Sunday, February 27, 2011

Opening the Heart Chakra

For the yogi, everything is yoga.  Yoga is life.  I think this becomes the normal way of thinking for the person who sees themselves as a yogi.  Yoga is no longer a series of poses or asanas but rather a way of living your life.  The ideals of enlightenment become your approach to the circumstances you encounter.

Tonight, in my first class as an instructor, our lesson will focus on opening up the Heart chakra.  The Heart represents the fourth of the seven body chakras.  It is the balancing point, a fulcrum of sorts, between the the material world and our inner/spiritual world.  It is a bridge that connects our survival instincts to our ideals of knowing who we truly are and finding our purpose for living.  It is in this chakra that we begin to connect to peace and seek harmony in our lives.

The Sanskrit word for the Heart is Anahata.  In its literal translation it means unstruck or unhurt.  So, despite the fact that we all suffer and endure personal pain, the heart still has this immeasurable capacity for love.  Sometimes out of unconscious self-preservation we try to shut this chakra down, which only serves to create more suffering because the true nature of the heart is to love.

The element associated with the Heart chakra is Air.  I find this so sublime because love like air wants to fill up all of the spaces inside of us.  It will take on the shape of its vessel and at the same time cannot be contained.  Through breathing (pranayama) the Heart is strengthened and toned.  But one must bring a deliberateness to the act of breathing.  It must be deep and you should mediate from time to time on the beauty and significance of this chakra.

In yogic practice, the Heart is considered to be feminine.  The feminine in all of us yearns to release and let go of the temporal aches and pains and disappointments in this life.  The very act of breathing can enable this release to take place, to massage our hearts and enlarge our ability to love not only others but also ourselves.

Set aside a few moments to shut out the world.  Bring your hands together in prayer position.  You will find that your thumbs fit nicely against your sternum. Bow your head to your heart and begin to breathe steadily and easy.  Deepen as you go.  Feel the inhalation and exhalation in your belly.  Pay attention to the beating rhythm, you will soon begin to feel it throughout your entire body.  Give thanks to your Heart for its continued work, you really do owe it your life.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Quantum Leaps

Okay, maybe not quantum but I have taken a leap.  Leaps are good.  In some form or another a leap propels you forward, albeit at times down (occasionally gaining speed as you splat against the concrete).  Leaps are wearing your heart on your sleeve.  Leaps mean you are willing to risk public embarrassment. Leaps also mean you are open to the possibility of soaring as you spread your wings and take a chance.  Leaps do your heart good, regardless of the outcome.

And what you ask am I leaping around about?  Yoga.  I've decided to instruct my first yoga class!

Oh don't you worry, I've already mentally gone through all of the reasons that I shouldn't do this, reminded myself of all the ways that I am not qualified.  But, in the end, I've decided to risk it and do it anyway.  Failure to launch fears be damned.  And to be completely honest, those voices of opposition have been pretty small in proportion to the expanding part of me that WANTS to be a yoga teacher.

Practicing yoga has been and continues to be a force in my life that has opened me up.  Gotten me in touch with something deeper.  Something connected to everything else.  I suppose in a way it is for me the theory of everything.  The place where it all comes together and yet infinitely expands at the same time.  Amazing how so much can happened on one small 2 x 6 foot plot of real estate that can appears to the onlooker as slow and static.  Yet there I stand in Warrior, slaying my demons one conscious breath at a time.

With my whole heart, I believe that life rewards action.  The parable of reaping what we sow is as relevant as it has ever been.  I once read about a Zen master who looked on the mind as a garden.  The soil already contains the seeds of all that life can possibly offer ~ the good, the bad and the neutral.  It is up to each person to cultivate and care for their garden ~ this is in essence the responsibility of your life.  Your emotions are the catalyst to growth and development.  How you respond to your world is how your garden grows.

Don't spend your time worrying about the weeds.  Tend them daily.  Don't spend too much time gazing at someone else's garden and wishing it were your own.

Nurture the qualities you desire to bloom within yourself.  Do it by design.  Lead with your heart.  And take a leap with your soul every now and again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.  Thoreau

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Go Boldly

The benefit of time is that it allows us to experience and experiment with the facets life has in its learning library.  If you pay attention you can draw conclusions for yourself that at first might not seem obvious.  But the key is that you must stay mindful.  You must bring body-mind-spirit attention to the nuances that are playing out in, through and around you.

Try thinking of your lifetime as an opportunity to interact and be the instigator of an array of ideas and ventures.  When you take on this paradigm the world opens up wide to the desires of your heart.  In essence you cannot fail.  You'll become a data interpreter for your own unique existence!  There are things that will work and things that won't work out so well.  This is not to say that you throw common sense to the wind, you will still want to pursue life with your intelligence acting as a compass, but you will tune out more of the herd noise and seek life on your own terms.

For me, detachment has probably been the most important skill that I have been learning in this lifetime.  I can see how moving into mastery of this is helping me to pursue new directions.  Detachment doesn't mean you don't care but instead that you are not married to the outcome of any particular event.  You can just let life move and happen without having to have it a certain way, remembering that every decision you make moves the compass hand of experience.

Your beliefs about yourself are also powerfully important.  Allow your beliefs to change.  See yourself as a positive force in the world.  Seek to better everything you touch.  Think outside the box.  Although everything that is within your possession is in some way a manifestation and reflection of you, dare to change the rules!  Refuse to let the things that support your comfort dictate the principles by which you live.  Life is a dynamic process, your thoughts from 20 years ago shouldn't necessarily be what you are building your life around today.  Growth means change, which means allowing what you've learned to become a part of the unfolding.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Thought to Action

It is not enough to just think that you want something.  You must want it enough that it moves you to action toward its attainment.  If you cannot bring yourself to physically move in the direction of what it is you think you want, you really need to re-evaluate how you see that particular circumstance manifesting in your life.

We can see another's lack of discipline so easily.  We roll our eyes when they say that are going to do a particular thing.  We don't believe that they will be able to carry through to the place where commitment finally leads to success.  Why?  Because they have not outwardly flexed their muscle of perseverance.  When the chips are down, so are they.  Is this where you see yourself?

Everything you take on and have goals around succeeding at is going to require work.  It is true that all tangible things are birthed in thought but until those seeds meet the refining fire of discipline and determination there can be no expectation of change.  Natural talent has its reward but in some cases serves only to make the talented lazy ~ not willing to move beyond what has always come easy.

Beyond anything else, discipline can change your life.  We all dream.  We can all imagine utopia.  We all have passion.  If you want people to take you seriously ... stop taking about it and start doing it.