Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rollin', Rollin' Rollin'.....

As I stated in a few posts ago, I started my week of a lifetime with the Dalai Lama and finished with a 2 day silent retreat.  The retreat center is Lake Huron Retreat Center and it is a beautiful facility. Saturday morning started out kind of cloudy but as the day opened up so did the sun.  The buildings are up on a small hill which means that you have to walk down to get to the water.  Quite a few of us were outside by this time, reading, reflecting, watching nature or recuperating from our mala bead making adventure (more on that later).

I was sitting on the grass on the top of the hill and a thought came to me as I looked down.  When was the last time that I rolled down a hill?  I hadn't a clue. Then I started to have a conversation with myself, after all I was at a silent retreat.  What if I just rolled down the hill?  No, no that wouldn't work, I shouldn't disturb the others around me.  However I am not getting any younger and when will this opportunity present itself again? It was a really was a nice looking hill and if I started rolling to the left I shouldn't hit the stack of wood at the bottom. No, no that's crazy talk, what if you break something.  Oh my goodness, the others will think that I am crazy.  Then again those who know me already know that I am crazy. Oh my, I really want do but I really shouldn't.  Then a very loud voice inside of me shouted  "just do it!"  And I did, I tucked my arms in and just rolled.  It was so much fun!  Once I stopped rolling I could hear the laughter of the group above me.  I went to stand up and decided that was a bad idea, I had forgotten how dizzy one gets when one rolls down a hill.  Once I regained my balance, I got up as gracefully as I could, brushed the grass off my clothes and picked the leaves out of my hair and walked away as if it was something I did everyday.  

Moral of the story? When was the last time you "rolled down the hill". Maybe not literally but metaphorically?  What is holding you back from enjoying life, from being silly, from laughing, from saying to yourself "just do it". Life is not a dress rehearsal people, not sure who to attribute that quote to but it's true.  

I told this story to some of my students and Jean send me a link as to why kids (and big kids) like to spin so I thought I would share it with you also since there seems to be health benefits.

Come on, get up take a deep breath and just roll with it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Change Your Mind/Change The World (Part #2)

The second talk of his Holiness the Dalai Lama was the next day and was held in a different venue than the day before, a much more intimate setting with wonderful acoustics and sound system.   This was also different in the fact that it was a panel discussion with , to quote the event website site "some of world's most respected thought leader to discuss how neuroscience,  environments,  economics and healthcare can combine to make the world a healthier, happier place". Amen!

It was a great discussion and instead of me trying to explain it to you through the miracle of technology  I have attached the link to the talk sponsored by the University of WI - Madison.  The guest speakers asked the Dalai Lama how can we make this happen, this "mind training" that they were referring to and and he  kept on telling them that they need to spread the knowledge, keep on doing what they are doing by educating people.

After the talk, the four of us were discussing his Holiness's request and this is what we came up with.  The people attending these events were already of the mind set otherwise they most likely wouldn't have been there.  How to you get the word out to people that this type of thinking may be new to them or don't even know who the Dalai Lama is (sad, but true). What about the portion of the population that would have loved to attend but couldn't financially afford the tickets, travel expenses, time away from work, no one to watch the kids.  That's where you and I come in.  That is when we start to make a difference.  

Watch the videos and then forward them to as many people as you can.  Start a discussion to get them on the right path. You can and do make a difference.  In the afternoon talk on Tuesday his Holiness said that we  all have this potential inside of us, it just needs to be nurtured and brought out.  

Together we can do this.....just take the first step and just breath.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Change Your Mind/ Change The World (Part #1)

The title of this post was also title of the talk that the Dalai Lama gave  last week in Madison WI and as some of you may know I had the honor of attending two of his 3 talks.

The first one was Tuesday morning at the Alliant Center in Madison. When he walked into the room, tears came to my eyes, just knowing what he as been through and what he continues to do for world peace.  It was more a convention center type of venue and unfortunately with the combination of his Holiness accent and the sound system it was at times difficult to understand him, but the mere energy of his presence was very evident.  There were approximately 3500 attendees so with the combination of his energy and ours, the place was buzzing.

