The other day a friend said to me, "I wish I was half as calm as you are."
At first I thought, "Yes, I am lucky to have been born this way." Then I thought, "Hey wait just a second, I deserve a little credit for my calm state of mind."
I actually work at it. I may have been blessed with a certain amount of mellow but, my dedication to practicing yoga and meditation, combined with a commitment to being aware of my thoughts, words, and actions (mindfulness) is what helps me to keep a peaceful state of mind even when things are stressful.
They say that, "The mind takes the shape of whatever it rests upon."
Studies on the activity of the brain show that whatever we repeatedly experience through our senses, thoughts, and behaviors, will slowly begin to shape the brain.
According to Rick Hansen in his book called, Just One Thing, the saying above should be modified to, "The brain takes the shape of whatever the mind rests upon."
In a nutshell, we have millions of neurons that fire and connect to each other through synapses in different areas of our brain. Depending on the information we are taking in through our senses, our thoughts, and our conscious or unconscious activity, specific areas of the brain which control specific emotional responses will be activated. Whatever neurons are the most stimulated will get stronger, thereby strengthening that particular area of the brain. The areas that go unused or under-stimulated will wither.
This "experience dependent neuroplasticity" is how your brain takes the shape of whatever your mind rests upon. Whatever you repeatedly experience will alter your brain which will result in your tendency to a particular mind state. There is even evidence that your brain will begin to crave mind states that it experiences more often. That's not good news if your state of mind tends towards anger, negativity, or fear.
The good news is that you can improve your state of mind through practice.
If you would like to develop a mind state that is peaceful and calm, experiencing situations where you FEEL peaceful and calm will improve the likelihood that you will respond to day to day challenges with a calm demeanor. Therefore, practicing yoga, meditation, or any activity that calms your mind, has the potential to reshape your brain.
See you in class!
When my kids were little, I bought them a rabbit. Two weeks after we got him, he got really sick. With labored breath and eyes half closed, he laid in his cage, too sick to move. I was pretty sure that if I left him alone he would eventually die, but I felt terrible watching him suffer.
I thought to myself, "I'll take him to the vet and they will put him out of his misery."
We were on a very limited budget at the time so I also thought, "I hope it doesn't cost too much."
After the doctor tenderly examined the rabbit, he said, "I can keep him overnight for IV antibiotics and observation."
I thought to myself, "What? Is he kidding me? How much is THAT gonna cost? The rabbit, his cage, and a month's supply of food only cost me $19.99! Isn't it obvious that the rabbit's dying! Wouldn't it be easier, cheaper, and more humane to just put the poor thing to sleep?"
Gently holding my sick rabbit in his arms, the doctor waited for my response.
Seeing this man trying to heal my sick rabbit when I just wanted the rabbit to die made me feel like a monster so instead of telling the truth about what I thought, a feeble,"ok" came out of my mouth.
I regretted my decision instantly when a flash of my husband's reaction to spending our hard earned money trying to keep a dying rabbit alive popped into my head.
The vet called the next day to tell me that the rabbit's condition had not improved, but I could continue oral antibiotics for the next couple of days to see what would happen. Again I thought, "What? Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper and more humane to just put the poor thing to sleep?", but instead of telling the truth, a feeble "ok" came out of my mouth.
I walked through the waiting room feeling annoyed that my rabbit was still alive until I saw all of the concerned pet owners seemingly prepared to try any means to keep their furry family members alive and well. Again, "monster!" came to mind so I paid my large bill, took my still sick rabbit and costly medication home, and watched him suffer and die within hours.
Carl Jung said that we lie when the truth feels too dangerous. In other words, it takes more courage to be honest and authentic than it does to be dishonest or fake. Sometimes being honest is just admitting a mistake that you made. Other times it requires leaving a situation that you have outgrown. In my case, my fear of being judged as a "monster" overshadowed my core belief that the rabbit shouldn't be forced to suffer. Staying committed to my truth required the courage to say what I really felt regardless of what anyone thought.
In Yoga Philosophy, one of the yamas or "great vows" that we are asked to commit to is satya. Satya means truthfulness.
Committing to always telling the truth isn't always easy, but it is always the best choice.
In the Four Agreements; A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz says to "be impeccable with
your word". This is a lofty goal, but definitely one to aspire to.
We should never underestimate the power that our words have.
They can heal, create, soothe, and join people together.
They can also hurt, destroy, weaken, and tear people apart.
