Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Ask Parvati 18: TO DO OR NOT TO DO, THAT IS THE QUESTION. PART 4: KARMA YOGA: ACTION AS A MEANS TO SELF-REALIZATION
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Ask Parvati 18: TO DO OR NOT TO DO, THAT IS THE QUESTION. PART 3: IN THIS MOMENT, WE HAVE ALL WE NEED
Monday, June 27, 2011
We believe what we see, feel, taste, touch, smell and think is something solid and fixed. Time then becomes something externally imposed, to which we are confined, rather than a temporary structure that can serve, but is not absolute. Sri Ramana Maharshi goes on to say:
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
PART FOUR: Yoga, Ground, Rebound
(Continued from: Witness, Release)
The practice of yoga has been one of my great teachers. Through various yogic techniques, I have been shown how to be more comfortable within my body, more present in the moment and more aware of how this sense of individual self is one within a greater whole.
Each yoga asana (pose) offers a precise and unique way to learn how energy flows through our body/being. Specifically designed to encourage the flow of vital, life-force energy in certain directions, yoga asana can teach us how to live rooted, vital and expansive, meeting what is with grace and ease.
As we allow ourselves to relax, our body settles into the ground and our vital energy naturally moves downward toward the Earth. If we are quietly watching at that time, we begin to realize that there is an equally strong presence that meets and supports us, rising up under our feet, moving energy upward and into our body. It is as if when we ground, there is an energy rebound. I first came into contact with this concept thanks to wonderful yoga teaching of the late Esther Myers and her teacher Vanda Scaravelli. The insights they shared pointed to elements in what would later become my yogic expression, YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine.
For me, there are two zero points in yoga, one horizontal, one vertical. They are the foundations upon which other poses are build, points of reference we can consider as we move through more complex physical sequences. The horizontal zero point is called in Sanskrit savasana or corpse pose. It consists of lying on your back, feet about one foot apart and arms alongside the body.
The vertical zero point is called tadasana or the mountain pose. Let’s give it a try. Standing erect, feet hip width apart, which means you have the distance of one of your feet between your feet. Your knees are neither locked nor bent, simply relaxed. Let your navel move gently back towards the spine. The tailbone tilts slightly inward towards the front of your body so that it releases like a plumb line towards the Earth. Your eyes are fixed on a point in front of you, as the crown of the head broadens and floats gently upward towards the sky. Shoulders are relaxed.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Allow your awareness of your breath to deepen, allowing your breath to be natural, not forced. Notice what you feel in your body. Imagine that your spine is the central channel of energy that runs through your body/being. It connects the sky and the earth through you.
Scan your body. Where do you hold tension in your body? Where do you feel relaxed? Can you allow yourself to continue to open, to release, to feel a flow within a whole? Let your feet root and settle into the ground. Feel the energy move downward, towards the core of the Earth. Feel your feet.
Notice the crown of your head. Let it float, effortlessly, upward. Feel your connection to the cosmos, the whole. As your feet release into the ground, the Earth meets you and a wave of energy flows up through your body towards the crown of your head.
Allow the connection between your feet and your head become a whole, so that you are rooted in the awareness of your physical sensations, the energy the flows through your body and you are aware more globally of you sense of place within the whole. Feel within. Feel without. Feel the flow between the inner and the outer and let these become one.
Practice this when you are standing in line at the supermarket, at the bus stop. Whenever you are standing, you can practice finding your sacred ground. That way, the next time you feel you have to stand your ground, you will be rooted both within yourself and within the whole. You will feel your own sense of worth from your connection to the eternal cosmos, rather than willfully from your finite ego. You will see the temptation to react as a teaching from the divine, offering you lessons to deepen your awareness as the infinite being that you are.
May you dance in the infinite upon sacred ground.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
PART THREE: WITNESS, RELEASE
(Continued from: Standing Sacred Ground)
When we feel rooted, vital and expansive, our feet are like magnets that anchor us to the Earth, which in turn feeds us, supports us and gives us the foundation we need to build our lives. We then can receive the support we need to remain present, within ourselves, sensing our inner being for what we feel, what we need, how to move in each moment. We are connected.
From this vantage point, the person with whom we felt we needed to stand our ground becomes an opportunity to let go of feeling attacked, of feeling separate, of feeling unloved and unsupported. They become our teacher.
By practicing three simple steps when we feel attacked, scared or triggered, we can unwind our reactive tendency to defend, and learn to retrain our brain to see life from a whole new perspective.
