Physical Balance

In my last post I wrote generally about balance of body, mind, and emotions.  This time I want to focus on creating physical balance. In hatha yoga, we begin with the physical body because it is the part of ourselves that we can see, touch, use, feel, experience. Keep in mind that any benefit gained in one are (physical, mental, or emotional) produces greater well-being in all.

Beginning with the physical is wise as well as practical.  Calming the mind or emotions, for example, can be impossible if the body chemistry is out of wack. For example, I was in my late twenties when the medical world came up with the  concept of PMS (premenstrual syndrome).  It was a significant breakthrough for women because with identification comes information on how to create balance within the experience.

I read everything I could get my hands on, which actually wasn’t much.  This was pre-internet so magazine, books, talk shows were the best source for current information.  I began paying attention and realized that excessive caffeine, sugar, salt, and a lack of exercise and rest intensified my mental and emotional ups and downs for a week before menses onset as well as the week during as well. That is half of every month!!  As I learned to limit the intake of these foods while walking more (and eventually joining the new rage of jogging), mood swings lessened significantly. I slept better, thought more clearly and joyfully experienced a lessening of the intensity of cramping and headaches.  Life was oh-so-much better!

This experience opened my mind to the idea of the interaction of body, mind, and emotions.  Over the years I have discovered what best keeps me in balance.  I am now post-menopausal so that is no longer an issue.  Now there are other physical issues, like keeping a healthy blood sugar balance because I have a tendency toward hypoglycemia, monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc.

Do I have a formula to offer you?  Nope.

I do have a few suggestions.

Pay attention to:  your physical energy levels with relationship to different types of food,  how you digest different foods.  For example, I noticed in my late thirties that raw onions were no longer something I could digest well.  If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your diet for your age, general condition, etc. perhaps your doctor can refer you to a reliable nutritionist.  It helped me immensely.

Ask yourself simple questions and look at the answers honestly and without judgement:  Do I eat regularly throughout the day so that my energy stays steady?  Am I willing to let go of things that undermine balance and health – like an overabundance of sodas or sweets?  Do I eat more fresh foods that processed foods?  Have I learned to read labels?  Do I get enough rest or am I regularly running myself into the ground?  Have I found a form of exercise that suits my lifestyle and current physical condition?  Do I make time for that a sufficient number of times each week?  Am I willing to try something that is out of my comfort zone, like yoga, meditation, or tai chi?

Talk to people who stay fit, laugh a lot and enjoy their lives.  Never hesitate to ask for guidance or help with creating a balanced, healthy life.

Keep on keepin’ on until new behaviors become part of your normal routine.  You deserve to feel good and enjoy life.

Try stuff.  If something isn’t a fit for you, try something else.  There is no one way that works for everyone.  You get to choose but choose you must.

Above all, find what works for you.

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Afraid of Being Afraid

The divorce became final just six weeks short of my 25th wedding anniversary.  The actual process began with separation about five months before. The journey was intense and filled with disappointment, grief, and fear. I was disappointed in life and in our mutual inability to figure out how to move forward together. I grieved for my children who, as young adults, were losing their family and all the traditions we had built throughout their lives. I grieved for the dreams of what our senior years would have held for us. I feared my own future and my ability to build a life for myself, by myself.

My first response to that fear was to jump into another relationship. It felt so good to be wanted at that point that I was not able to step back and evaluate the experience for what it was. As a result, I took that which was meant to be transitionary and tried to force it into something permanent. Almost four years later, I extricated myself from that relationship and followed my heart and my dreams as I returned to Nevada, to tall mountains and wide open spaces, to family and new opportunities. Most of all, I went to be with my father following my mother’s death. My heart longed to be with him in his initial years of grief and I had no desire to make that journey alone either. We were good for each other and our own relationship was nurtured and deepened in the process.

In the course of those years between the divorce and my return to my beloved West, I was confronted by fear time and again. I was practicing yoga and meditation daily and spent hours walking the countryside with my sweet Springer Spaniel, Basquo. During one meditation I had a vision of a dark figure wearing a cowl with the hood falling forward over its face. Fear came up and I whispered “Who are you?” The figure slowly removed the hood and I saw an ancient face, deeply lined with eyes that lovingly sought my very Soul. Tears welled in my eyes as I felt a depth of love and compassion that flooded every level of my awareness and being. The figure spoke:

I Am Fear and I come as a Master Teacher. My child, you cannot release fear until you release your fear of being afraid. Yes, the energy of fear is intense but it can save your life, elicit courage, and clear your mind. Always when fear begins to rise, resist it not. Rather, stop, soften your body and breathe deeply and slowly. Remember me and say this:  Welcome Master Teacher Fear. What have you come to show me today? Then return to your quiet breath and let the answer come to your heart, to your True Self.

I began this practice that very moment and it is a part of me now. Master Fear has shown me many times that there is no need to be afraid of being afraid. When fear arises, my awareness heightens and I am open to my Truth in that moment. Now fear turns me within to True Self, to the Source of All That I Am. As I am shown what is needed, my body calms down and peace returns.

The core of what I have learned from this practice is that fear arises when I am interpreting an experience apart from True Self. If I am conscious in the moment, abiding in the innate Oneness that I Am, the only fear that arises is that which tells me to take some kind of action to protect myself from physical or emotional harm, e.g. driving defensively when a nearby car skids out of control. The fear that comes up causes the adrenaline/cortisol rush that I need to have rapid reflexes and an astoundingly clear mind. Thank you my friend fear!! In other situations, True Self leads me into the Wisdom Mind for guidance in gathering information, making wise choices, and living from a place of love and compassion.

