The Worry Haiku

Salt Lake City Yoga

We are all subject to doubt and indecision from time to time. Recently I was wallowing in my routine despair about life and all of its desperate decisions.

You know, the typical: What am I doing with my life? What would have happened if I would have done things differently? Why is Pluto suddenly not a planet anymore and why didn't I get to vote?

So, feeling burdened by the weight and whirlwind of indecision about what direction my life should go, I decided to meditate. After mulling my mind over the various directions I could choose, I got tired of the fruitlessness of freaking out and instead tried to simply be aware, to focus on my breath rather than focus on my problems, to find that place that I've heard is always peaceful.
 
It took a while but I found some peace there in my heart. And in a moment of clarity, my mind recalled that all these temporary and illusorily (but still important) decisions will be made clear the more I cultivate and understand that peace, that inner self. I realized that I didn't need to make a decision about those things now. That what I could to do is grow my relationship with what I call the True Self, the part that isn't defined by all of these temporary details of those momentarily important decisions.

I felt that perhaps whatever my decisions, actions, or endeavors I faced, when made based from a grounded place of inner-peace, will be the product of something trusted and sure. Also, when I looked at my decisions or problems from that place of real clarity, I could see how I was reacting to fears and worries instead of looking at these questions with objectivity where I could move forward with power and conviction. With that sure knowledge of seeing things as they are, I had the courage to step out to those precarious edges of potential, pushed by a power of my own grounded knowledge of Self.
 
And then suddenly there was no more searching because I'd momentarily found the source-it was right here all along. I've also discovered that when I've made a decision based on this knowledge of Self, it doesn't exempt me from problems or struggles further down the road but at least I know that the difficulty I will encounter is necessary turbulence for the path I've chosen. It is the Tapas, the Sanskrit concept meaning the heat necessary for transformation. It's the medicine.  It's what will continue to lead me down my path of self-discovery, the path that feels the most right to me because ultimately it is the product of my True Self.
 
And as I go that True Self whispers like Gandalf in my ear, "Speak your truth, act with honesty and integrity, and always listen."
 
Haiku:
 
The Clash wails questions
Weighed down by indecision.
All things grow from Self.
 

Holding Space

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We don't need to change or be better than we are. We practice deep compassion as we extend this same privilege to other people and things around us and allow them to simply be, especially those things that would easily turn our hearts bitter.

As we practice yoga and meditation, we cultivate and practice being. We also reduce the suffering known as Dukkah, which would hold us back from experiencing our highest self.

One act of holding space is allowing yourself to be with a person or thing and allow them to be just as they or it is. I'm thinking of a friend who is sick or experiencing something mentally or spiritually challenging. Simply being with that person and holding space for them, without the need to fix or change anything, just being, allows a deep compassion to exist between the two of you.

Another act of holding space is the decisive act of making room in your heart for that which would sooner canker your heart with feelings and make your mind fester with "shoulds" and what-ifs." When you hold space for someone or something, you don't have to fall in love with this person or thing but you are simply offering compassion toward them or it by not becoming sour toward it. And by so doing, you ultimately offer your own heart and mind in the same compassion--the heart that flourishes when it feels abundance and love, not bitterness, and the mind that abounds when it is sheltered from shoulds and what-ifs."

Here are a few examples of holding space:

The NYC 4 Train: stopped en route causing me to miss my flight home (years ago).
Me: bought a NYC 4 Train T-Shirt--holding space for the 4 Train.

World: Just as it is.
Me: Accepting the world as it is.

Holding space is often the first part of forgiveness toward yourself and others.

This week, practice holding space for things that your either don't understand or which bother you.

Scott

This Is What I Believe . . .

Ever think about your beliefs as a part of your yoga practice? Believing isn't an indicator of truth or non-truth. It's just what you believe. But knowing what you believe is a great way of practicing understanding yourself. It makes us inquire. And through this inquiry, we can play at the edges of knowing, as poet Mary Oliver says. Also, sharing your beliefs, especially in a respectful way, opens your heart and allows others to see a real and honest part of you. This is about truth, the Sanskrit term Satya. Not that what you believe is true (it may be) but what is true is that you feel it and that you are honest and brave enough to share it. I invite you practice sharing your truth and watch as your life opens up; notice the ways others around you also open up as you share your truth.  

So, here's a practice for me. This is what I believe: 

First, I believe in people. I believe that people are not only good, they're amazing. I believe in the human spirit and its capacity to dream, innovate, work hard, and accomplish, sometimes beyond all odds. This human spirit has sent people to space, we have figured out how to see planets hundreds of million light years away. We make astoundingly beautiful art and movement. We dreamed up Hobbits and Star Wars and the The Royal Tenenbaums. We invented Oreos. Need I say more? We help each other out in times of personal, national, or global crisis. I believe that people, no matter what, somehow to their core, are driven by love.

I believe in yoga and meditation.

I believe in personal growth.

I believe in the power of a good movie.
I believe a good talk can work out most things.

