Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Setting an intention for the new year

The new year is fast approaching and the time to set a New Year's Resolution is here.  I propose something a little different, more in line with a yoga mindset of compassion...setting an intention.

A resolution, at least the way it seems to be done, is to say, "I'm going to workout 3 times a week."  Then you buy your gym membership, do it for two weeks, start to slip and by February the mindset is, "screw it."  It seems to be a more black and white thinking, either you 'do it or you don't' mentality, which I have found for myself to be unsuccessful. Because changing habits takes time and you will falter, and that's okay.  Just get back up and try again and you will slowly move towards changing habits.

I encourage setting an intention that is more about the internal instead of external because the external is not something we have control over.  For example, instead of "I will exercise three times a week," creating an intention of "I will live a more healthy lifestyle."  This not only includes exercise, but also what you eat and how you treat yourself and others.  That way when you have a day that is difficult to get to the gym, you can still focus on eating healthy and being kind to yourself, as well as just going for a walk around the neighborhood.  When you have an urge to skip the workout, eat five cookies, or lash out at someone, the intention of living a healthy lifestyle can help guide you to make a more conscious choice.  "I'm tired, so instead of the to gym workout, I'm going to go for a walk."  "One cookie is enough and I'm going to savor it...or maybe I'm just going to eat and apple instead."  "I'm really upset what that person did!  I'm going to go for a walk and let it settle and decide how to address it."  An intention can help to slow our impulses down and more consciously decide about what action we want to take.

An intention fits better in working towards something using a more compassionate mindset. A compassionate mind set is one that includes kindness to self and others, remembering common humanity and mindfulness.  These are three traits that Kristin Neff of has found to be key in creating self-compassion.  With an intention, if there is a day of struggle, instead of feeling like a failure and giving up, a compassionate mindset allows for exploration.  Use mindfulness to get curious.  Why do I feel unmotivated today?  What do I need to do to take care of myself so that I can come back to my intention? I am a human being and that means I will have ups and downs, I will make mistakes and that is okay.  How can I learn from the ups and downs and mistakes to move forward?

I've used setting intentions for the past few years and at the end of the year, it's been amazing to look back on the journey and see how far I've come to that intention.  It's been uplifting and empowering.  The first intention I started with was a sentence from my first yoga teacher training with my teacher, Prasad Rangnekar.  "I'm 100% responsible for my life."  I kept saying this to myself, had it posted up to read every day and remind myself of it. When I had to face a challenging situation or felt emotion rise up in my body or noticed a thought of judgement, I came back to this sentence and it helped me to go inward and learn more about my own patterns, rather than just blame others and get bogged down in anger and resentment.  It's still one of my main practices and has served me well.  I know that I have control over how I meet every situation and it has been empowering.  Since it was an intention rather than a resolution, I've stuck with it and I keep coming back to it because it is a practice not a perfect.

May you enjoy setting an intention for the new year!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Abundance versus Fear

The theme of abundance versus fear has been an area of focus this past year in my life through my study of the Yamas and Niyamas.  The Yama of Brahmacharya or Nonexcess speaks to this.  We live in a culture where most things are done in excess in order to strive to be number one, whether it be a big house, the best car, the most fit, or consuming to find that 'thing' that will fill your heart's desire so that you can finally be at peace.  I am in awe at living in an area that many people have at least a one car garage, yet the vehicle is parked outside because the garage is too full of stuff.  We seem to be unable to let go of things "we might need later" as a way to feel safe and secure. 

When I lived in India, the realization that most people live in 1-3 room homes with 4 plus people and function quite well made me realize the excess and waste I live in.  I was curious to why this is.  One of my conclusions comes back to I come from a nation that lives in fear.  No other nation on this planet has the litigation system we have.  No other nation has such a complex tax system.  No other nation has such a massive military.  No other nation consumes as much stuff per capita. I believe this is due to fear.  All you have to do is turn on the TV to see in advertisements the things that you are missing to make your life complete or the doomsday drama of 24 hour news.  All of this leads to a focus on lack which creates insecurity and fear. We struggle to slow down and enjoy life by just relaxing because of this too.  We struggle to feel good enough or worthy enough because we are constantly being told we aren't.