His message that day was simple but powerful.  He first reminded us that no matter what religion or spiritual path that you are on, that it's all good. He kept on saying "same, same, it's all the same".  He also reminded us about a very basic principle, that if we want to be happy we first have to help others be happy.  That's it, sounds simple but at times can be very hard since we live in a world of "what about me". He ended up talking 45 minutes passed what he was suppose to.  At the end of the talk we were told how much money was generated, what the actual costs were for the event and the his Holiness donated the difference (I think it was approximately $75,000) to help support a  Buddhist temple in the area.

Security around him was very tight since we were told by a gal one of my group was sitting next to that there are death threats again the Dalai Lama.  

I want to apologize for the quality of the photo, my hand was shaking from excitement! I also want to apologize if my thoughts seemed scattered, still processing it all.

This whole trip was a gift from an unexpected source and I keep on trying to think of ways to thank them more than I already have, what could I get them what can I do?  They are in a good place in their lives and really don't need anything and let it hit me! Of course, just pay it forward and just breathe.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What a Week!

What an amazing week I just had!  A few weeks ago I told you that I had writers blocks, well after this past week thoughts are just pouring out of me. 

In the last 6 days I saw the Dalai Lama speak twice, went to a wonderful zoo that was free, visited a beautiful botanical garden that is home to a gold inlaid Pavilion that was crafted in Bangkok, Thailand, took a car ferry across Lake Michigan, slept in 3 different beds in 5 days, went to a silent retreat, rolled down the side of a hill (I was channeling my inner child and no I didn't break anything), made my very own 108 mala beads, walked along the shores of Lake Huron, got to know one friend better and made two new friends. Somewhere in between all that I taught 5 yoga classes ,a meditation class and participated in a aerial Yin Yoga workshop. Whew! I really wasn't tired until I just re-read what I just typed.  Ahhh, the power of suggestion.

The first order of business is to share with you the wonderful experience of seeing the Dalai Lama, but that's going to have to wait a day or two, I need to catch a few breathes and just breathe.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'm off to see the Dalai......

Yep, you read right! In mere hours I will traveling to Madison WI to see the Dalai Lama.  I received a totally unexpected invitation from a student who I haven't seen in  a while. That's why you always need to keep your heart open because you never know what gifts might come your way.  If you eyes are down, your face is pinched and your fist's are clenched, you'll never see what's in front of you.

I am so excited.  My wonderful husband and my fantastic teachers will be holding down the fort while I am gone.  I will be back Wednesday. Then home for one day and off to a silent retreat from Friday to Sunday.  Whew!  I will report back next week on both of my adventures.  Did I already say that I was so excited?  I have to keep reminding myself to......just breath.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mysore Style

I just experienced my first Mysore style Ashtanga class and loved it! Mysore style is a specific way of teaching Ashtanga Yoga as first taught by Sir K. Phattabhi Jois in the city of Mysore in India. It is way, way different that what most westerners are used. First of all the class is not "led" by the teacher as a whole. Think of it as private lessons for all of the students that are practicing at the same time. The teacher assists each student individually by giving physical adjustments & verbal instruction then the student goes at their own pace. Usually the teacher will give you a part of the sequence to work on and repeat it until it becomes more familiar to your body and breath.

The main focus of your practice is your breath, your dhristi (your gaze or focus) and your posture.  No pop music blaring in the background, all you hear is the deep ujjayi breath and the gentle movements of the bodies in the room. No comparing your triangle to the persons next to you  because they are in extended side angle pose, not triangle. I will admit that the concept was a little distracting at first but then I got the hang of it.

What is also different is that students come in during the time frame of the class as they wish and leave when they have finished the series that they came to do. You then go to the finishing room to practice the ending poses as not to disturb the students who are still flowing in the practice room. Did I mention yet that I loved it!

When I go to another studio I don't like to mention that I am a teacher, I just want to be a student and learn just like everyone else, because of course I will always be a student of yoga. I went into the practice room with no ego (it's very liberating to practice without an ego, try it sometime) and imagined myself a brand new student of yoga, a clean slate so to speak. Wow, my body felt lighter, I really paid attention to what I was doing and let go of any and all expectations.  

It is amazing of the things that  you can accomplish when you let go of the ego and ....just breath!