I believe in respect, honesty, and integrity.

I believe that the Universe is mysterious and big and fascinating and that I'm somehow part of this big beautiful thing, planets hundreds of light years away and all, and by understanding myself better, I understand the Universe.

I believe in trying your hardest, even if you can't win, that trying your hardest is winning.

I believe in putting your heart out there, speaking your truth, and letting the consequences happen as they may.

I believe in love as the panacea to fix most everything.

I believe things have flaws and cracks and problems and they are perfect like that because through those cracks, as Leonard Cohen says, that's how the light gets in-our flaws are the avenue to growth and understanding to the Divine.

SAN FRANCISCO YOGA TOUR

MAY 19-22. 

I believe that I see the Divine in every person, creature, plant, and rock. I believe that the Divine has infinitely many forms and what does the Divine care if your offering to the Divine is religious service, or a prayer in the form of a decadent flourless chocolate cake to share with family and friends (for example). And since the Divine comes in so many forms, it is indeed the Divine who accepts your gift with gladness and thanks. Why not pray with your gifts, with what makes your heart sing, indeed that is a true offering.

I believe in a steady groove and a line of notes blown out the end of a saxophone.

I believe in people coming together to make miracles happen.

I believe in Girl Scout cookies.

I believe in traveling, getting outside your box, your neighborhood, and learning what's going on in this complicated, intricate and incredible blue marble of ours.

I believe in developing compassion by putting yourself in another person's shoes.

I believe in listening, and why not listen on a great sound system?

I believe in discipline with a healthy dose of conscious indulgence.

I believe in local business. I believe in helping out the little guy.

I believe in helping each other make our dreams happen.

I believe in showing up.

I believe in giving someone a chance.

I believe in music.

I believe in caring about our environment because I believe that we can individually make a difference.

I believe in standing up for what you believe, especially in a way that is honoring, respectful, and non-harming to others.

I believe in trail running.
I believe in watching others shine.

I believe in a good belly laugh until tears flow down your cheeks and you become hysterical.

I believe in the benefit of the doubt.

I believe in miracles.

I believe in accomplishing your wildest dreams.

I believe in making your space beautiful.

I believe in creating sacred space.

Again, I believe in love.

 

I believe in sharing. Please share what you believe.

 

Scott

 

On Stillness


Yoga Sutra 1:2 Yoga citta vrtti nirodhah. Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind.

One of our principle objectives in yoga is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness. We can practice mindfulness while doing almost anything: walking your dog, riding your bike, practicing yoga, or just sitting.

Getting quiet and drawing in to stillness is necessary for any good work to happen. It's this quietness, this stillness, that allows the busy waters of our mind and emotions to settle enough for us to see what's down in the depths our being.

When we find this True Self, our work becomes effortless because we no longer feel that we are trying to affect anything from a personality we've conjured from a pretense. Rather, our work generates from this deep relationship with who we truly are. Our work is simply an extension of our deeper selves, the self that knows everything.

Our work, our medium is, as one good friend says, the loudspeaker of the soul.

To find this voice, we get quiet.

Can I suggest a stillness challenge? Give yourself 10 minutes of meditation each day this week. Devote a time, lock the door, turn off your phone, let your family members and pets know that you are having some alone time and even set a timer. Start with 10 minutes and if it feels incredible, go longer.

Here are a few simple ways to practice:

There Is Practice
Simply sit, close your eyes, and acknowledge what you sense, all of your senses. Without value or judgment, simply state what you are experiencing. Rather than identifying with the pronoun "I" simply say in your mind, "There is the sound of traffic, there is fatigue, there is worry, there is an incredible urge to rush to
Hatch Family Chocolates and eat 40 pounds of truffles." You know, whatever thought, emotion, sensation occurs. Simply state what is. Try not to identify with it. Just watch it.

Count Your Breaths
Choose a number and count your exhales down from that number to zero. When you loose your place start back at that number. If you get to zero, start back at that or a different number. Keep you mind only on your breath. This is a deceptively difficult practice, I feel.

Mantra
Mantra means to transcend through the use of your mind. Simply find a phrase that means something to you, a scripture, a poem, some tidbit of inspiration, and repeat it in your mind. Words are powerful. You are your word.


Scott

Check out this incredible event:

San Francisco Yoga Tour May 19-22

 

 

The Woman I Love

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I'm married to the greatest woman in the world.

I just LOVE her! She's the perfect partner for me. One thing about her that I discovered about her early on in our relationship was that because of my relationship with her I was a better man and a better person. She sees and celebrate my strengths. I want to step up to the occasion to be honor such an incredible woman as this. THAT'S how I knew that she was the woman that I'd spend the rest of my days with.

I'm so happy to have celebrate that love with her this Valentine's Day weekend by collaborating with her to host our Couple's Retreat.

We try to treat our relationship like yoga: as a practice. We all know that with relationships, just like with yoga, we can get out of practice, we can get into ruts, and we can down right suck at relationships sometimes. Sometimes the circumstances of a relationship can be out of your control. Sometimes you can steer things differently. Even when things are going really well, there is always something to practice.