The only way to change this is to take responsibility and start to practice abundance.  What I mean by this is to be aware, daily, of all that you do have, all that is going well, and that you are okay right now.  Here are some specific practices that have helped me to focus on abundance:

1. Limit media/ screen time.  Take a moment to really average how much TV and social media time you spend a day and then commit to cutting it down.  I've really come to see the news like a soap opera.  You can tune in once or twice a week and you really haven't missed a whole lot.  We live in a time that information is at our fingertips, 24 hours a day.  It can become addicting and overwhelming.  It feel like the world is the worst it's ever been in the history of mankind.  The truth is that the world has always had wars, greed, and corruption.  The difference is that we have access to all of it all the time. The problem is that we end up tuning out to our own lives and the relationships around us that help us to feel connected and loved.  Instead, use some of this time to read a book, play a game with your family, start a hobby.  Be active in your life rather than just a bystander.

2. SLOW DOWN.  I can not emphasize the importance of this.  Our go, go, go lifestyle puts our blinders on and we forget to just pause and enjoy this amazing earth we live on.  How to do this?  Set an alarm on your phone or watch that reminds to to stop and take 5-10 deep breaths.  Go for a walk and be aware of nature around you, breathe the fresh air.  Have a morning routine that allows you to move slow and relax into your day.  Stop planning every moment.  Schedule in a relaxing family or friend night.  Meditate!  There are a number of great apps out there now with wonderful guided meditations like Insight Timer, Headspace and Stop, Think, Breathe.  This is the most important way to practice slowing down. Take time to breathe!

3. Gratitude. Each day, take a moment to write or say what you are grateful for.  Here's a good template for this: I am grateful for _______, because ________.  The area of Positive Psychology reports that being grateful every day is part of what helps people to feel happy and content consistently. 

4.  When buying things, stop and ask yourself, "do I really need this?"  Our culture thrives on impulsive consuming as a way to feel good about ourselves or show our love.  I have found more peace in not buying something because it's a conscious choice, I'm reminded what I already have and don't need more of, I don't feel regretful after spending money on something frivolous, and it's helped to remind me that peace comes from within, not from the outside.

5.  Practice being in the present moment.  The easiest way to start this practice is pausing during the day to take deep breaths, feeling and being aware of each one.  Also, taking time to check-in to different body parts and notice sensations that might be happening there.  Guided ways to do this are yoga nidra and progressive muscle relaxation.  Click here for my yoga nidra audio recording on YouTube.

These are just some of the ways to practice abundance.  Try something each day and notice how it affects your attitude and outlook on the world.  We need to commit to going to abundance and not living from a place of fear we've been conditioned to do. Begin Within!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The practice of yoga is available at any moment

As I am working on expanding services that Samya Yoga Healing offers, I'm reminded constantly how every moment is a learning and opportunity to move past limiting patterns, which is the heart of yoga.

I would describe myself as having a tendency towards being an introvert, autonomous, and loyal.  The first surprises most people, but is true.  I am someone who enjoys being alone and being alone helps to recharge my batteries.  When I'm contacting a lot, putting myself out there, I can end up getting tired, more anxious and overwhelmed...even if  I'm having fun.  I tend to want to do things on my own and learn by researching and doing...thus it can be hard to ask for help.  When a person enters my world, I am there to support and empathize.  When I find a service that I love, I tout them to the moon and back.  This can also make it hard for me to change a service, even if it's in my best interest.

These three patterns have had many opportunities to expand and change over the past few years with starting and expanding Samya Yoga Healing.  It's been challenging at times, but once I'm through it, I'm so grateful for my comfort zone being pushed and I feel empowered.

