Archive of ‘2007’ category
This holiday season, love yourself. Be kind to yourself. And then let that love spread to others.
Yogic philosophy goes something like this: The self is everywhere—it is everything. As we nourish one piece, the others receive nourishment. When we are kind to our bodies by doing our asana practice, we are able to be more peaceful in our interactions with others. So, one way to be kind to others is to do your asana every morning. Then you and others are both helped.
Another way to spread peace is to nourish ourselves with foods that make us feel energetic and contented. From this calm, energized place we can be peaceful and be useful to our friends, family, and community. As we do this, the people around us are possibly also inspired to do the same—it’s catching. Then people everywhere are producing peace around themselves and, before you know it, it’s coming back to you.
Yoga practice continually asks us to find a way to be kind to ourselves. It’s “self centered”. As we continue to expand our view of the self, we find more and more ways to be kind, useful and helpful. We take care of our body, mind, and spirit. From that place, we help others do the same. When we do something like give to charity, we see that it is just another way to be kind to ourselves. There is no distinction, really, between eating appropriately, moving and breathing, and helping others. These are all ways of being kind to yourself.
All are useful and produce peace.
What I’m suggesting, then, is that we all try to do these things as part of our peaceful weight loss practice for the holidays. Practice our yoga in a calm, easeful, stress-reducing way. Eat in a way that helps us maintain that peaceful feeling we have produced. From there, let others enjoy the benefits of our practice by spending time with people we love. If we can, find a way to give a little extra to those in need. If we do this with the perspective that all these people are extensions of ourselves, it will produce tangible, positive, peaceful feelings within us. What more could we ask for?
May we all experience peace and nourishment this holiday season.
Loka Samista Sukino Bhavantu
May the entire world be filled with peace, love, and light.
As humans, we have an instinct to react against any restriction on our freedom. If you tie your arms behind your back, you will struggle to find a way out. So why should you expect your mind to be different? I’m not eating sweets – I won’t eat too much – no sugar for me – I’m not eating that kind of food right now. This type of language ties your mind’s hands. When we language our eating “rules” like this, we react, struggle, and create stress.
When we fill our home with an abundance of whole foods, we free ourselves. We can look in the refrigerator and say – I can eat anything I want. We set up new language of abundance for our mind. This reduces negative internal chatter in general and allows our thoughts to be more sattvic (peaceful). This peace then moves into our body and allows us to feel calm and energized. It is from this state of being that true and lasting change happens.
So commit yourself to abundance, and stock your kitchen with a ridiculous amount of delicious whol (ish) foods.
Let yourself enjoy and be comforted by this newfound wealth. Be rid of the foods that are causing you to stuggle. Most importantly allow yourself to have fun eating again
What makes you feel alive? What do you do on a regular basis that reminds you of your inner fire for life? This is the question I would like for you to ponder this month. As I work with more and more people, i see this correlation – the inner fire is dulled and the weight won’t budge. Yoga practice stokes this inner fire. For most people, releasing into the breath is enough for the fire to surface again. Meaningful connection with people helps as well. Occasionally, we must push ourselves to reconnect. This can be through extended physical practice, the discipline of meditation, or signing up for a pottery class.
Once we connect with the fire again, we can often see our detrimental food behaviors lessen. Once we can feel that fire again, we are less likely to smother it with food. As this continues and our energy is heightened, our bodies feel strong, and safe, and let unneeded weight go.
So re-commit to your simple daily practice as a start. Let the clarity that emerges from that guide you to the elements in your life that allow your fire to flourish.
As always, email me with your results.
Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.
—Tao Te Ching
“If I eat less, I will be thinner.”
“I need to eat more vegetables.”
“I need to eat more healthy.”
“I must stop bingeing.”
These active thoughts give rise to their opposites. As we try to take action and change our behavior, we often find it has the opposite effect. It’s amazing how many of us feel ourselves bingeing after a day of “healthy eating.”
Just because the thought “If I eat less I’ll be thinner” has truth in it doesn’t mean cultivating that thought is your solution. Thoughts like these will generate their opposites. Our mental action needs to be less active and more contemplative.
I am noticing breathing in—I am noticing breathing out—it’s a nice way to start noticing our breath. It allows our thoughts to move with less restriction so that they may arise then disappear in a timely fashion. Focusing down on them only makes them (and their opposites) more powerful.