The process has taken years and it is worth every moment and every ounce of practice that I expended because it has brought me to where I live today. May your journey be clearer and unfold more quickly than mine did. May your heart and mind be open to the Master Teacher we call Fear. May your journey lead you deeply into the peace of your Soul.

Namaste.

Immersed in This Moment

Yesterday I wrote about the power of release. This morning as I sit in my rocking chair to journal and blog, my eyes consistently gaze toward a window. I stop typing and broaden my breath into my rib cage and belly. My gaze softens and I feel my own presence here in this spot, in this moment. I let my eyes close and sink into myself. I am really here. Right here, right now, I am really here.

There is nothing like it. Total immersion and presence in this moment.

Meditation practice makes a moment like this possible. It is not unusual not to feel this way while actually meditating. This is why it is called a practice (look up the meaning of “practice” even if you think you know exactly what it means). What I just experienced was spontaneous and simple and I loved it. This is why I am faithful to the practice. Yoga and meditation create my ability to release into this gift of being fully immersed in this moment.

There are times I experience the same thing in my meditation but, when it just comes to me like it is doing this morning, I am wrapped in the arms of Divine Love and Compassion. It is a Cosmic Hug. It is the Embrace of All That Is as the “I” disappears into the “ALL.”

I love you. Namaste.

Control or Release?

This is so often the question, isn’t it? Which is more powerful – to be in control of a situation or to release control of that situation? It seems obvious that the “right” answer is to release control. Most of us have or are dealing with our control issues. It is easier than it used to be as it is such a common thing to discuss now.

In the path of enlightened awareness, the motivation comes from a deep place within. Intellectually, I am very clear that control simply doesn’t work even though it may appear to in the short term. Self-control is most useful in creating a healthier flow of life, especially until I grow up in some specific area of my life. Once my awareness level catches up with the heart desire to change a behavior, there is little or need to exercise self-control because I am able to flow with that desire in a very natural way.

As with many healing insights, I begin to have a breakthrough when I recognize that the nature of what I am looking at is yet another one of the paradoxes of this human life experience. Power appears to come through the ability to be in the position of control which often manifests in arrogance. In spite of this, I find the most powerful leaders are those who come from a place of humility and deep respect for themselves and others. They know they have the final say but they are willing to listen and learn. In return, those who interact with them trust their right to lead and their ultimate decisions.

How does this manifest in one’s personal life? I don’t have time to write a book this morning so I’ll simply offer a few thoughts. Control manifests in so many ways it boggles the mind. It can be outright, arrogant, and demanding or it can be subtle, deceptive, and manipulative. None of these things lead to true and lasting relationships. None of these things nurture a person’s soul or result in a loving and compassionate expression of self. These things can create a false sense of security in this wild and wooly world. I get it. However, I do not resonate with it.  It took me a long while but I have come to see that trying to control myself or other people or circumstances stops the flow of creative energy in my life. For me, release has proved to be more powerful than any other approach.

Yoga and meditation are my primary tools to develop the ability to release into the flow of my life. How do you respond when you have shared a struggle you are having with someone and they say, “You just have to let that go.” Really? Like I can do that when the pain is up and my emotions are screaming to be heard. Yeah, I’ll just let that go and move on. Isn’t that called stuffing your emotions? When I tried that behavior on, it affected my physical health on a frightening level. In yoga I have learned to release into my body by feeling it resist, breathing into those muscles or joints and inviting them to release into my breath. It works. Then I learned the same techniques work with emotions and mental gymnastics…..as long as I am willing to experience those things as I have learned to experience physical resistance. I must make a space for those emotions and those meandering thoughts. I must be with them long enough to breathe into them and then invite them to release into my breath. In allowing them to exist with awareness, I allow them to fulfill their purpose and dissipate.

This is not always a comfortable process but my yoga practice isn’t always comfortable either. I still do it because I have learned that the end result is well worth the discomfort. My emotional practice isn’t always comfortable but the end result is so freeing, so comforting and self-nurturing that I embrace it fully. As with hatha yoga, the more faithful I am with this practice, the more quickly and easily I move through to its rewards.

Release brings me into the natural flow of life which is much more fun and relaxing.

Aum shanti. Namaste.

Living From the Expansiveness of Your Soul

There are many ways to describe the Essence of Being that is manifesting through this body and personality in this current lifetime. This Essence is known as the spirit, soul, True Self, Inner Wisdom, Higher Self, etc. When I become aware of “someone” looking out the portals of my eyes to see this world, I am connecting with this Inner Being. This is the real me. I like the terms True Self and Soul. This is that part of me that is untouched by the traumas of human life. It is One with All That Is. It is eternal.

The process of enlightenment is remembering (re-membering, re-connecting) that Essence that is Divine, that is Love manifesting in human form. Once remembered, the Soul flourishes and brings the higher levels of awareness that heal and expand me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Practices like yoga and meditation make this process natural, an unfolding into True Self that allows me to feel safe and free to be me!

As my yoga practice came to a close this morning, a sweet mantra came into my awareness. My intention for my morning practice was to remember feeling safe and free to manifest my True Self. As I felt the vibration shift within my body, my heart and mind relaxed and began to align more fully with my Soul. I felt lighter and my face smiled as my breath slowed, bringing me into my truth. Then, this arose in my awareness:

I live from the expansiveness of my soul.

Even now, I stop and close my eyes. As I take several slow breaths, I easily flow back into that feeling of expansiveness in my body, mind, and heart. The joy and love of the Divine flood my being and I know mySelf. Oh yeah…..!

As one who loves you and honors your soul, your presence in this life, I invite you to delve into the expansiveness of your soul and abide there. You are loved, dear hearts. Infinitely and unconditionally loved.

Namaste.