Step One: Understanding
Understanding is our first step in moving from a fear-driven life to a life rooted in love and trust. When we understand the nature of the impossibilities, we understand that our reactivity and our defensiveness come from a limited sense of reality. When we react and are defensive, we are not seeing the whole picture. By having a limited perspective, we are short-changing ourselves of the fullness of this moment. We understand that what we see is a sort of mirage or illusion, like reflected light upon the sand looking like water. When a cloud covers the sun, we may only see the cloud, but we still know that the sun is still there, shining as bright as ever.
Step Two: Witness
Our second step in letting go of reactivity and defensiveness is learning to witness what is. When we learn to see things as they are without attaching an additional story over it, we free ourselves from becoming dramatically wrapped up in our perceptions and those of others. We begin to free ourselves of the grip of the ego and live in service to the flow.
Step Three: Release
Step three, release, happens as a result of step two. When we begin to see things as they are, we experience a letting go of the tendency to want to defend, to control, to see ourselves as separate. We realign ourselves with a much greater whole, of which we are a part.
Next time you find yourself feeling reactive, or having your buttons pushed, see if you can practice these three simple steps to keep you feeling rooted, vital and expansive:
(Concludes tomorrow: Yoga, Ground, Rebound)
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
THE ANGRY LIVER: HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIVER HUM
So far this week, I have addressed emotional, ecological and spiritual effects of anger. Here, we take a look at some of the physical and energetic aspects.
If you are feeling irritable, frustrated or angry, you may have constricted liver energy and you may need a liver cleanse. As we move through spring and into summer, it is useful to know that there is a biological correlation to the tendency in summer for tempers to flare.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) understands the liver and gallbladder as the seat of anger. Our common language reflects that when we say, “that galls me”. Anger is related to too much heat in the liver.
Traditional East Indian medicine known as Ayurveda associates liver with Pitta, the fiery element. The liver’s hot quality provides the fire of digestion, gets us up and going, and keeps us able to process and digest not just food, but information we take in in every moment.
The liver, as its name indicates, is associated with our will to live. In TCM, it relates to the wood element, which allows us to grow and expand. When the wood energy of the liver is in balance, it helps us work in balance with others. But when the flow becomes constricted, we experience something like an energy traffic jam, which makes us feel pent up and ready to blow.
Life is full of setbacks with things often not going as we want them to go. If your body and mind are in balance, you can go with the flow with greater ease. But when the liver is constricted, there is less room for energy to flow and heat begins to rise.
Losing one’s temper can feel like a release valve has just blown. For a bit, we can feel relief. But usually, we have to pick up debris and we find ourselves no further ahead than before the blowup. We have discharged the energy that has been blocked in the liver, but not solved the problem.
Everything that you ingest passes through your liver via the blood. Since the body does not know how to get rid of many of the unnatural toxins we ingest daily, such as chemicals, preservatives and additives, many toxic substances end up stored in the liver. Once overloaded, the liver begins to have trouble digesting and eliminating wastes from the body. This can then lead to a buildup of toxins in other organs and tissues.
Diet and exercise are essential for a healthy liver. A daily yoga practice that is balanced and well-rounded provides an excellent way to detoxify and tonify the liver, as well as all of the internal organs.
During the winter, we tend to eat heavier foods to keep up the internal heat and keep us warm. In the spring, we must change our diet to help the liver flush out toxins and meet the challenge of the summer heat. We need to start eating more raw foods, lighter foods. If we enjoy fried foods, we must let go of this till next winter. Include lots of fresh, leafy greens in your diet. Avoid red meats, fatty foods, alcohol and congesting foods like cheeses. Your liver will love you for it.
Some indications you may benefit from a liver cleanse are frequent irritability and temper flares, a tendency to get headaches, sinus issues, feeling groggy in the morning, or feeling easily flushed in the face.
There are many herbal tonics for keeping your liver humming, most easily available at your local health food store. Spring is the ideal time for the cleanse, letting go of excess fat from the winter, making room for the extra heat of the summer.
It is optimal to consult a health care practitioner prior to a deep cleanse. There are however over-the-counter cleanse kits and herbal tea preparations that are generally safe for those of sound health. If you are in the market to pick up a cleanse kit or tea, you want to look for herbal preparations that include one of the following herbs known to support liver health: black radish, burdock root, dandelion root, dandelion leaf, nettle, sarsaparilla, ginger, parsley, yellow dock, peppermint, rosemary, rose hips, kelp, milk thistle.
May we all feel light and in the co-creative flow.
May we all feel the cool support of love.
May we all rest in the richness of our true nature.
May we all be free of the ignorant heat of anger.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
ANGER IS NATURAL, BUT NEVER JUSTIFIED
(Continued from Anger, What a Pain!)
There is a wonderful story that illustrates the effects of anger.
There once was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and said every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail in the fence.