You have already set your intention to lose weight and live in a way that makes sense to you. Once that intention has entered your mind, no more needs to be done. Your job is now to allow your thoughts to do what they need to and to not add to the mix. Don’t generate anything extra for your mind to react to. Then unneeded behaviors will disappear by themselves.
Vacation—a time to relax all discipline. A time to sit and see what happens. A time to be with no expectations—a time to eat. This can be quite scary. As we let our discipline slide, so do those eating habits, and our whole foods diet becomes a brownie sandwich for lunch. Our yoga practice goes out the window. Or does it?
On vacation, we take time out to be self-indulgent. To do whatever we want. This can be a scary proposition. For many of us believe what we want is terrible food and no exercise, no practice. This, however, probably isn’t true. For me it goes something like this.
Day 1: Pig out. No yoga.
Day 2: Pig out. No yoga.
Day 3: I get an inkling that I actually want to to yoga. So I do, and then pig out.
Day 4: I actually want to do yoga practice again, meditate a while, and eat whatever food I want without pigging out.
Then I spend the rest of my time eating a bit more than usual, doing a practice that makes me feel great, but not pushing it physically, and meditating whenever I feel like it.
Which, of course, makes my days on vacation more fun and relaxing.
Those early vacation days are days I wasn’t being present – especially to my actual needs and desires.
It never ceases to amaze me—our desires are always in step with what is healthy for us.
If we can relax and pay attention to ourselves, we move away from acting on neurotic mental states and into acting in step with our true desires. Then we don’t have to be frightened—because we can tell the difference between a brownie sandwich that doesn’t serve us and a brownie sandwich we truly desire.
Focus on what foods you need to eat to feel healthy, energetic, and mentally clear. Until this happens, the benefit from eliminating “bad” foods will not be realized.
A recent conversation with a client of mine:
C: “I had sweets in the house and I knew I shouldn’t eat them – but I did. Then the next day, I ate them for breakfast.”
Me: “ You mean at breakfast? What else did you eat?”
C:” No, I ate them for breakfast.”
Me: “Did you feel nourished?”
C: “ No, I felt bad. I ate cake.”
Me: “Physically bad?”
C: “Yes, I had eaten cake, and afterwards I felt so guilty.”
This isn’t uncommon. We judge ourselves for the “bad” food we’ve eaten for breakfast. What is interesting is that she didn’t see any problem with the lack of nourishment—only the “bad” food she’d eaten.
In my view, the real problem is the lack of giving herself any of the food she actually needed. A bit of cake for dessert is probably not a big deal, if she had eaten her usual eggs and toast.
Changing your view in this way is invaluable on your road to optimal weight. Focus on what foods you need to eat to feel healthy, energetic, and mentally clear. Until this happens, the benefit from eliminating “bad” foods will not be realized.
Do yourself the favor of having a baseline diet of nourishing foods, and what is “bad” for you will become unbelievably clear.
There are many ways to approach weight loss. From one point of view it is a simple mathematical equation—less food = less weight. Eat a bit less than you need to sustain your weight and the pounds will come off. This is, of course, true. We know it because we have dieted and then seen the results. Most likely, though, the pounds didn’t stay off. We went back to our old way of being and ended up back where we started.
Another way to see our condition is to look down one layer below our physical to our energetic system. A simple way to conceptualize this is to see the energetic system as the part of you that makes you feel aware and energized in your body. When this system is in shape, one is able to bring attention to any part of the body and feel its “aliveness.” A sense of feeling, instead of a sense of dead weight. If this is difficult, then it is possible that your energetic system needs a bit of work.
Why bother? Because when this system is running properly, the body feels better—when the body feels better, the mind feels calmer. When the mind is calmer, it doesn’t send confusing weight-gaining signals to the body. Basically, a well-functioning energetic system immediately creates harmony in the physical body. Once this harmony is achieved, the actions needed to make weight loss happen become obvious and easeful. Working at this level makes the discipline of losing weight less stressful. In other words, once you set the stage by tuning your energetic body, the weight loss becomes just a final integration—an aligning of the physical with the energetic.
Do how do we tune the energetic? The regular practice of asana in a way that leaves you relaxed and energized is a great path. Combining breath and movement in any way will do the job as long as it has the result of lowering your stress levels and increasing your ability to enjoy and be aware of the here and now.
