The conscious mind is so damn persuasive. It can convince us of anything. Recently, a friend told me that she forgot to eat breakfast because she was stacking wood. And even though she was starving, she worked right through lunch. It wasn’t until hours later when she couldn’t continue that she went inside to eat.
This is often our experience—the physical signals are there but we ignore them. Is there something wrong with us? Have we all gone mad?
Of course not. The mind is just doing what it does—getting through the task at hand and trying not to let silly things like hunger bother it. Then, of course our hunger becomes an emergency and we eat in a way that isn’t ideal for us.
What yoga offers is a way to train our mind so that it doesn’t lose perspective. Ancient yogis saw that without keeping the mind focused on the bigger picture, it tended to get caught up in little things. We then make decisions that aren’t ideal based on these distractions.
So how can we train our mind? One simple method is to feed it inspiration on a regular basis. Read spiritual teachings, texts, and poetry, listen to or play music, sit or walk in nature. These are some of the ways to remind the mind that we are part of a greater whole and that our current preoccupation is probably not an emergency.
My suggestion this month is that you find a way to inspire yourself on a daily basis. Keep a book on your breakfast table as part of your morning ritual. Play music while you are sitting around in the house. Find a moment to look up at the sky and take it in. It sounds ridiculously simple, because it is. Without this reorientation the mind is more likely to lose it’s way and forget the bigger picture.
May we all be reminded of beauty today.
With respect and love,
Many of us experience negative thoughts and emotions on a regular basis. The mind has the ability to conjure up negative things to say pretty easily. This often causes us to act in ways we wish we didn’t. We don’t stand up for ourselves, we act out of insecure mental spaces, and then of course, we eat. We give our negative mind space more fuel for self diminishing thinking and the cycle goes on and on.
Yoga begins with the belief that there is another way. Yoga is the union of all the parts of your mind. Not only the negative thinking mind but the other parts that access the larger view. At any given time your mind can see all your faults as well as all your strengths. It also has the ability to see the connection between itself and all other things. It can be said that Yoga is a set of practices designed to integrate your mind completely so that you are always working with its full potential.
This is why we practice. We move and breathe. We pause every day (or several times) to allow our mind to reintegrate. When we do this, an amazing thing begins to happen: We are able to see the big picture more clearly. The negative thoughts and emotions don’t end, but with practice, they are accompanied by positive thoughts and emotions. In fact, we begin to expand our mental landscape so much that we are inclined to ignore the negative thoughts all together. Then we can function from a place of clarity. No longer inclined to alter our mental state with food, we simply do what we need to do. That peace is the promise of yoga.
May we all find our practice today.
With great respect,
We are constantly being innundated by nutritional and weight loss information. Hardly a product exists in the grocery store anymore that doesn’t make some sort of health or weight loss claim. This triggers our mind to start spinning—digesting and evaluating the information coming in.
This mental process, however, is the actual problem. It takes us away from our deeper self. It occupies and distracts us from our intuition.
If we pause, feel our feet on the floor, and return to our breath, we have the ability to see this outside information for what it is—distraction. It is from this place that we can participate in deep listening. As we center ourselves, we get the information we need to remain present.
What activities does this body/mind need to feel good? What food do I need to feel more energized? What do I need to do to find and/or maintain a state of relaxation and heightened awareness? These questions are often answered when we move inward.
Find your breath, feel your feet on the floor, and ask yourself what you need. The answers are often simple. Take a ten minute walk. Go to yoga class. Eat a banana. Ignore the external signals and find your own voice today. Do it now. Your mind body spirit will thank you.
May we all find ourselves today.
There is a concept in yoga that one should be non-violent in thought
and action—and that by doing this we bring peace to ourselves and
those we come in contact with. One behavior I’ve noticed we humans do
is eat foods that harm us. Often this comes in the form of foods that
drain our energy, and therefore our ability to be our most authentic
selves. By not sharing this fantastic energy with ourselves and
others, we are bringing less peace and more harm to the world.
If flour is your problem, then the bread you eat at lunch every day
makes it difficult to be kind to your coworkers at 3 pm when you are
crashing from it. If sugar is your issue, having some late at night
impedes your ability to wake up in a positive mood and enter the day
on solid ground.
First we must use our awareness practices (like journalling) to
identify these foods. We then can use proper effort to reduce our
intake of these foods. And we can engage in our movement and breathing
practices to support us in this. In this way we practice ahimsa—and
the result is that the world becomes more peaceful.
loka samastha sukino bhavantu
May all beings be free and happy
As always, email me with any comments or questions.
As I work on my own practice, I’m always amazed by how important connection is. It’s so easy to stay in our head and try to work out our issues.
What yoga teaches us is that getting out of this solitary unconnected mindset is conducive to freedom. It’s not that we don’t need to use our intellect to make choices, (like what time you’ll be practicing tomorrow), but connection with others peels away much of the mental fuzziness and confusion associated with too much lonely self-centered thinking. Classes, teachers, meditation groups, and community of all sorts are remedies for these counterproductive thoughts.
This is an essential part of our overall strategy to stay present with ourselves and live in a way that brings us peace and energy. There will be times when it gets really tough to maintain your practice. Lethargy and self-doubt are a part of our experience of being human. With community and connection already in place, we can lean on it in times of need. When the going gets tough, the tough ask for help. So, this month, ask yourself if you have the support you need to support your practice. As we do this, we are often reminded that our practice helps others around us.
And the beauty of being human is revealed.