:

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control. 
Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” 
Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels. Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears. Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past. I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Fourth Niyama - Swadyaya (Self-Study)

For the month of March we were contemplating the fourth of Patanjali's niyamas: Swadyaya which can be translated as self-observation or self-study.  In simplest terms we attempt to do this consciously throughout our yoga class - observing our breath, our alignment, our self-talk, and our vibrations and energy ignited by our practice.  We go deeper when we work with different breathing practices to see how they effect the body, when we investigate our alignment for safety and stability so that our body can open up to a greater flow of energy, when we look deeper into our self-talk to see what habit energies we carry, what stories we continue to repeat that may or may not serve us well.
One of our yoga sisters shared this quote from Marianne Williamson: "Are you whining about a painful yesterday, or preparing for a joyful tomorrow?  Whatever your choice is will determine your day."  This was an especially helpful spark for self-study to look at what we reinforce in our mind.  If we keep repeating the negative stories, we don't have the space to be open to receive joy and love.  Not to say we shouldn't honor the difficult feelings when they arise.  But the key word seems to be "whining."  Though it may sound harsh.  It seems to serve a key distinction about whether we are processing our difficulties to transform them or repeating the story and the sub-text that may be an old record we play repeatedly that just keeps us stuck in suffering.
"Yesterday is already gone, tomorrow is not yet here. Today is the only day available to us.  Today is the most important day of our lives."
Thich Nhat Hanh
Our chant for the month was Om Mane Padme Hum, to honor the jewel inside the lotus.  We used the lotus as a metaphor for our own challenges and growth since we know a beautiful lotus flower grows can only grow out of the mud.  In our self-study, we notice our difficulties, where we get stuck, and when we act unskillfully so we can learn from those moments and transform our pain and suffering to shine our light ever brighter.
Thich Nhat Hanh says: 
"Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby.  To suffer is not enough.  We must also be in touch with the wonders of life.  They are within us and all around us, everywhere, any time."
"All the wonderful things that you are looking for -- happiness, peace, and joy -- can be found inside of you.  You do not need to look anywhere else."
One of our yoga sisters shared a quote from Wayne Dyer which impacted her and by her sharing it, all of us:   "Be independent of the good intentions of other people's opinions."  Sometimes we give away our power or our freedom when we allow other people's opinions to effect our peace.  This is an important part of self-study.  How are we impacted by the energy, behaviors, and words of others?  Can we strengthen our practice to maintain our equanimity even when those around us are not being kind or compassionate?  It can be as simple as coming back to your breath and body in a difficult moment.  Breathe deeply.  Become aware of your breathing.  Notice the energy or feel of your body.  Is there tension? shakiness? a volcanic eruption waiting to happen?  Can we make a space for a moment to pause and change course? change the self-talk? change the vibration in the body?
May we remember to breathe deeply, mindfully.  May we remember the impermanence of everything which helps us endure difficulties and celebrate joys because neither lasts forever.  When we get in touch with the deeper place inside that knows calm, peace, equanimity; that knows how to navigate through this life; we embody our true nature: boundless peace, love, and compassion for self and all beings because as Thich Nhat Hanh says:  "I am not superior to you.  I am not inferior to you.  I am not even equal to you.  I am you."

And, I'll close with a poem written by a dear friend.

Lotus Flower  
    by Yasmin Haut

Only from mud and moist underneath potential 
    can this proliferation of green spring.
So too for you and me.
Reconciliation requires reaching down thru
    the dark waters where the lotus sends
    her roots.
Only then (by rooting around in the bottom
    of the pond) can life flow again.
Petals sweeten and peel back.
Sun, senses and sensibilities sharpen,
    soften, merge.
Only modesty is difficult in this brillance.
Om Mane Padme Hum