I had one of those times today.  If you go to my website, you'll see that in the future, I will be offering some online courses.  I was so excited when I decided I wanted to pursue this.  I started to brainstorm what these courses would look like, feeling more confident.  Then I came up to the, "how do I actually do this?" I started researching a quickly became overwhelmed as this is a new area for me, especially on the tech side.  In the past, my interactions with technology that is new would lead to feeling overwhelmed. I would be filled with anger and frustration, self-doubt, and wanting to just give it the middle finger. But, in my goals with Samya Yoga Healing, I've learned that this doesn't help and keeps me stuck by not taking any action. 

What's helped me most is pushing the boundary of "I can do it myself" to asking for help so that I can do it myself.  I even used technology to help with a lot of this. Just by using search engines to ask questions and then getting my answer, I've learned quite a lot.  Wow! There are people out there posting so many resources to answer almost any question you could imagine.  This fits well with my tendency to be more autonomous, not having to call or talk with someone to get that answer. 

Today though, this was not the solution.  I had been thinking about contacting the customer support for my website hosting for a few weeks, but all those self-doubt thoughts kept me from doing it.  "What if my question is stupid?  What if they can't help me?  Will I have to change everything and that will be so much work!"   Today, I did it.  I called the number and my self-doubt and fear were quickly shown their predictions were completely false.  The tech support was supportive, helpful, and he's now my contact guy for any questions I have in the future.  He was excited about what I'm doing and looking forward to helping me make my goals happen in a cost effective way.  There's that empowerment feeling again! Also gratitude, and humor at how much my limiting thoughts kept me from doing this before. 

What does this have to do with yoga?  Yoga is the practice of self-awareness to notice how sensations in the body, breath, and mind are either moving us toward or keeping us away from who we truly are and our full potential.  What I went through today, pushing through the fear to ask for help and trying something new, opened up possibilities and gave another experience in how self-doubt is not my truth.  If I had listened to it, I would have continued to be in the misery of wanting to create online courses and being stuck in taking a step forward in making it happen and feeling more and more like maybe it's not possible.  Taking a breath and making that phone call broke through the block and I'm flowing again.

Remember, yoga is not just a physical posture class you go to a few times a week.  It can be a lifestyle and daily practice, at any point in the day, that moves us towards self-transformation and a more content, peaceful existence.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Practice of Gratitude

It's November again and, in the US, this month represents giving thanks and gratitude with the holiday of Thanksgiving Day at the end of the month. 

Gratitude, to me, represents a practice that goes beyond a day or a month in the year.  In our modern world, we are filled with constant "reminders" of what we don't have and what we need to feel complete, which is usually something in the material world: the latest gadget, specific brands, bigger house, more luxurious car...the list goes on and on.  The fascinating thing is when we get these things, the joy and contentment last momentarily and then we are on to the next thing we "need," never feeling complete.  This is the focus on lack. 

This focus also happens on an emotional and spiritual level too.  I live in a mountain community that likes to call itself "Happy Valley." Underneath this facade, things are not so "happy." One example are the suicide rates, which are much higher per capita than the big city down the road.   Why is this?  One thought is that people come here with certain expectations of living the mountain life: where it's beautiful, there's access to so many fun activities, no worries, and if it's a great place to visit, it's gotta be amazing to live here. (Hence the name "Happy Valley").  But, all who come bring their mental and emotional baggage with them as well as the mentality of "work hard, play and party hard," it's a recipe for lack disaster.  All around, the message is "this is the best place to live," "there are no worries here because it's all so good," and "nothing bad happens here."  So, if a person isn't doing well they start hiding it or start trying to do external things to fill the lack that can be self-destructive or numb out. Lack thoughts reek havoc. "There's something wrong with me because I'm not happy."  "I'm not good enough."  "I'll never get ____."The ultimate escape being suicide.  National Geographic has a great article specifically on this topic.

The practice of gratitude is the focus on abundance.  We all have abundance in our lives and regularly reminding ourselves of this can be uplifting, calming and centering.  The world of positive psychology reports that those people who feel more content in life regularly practice gratitude.