The first day the boy had pounded over fifty nails into the fence. As the days went on, the number of nails driven into the fence became fewer. The boy grew tired and began to realize that it was easier to let go of his temper than to drive nails into the fence.
Finally one day, the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about his success. The father quietly asked that the boy now pull out one nail for each day he was able to curb his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father then took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. The father said:
"Son, you have done well. Look now at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You may say cutting, hurtful words to someone. You may even throw punches. But no won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry', the wound from your actions will still be there."
If we could all see the effects of our ignorant and hurtful actions, our hearts surely would burst into sincere remorse with the desire to be forgiven and act only in compassion. Anger is natural, but it is not enough to leave it there. Part of our call on this human journey is to embody wisdom-compassion as the saints and sages did. When we see a bigger picture, we see that anger is always born out of ignorance.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama reminds us of the power of our emotions: “Hatred can be the greatest stumbling block to the development of compassion and happiness. If you learn to develop patience and tolerance towards your enemies, then everything becomes much easier–your compassion towards all others begins to flow naturally. Happiness cannot come from hatred or anger. Nobody can say, ‘Today I am happy because this morning I was angry.’ On the contrary, people feel uneasy and sad and say, ‘Today I am not very happy, because I lost my temper this morning.’”
Anger can become addictive, like a bad habit on overdrive. Seduced by its surging heat, for a moment we feel like kings. But we will not find there the happiness we deeply seek. The Buddha says, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
When the heat of anger arises, it takes a humble willingness and profound courage to release the notion of againstness, feeling hard done by, feeling life is happening to me; and open to love. We must truly understand that there is no health or evolution or good that comes from blame or judgment. When we truly understand this, anger looses its attractiveness. We see life from a broader vantage point, as a bigger picture, one that is rooted in love, trust and interconnection. When we live in this, we become truly wealthy. In the Bible, Psalm 37: 14-16 reads:
"The angry ones draw their swords, the angry ones aim their bows
To put down the poor and the weakened and to kill those who walk on the path of righteousness.
But their sword hits their own heart, their bows will be broken.
With his poverty, the righteous one is richer than all the angry ones in their abundance."
(More tomorrow: The Angry Liver: How to Make Your Liver Hum)
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
ANGER, WHAT A PAIN!
(Continued from The Irony Of Anger)
I have a particular soft spot for the short little green guy, the master Jedi knight known as Yoda. (Ok, now you know I am a big time Star Wars and sci-fi fan.) The enlightened teacher skillfully sums up the role anger plays in our demise. He says, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
If we are to learn to meet anger as an ally, we must learn to touch its gems by undoing the painful grip of anger. Anger hurts us when we feel it. Withheld anger causes headaches, ulcers and cancers. Unbridled anger puts ourselves, others and those we love in harm’s way. We have only one healthy option when we feel anger: understand that it is caused by not seeing reality clearly, and committing to seeing a bigger, more accurate picture of what is. In so doing we let go of its seductive grip and we learn to embody the courage of love through compassionate understanding.
I love the Longfellow quote: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
As we learn to undo the pain of anger, we see that when we are angry, we are in judgment, we are blaming, and we are afraid. When we unravel the judgment we feel of others, we learn to see their frailties, their need for love and their ignorance with understanding, love and acceptance. We can do this because we know that all of those painful emotions are also emotions we too can feel.
Feeling anger is a natural, human thing. It is a teacher, showing us the power of the mind’s projections and the innate power of consciousness. We have the ability to either destroy or create. The choice is ours.
Just as we learn that our tendency to become angry is born out of a judgmental, divisive mind, we learn to not be angry or judgmental of ourselves for being angry. We need to be kind to ourselves when we feel the heat of anger rise. We need to learn healthy ways to self-soothe and remain rooted in the reality that all is perfect in this moment, that we are love, that we are loved. In that safety, we can find the courage to relax, look deeper within and get to the source of what we are really feeling. When we express our true heart, everybody wins.
(Continues tomorrow: Anger Is Natural, But Never Justified)
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
(Continued from Look Behind The Anger To Act Awake)
THE IRONY OF ANGER
“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” - Eckhart Tolle
Anger is a hot emotion. As it courses through our veins, we feel the surge of adrenaline. We feel powerful! Blinded by that power, we feel we can leap buildings, take on an army, even conquer the world. Anger can be a tremendous motivator, providing raw energy to make big changes. As primitive man living in the wild, we needed that energy surge in order to survive because we lived in the fear of constant attack. But as we evolve, we understand that to live with the constant fear of attack comes at a great cost to our health and to our well-being.
