Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still as sweet...

I like to keep a basket of fresh apples at the studio for students to munch on after class. We advise students not to practice yoga on a full stomach so we like to have something they can grab and go with.
There was a golden delicious apple that was in the basket with a bruise on it. I would put the fresher apples on the bottom when I replenished the basket, but the bruised apple was still there. So I finally took the apple myself and had it as part of my lunch. Not surprising to me the apple still tasted as sweet with the bruise as it would have without. What was is about the bruise that was putting everyone off?
We had a garden this year and some of the bounty didn't look as pretty as the ones you might buy at the store, but with a little adjusting it all tasted just as good.
Why do we see a slight imperfection as some thing wrong? Why can't we see it as just being unique? Is that how we sometimes view ourselves or others? We all have some type of "bruise". But how we deal with it is what's important. Do we see it as a flaw, as an imperfection? Or something that makes us unique. A bruise doesn't define who we are, it is part of our character. It's what make me me and you you. After all aren't we all still as sweet inside. Of course we are and anytime you doubt it, just close your eye, see your sweetness that is inside of you and just breathe......

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One Breath at a Time

I found this to be very interesting and thought  I would share it with everyone.  I can't take any credit for it.  The author is Rick Hanson Ph.D. It just reinforces my belief in the importance and magic of a single breath. He is also the co-author of the book "Buddha's Brain".  Good read.
One breath at a time.

[If for you the breath is associated with trauma and discomfort, you probably shouldn't try this practice in its form below. But you might adapt it to something that is more nurturing for you, such as a saying or image.]
Breathing brings you home. Body and mind twine together in the breath. As soon as you become aware of breathing, you're in your body. Speed up the breath and there's new energy. Slow it down and you calm. Inhale and oxygen surges into your brain while the arousing sympathetic nervous system activates and accelerates the heartbeat. Exhale and activate the soothing peaceful parasympathetic nervous system, so the heart beats more slowly. In the breath you are home in this moment, this Now.
The breath feels like life inside. No wonder it's been traditionally linked to spiritual matters. To "inspire" is to inhale - to "inspirit," to uplift.
The breath is always available as an object of attention, whether formally in meditation or informally as a way to recenter yourself. Track the breath in yourself, and know yourself more deeply. Track the breath in others, and know them more deeply.
If all else fails and your mind is screaming in pain or blown open in chaos, there is still the breath. Sometimes all you can do is breathe and know that you are still breathing. One breath at a time. Just getting through this breath. And then the next one. And the next.
Plus, in the knowing of breathing, there is awareness of awareness, not metaphysically or cosmically but as a refuge - if need be, of last resort. Try it: breathing here and now, recognize that awareness is a field or space in which contents come and go, such as the sensations of breathing. You can see directly that no matter what arises and passes away, awareness remains, undamaged and unstained, like the sky that is never harmed by the storm clouds passing through it. When times are terrible, try to be the observing, the awareness, to get some space from the pain and sustain a sense of being intact in your core. You can do this as well when times are good, which will help you both to stay in the sweet spot of enjoying without tipping into the suffering of wanting, and to strengthen your grounding in awareness for when things fall apart.

So far I've always described these "Just One Thing" practices with an active verb, such as "take in the good," "give thanks," or "find strength." I could have done the same here, with "take one breath at a time." But this one felt different. It's not just that we take a breath. Sometimes the breath takes itself. Sometimes it takes us. When the mind and body are really quiet, there's hardly any taking at all.
Whenever you like, find the breath and stay with it through one inhalation and exhalation. You could notice its sensations in your stomach, chest, or around the upper lip. Or the internal sensations inside the throat or in the diaphragm. Or sense the breath in the chest altogether.
Next, see if you can rest your attention in the breath for three full cycles of inhaling and exhaling. Then how about ten full cycles, from beginning to end? Distracting thoughts may nibble at your attention, but disengage from them while sinking more and more deeply into the breath. And if you like, let go of counting and simply give over to the breath, breath after breath.
Somewhere in here, as you become more present in the breath, more absorbed in it, you could experience breathing as the whole body, the whole body breathing.
Try this at night, as you're falling asleep, resting as a body breathing. Or if you wake and can't easily return to sleep, soften the edges of your mind out into only breathing. Breathing blurring out into the quiet of the night.
Be breathing as you do things or have them. One breath at time while dressing, eating, driving, talking, washing, cuddling, writing.
Or simply be breathing. Nothing else to do, no one to be. The simplest job in the world. One breath at a time.
What a relief!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Have You Filled a Bucket Today...

One of my students, Stacey,  who is a school teacher brought in a book for me to read the other day.  I love when students recommend or bring in books , wanting to share their new found knowledge with me.  But this was the first time it was a kids books.

The name of the book is "Have You Filled a Bucket Today"?  Stacey knew that we were practicing random acts of kindness for the month and this book is so appropriate.  Some of the local school systems have brought in this book to the class rooms to teach kids how to fill up others buckets and making sure they understand that is the only way to fill up their own buckets.  Someone who fills up other's buckets with good is a "bucket filler" and someone who dips into other buckets is a "bucket dipper".  Just for clarification a bully would be categorized at a "bucket dipper".

I think that this book should be mandatory reading for kids of all ages.  I read it last Sunday to my yoga teacher training class and had to stifle a little laugh.  As I read, I looked around our circle, they all looked so wide eyed and innocent, like a little group of kindergartners. It was so cute.  But it got the point across.  It's never too early or too late to learn how to perform random acts of kindness.
But I know one thing for sure, I want to be a "bucket filler" when I grow up.  What about you? Oh and of course, don't forget to breathe.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 9.....

Are you already running out of ideas for the 30 day challenge of random acts of kindness?  I hope not but if you are here is one that always a sure fire hit....make eye contact with someone and just smile!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 5.....

"Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference."

                                                                  ~Kevin Heath~

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day Three.....

“Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
                                                                                                        ~Scott Adams~

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Day Yoga Challenge (Off the Mat)

If you opened this expecting to read about a 30 day Sun Salutation challenge, it's not.  But for some of us it may be harder to do.
I am asking everyone, for the next 30 days, to perform at least one random act of kindness each day, preferably anonymously.
Why? Because it's time to change the world one kind act at a time, because it's a win-win for everyone.
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky found that by performing five small acts of kindness/week, particularly a variety of them all in one day, can boost our moods. Dopamine levels raise in the brain and activate the brain's pleasure centers. We are stimulated immediately but the effects also last over time. Not only do random acts of kindness make the person receiving the kindness feel good, but think of the benefits for the person performing the random acts of kindness!
If you follow us on Face Book we will share  an inspirational quote each day for the next 30 to help keep you on track. I will also do my best to post here a little more regular with words of encouragement.  If you would like to share some ideas, that would be appreciate.  Anonymous is better but all random acts of truly appreciated.
Come and join the revolution and become warriors of peace one act of kindness at a time and don't forget to breathe.