In Friday's class we looked at the concept of patience. There is always such a rushed feeling when the holidays are here so we focused on slowing down. The following is a Zen story about balancing effort and patience that goes like this:
"There was a young man in Japan who wanted to be the greatest martial artist of the land. He thought that to reach this goal, he must study with the best instructor, who lived many miles away. One day he left home to go study with this great Zen teacher. After travelling for several days, he arrived at the school and was given an audience with the teacher.
"What do you wish to learn from me?" the master asked.
"I want you to teach me your art and help me become one of the best martial artists in the country," the young man replied. "How long must I study?"
"Ten years at least," the master answered. The guy thought, ten years is a lot of time. I want to get his done sooner than that. I don't have that much time. Certainly if I try harder I can complete this task quicker.
So he asked the master, "What if I studied twice as hard as everyone else? How long would it take then?"
"Then it would take twenty years," replied the master.
The guy thought, 'That's even longer! I don't want to spend twenty years learning something. I've got other things to do with my life. Certainly if I tried really hard I could learn it much quicker'. So the student asked again, "What if I practiced day and night with all my effort, then how long would it take?"
"Thirty years," was the master's response.
The young student became confused and wondered why the master kept telling him it would take longer. He asked the master "How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?"
"The answer is simple. With one eye focused on your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way."
"what is my purpose in life, what is my responsibility?
whether I like it or not, I am on this planet
and it is far better to do something for humanity.
so you see that compassion is the seed or basis.
If we take care to foster compassion,
we will see that it brings the other good human qualities.
the topic of compassion is not at all religious business;
it is very important to know that it is human business
that it is a question of human survival
that is not a question of human luxury....
It is clear that even without religion we can manage.
However, without these basic human qualities we cannot survive.
It is a question of our own peace and mental stability."
Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth writes, “To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly.”
Is Your Gate Open or Closed?
I dreamt of a gate last night. It was my current aluminum fence in my backyard that I saw but not the actual gate that is there. Well, actually, it was there in the right spot and closed as it should be. But in the middle of one long side of the fence there was a white plastic gate, child size, and it was swinging open. I do normally pay attention to symbols in my dreams, but I don't always make a theme out of them! However, before I fell asleep last night, I had asked my guides to let me dream about what my yoga class theme should be for this morning, so here we are.
A gate symbolizes many things. According to dreammoods.com,
" To see or pass through a gate in your dream suggests that you are walking through a new phase of life. It also represents new opportunities and possibilities, especially if the gate is opened or swinging.
To see a closed gate in your dream signifies your inability to overcome current difficulties. If you are unable to open the gate, then it indicates that your hard work will be seen as unsatisfactory. It may also mean that you are not ready or not prepared to move on to the next step.
To dream that you are climbing to the top of a gate suggests that you are trying to gain an upper hand on some situation. You want to know what is ahead for you before you commit to something. If you climb over the gate, then it means that you are looking for a shortcut in life. It may also refer to your impatience."
I also see a gate as a filter. Closed, it stops people from coming in and open, it allows access to you. Are you filtering out people? Are you filtering out the right people? Are you filtering out the people that feed off of your energy and deplete you?
The gate I saw in my dream was cheap plastic and much smaller than the rest of the fence. Someone could easily step over it. Make sure, especially with the holidays very nearby, that you solidify your gate to those people who should not have such clear access to you. Energy vampires are people who make you feel emotionally exhausted. They don't necessarily mean to be draining, they just are. You still smile and imagine showering them with love and light, but you protect yourself by closing the gate.
Make sure the gate is open to those energies that are loving and positive. “The fence that makes good neighbors needs a gate to make good friends”. I would use this analogy if you are one to head out into the shopping crowds as well. A ton of people means a ton of positive and negative energy.
This idea of a filter might also be necessary as far as the throat chakra is concerned. Sometimes it is better to put up a shield and offer love than it is to let someone know exactly what you think, if you know what I mean. Can you filter your words before they come streaming out?
I love the TV show Jr Master Chef, because the kids version is so different from the adult version. The adults do not filter their thoughts or spoken words and say a lot of mean envious things. The kids do not seem to filter their words and thoughts either and they say the most beautifully encouraging things to each other. They always congratulate someone for their win and they always lift someone when they are down. The adults do not do this.
I had another thought about this open swinging gate filter; could it offer some type of self reflection? Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote, “The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image.”
Are you open to seeing you for who you really are? Is your self-image a true representation or is it illusory?
It pays to be present to your dream state as well as your wakened state:
“Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.” J.R.R. Tolkien
The Things You Resist...Persist
I saw Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues sing last night. He sang a song called "What You Resist Persists" and, I thought, we certainly know that is true in yoga!
Pigeon pose is a great example of this. Pigeon pose is definitely a hip opener as well as a mind opener. If we resist letting go and relaxing in pigeon, the pose becomes an obstacle for the body and the mind. And this feeling will persist until you transition out. But when we allow ourselves to let go and relax into the pose, a new awareness unveils itself to us. The pose is no longer an obstacle but an evolution.
The chorus of the song says, "Cause what you resist persists/
I just let it go, let it flow".
That is the message we need to embrace on and off our mats.
One of the issues with resistance is found in its definition: "the attempt to prevent something by action or argument."