So how to do this?  First, picking a time of day to bring it into your daily routine.  Just like we regularly brush teeth, eat, bathe...making gratitude a part of this.  Second, a template.  A great way to do a gratitude is using this template:

  • I am grateful for _______, because ________.
Third, start by writing them down or saying them out loud with a family member or friend.  You can even do both by texting someone your gratitude(s) each day and vice versa.  By doing this on a daily basis, when those thoughts and feelings that come from focusing on lack creep in, you can counteract them by reminding yourself what you are grateful for and what you do have in your life that makes it amazing already.

The big challenge is committing to doing this until it becomes a habit and more natural.  It's a process and it takes time.  Especially since many of us have been focusing on lack for decades.  BUT, the rewards of focusing on abundance are worth the effort and I think you'll find that this simple practice has immediate results.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to talk about gratitude because it's created more contentment and enjoyment in my life.  Practice gratitude!


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

We all deserve boundaries

Over the past few months, I have been talking often about boundaries with people I work with, friends, and family.  The roll boundaries play in our relationships with others and ourselves is an important one, especially for our personal growth.  Many times our belief systems may keep us from setting appropriate and necessary boundaries for ourselves. A clue when we aren't setting healthy boundaries is when we are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted from being excessively busy and starting to engage in self-destructive behaviors, i.e doing things excessively (substance use, work, shopping, eating, TV watching, etc).

In my personal reflection of when I engage in excessive behaviors and my work with others, I have come to believe that a deep root of the cause of excessive behaviors and struggle to set healthy boundaries comes from negative core beliefs: "I'm not good enough," "I'm not worthy enough," "I need to prove myself," and "I don't deserve..."  This is the heart of most of our human struggles and what can keep us from growing and thriving.

The practice of "No."
This is a challenge for so many of us.  At work, saying, "no," may bring up fears of being fired, not being part of the team, and not being liked.  At home, the self-doubt may say, "If I say no, I'm a bad mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter..."  With friends, the fear of not belonging or loosing the friendship may loom large.  The things with all of these fears and self-doubts is that generally they aren't true and if they are, usually we don't want to be a part of an organization, friendship or relationship that doesn't honor the right to say, "no."  I have found that practicing saying, "no," allows me to have less stress and more down time, leads to others respecting me more, and I feel more confident and loving towards myself.

A way to start this practice is make something about you a priority.  For example, maybe it's 15-10 minutes of meditation 5-7 times a week.  If this is the commitment, then it can guide you in when to say, "no."  If this practice is in the morning, family members have to figure things out for themselves during this time, you don't let excuses allow you to stay in bed, you don't schedule early morning appointments, and you get to bed at a reasonable time so you can get up.  If this practice is in the evening, you don't schedule things during this time, family members have to problem-solve things for themselves, and other activities are scheduled around this.  Try it with something for 2 weeks and notice how you feel and how it feels in your relationships.

The practice of saying "yes."
Two of the hardest things to say "yes" to can be to trying new things to get out of our comfort zone and habits, and asking for help.

The daily routine is important, but reflect on what is in your daily routine.  How do you relax at the end of the day?  Is it spending 2-3 hours in front of the TV or computer?  Do you down a six pack or a bottle of wine? Are there more healthy ways to relax?  What are you willing to try?  What about people you surround yourself they lift you up or bring you down?  If it's the latter are there new activities to try where you might meet people who lift you up?  Is your tendency to do the exact same things day in and day out with a part of you jealous of what others are doing?  Take action!  Try something new and see what happens!