Most likely, at least once, every one of us has put our foot in our mouth, spilled a secret that we promised not
to tell, gossiped behind someone's back, or hurt someone with our words. In the heat of the moment we
often forget that what we say, and we can't take it back.
We can back peddle, apologize, try to pretend we didn't actually say it, but often these remedies are like putting
a teeny tiny bandaid on a giant gaping wound. The sting of our words can do damage that lasts for a very
Being impeccable with your word requires mindfulness.
Observe yourself for a few days and you will learn what your tendencies are. Do you talk to fill the air?
Do you speak impulsively? Do you choose your words carefully or do you choose your words
To make sure that your words don't cause unnecessary harm, a good rule of thumb is to practice the
Three Gates of Speech. Asking yourself the following three questions will take you through a process to
ensure that the words you are about to say are chosen carefully and with thoughtfulness.
Is it true?
This can be tricky. When we were kids we would play the telephone game. The first person would
whisper something in someone's ear and that person would repeat what they heard to the next person.
This would go around the circle until the last person would share what they had heard. There was always
an eruption of laughter when the first person revealed what they really said.
Unless it is your story to tell or it is an undisputed fact, most repeated stories.....ie, gossip, are NOT true, so
don't repeat them. If what you are about to say is true, you can open the first gate, but you must get through
the next two gates before you speak.
Is it kind?
We all know whether what we are about to say is kind or not. Sometimes we say hurtful things and say we
didn't mean it, but we always mean it on some level. What good does it do to hurt someone on purpose?
Like my mom said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Sounds pretty simple but there are exceptions to every rule, which leads to the last gate of speech.
Is it necessary?
This is the "gate" that requires the most mindfulness before stepping through. Sometimes we find ourselves
in a predicament. Should we tell our friend the truth of what we know even if it will be painful for him or her
to hear? Even if it may risk her relationship with another? Even if we aren't certain what the consequences
will be. That's the thirty million dollar question. There is no simple answer, but a heart felt and well thought
out process will help you make your decision.
Most spiritual practices teach the importance of right and honest speech. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali
says, "When established in truthfulness, everything one says comes true."
Aspiring to say only what is true, kind, and necessary is an excellent way to stay true to yourself and others.
The other day I misjudged the speed at which a car was coming and I pulled out in front of it.
As if playing a game of chicken with himself to see how close he could get to me without using his brakes, the driver of the car continued at the same speed until he was literally inches from my bumper. At the same time he held down his horn and I could see him yelling obscenities at me in my rearview mirror.
Initially, I felt bad and I wished for a universal hand signal that meant, "Oops, I'm sorry, my bad!" but his reaction made me angry. I took a couple of deep breaths and reminded myself that, when someone has an outburst of anger directed at me, it usually has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with what's going on inside of them. Taking a moment to remember this instead of reacting with unkindness gave me an opportunity to be compassionate to the suffering of another.
Anger and violence have a strong tendency to spread. More than likely, the road rage stranger was holding onto anger from a previous interaction. It could have happened ten minutes before, ten weeks before, or even ten years before, but it was affecting him in the moment. As a result, he may have over reacted to my pulling out in front of him without full awareness of what he was doing.
All unkind or violent interactions can potentially harm us and cause us to react with the same unkindness or violence towards others.
When we commit to yoga, we are asked to practice restraints (shouldn't dos) and observances (should dos).
These ethical practices form the first two limbs of the eight limbed path of yoga and are called the yamas and the niyamas.
The first and most important "ethical practice" is ahimsa which means, to "do no harm". Nicolai Bachman, author of, The Path of the Yoga Sutras, says that " Each person has the potential to be kind or to be mean.... practicing the eight limbs of yoga strengthens our kindness and weakens our meaness."
Practicing ahimsa isn't always easy. We may have to let others angry or hurtful outbursts pass through us instead of "fighting back" so that the unkindness doesn't have an opportunity to spread. In other words, if we don't engage or participate in another's unkindness, hopefully it won't escalate any further.
I am not saying that we shouldn't defend ourselves against physical violence, but I am saying that when people are unkind, it is often best to take a step back, breathe and resist the urge to take another's unkind thoughts, words, or actions personally. Remember that hurt people, hurt people.
Spreading kindness and compassion through your thoughtful actions can help to heal yourself as well as others. So always remember the father of modern medicine and great healer Hippocrates' advice and "above all else, do no harm."
You don't see life as IT is, you see life as YOU are."