When all our energy is being poured into resistance, our mind stays focused on the object of our resistance. The Law of Attraction is going to be very happy to follow your train of thoughts and bring you more of your object of focus because like attracts like. The Law of Attraction doesn't do this in a vengeful, I'm going to get you kind of way; this Law wants to give you exactly what you ask for and your thoughts are requests whispered to the Universe.
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists." Eckhart Tolle
"Today I choose not to struggle anymore, today I choose not to fight against the whole universe, against what is, against the present moment, and I allow things to just happen and I know that by doing this I will in fact allow myself to grow and develop as a human being. Today I say Yes to the Universe!" purposefairy.com
What Are You Trying To Say?
The Universe helped me stumble upon an Office Maxx that was merging with another one of its stores and so the entire store was 80% off. Why move stuff from one location to another if you can find a way to get other people to carry it out the door for you?!
I was immediately lured to what I try to stay away from buying any more of...the journals. Hi, I'm Sandra and I am addicted to journals!!! There is something about the hard cover designs housing what seems like endless blank pages that sucks me in every time. I like the feel of the journal in my hands much like I do a book. I am definitely not a e-book person; I want to hold a book in my hands and be able to underline and bend pages for the day I might go back through them. I like the design on the journals. Some I choose for symbolic reasons while others for whimsy. I'd like to be able to tell you that this time in the store I chose one or the other but, since I left with about twenty journals, it was a lot of both!
Another thing I like about journals is that the pages are blank. Even though I am aware of this, I still open each one and flip through the pages as if I could get a glimpse into the inspiration that will eventually find its way there via my tool of preference, a mechanical pencil.
Your yoga mat is much like the paper in my journal. It is a blank canvas waiting to see what sequence you will create, rather than sentences. It waits to see what poses you will form instead of letters. And every time you come back to your mat, it's like re-opening the journal and starting another page.
What guides your writing?
What guides your practice?
On a good day, for me, the answer to both questions is flow. When I write, I encourage my pencil to go full speed ahead. I will look back later to see if anything made sense, but...does it matter? My conscious mind has full accessibility to guide me. On mat mat, I am fully present so my conscious mind can guide me as well. I don't want to do a pre-planned or repetitive sequence; I don't want to think about what comes next. I just want to organically move from my heart into whatever shapes my body seems inspired to move into.
"Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning; I wanted to know what I was going to say." Sharon O'Brien
When I am done, I'm done. I close the journal for another time. I roll up my mat and do likewise.
Don't let the fear of what's to be written or done stop you from exploring. Maybe your story is more about what you cannot or do not write down than what you do. Maybe your dharma on the mat is revealed more by the poses that you choose not to do then those you do.
The unwritten words. The unformed poses. Blank pages. Stillness. Silence.
The Delete Button in Your Head
I don't know about you but I get an awful lot of emails from a wide variety of sites. Some are from sites I have willingly signed up to receive information from and others are ads from stores that keep bombarding me with things I "have to have."
Here are some of the recent subject lines I have received recently:
Become a Spiritual Psychic in 28 Days
Hot deal for you now
Only hours left...
The one that really caught my attention and my sudden ire was:
This Is the Deal You've Been Waiting For
That last one was from Old Navy. I get it's an advertising ploy but, seriously? Have I really been waiting for a deal like this? Why is everyone in such a rush to push? We are faced with this fast pace all the time, but I would encourage you to use your yoga to slow down so these types of messages don't create unnecessary stress as though our time is dwindling to get in the best deal ever! Trust me, it's not. There is always going to be another "deal". And for that type of pressure to be coming at us from anonymous advertising staff who get paid to create a knee-jerk reaction within us via our personal technology almost seems downright invasive; even though we gave them our email and, therefore, permission to come on in. We give all sorts of people permission to come on into our lives but that doesn't mean we need to accept everything they come in with! Right now, especially during the holiday season, we don't need more anxiety. We need less; we need to slow down.
"There is more to life than increasing its speed.” ~Gandhi
Take a few deep yoga breaths right now and consciously start a slowing down process within. Patanjali, Father of Yoga and author of the Yoga Sutras, explains in Yoga Sutra 1.2 "yogas citta vrtti nirodhah"; "yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind."
The constant movement of our minds is normal. But we can use our yoga tools to allow ourselves to be and explore a sense of calm. Just because all the ads and the stores with their holiday decorations out in October are trying to agitate us to move and to buy, we do not have to listen. We can non-judgmentally see the email and then consciously hit delete. When you feel bombarded and that sense of urgency rising, consciously press the delete button of your mind. Give permission to yourself to put that thought in the minds' trash folder. Let it go. I don't need a store to tell me what I have been waiting for. The things I am "waiting" for, I seek on my own: time on my mat, sitting in silence, envisioning waves on a beach.
Eddie Cantor wrote, "Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast- you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."
If your holiday shopping is typically a blur and a crossed off to do list, more importantly, if your life is typically a blur and a crossed off to-do list, stop and ponder this idea of where and why. Life should be a path of love, kindness, family, community, friends. The meaning behind the holidays has somehow turned towards "think fast, shop now, don't miss", but we have the power of choice. We can choose exactly how much of life we intend to ponder and to explore and how much we are going to rush through. It's up to you. Don't be afraid to hit delete.