Asking for help can be one of the hardest things.  My first question to you is,  "when someone asks you for help, how does it feel and what do you say?"  Most people enjoy helping others and connecting.  It helps to foster feeling a sense of community and gratitude.  Yet receiving help can be such a challenge.  Take to time reflect, "WHY?"  What excuses keep you from asking for help...maybe one of the core beliefs.  I can't tell you how many times I've had someone who is coming to see me struggles with scheduling regular appointments because, "someone else might need it," or "someone who needs it more so I don't want to take there time."  We all need help at some point and we will all help someone at some point.  It's all okay!  Asking and receiving help decreases stress, builds relationships, and helps us with to remember we aren't alone.  Asking for help is not being weak, it is having courage to be our best selves, to be vulnerable, and to grow.   BrenĂ© Brown likes to remind us that the root of 'courage' comes from the French word for heart, 'coeur,' so that courage means 'to speak from the heart.'  This is part of the practice of asking for help.

We all deserve to have healthy boundaries to keep our lives full of self-love, connecting with others, and taking care of ourselves so that in the end we can keep on giving.  The analogy I'll leave you with is from flying in an airplane.  Why is it that they announce if the oxygen masks come down, you are to put yours on first before helping others?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Embracing emotions

I have been talking about emotions and embracing them often in my work, so I wanted to pass it on.

We all have emotions.  What are they?  They are part of our physiological reactions to stimuli outside and inside of us.  They are more related to sensory input and the Autonomic Nervous System.  Just like a finger is a part of the hand, emotions are part of our mind/body system.

The issue comes when we start to place judgement on them.  Anger, resentment, guilt, fear are "bad" and joy, gratitude, contentment are "good."  When we start doing this, we instill a belief system about those sensations and then our behavior acts it all out. If I'm feeling sad and I've decided this is not okay, I start to avoid sensations that are involved with being sad.  Maybe stuffing it, maybe getting upset at something else so I don't have to feel it or hurting someone else.  Maybe I start to drink or use drugs to feel something different.  It's like a self-punishment system for feeling this way despite it being a normal response to many situations.

When I feel happy and see this as "good," I will start to do anything I can to keep this state.  Eat more, buy more, be around people to help me feel good, doing more and more of whatever it was that made me feel this way.  This can also lead to substance abuse issues, unhealthy relationships, and overdoing.

In recognizing or becoming aware of these labels of "good and bad" or of avoiding or over indulging, we can start to move past the beliefs and work on sitting with the sensations of emotions.  This can allow us learning from them.  Emotions are something to embrace as they are some of our best internal teachers and highly available to us.  Try it.  Sit in a comfortable seat, feet on the floor, spine fairly straight.  Inhale and exhale for a bit, observing the breath.  Maybe notice the temperature difference between in in breath and the out breath through the nostrils.  Maybe aware of parts of the body that move with the breath.  No judgment, just noticing.

From there, think of a time that you felt angry recently.  Allow the memory to come back into detail and notice the sensations in the body and the breath.  Staying here for a few minutes.  Noticing, remembering and feeling.  Then come back to the breath.  Notice the breath for another minute.  Next, think of a time where you felt content or peaceful.  Maybe a time when you were in nature or with a person you enjoy.  Allow yourself to remember this, feeling it and notice it. Staying here for a few minutes.  Then gently coming back to the breath again.  Feeling and noticing the breath.

Some emotions feel better in the body and some feel more uncomfortable.  They are not "good or bad."  They don't have intention of causing harm, in fact their intentions are to keep us safe.  If we can keep that intention in mind and move towards them as new friends...being curious, asking questions, and giving them our attentions they can move us towards healing and a more peaceful place of being.

For a guided instruction to this practice, go to:
Samya Yoga Healing - Observing Emotions

Life and death

As I was going for a peaceful morning walk around my neighborhood this morning, I suddenly had emotions well up, tears coming forth.  This happens more and more often as I slow down and just notice the world around me.  In this moment, I was struck by the magnificence of life, the beauty and  feeling overwhelming gratitude to live where I do.  I was gone for about a week and a half on vacation and was amazed at the changes in the environment around me, how much the trees had filled out, the plants had exploded into life and all the bugs, birds and little creatures busying about.

