Seeking Harmony

I have officially experienced the post election blues.  It has much more to do with the disconnect that I see and feel from humanity than who won and who lost.  After a lifetime of avoiding expressing and feeling my own emotions, I have to say that sometimes this feeling stuff really sucks.  I am feeling my own sadness and the heaviness of the emotions in those around me.  Last evening I sat with myself, and I cried deeply.  The division I see in our nation is so profound.  This division impacts people of other races, religious beliefs, the LGBTQ community and their families. 

 Sometimes, you really have to feel something before you can move past it.  Luckily, my amazing friends at Create Karma and I have been sharing a path of healing and acceptance during the past year.  They have taught me to open my heart, and hopefully I have led them through some healing as well.  I love them deeply.  I have felt my feelings,  and I am ready to move forward and take action as a leader for the wellness of our community and our nation.   

 This week I taught yoga classes encouraging my students to find a place of refuge in their own breath.  I struggled to take my own advice, so I made a cup of my favorite tea, and found inspiration through reading.  This gem of a quote had the greatest impact, so this is where I start moving forward. 

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Now I choose to practice finding this harmony, happiness and balance through the Yamas and Niyamas (10 principles of living) of yoga.  If you have felt the feelings that you need to feel and are ready to move take positive action moving forward, here are the steps that I plan to take. 

  1. Ahimsa: compassion for all living things - I turn to a quote from Charlotte Bell.  "My favorite description of ahimsa is of a dynamic peacefulness prepared to meet all needs with loving openness."  I feel compassion for all beings who are being hurt or oppressed.  This extends to my vegan diet.  I am not apologetic, but maybe in order to be more balanced, I need to find actions that express loving openness rather than dwelling on sad or painful things.

  2. Satya: commitment to the truth - Sometimes I have tended to hide my beliefs when they don't parallel those who I am around.  It may feel easier for me that way, but it is a form of deceit.  So to all those hospital employees who may be reading this, I voted for Clinton this year.  There, I said it.  I don't agree with her entire platform, but my personal beliefs are closer in line with hers than with Trump.  Truthfulness - check.

  3. Asteya: non-stealing - It may seem easy to think, I don't steal.  Can we look a little deeper?  The times that I choose to remain silent and don't stand up when #1 is being violated, I am stealing support from those who may desperately need it.  Am I focusing on the news too much and stealing my attention from work that will be for a greater good?  

  4. Brahmacharya: non-excess - To me, this really has to do with how you use your energy.  I choose to spend my energy in a constructive manner by avoiding too much time dwelling on things I cannot change, yet knowing when to use my voice.  I will practice experiencing the difference.

  5. Aparigraha: non-grasping - I will practice giving things to others as a sign of compassion.    This may be expressed in a note or through baking.  It will definitely be expressed through my financial and active work with Create Karma during this year's Extraordinary Give on November 18!

  6. Saucha: purity - I will choose to keep my mind pure by increasing the time I spend in meditation and physical yoga practice.  This can also be practiced through prayer and/or the study of religious text.  I will take meditation breaks instead of coffee breaks.  I will wear a mala as a sign of this commitment.

  7. Santosha: contentment - I will continue to offer teachings of love, healing and balance.  I understand that others will choose to express their voice in a different way.  We are a free world and they are free to do as they wish.  I am content with the fact that it is not my job to fix anything for others. Everyone has their own path.

  8.  Tapas: right effort - Now is the time to not only seek knowledge and beginning to apply what I have learned.  Break old habits and find a way to make our lives and this world a better place.  Keep zeal and enthusiasm for the things that I really believe in and place my attention there.

  9. Svadhyaya: self study - I have had tremendous success in self study by becoming aware of my habitual patterns and beliefs.  Sometimes that little voice in your head isn't our own voice or even the right thing to listen to (it may just be a little bad habit that you've picked up along the way).  Sometimes my old habits seem like old friends, but they are not.  It is important to find your true nature so that you can begin to break these old habits.  This aspect of the path has given me the gift of the biggest heart opening, and I can't wait to see what else is in store!  Study of religious text would also apply to this category.

  10. Ishvara Pranidhana: dedication to the highest (God) - Yoga does not tell us how to define God.  That is very personal.  Anyone with strong religious convictions should cling to them.  Otherwise, how do you connect with the divine?  You could connect with this through time in nature or by looking for the highest expression of goodness in every situation.  

The funny thing is that just taking the time to write these words and dwell on these steps has me feeling better about everything.  Now is the time to put my yoga practice into action.  I call for you to join me in taking all or some of these steps.  We can make our world a better place.  

Being vs Becoming

So many of set goals, put steps in place to reach our goals, and then allow ourselves to be distracted and move off course.  Regardless of the type of goals you have set (spiritual, career/ education, health/weight loss, completing a task, finishing a project, mastering a pose,) they all require zealous effort, in each and every moment, as each of a series of transformations take place.   

Being is not static, but like the heating water... it is a moment in present time, in a certain state or condition, and from which, if we continue to add the flame of zealous practice, like a Bunsen burner under a retort, suddenly another state will emerge, as if by magical transformation. We perceive only the sequence of these transformations in time, which is why we are caught in the illusion of becoming, instead of just being, and then being again, and being again, separately but transformatively, ad infinitum, like the stills of an old silent film, until the story reaches its conclusion and, hopefully, its happy ending.
— Light on Life by BKS Iyengar

In a recent blog and video for business owners, my friend Mike spoke about the results of taking 31 days of purposeful action.  Much like Iyengar, he speaks about the results he received when he spent 31 days making consistent efforts to reach his goals.  At the end of the month, the several small transformations, a result of steady effort, lead to a big result.

I'm approaching another birthday, and the whole world seems to be reminding me to start being, and stop worrying about becoming.  With that in mind,  I will rededicate myself to my practice with zeal and enthusiasm.   Here are the daily steps that I plan to take during February 2016 and beyond.

  1. Being a daily meditator (this has been a life changer for me)
  2. Being a person who practices self care (increased daily water, walking, healthy choices)
  3. Being a yogi who spends time in asana (poses), reading yoga texts, or writing daily

By being a person who practices these steps daily, little transformations may feel like something big by the end of the month.  The zeal and momentum must continue to make a transformation rather than temporary changes.  

What goals  have you been meaning to reach?  What do you need to start being?  Transformation takes steady zeal and effort, but it is well worth the time invested.  Stop becoming and start being, and being again, and being again...

Namaste - Beth