Imagine that each morning when you wake up, you reach for your glasses. Each pair is different. One pair is the "I am a victim" pair. You might have an "I am stupid", or an "I am scared" pair. Maybe you have an "I am fat, abandoned, wronged, outraged, or better than him/her" pair. Each pair is created by the stories that you tell yourself regarding some past or future event. In other words, the meaning that you give to the events in life that make them something other than just an event that occurred in your life. So your mind "colors" the events and you see life as whatever "color" you created. The more you hold onto or create a story in your head about something that happened, the more often you will reach for the corresponding pair of glasses.
It's through this lens that we interpret the situations that occur in our lives. So if I am wearing my "I am stupid" glasses and my husband says to me, "You missed the turn", chances are I will interpret his neutral comment as "OMG you missed the turn you dummy! You can't even read a map! Geez, you are so stupid!". This is because I am interpreting his neutral comment through a lens or filter of my "I am stupid" glasses. So in that moment I am not seeing life as it is, but seeing life as I am.
Whatever mood, feeling, or story that we are holding onto in our heads becomes the lens through which we see, hear, interpret, and react to whatever is happening in our lives. At the risk of sounding political, it is exactly what has happened this election season. Whether we are wearing "I am for Trump" glasses or "I am for Hilary" glasses, we are seeing everything that occurs through a colored and unclear lens, depending on who we see (or saw) fit to become President. The media doesn't help because the news they report is most often reported through the lens that they are looking through as well.
In the the eight limbed path of yoga, the final limb is called samadhi.
sama means "clear, neutral or colorless".
dhi means vision.
The ultimate state that one hopes to reach through the practice of yoga is samadhi. If we reach this state of samadhi or clear seeing, it's as if we have taken our off glasses and we can see clearly each experience as it is happening in the moment, instead of through the lens of whatever state we happen to be in at the time. As hard as it is to be neutral with the constant barrage of stories, opinions, and actions by people in and out of politics, it is important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to be more clear minded.
That being said...
Turn off your tv.
Log out of Facebook.
Delete your twitter account.
And practice yoga instead.
Yoga is ultimately about getting to a place where you can see life as it is instead of as YOU are....
Getting so completely clear and present that you are not looking through a lens of old stuff but having a fresh and clear perspective on life and what's happening in the moment. Doesn't that sound amazing?
"Who has seen the wind, neither you nor I, but when the leaves bow down their heads, the wind is passing by."
Whenever the wind blows, I think of my mom. I am comforted by this simple verse that she often spoke. She passed away on October 20th, 2016. Like the wind, I cannot see her, but I can feel her presence in everything around me.
After the agonizing and precious gift of being with her for three days as her body slowly shut down, I have come to believe that somehow we have a choice about the actual time that we die. My mom waited until all of her five daughters arrived to leave her body. It was as if she wanted to see us one last time on this earth before taking her last breath.
It's hard to talk about my mom without mentioning the stroke that she had twelve years ago that started her on a slow downward spiral of short term memory loss and impaired brain function. While it was very difficult because over time she lost her vivaciousness and enthusiasm, we were grateful that her inner essence of kindness and contentment remained intact. She was always peaceful and sweet right up until the very end of her life.
As cliche as it sounds, my mom was beautiful inside and out. Her big brown eyes and blonde hair accented her dimples which were often evident. She used to say, "If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours." She always had a smile and a kind word to give away. Her generosity extended to all people, friends and strangers alike. Her outgoing personality made everyone feel welcome and comfortable in her presence.
My mom loved poetry and music. She often spoke in verse, reciting poems or songs from memory that were pertinent to the situation at hand. I remember coming home from school complaining about someone that had wronged me and she would say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." This simple statement taught me to avoid talking unkindly about others. I learned quickly that when a friend was gossiping, if I didn't join the conversation, it would soon come to an end. My mom practiced this as well. I can't remember ever hearing her speak an unkind word about someone.
When I needed alone time with mom, I would fake an illness so I could stay home from school and be with her. She would put her cool hand on my head and say, "You feel a little warm, why don't you take the day off and rest." She knew what I was up to, but she never let on. An hour later she would come into my room and say. "Do you feel well enough to go get lunch?" Then we would spend the day together at the mall, eating, talking, and shopping.
While most teenagers were struggling to get along with their parents, I had a great relationship with my mom. My friends made every excuse possible to come over to my house. I would often find them in the kitchen hanging out with her. She had a kind and compassionate heart and a patient and understanding ear. I think my friends felt an acceptance in her presence that they may not have felt at home.