Life is just truly amazing.  I've been taking a course with Tom Myers this past year and I love his fascination with the miracle of life for us humans.  My understanding of how profound this process of the beginning of life has grown from my archaic and basic knowledge of the fastest sperm meets the egg and 'boom' life begins to how much more involved it is.  In fact, this previous, simple explanation of conception isn't correct. The egg itself is encompassed in its own container that all the millions of sperm swim to and start to ram into as hard as they can to make a little dent. Over and over this is done until, finally, one little sperm gets that last hit that penetrates the container and conception happens.  It's not this very  American view that "the fastest and best wins" but rather a team effort occurs to make it all happen.  It's not done alone!

Then there's the flip side of life, death.  Such a word that most people spend their whole life trying to avoid and beat.  When it is as equally amazing as life.  I decided to try my hand this year at starting some flowers and herbs by seed.  I transplanted them into pots before I left on vacation and when I came back some were flourishing and others had died.  This may have been due to the health of the plant before I transplanted it, possibly too many seedlings in one spot, sunlight, water, soil.  Some of these seedlings had very short lives and others will have longer life, though all will eventually die.  I've noticed how easily it is to fall into wanting 100% guarantee.  Guarantee that if I exercise and eat right, that there won't be sickness.  Guarantee if I wear the right clothes, have the right car and house that I will be happy.  Guarantee if I take all these courses, read all these books and listen to these podcasts I will be good enough at my job.  As these seedlings show, there is no guarantee.  Just because they made it out of their seed pod and were thriving, doesn't guarantee life will continue.

When I think of self-doubt that comes up with transitions, trying new things and following passions in regards to life and death, it starts to make me laugh.  There's no real reason for self-doubt.  Since there's no guarantee, why not jump in and embrace the ups and downs because who knows how long we have to experience these explorations of life. I don't think one blade of grass is looking at another blade saying, "Wow, look how green, symmetrical and straight that one is. Look at me, I have wish I was like that," and then shrink back down, away from the sun.  Hell no!  Grass it doing what it does, growing and growing to fulfill its possible purpose of nourishment for something else, creating more soil, or even to supporting children playing.  Then seasons change and it is gone.

My practice is coming back to the pure joy and amazement of living and then letting go.  One door needs to close for another to open.  When I forget, as I often do, I just need to look outside or go for a walk to be reminded.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Cows Are Back

On my drive to work, I've gotten in the habit of really taking in the beauty of where I live to practice gratitude.  I've developed some "friends" that I regularly see.  A raven that has a certain morning breakfast spot, a large bird of prey who perches a top the high point of a certain tall tree, and the cows in a field grazing.  I've particularly enjoyed the field with the cows, watching the field change during each season.  The cows grazing there, fertilizing.  The hay growing into a tall, brilliant green.  The farmer cutting the hay, a sweet smell to the air.  The hay laying to dry and then rolled up into bundles.  Then the process begins again and again until frost and snow signal time to rest.  The cows also disappeared, maybe around December.  Then low and behold, the were back last week.  My heart was joyful and I gave them a hearty, "hello, again!"

I've struggled with change most of my life.  I would try to be prepared for as may possible outcomes I could think of and worry about the future.  In doing this, I missed so much of what was happening in the now.  With the seasons, I had come to view winter as dark and dreary, a time when depression would set in and irritability with all around me would come in waves.  I did not like or enjoy this place.

I moved half way across the world to India in 2010 for two years.  I was excited as I loved the time I had visited India years before and couldn't wait to be there, seeped in the culture.  When December came, we had some family and friends come to visit and headed north for a two week excursion.  Despite the amazing things we were seeing, the old, familiar depression filtered in.  It was at this moment when I started to finally grasp that it wasn't the place or environment I was in that caused me to feel was me.  Here I was in an amazing place, rich with culture and history, among loved ones and I felt heavy.

I already had the blessing of meeting my teacher, Prasad Rangnekar.  When he asked me to join his yoga teacher training for the following year, my entire being said, 'yes,' without a thought. I was ready to face myself.  Through his teachings and the teachings of yoga, I've been able to answer, "now that I know it's me, what can I do to change this?"