Try this simple version of mountain pose. Stand feet hip width apart and bring your arms up alongside your ears as you inhale. On the exhalation, arms back down to your sides. Make sure that you are moving with your breath so that the breath is longer than your movement. Do 12 breaths of these twice a day and see if you are more sensitive and aware of your body when you are done.
As always, email me with questions or comments.
May we all realize we are nourished and cared for.
Be present, be present, be present.
We see and hear this often in self-help books and spiritual literature. For most of us, this isn’t enough—we need to “do” something—take some sort of action, or progress toward a goal. So the question becomes: WHY should I be present, and to WHAT?
Shifting our awareness to the present allows change to begin. A present-centered mind sheds anxiety and extra thoughts quickly and easily. This mental state then is transferred to the body, giving us physical comfort. Feeling satisfied in this way, we are not driven to other means of satisfaction—like eating. As we spend more and more time in this place, it becomes (surprisingly) obvious that this state is available to us at all times. We simply need to relax away from our conditioned behavior of not being present.
So, how does one move into the present moment? Watching the breath is a good method—observing the movement of the abdomen and ribcage—they expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Observing this automatic movement brings us into a state of rest and relaxation. Our nervous system shifts into a lower gear as we feel the world breathing us. We are reminded that in many ways we have no choice but to go with the flow.
Another useful method is to feel sensation against your skin. The keys under your fingertips or the pen in your hands. Feeling our feet on the floor for even 15 seconds a day is enough to make an impact. Feel your feet as you walk down the street and notice if the experience changes for you.
Presence is addictive and contagious, because it is at the very root of our nature. We are always (although often in a misguided manner) looking for it. We stay up late—eat too much—strive too hard—and forget to do what comes naturally to us—all to feel what simple presence to breath or sensation quickly retrieves for us.
For few weeks, experiment with these simple techniques and see if you experience a shift in your level of contentment.
As always, email me with comments and questions.
May we all be free and happy.
I had the good fortune to take a yoga class with a fantastic teacher recently. He suggested that our asana practice was there not to change us, but to make us more comfortable with ourselves. To help our minds accept our present situation and relax into it. From this place, things do happen – things do change – maybe not as fast as we wish they would, but they do.
So I pose this question to you: Are you practicing in a way that will allow change to happen TO you, or are you struggling to make change happen? Are you finding a way to move and breathe in the morning as a simple expression of being an alive human being in a body? Or are you demanding that exercise be struggle? Bottom line – are you in your own way?
If the answer is yes – you are not alone. We all get in our own way – our silly minds are always involved in the mischief of making our lives harder. As we become more aware of it, however, this behavior lessens, and a feeling of ease and contentment moves to the foreground.
A daily yoga practice with this in mind is key to letting this happen for you. Having a time during your day when you move, breathe, and accept yourself is a perfect way to slow the mischievous mind down. We see immediate shifts in our consciousness, as evidenced by a general sense of well-being – an ability to physically move more easily – a lessening of urgency in all things, including eating.
Next time you step to your yoga mat, allow yourself to relax into your practice – notice when you are mentally in your own way – and laugh at yourself, knowing that is your only obstacle today!
Need help adjusting your practice? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May we all be happy, relaxed, free, and in love.
Desire occurs naturally in our lives. It is an expression of our infinite creativity and energy. When we relax and let go, we can be swept along by this desire, and life feels effortless. Every day we move about our lives like this. We sleep when we are tired—we pause for a minute to stretch to release tension in a muscle—we find ourselves hungry and therefore we eat.
We move into craving when we fight or pervert our natural state—instead of letting go and doing what comes naturally to us. We ignore our desire to go to bed because a craving has arisen to stay up—despite the fact that there is no reason to stay up. We may find it hard to “motivate” to do yoga practice, but as we relax and fully engage into the present moment, the natural desire emerges to release tension in our bodies. Food cravings send us to the store to buy chips we don’t even enjoy, when our desire is to eat simple foods that we enjoy—or perhaps our desire is to not be alone.
Yoga is designed to help us release into our natural state so that our desires become obvious. To practice is to follow the flow of these desires without confusing them with cravings. We know our yoga practice is going well when we feel that our life requires less effort. Flowing with our desires expands our energy, while cravings seem to exhaust us.
We all have limited amounts of craving and unlimited desire. Keep your practice simple and joyful. This will allow desire to flow through you, and cravings to begin to diminish. May our food cravings fall away effortlessly and our true paths open up before us.