My mom was kind and gentle, but she was also gregarious and silly... even mischievous at times. I used to say that she was the one at the party most likely to have the lampshade on her head. She was uninhibited and would say and do almost anything to get a laugh. She had characters that she played that were funny and sweet, bringing about fits of laughter among my sisters and me. "Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy" was my favorite, she had a high pitched voice and she would show up to take care off you when you were sick or injured, or sometimes for no reason at all. Another favorite of mine was when mom would draw eyes and a nose on her chin and turn upside down. Then she would begin an impromptu monologue with her head hanging off the edge of the bed. She was funny and quick witted and loved an audience.
My mom was the happiest when all of her daughters were home. She was a devoted wife to my dad and a committed mother to her five daughters. I always knew that no matter what, she would be there for me. She loved us all and never judged us for our mistakes or appearance. Without her having to say it, we all knew that her love was unconditional.
When I had kids of my own, my mom became the best grandma ever. She was tender and patient when they were babies, and fun and engaging as they got older. Mom would sing and dance and build sandcastles at the beach. She would draw and paint pictures or have a catch with a football. When my kids were little, we made frequent trips to Florida to visit. Traveling with four small children was always stressful, but as soon as we arrived, mom would be at the airport waiting for us with a big smile on her face. I would let out a huge sigh of relief and my kids would run into her open arms, almost knocking her down in the process. She would have toys and snacks in the car for the ride to the house, anticipating all of our needs before we arrived.
I am grateful and very fortunate to have had a mother as generous, kind, and supportive as my mom was. I will always miss her, but I know that her simple teachings will live on in me and I hope to pass them on to my children.
They are the following;
Spend time with your kids
Don't judge others
Love with all of your heart
They say that a mom holds her child's hand for a moment, but holds her child's heart for a lifetime. My mom, Shirley Jean Anderson Sax will hold my heart for the rest of my life.
Thank you mom. I love you and I miss you forever.
I am always in awe of the wildflowers that grow along the side of the highway.
The other day I thought, "Well that's a crappy a place to be a flower." Cars whizzing by blowing exhaust on their beautiful little pedals, no one stopping to smell them or tell them how pretty they are, having to wait for rain to get a drink of water. I mean wouldn't they much prefer the backyard like my roses? They would be tended to and pruned, fed with expensive plant food, watered everyday by the automatic sprinklers, and admired by everyone who sees them.
My flowers seem to bloom for my benefit, to look pretty so that my family and friends can enjoy their beauty and aroma. In contrast, those wildflowers seem as if they emit a natural grace and gratitude. Those tenacious little highway flowers seem to simply bloom for the sake of blooming. While their living conditions could be considered atrocious, they bloom where they were planted anyway.
I wonder if those highway flowers would be upset if they saw where my backyard flowers lived. Would they think, "Well this sucks! Those backyard flowers have it so much better. This isn't fair!"
In the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, one of the niyamas or personal practices we learn is called santosha. Santosha means contentment. Being content with who we are and what we have in the moment can be a challenge if we are constantly looking into the backyard of another. According to the Yoga Sutras, when we find santosha, "unexcelled happiness pervades our being" regardless of the circumstances of our lives. Patanjali tells us that deep inside each of us is an inner awareness that is peaceful, happy and content. The practices offered by the wisdom of yoga can help us to remember this Divine truth.
Being content with what we have and who we are doesn't mean we are complacent. Instead as we move in the direction that we would like to grow, we appreciate and have gratitude for each step along the way.
We can learn from those wildflowers blooming on the side of the highway, and know that when we are feeling stuck by the circumstances of our lives, we should focus our attention on our own backyard, have gratitude for what we have, and make a conscious choice to bloom where we're planted.
When I was little, I was very quiet. People used to say to me, "Whats the matter? Cat got your tongue?"
I'm still more of a listener than a talker and until recently, I thought that my tendency to be on the quieter side gave me the ability to be a good listener. I mean, if I am not talking, I must be listening right?
When I put my theory to the test however, I didn't do as well as I thought. When I tried to pay attention to and HEAR every word that my friend was saying, I realized how often my mind wanted to interject, to assert itself with an idea, an opinion, some advice.
So even though I wasn't talking, I wasn't really listening either. I was actually talking in my head, formulating my response, comparing her story to mine. When I got really honest with myself, I realized that I was making my friend's conversation about me.