It's been four and a half years since I've committed to this path of self-transformation and committed to daily sadhana (practice).  I'm reminded of the quote (which I will paraphrase): Chapter 1: I walk down the path and fall into a hole.  I have no idea how I got there and I know it's not my fault.  It takes a long time to get out.  Chapter 2: I walk down the path, I fall into the hole AGAIN.  I can't believe it and wonder how it happened again.  It takes time to get out. Chapter 3: I walk down the path and fall into that hole again.  This time I realize I got myself there.  I get out more easily.  Chapter 4: I walk down the path, I see the hole and I walk around it.  Chapter 5: I take a different path.

India was Chapter 3.  My teacher trainings and sadhana for the first three and a half years have been Chapter 4.  And I've realized that I'm now turning some of the pages of Chapter 5 as I have come to see the beauty and joy in change, to celebrate it and thank it.  Don't get me wrong, there is still some anxiety that comes up, but I treat it as a friend.  I realize it's my body and mind letting me know there's something there I still need to address and learn from.  It's empowering and motivating. This winter, I realized the cows are back.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Ahimsa and 'light' on the mind

I'm sitting on my couch for the fifth day, sick.  A nasty head cold.  It's been a wonderful trip into all the "shoulds" trying to run my life.  The first is, "I shouldn't get sick."  Somewhere along the line, my mind decided that eating healthy, exercising, using medicinal grade essential oils, practicing yoga and its principles, being good to others, and helping others "should" GUARANTEE that I don't get sick anymore. Ha ha ha! (Oops, just fell off my chairs I was laughing so hard at myself).  Then what other thought is able to sneak in there because of this...Oh, yes: "I'm not good enough since I got sick."  WHAT??!!  How does the mind go from "I'm sick," to "I'm not good enough."  If I get sick, I'm not good enough...hmmm.  The really fun thing is that it only applies to me.  Yup, I'm that special.  Nope, not to you, just me.  Getting sick happens as a natural part of being human for everyone else, just not this human.

The next should is, "If I get sick, then it can last only three days tops and then I should be feeling better."  Crap!  It's been five days with no relief in sight.  "There's something wrong with ME."  Oh, yes, I'm to blame since it's lasted more than three days.  I've done everything I'm 'supposed to do.'  I lathered my body religiously with my oils, I've stayed at home, missed work and skiing, ate soup, rested, watched movies, and drank herbal tea, tea, and more tea.  So it MUST be me.  No other explanation.  (Except may it's just being sick).

Third should is, "if you're going to just be hanging around at home all day, you should get some things done!"  That's right folks, no "relaxing" ALL DAY LONG, when there are things that 'should be done.'  Now this one really creeped in on Day 4.  I mean, how am I to explain this to the powers that be that I'm sick when I can still walk, move my body, not on my death bed?  Get to work!!!  Again, that sneaky "not good enough" and "this only applies to me" popping up again.  Can't these two just leave me alone!

Fourth is, "If I'm not puking, have a 104 degree temperature, and can barely lift my pinky, I should be getting myself ready to go back to work."  There's a part of me that looks at this and says, "But I've not gone to work and don't want to get others sick...I've been working on this one."  Yet, if I truly own up, there's been a part of my brain that has been thinking about how to make up some of the time I've missed from not being at work.  Hence, going back to number one, "I should not get sick."


This month I'm focusing on Ahimsa, a yama and ethical principle of yoga, meaning non-violence or the meaning I like of 'love in action.'  This week's focus has been on balance and listening to the body to create balance in meeting its needs.  As a great lesson, I promptly became sick. I am grateful as it's been a wonderful opportunity to stop and listen.  And realize how much my mind struggles to listen to my body and it tries to be in control by creating amazing alter-realities, which most likely feed into the state my body is in right now.  Ahimsa can not fully be realized until the mind's alter-realities that are usually rigid and negative are dealt with, this I am sure of.

Here's to a year dedicated to slowing down, listening, creating awareness and working towards fully loving myself, others and the environment.  And here's to the head cold!