When we react in anger – blow up, yell, call names, slam doors, road rage – our primal circuitry is on overdrive. Unconsciously, we have convinced ourselves that we are displaying how terrifying and powerful we are. But when we look deeply into anger, we can hear in it a soulful cry for help. Anger shows us not that we feel powerful, but that we feel terrified, overwhelmed, out of control, incapable and powerless.
Is it not true, that when we feel angry, immersed in a boiling, surging moment, we are completely convinced that the problem is “out there”? When we feel angry, we blame. We judge. We attack. We do so because we feel attacked. We feel unsafe. We feel threatened. We don’t feel in balance. We don’t feel loved and safe.
Whatever it is that triggered our anger has shown us how we feel unloved. Because of that, we want to push feeling so exposed away. We want to stop that feeling, destroy it, and get rid of it! When we are angry, we react unconsciously. We have lost the fullness of the moment. Those primal instincts have kicked in. Tunnel vision is all we know, telling us how to get out of perceived danger - fast.
When we are willing to be humble, we learn to slow down. We learn to drop our weaponry, open to what is and greet anger as our teacher. Anger shows us where we have lost our connection to the fullness of the moment, which is always love.
Let’s go back to our roommate with the noisy TV who was disturbing our sleep. When we allow the anger to get the better of us, we will throw off our bed covers, storm out of our room and do something rash like just go turn off the TV without saying a word, or yell at our roommate for being so insensitive.
When we take a moment to calm down, take a few deep breaths and look within, we see that likely the roommate meant no harm. Even if he was annoying us intentionally, that would be an expression of his ignorance and his own feeling of being unloved. His actions and choices are no reflection of us. Likely his actions were a simple oversight, nothing more. By calmly saying what we are feeling and what we need, the problem can likely be resolved.
When we look at the moment and meet it as it is, we need to remember that our baggage distorts the lens through which we see the world. Perhaps we had a controlling or absent parent who was insensitive to our needs. Perhaps we grew up feeling unsafe expressing what we needed, so we don’t really know how to do it as adults.
When we meet seemingly straightforward life situations that set us off for apparently no reason, we can be assured that we have touched some of our personal baggage. The roommate inadvertently pushed our unconscious button and before we know we it, we are not going to talk to some neutral guy sitting in our shared living room, but we are on a crusade to confront an insensitive parent who never gave us the love we needed.
Taking the time to calm down helps us see clearly the moment as it is. When we see the roommate for the roommate, we begin to see him as a gift to learn greater discernment and act with greater compassion. He also just provided us with an opportunity to lighten our baggage load and live more freely within ourselves.
(Continues tomorrow: Anger, What a Pain!)
Monday, June 13, 2011
LOOK BEHIND THE ANGER TO ACT AWAKE
(Continued from Knowing What You Feel Gives You Power)
We receive powerful information when we listen to our emotions. What we do with that information separates the wise from the foolish. The challenge with anger is that, like fire, it is quick, sharp and potentially destructive. When we feel angry, we must learn to take time to cool down before we act.
We must learn to read the early signs of anger in our emotional landscape. Usually we first will feel uneasy, restless and tense. Then we may feel irritated. This leads to feeling annoyed, then angry. The movement towards feeling angry can be surprisingly slow, even over a long period of time. But once we become angry, our mood can quickly escalate into feeling irate, raging, wrathful, violent and hateful.
Once we feel anger, we have awakened the beast within. We have become the lion that roars, the gorilla that thumps its chest, and the shark that attacks. All we see is the need to defend. Just like many animals, we instinctively attack when we feel attacked. But the difference between animals and humans is our ability to act with awakened consciousness.
When we react in anger, we usually create pain for ourselves and for others. We say things we later regret. We destroy things we later wish we had kept. We break trust we later wish we still had. Following the impulse of anger rarely serves the greatest good.
When we go deeper, we learn to touch what is really driving our anger. In my experience, at the root, we always end up touching fear. In the case of the roommate with the noisy TV, we could say simply, we were afraid that we were not going to get enough sleep. At one level, surely that is true.
Perhaps, deeper still, our roommate with his noisy TV has given us an opportunity to realize that in fact, we never really feel safe. Perhaps we have felt a low-grade anxiety all of our lives, a pulse that moves us to feeling separate and unsafe. When we touch that pulse, we see that our deepest fear is our fear of not being loved.
Our anger shows us the ways we believe we are separate; the ways we don’t feel loved or supported; the ways we don’t believe love exists.
In Marianne Williamson’s words, “What is not love is fear. Anger is one of fear's most potent faces. It does exactly what fear wants it to do: It keeps us from receiving love at exactly the moment when we need it the most.”
(Continues tomorrow: The Irony Of Anger)