To be a good listener requires that we drop our ego. If we want to listen, hear, and really know someone, it's important that we let go of judging their thoughts, comparing theirs to ours, making them right or wrong. If we listen with an open mind and heart and then repeat their thoughts back to them without our own preconceptions, comparisons and thoughts mixed in (our me), it's a way of affirming that we heard what they said without judgment.
Most often, people just want to be heard. They don't necessarily need or want to be fixed.
Allowing another person to find a solution to their own problems helps them to get stronger and grow. When we find a solution for them, they weaken.
Yoga teaches us to pay attention to ourselves, to listen to our inner guidance. Yoga philosophy says that all the answers to our questions are inside of us. We all have an INNER KNOWING that we can access when we get very clear and quiet. This is our parusha, our higher mind, our Divine self.
We don't always hear this inner guidance through all the chatter going on in our minds. We often look outward for guidance, see what others are doing, compare our choices to theirs, and ask advice to anyone we can think of. This outward seeking takes us farther away from hearing that still small voice inside of us.
On our yoga mat, our asana practice teaches us to pay attention to the wisdom of our physical bodies. It is our unconscious habits and patterns, in other words our lack of listening that created our physical issues in the first place.
When we take our yoga practice off the mat, we recognize that our unconscious patterns and habits in our mental and emotional bodies may have also created issues in our lives. This awareness can help us to break free of these habitual responses and create new and healthier ones.
The eight limbed path of yoga encourages us to pay attention, turn inward, and listen closely to our inner wisdom. When our actions are inspired by our highest self, we create a happier and more joyful life.
On January 19, 2016, heaven gained another angel. My father in law, Arthur John Pidoriano, lovingly known as "Grandpa".
He passed in a way that most of us can only hope for. He was with his son, on the golf course, doing what he loved. He had no pain, no long illness, and as far as we can tell, no suffering. This truth has brought some comfort to the family, but as my husband said in his heartfelt tribute to his dad, we will miss him everyday for the rest of our lives.
Despite the pain and shock he was feeling when his dad died suddenly in his presence, my brave and strong husband managed to write a beautiful eulogy for his father, a task that was both heart wrenching and an honor at the same time.
He told us that his father often said, "Don't feel sorry for me when I die, I have lived a great life and have done everything that I wanted to do." He told us that his father was content and had no regrets right up until the day that he died.
Arthur Pidoriano Sr. was born in 1932 in Brooklyn, NY. He was an only child. He never understood how siblings could fight since all he wanted growing up was a brother or a sister to play with. According to my husband, this lack of siblings may have been the reason that he cherished his relationships and treated everyone like family.
My father in law's parents were hardworking and very loving, but they didn't have enough money to send him to college. Fortunately, they raised a bright, athletic,and hardworking son who was able to secure a basketball scholarship to Boston College and St Mary's in California. Having never left New York, he chose Boston College to be closer to home. When he arrived at BC, the coach told him that he couldn't major in pre med because the labs and practices coincided. Since his sights were set on dental school, this was a deal breaker for him. He acted quickly and called the St Mary's coach. By luck or by fate, his scholarship was still available. With a suitcase full of clothes and twenty dollars in his pocket, he boarded a train and went all the way across the country to California.
At St. Mary's, Grandpa excelled in basketball and academics. He made more than enough money to support himself by running a successful babysitting business out of his dorm room, working at the local pool hall, and managing a nearby racetrack. His hard work paid off and got him accepted to NYU Dental School.
During college, my father in law met, in my husband's tender words, " the love of his life." My mother in law was a perfect match for Grandpa...bright, athletic, hardworking, and beautiful. They married and went on to have five children, fulfilling Grandpa's dream of having a big family.
My father in law was by all rights a successful man. He had a thriving dental practice and worked really hard to provide a great life for his family. He also stressed the importance of having fun and enjoying life. He taught his kids to water ski, snow ski, fish, and play golf. He loved to gamble and taught them to play blackjack and craps. But the most important thing that he taught them was to love each other. In his eulogy to his dad, my husband told us that he was grateful to have grown up in an environment of love, kindness, and commitment to family.
My mother and father in law's love and commitment to each other has produced eighteen grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren (so far). At a family function teeming with kids, all of whom were related to him, my father in law once said, "If I had five million dollars in the bank, I wouldn't feel as rich as I do right now." Grandpa's biggest accomplishment had nothing to do with his financial success. He was the most proud of his family.
When I expressed my sadness to my mother in law over the loss of the love of her life, instead of wallowing in her own grief, she told me, "Grandpa loved you very much." I told her with tears in my eyes, "I know he did because he told me often." What I admired most about my father in law was the ease with which he said, "I love you." He never held back his expression of love.