Truly relationship (any relationship) is just the closest mirror to the growth that is happening within yourself. If you're not growing, your relationship is not growing. And vice versa.

Like yoga, we can always practice. Practice gives us permission to learn without the need to be perfect. Practice lets you use all for faculties and experiment until you start to get it dialed in. Practice lets try again if you've messed up.

I invite you to treat your relationships like a practice this week. Remember, the greatest gift we can give any relationship is PRESENCE.

Because the Woman I love lives
Inside of you,

 I lean as close to your body with my words
As I can--

 And I think of you all the time, dear pilgrim.

 Because the One I love goes with you
Wherever you go,
 Hafiz will always be near.

 If you sat before me, wayfarer,
 With your aura bright from your many
Charms,

My lips could resist rushing to you and needing
 To befriend your blushed cheek,

 But my eyes can no longer hide
 The wondrous fact of who 
You Really are.

 The Beautiful One whom I adore
Has pitched His royal tent inside of you,

 So I will always lean my heart 
 As close to your soul
As I can.

~Hafiz

“The Woman I Love” by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky from The Subject Tonight is Love by Daniel Ladinsky, published by Penguin Compass. Copyright © 2003 by Daniel Ladinsky. All rights reserved

There's Something In The Tea

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I lived in Korea for a year teaching English and studying meditation. I loved to explore the locals-only part of this fascinating country.

One day a few friends and I wandered into a tea shop in the old part of town. At the back of the shop was a man, dressed in the Han Bok, the traditional Korean habit, who noticed us enter the shop.

Without a word he began to prepare tea. It took us a few moments to wander to the back of the store. By the time we noticed the man sitting behind a small wooden table, the water was hot. He motioned for us to join him. Delighted, we sat on a few cushions lying on the floor in front of the low table. He poured the tea into the pot and allowed the tea to steep.

After a few minutes, he laid out a few delicate tea cups and performed the proper ceremony to serve tea.

He didn't speak English. We didn't speak Korean. Together we spoke the language of human beings sharing tea. We simply sat in each other's presence and enjoyed tea. We didn't need to make small talk. We didn't need to make charades. Words would have been excessive.

Several long minutes passed. Then, we rose and bowed humbly to him. He smiled and bowed humbly back. We left the shop but he has never left our hearts.

There's something in the tea.


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Ananda: Bliss! Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

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Ananda is a state of complete bliss, sometimes achieved by experienced yoga practitioners. One never achieves ananda by perfecting any certain yoga posture. You may feel that you have accomplished something if you are able to understand the principles of and manifest a technical asana, however there will always be another asana that will be too hard. Ananda comes as the culmination of many things. Sometimes, by simply not taking ourselves too seriously.

We can use the asanas simply as tools to help us strengthen our bodies, find our breath, and hone our concentration, all of which will lead us to feel good and find similar joy as the blissed out yogis. Most everyone who has been to yoga, even a few times, has experienced this bliss, to some degree, upon rising from savasana, our resting pose. Bit by bit, we may see that despite life's challenges, there is much to be happy about. In fact, it may begin to feel that joy is our most natural state of being.

If a good sense of humor isn't listed in the Yoga Sutras as a pathway to our highest selves, it should be.

You know, we don't have to be so serious all the time. Take a room full of barefooted, lycra-clad, sweaty, heavy breathers and throw in some gymnastics and breakdancing, a few droning chants and there's a lot to laugh at. Especially because you know that every one in the room at sometime or other is experiencing flatulance anxiety. . .(you know who you are).

My favorite (and I'm guilty of this too) is to see the yogi "look-how-awesome-my-yoga-practice-is" photo performed by being photographed in some outrageous and death-defying yoga posture at the edge of a scenic cliff. How yogic is that? They'll be saying at my funeral, "he was doing yoga right up until the end. . . literally." Then in heaven, I'll have to sheepishly tell all the other people in line to get into The Pearly Gates specifically what stupid thing I did to end up dead. They'll be undoubtedly curious and want me to show them the pose. I'll tell them that I'd like to but that " . . um . . I'm not warmed up." I can see them looking at me and then taking a long look down and say, "well, maybe not yet."

There are all kinds of yoga poses we encounter in daily life. One of my favorites is the balance-intensive, Putyourunderwearon asana. What are your favorite poses? Please leave a comment below.


If you want to read something really, really, funny about yoga check out this New York Times article called Guns And Yoga by Patton Oswald. My favorite line is, "Shooting guns and taking yoga on the same day was the biggest "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" moment I've had so far in my life." One day I'll have a mindfulness around guns retreat called GUNS 'N POSES.

Some people even practice "Laughing Yoga," where someone just starts laughing for no reason and it catches on until no one can stop. This happened to me last April. I couldn't stop laughing for a full 30 minutes. I think about the moment and it still makes me smile. Crazy!

Let's enjoy yoga this week.

Scott