Monthly Blog

A Gift from Adversity

For the last few years I have been feeling overwhelmed with the amount of hatred in our culture and in our country. Ever since the last election, it has been them against us. The hostility has been real, regardless of the side you’re on.

Personally, the intensity has been stifling. Even laypeople will start discussions with great disdain, and the division between us has been palpable. I have often wondered “something has to give”. How much longer can we live under this duress…enter Covid-19.

I am not grateful for this virus, even though my family and I are safe, I am aware that there are many fighting for their life and many fighting to save lives. Families are being torn apart and the situation is no joke. There is great suffering going on.

Nevertheless, this virus has awoken the sleepy giant of compassion, and for that I am grateful.

My husband and I watched the One World: Together at Home concert last month. It was viewed by more than 20 million worldwide. There were beautiful messages from people all over the world. Stories of incredible service from one human being to another. They were songs written inspiring faith and hope. The deliberate acts of kindness were abound! The tears just flowed from both of us.

A virus, smaller than bacteria, invisible to the naked eye, has brought us to witness, and hopefully, understand that there are no division between us expect the ones we create. It is teaching us that color, race, size, class, and education, have no bearing on the spiritual truth that we are all interconnected.

We are connected by our humanness, our being. Our triumphs are everyone’s triumphs, and so are our failures. The only separation that truly exists between us is our judgements, our attitudes and our egos.

So next time you find yourself quick to pass judgement, perhaps you will pause, look beyond the exterior demeanor, and see the human being with compassion. Consistently practiced, you will discover, that all human beings are the same human being as you.

One world…one human race…together at home!

How to Stay Sane

This is a great article with sound advice on how to stay sane in this phase of social distancing and staying in place. We are all responsible for our well-being: body, mind and spirit.

We’re turning to the professional guidance of Dr. Smith. Her suggestions are easy to work with during these challenging times.

Take a few minutes to read the entire article written by Suzanne J. Smith, Ph.D for Lakefront Psychology Blog.

Here are a few of my favorites from this list:

-Eat and drink in ways that nourish you.

-Develop a new normal. 

-Connect with people you care about.

-Be compassionate with yourself and others. 

-Create things to look forward to.

 

Yoga is More Than Exercise

Yoga is more than exercise; it is a way of life. A way of being.

Yoga is a spiritual path, not to be confused with religion. Modern yoga has emerged in the west primarily as a physical practice, an exercise.  However, the physical part of yoga is only one branch in Yoga Sutras of Patajanli: The Eight-limbs of Yoga (see illustration below). The Yoga Sutras were compiled prior to 400 CE, so it is an ancient body of work. The branch related to the physical practice is called Asana, later extended to Hatha Yoga. It never ceases to amaze me that the template for living well transcends time. It applies to everybody regardless of the race, religion, century, level of education etc.

Today in the West there are many styles of yoga under the Asana/Hatha umbrella. There is Power Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Slow Flow, Restorative Yoga and Athletic Yoga to mention a few. However, in the yoga lineage (see illustration) Ashtanga, Vinyasas and later in the twentieth century Iyengar, create the foundation from which modern yoga emerged.

As an instructor when I started teaching yoga, I intentionally  focused on the physical practice. I wanted to make yoga accessible to many, who may be turned off by the spiritual sides of yoga. Interestingly, even just practicing the Asanas, opened spiritual doors for many of my students. When we start quieting the mind, concentrating on our physical body and focusing on our breathe, a journey inward occurs. It is only the beginning.

As a teacher, students sense the spiritually in my classes. It is because yoga is a spiritual practice for me. Every day I try to be conscious of my spiritual values. I practice and study  different areas of the eight limbs. They are a great guide for one’s spiritual development. As my work evolves and my studies deepen, I hope to bring more of these teachings to my students.  We can all use positive guides on our journey.

Namaste ~Grace

February-The Month of Love-ing Kindness

This is the month to recognize and show love. It should be a 365-day-a-year practice! Nevertheless, it’s beautiful that we have a day that puts love on the calendar. One of my favorite “love” practices, is Metta Meditation.  Metta Meditation comes from the Buddhist philosophy. It is the conscious practice of sending loving kindness. It’s a simple meditation, however it is profound.

The first person you send loving kindness to is yourself. You cannot give to others, what you do not have for yourself. Your ability to love, is only as deep as the love you have for yourself.  It is intricately connected.

The second is a good friend. That’s easy to do. Friends are the family we choose. It feels wonderful to send loving kindness their way. It’s easy to send love to people you care about.  It’s like sending them a special gift they will never know they’re getting.

Third is a neutral person. It could be someone you frequently see at the check out in the supermarket,  perhaps your mailman or maybe a neighbor you don’t really know. It feels good sending loving kindness to someone simply because they exist, and are a part of creation.

The fourth is a difficult person. This one is more challenging. Our tendency is to shut down when it comes to difficult people. Some people are not easy to like or love. They try our patience and sometimes make our life miserable. Sending them loving-kindness helps them and it also helps us.

The fifth is all sentient beings. This is one of my favorites. It allows us to expand our awareness far and wide, with good will for everyone. It’s one of the things I love about Buddhist philosophy. It is not just about the improvement of one or a few, it is about rising everyone. We are only as good as our weakness link.

Take ten minutes a day, sit comfortably and go through the list using the simple metta- meditation script below. Repeat four more times, replacing “I” with the names on the list 1 through 5.

May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be free of suffering
May I live in peace
May my life be blessed with ease

This simple practice has many benefits, the best ones are developing inner happiness and peace. It’s a beautiful practice that can be practice by everyone, regardless of your religious beliefs. Sending good intentions helps rise the positive energy of ourselves and our world.

Letting Go: A New Year’s Resolution

This month’s blog is dedicated to Colleen Collins, a former student who recently passed. Her passing was sudden and without much ado. Colleen was not the easiest personality to get along with, honestly, which personality is? We all struggle with our own idiosyncrasies.

Colleen inspired me. She wanted her journey to be sacred, and was aware of her shortcomings, reminding me that even when we are aware, it is nevertheless hard to manage and navigate. Frankly, it’s a daily struggle.

She didn’t give up, but she was learning to let go.  Letting go is the hardest part of the journey. I am going to use her inspiration to practice letting go this year. I am letting go of things, thoughts and habits that no longer serve my life’s  goal:  to be my best self (notice I didn’t say ‘perfect self’).  This year, I want to let go, embrace my humanity, and grow spiritually. In order to give the world the best of ourselves, we must first learn to let go.

Back in 2013, Colleen gave me this poem (below) She Let Go. It is no coincidence I saved it in my journal, to share with you today. Thank you Colleen for your inspiration. May the sun and the moon shine with you, forevermore.

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. Let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go. She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on it. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all the memories that held her back. She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read the daily horoscope.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter a word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.