My father in law was lucky in many ways. My husband believed that it wasn't luck but his positive attitude that helped him to survive a massive heart attack at age 59 and bypass surgery at age 78. I believe that his positive attitude also helped him to survive the heartbreaking loss of his beautiful daughter Regina, fifteen years ago.
After Grandpa's funeral, I heard my husband tell someone that his father "had a bad heart" which is what ultimately caused his death at age 83. I was a little taken aback hearing this because it seemed so far from the truth. Physiologically, his heart may have in fact been "bad", but in every other way possible, his heart was amazing and good, and overflowing with love.
I am sad to say goodbye to my father in law. I will miss his twinkling eyes and loving smile. Although our lives will never be the same without him, his legacy of love, kindness, and commitment to family will always be in our hearts.
I never thought I would admit this, but the initial excitement and passion that I used to feel for my yoga practice is beginning to fizzle out.
While I once couldn't wait to get on my mat to move my body and still my mind, I now have gone days without doing so.
Where I once scoured the internet seeking books and articles on yoga and its' history, I haven't opened a book on yoga in days.
While I once eagerly sat down every week and wrote about my experiences in life and how yoga helped me to live more skillfully, I haven't written a post since April 2015.
After fourteen years of teaching and practicing yoga with enthusiasm and joy, last week I actually considered the possibility of quitting. I wondered if there was something better out there for me.
As I write this horrible admission, I ask myself, "what is wrong with me....why am I saying this, what has changed for me, what happened to my passion for yoga?" Then I begin to rationalize. "I am just tired from the holidays..... it'll come back, I am sure this is just a phase." But the reality is, I am not sure that it will. At least I am not sure that I will ever feel the same excitement, enthusiasm, and passion that I have felt in the past.
As I mull over the above statement, I am reminded that yoga is about accepting what's happening right here and right now and not getting too attached to the ways things were. It is also about having the ability to adapt and let go of what was and instead move into what is with grace and acceptance.
So maybe my commitment to practice over the past fourteen years has produced results and actions that just look different than they used to. Maybe the physical part of yoga isn't as necessary for me anymore. Maybe the passion and excitement for the practice has become something different. Maybe the fizzling out isn't such a bad thing. It's just a different thing.
Looking back, I remember a time when I would get very upset if I didn't get on my mat, or if I missed a class because something unexpected came up. I felt like I needed yoga. It may have actually been an unhealthy attachment to the physical practice, which goes against the main teaching of yoga that encourages us to loosen our grip on our attachments. When I think about it, I realize that I haven't actually lost my passion for yoga, I have just lost my attachment to it. My commitment to the practice over the past fourteen years abides in me and has produced some beautiful results, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Maybe I no longer find it necessary to "do" so much yoga because I trust that the teachings and tools that I have learned over time have become a part of who I am.
In its' simplest form, yoga is a state of attention. When we are attentive, aware, and fully present, we are practicing yoga. Down dog isn't a requirement to be in the state of yoga, it is just a helpful tool to get us there.
We can be in the state of yoga while doing anything that captures our full attention, steadies our breath, and focuses our minds.
As I write these thoughts, I am reminded of my marriage. Twenty five years ago, I made a commitment to love, honor, and cherish my husband. Back then, loving, honoring, and cherishing my husband felt and looked very different than it does today. Just like in my yoga practice, the initial excitement and passion that I felt for him has changed a bit, but when I look back I can see that those early feelings were actually based in attachment. In new relationships, we often feel attached to the person because we fear losing them. Maybe we can't wait to see them partly because we don't fully trust their commitment to us. This insecurity makes us feel that we need the person. Once the relationship feels more solid, we tend to let go of that need a bit. I much prefer the feelings that I have now to the ones I had when our relationship was new. The initial excitement and passion has been replaced by a very strong, steady, and abiding love. Just like my yoga practice, my commitment to my marriage has produced some beautiful results....
Out of our commitment to love, honor, and cherish each other came four amazing human beings. The initial excitement that I once felt looking at my husband, I now feel each time I look at our four beautiful children.
The good news is that since I began to write this post at the beginning of the week, I managed to get myself back on my mat at home and to my regular weekly class. When I walked into the studio, my teacher was genuinely happy to see me. As I sat down on my mat and began to follow her instructions, I felt a familiar spark of excitement come over me. And like a big warm hug from the man that I married, I felt safe, secure, and loved.
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All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1 122078a0def9 Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras