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Kindle Reads – “Living Your Yoga” – Part 1a

6 Jan

Image Source: Lady Tori

One of my Goals for 2012 was to read more and one of the books on my must read list was Living Your Yoga – Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Lasater. It came recommended by Kim over at Forty is (the new) Fabulous and I was intrigued. Now I’m no spiritual guru nor do I tend to be “hippie-ish” in any way, but I thought that there was no harm in learning more about finding more peace and calm in my everyday life. I’ve also been loving me some yoga lately so I thought it was the perfect time to incorporate whatever the author had to share.  I’ve tried reading “enlightenment” books like A New Earth and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle only to get bogged down in the heavy verbiage. Lucky for me, that is NOT the case with Living Your Yoga.

The book is separated into three parts:

Part 1 – “Awakening Awareness: Yoga within Yourself”
Part 2 – “Widening the Circle: Yoga and Relationships”
Part 3 – “Embracing All  Life: Yoga in the World”

Within each part are seven qualities that the author believes should be nurtured within our everyday lives. The author uses personal stories and quotes from ancient spiratual writings to explain the importance of each quality and how each person can cultivate it. She suggests some yoga practices both in the form of poses and Daily Mantra meditations that can help each person focus on enhancing that particular area of their life.

Currently, I have just finished Part 1and wanted to do a download of the practices that I learned and how I can apply them to my everyday life. The sections are short so they are easily reread so that I can get the full understanding of what is being said! I’m a dork, what can I say! 🙂

Here’s the first four qualities:

Spiritual Seeking – Abiding Practice

This section taught that the answers we seek are within each of us and the only way to find them is to develop full awareness of our lives be it in our thoughts, words and actions. This practice requires centering and focusing on the breath and living in the present moment (something I’m sure we all could do more of!). This is much like what you would do at the beginning and end of each yoga practice, but Judith encourages  to do it at any time of the day. There’s no objective to the practice other than to fully experience your own life, free of any distractions.  The place where I have found abiding practice to be the most soothing and calming is in a hot shower when I can clear my mind of the stresses of the day. My favorite mantra from this section is “I commit to living my life fully in this moment.”

Discipline Practice

This section taught that discipline has less to do with the amount of things you can accomplish in a day and more to do with intention and commitment. It says that “yoga , or that state in which fluctuations (or agitations) of the mind are resolved, can be achieved by practice (or discipline) and detachment (or letting go, described in the next section)”. Now discipline as used here is not “Go to the corner in time out!” or “Sorry can’t have that cause you were bad girl!”. Discipline here is resolving to do something with intention (be it reading a book, eating dinner, practicing piano) and  fully immersing yourself in the moment of whatever action you are doing.  I’ve been trying to be disciplined while reading this book. Clearing my mind and fully focusing on the words on the page and their meaning to my life. My favorite mantra from this section is “Discipline is quality, not quantity”.

Letting Go Practice

This section was one that really spoke to me. One that I think I need to embrace whole heartedly. It was mentioned to me before by a co-worked that I need to detach myself from the outcome of a situation (particularly the one of my not getting pregnant). I was a little offended because really isn’t the outcome EVERYTHING?? But, in Living Your Yoga, this message was explained yet again and I think this time I understand (although I’ve been struggling with putting it into practice!). Being detached is NOT being uninterested, it is the act of just living your life and remaining present even with all the crap that is going on around you. I need to give up my attachment to the way I think things should be so that I may be able to experience another perspective. The attachment then loses power over my life. I’m have a GREAT  life with or without a baby. I’m healthy, The Hubs is healthy, we’re financially stable, and life is pretty darn good. Acceptance is key. My favorite mantra from this section is “This is the perfect moment to let go.”

Self Judgement Practice

This section starts out with a quote from the Yoga Sutra (2:46)  which translated says “The posture should be steady and comfortable.” When I read this, I immediately thought of tree pose. This is one pose that I sometimes for the life of me can’t do. I can’t find my balance and am wobbling all around (definitely not steady and comfortable!) and then I proceed to judge myself for not being able to do something that in my head should be simple. But other times, when I’m not thinking so hard, I can balance for quite a while relishing in my strength and balance. One thing I realized I need to remember is that there is a difference from honestly admitting that you may not have done your best and self judgement. Self judgement is drawing a conclusion about how you performed in a situation. It is giving in to the negative self-talk. To speak to yourself softly and compassionately is to live in a comfortable way both internally and in the world.  Living fully there is no space for self-judgement.  There will always be difficulties in life, but my attitude and inner dialogue to these events CAN change! My favorite mantra from this section – “I am attempting something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying.”

I’ll finish up the rest of Part 1 another day! Don’t want to get too heavy on a Friday, but have found writing this so helpful (especially after a rough day)! Hopefully it speaks to some of you, as well!

Do you practice any of these qualities in your daily life?

Dream, Believe, Soar!

12 Jan

Over the weekend, I attended a retreat at the East Bay Mediation Center that was focused on discovering your life’s purpose. I found out about the event from my friend Teresa who knew I had been struggling with finding excitement and passion at work. We both had tried signing up for the retreat in December, but were both wait listed. It wasn’t until Friday, the day before the event, that we both found out we were in. (We later found out that there were 80 people who were wait listed! Guess it was meant to be that we got in!)

Now at first I was skeptical and a little apprehensive about attending. I know that mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to curb anxiety and stress. With all of the self help books I’ve read over the years, I knew how mediation works with deep breathing, clearing your head, and allowing yourself to recognize thoughts that come into your mind with no judgment and then letting them pass. I’d never meditated for more than a 5-10 minutes at time though, so I was a bit intimidated about attending this all day event. I was really afraid that I wouldn’t fit in.

I was SO surprised when I got to the event and discovered that the attendees were from all walks of life, of all ages, and most of them were NOT the stereotypical “hippie” that my mind automatically conjured up. Instead it was a group of people who I identified with! People who weren’t happy in their current careers, who were reluctant to make a change for fear of failure, and some who also had issues with anxiety. These people were like me! How comforting to know that I am NOT alone!

My favorite part of the event was where we explored our dreams by reflecting on what things or activities in our childhood brought us joy and put a smile on our face. We formed groups and were required to talk for 4 minutes each about whatever came to mind. At first this seems like a LONG time to talk, but once I got started I remembered more and more things that I hadn’t thought about since I was a child.

I remembered that I loved reading. I loved reading so much that I would read textbooks, even when it wasn’t required. (Below is evidence of my love for reading…me reading a book upside down when I was barely 1 year old!) I loved going to school and was upset anytime I was sick and had to stay home. I loved learning new things and worked really hard to master any subject I was studying. I realized these are things that I still love doing today, although I don’t really get to do any of them daily.  Now I’m going to try to find ways to incorporate these loves either in my work day or in other activities I choose to participate in.

What was more interesting were the things I had not remembered I loved….

When I was younger, I was bossy, REALLY bossy, so bossy that my Kindergarten teacher told my parents that sometimes it seemed like I thought I was the one running the class. I liked being a leader. I loved dancing and performing in front of groups of people. I was the girl who always want to do solos or duets, even if I wasn’t the best dancer in the class. While remembering these things, I realized it seems I have lost these “loves” as I’ve gotten older. I now shy away from being a leader and although I still like getting up in front of people it is not with the same level of inhibition as I did when I was younger. After contemplating why this was, I think it has to do with being conditioned over the years to know the sometimes HUGE consequences of failing when being a leader or in a high profile position. I also don’t want to look stupid in front of a group of people. My fear of failure has caused me to step back both in my professional and personal life and not take risks that I might have taken when I was younger, something I really want to address in 2011.

We also practiced visualizing what it is we think we’d love to do if there was nothing stopping us and we fully believed in ourselves. We explored our fears and what was holding us back from truly soaring. The fears activity was intense as we partenred up and required to ask our partner continuously “What are you afraid of?” and only respond to their answer with a “Thank You” for 7 minutes straight! It really caused each of us to get deeper to the root of all of our fears.

Now I don’t think I found my life’s passion in this one day retreat, but it did give me a lot to think about and provided me with some excellent techniques for exploring my core values – the first step to finding your passion. I also learned more about mediation and hope that I can continue use mindfulness as a way to deal with my common overreactions, constant worry, and stress.

Have any of you tried meditation? Did you find it helpful in either dealing with stress and/or anxiety? Have you used meditation as a method of finding your core values and determining what you were really meant to do?