Friday, May 30, 2014

Finish The Sentence Friday - My Favourite Way to Exercise

My favorite way to exercise is yoga.  I mean it.  I may not be super thin, or hugely built, but yoga keeps me long, lean and strong.  And all while helping me center, burn stress and connect with my inner life.  Not a bad deal for twenty minutes a day!

Transparency alert ~

I am not stone cold consistent with my practice.  I often will put it off or skip it entirely for the lamest of reasons. Being too tired, feeling sore, or being...ahem....too busy are all excuses I have offered myself for not showing up on my mat when I had intended to. 

And yet, when I return, my mat is always there, offering no judgements, feeling none of the neglect, ready to support me as I move through the asanas.  As a workout companion, my mat is one of the best I have had.  It's always there for me when I need it. 

And yoga is wonderful in that you need no special equipment, not even shoes, to indulge in it's benefits.

My mind, like most of yours I am sure dear reader, is abuzz with thought more often than not.  Yoga is difficult to practice distracted.  To get deep benefit from the practice it requires me to be fully present to what is happening in my body.  To be aware of what is grounding, where I am reaching, what muscles are lengthening and which are contracting, where my eyes are gazing and how my breath is moving. 

Yoga, you see,  asks nothing more of me than my presence.  In my mind, in my body and on my mat. The more I can give this little gift to myself of presence in practice, the more space I invite into my mind where there are no thoughts.  This space grounds me.  It is my awareness that is beyond thought, the presence that allows me to edit my words before they fly out of my mouth (see previous post on Unsought Words)  and stop to think before I react. 

Yoga is my constant companion, and my absolute favourite way to exercise, hands down. 

(Zumba rocks too, but that's a post for another day :) ) 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Unsought Words.

"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come the most unsought for are commonly the most valuable." ~ Francis Bacon

My thoughts of this moment.  I'm hungry,  I have dishes  and chores to do, and I am sore in my shoulder.  This is my life today, right now, in this moment.  Coming back to practice, to presence, to mindfulness.  I sat this morning, and in sitting I reconnect to my mind, rediscover the spaces between my thoughts.  

I did not seek my anxiety, or my fear, or my anger.  Not directly anyhow.  In resisting practice, they sought me.  In ignoring the value of quiet, my quiet left me.  The spaces became filled with thoughts, fears, anxieties and doubts.  When I am not doing, I begin doubting.   

When the quiet begins to disappear, filling with fear, anger and doubt, I notice that it is my words that betray me.  The words that fill the quiet spaces in my mind - How could you? Why me? What next? - These words begin to spill out of my mouth.  

These words have sharp edges.  They hurt coming out.  They contort my face, wrench my mouth into uglilness, and break the heart of the person that they are flung at.  

These are my sins.  Sharp edged, thoughtless, unquiet words that tear at the fabric of my happiness.  

It is said that right speech is not the right of right and wrong, but the right of skillfulness, mindfulness and compassion.  This is why so often the right answer is no answer at all.  

Maezen has written that "Right speech is whole, perfected, wise, skillful, appropriate, necessary, and non-divisive. "  Lots of words to describe how to use our words.  

We tell children this often "Use your words".  We put no qualification on their use of words, because they are too young often to understand any other idea than just to use words to express what is inside of them, rather than striking out at the world with hands, feet, or wails. 

As adults, and particularly as adults who practice the Dharma,  we are old enough, and often wise enough to choose words with care and caution.  Compassionate communication creates understanding between people, and of ideas. When we use the words that we have learned in a wise, skillful, appropriate, necessary and non divisive manner we can nurture growth.  We can coax reluctant listeners,  we can open doors that were hitherto closed before.  Words can build bridges.  Right words build strong bridges.  

I suppose though the question now is what happens when we use our words in this manner and they still fall on deaf ears?  A bridge with only one strong, grounded side will crumble in the first strong wind.  

It is to the speaker to speak, and the listener to listen.  We can only be responsible for ourselves.  We build our own foundations. 

Therefore, practice.  

Build your foundation. 

It is the beginning of being responsible for yourself. 

Do The Dishes.

I realized the other day that I have forgotten my practices.  I am not sitting, I am resisting my dishes and my chores, feeling them to be beneath me.  Truth is,  they are not.  I am not above them, and they are not beneath me.  Unless, of course, you count the actual, physical reality of the floor being under my feet, and the sink existing at about waist height.  Physically, they may be beneath me.  If they were not, how could the floor support me?  It's the floor that I walk on.  It is the floor that stops me from plummeting into the basement when I come downstairs from my bed.  So, yes, unless you count absolute physical reality, my chores are not beneath me.  When I put my hands in the dishwater and feel the warmth of the water,  smell the manufactured scent of apples from the soap, and put my hands and mind to the task in front of me, I forget myself. One dish at a time, the job gets done.  When the job is done, for just one moment, I feel good. I got it done.  

I have not been sitting in the mornings.  I wake up feeling awful, sore in my neck and shoulder, not awake at all, and I head straight for the coffee.  I don't stop to sit.  

Ruts are tricky things, especially when we are not entirely awake, or aware of our actions.  Truth is, though, if we are acting, then it is on us to be aware of our actions.  

I have been feeling anxious of late, and I can trace that right back to my practices, or lack of them.  

When I forget my practices, I begin to forget myself.  I believe, as I am forgetting, that I am busy being myself, busy being in the minutiae of my life.  The truth is that I am busy avoiding my life.  Busy with the can'ts and the why me's and the couldn't possibly's.  I am wrapped in the no more, and the don't want, and the how do I's.  I am too busy resisting to engage.  There is not enough of me left to truly engage when I get lost in the resistance.  

Anxiety is the fruit of I don't have time, and I don't want to, and the why bother.  Analysis creates paralysis, or so says a wise teacher of mine.  








It's really not as hard as I imagine.  Stop imagining.  Do the dishes.  Sit.  Love my children, especially when they seem unlovable.  That is when they need my love the most.  

See life, stop imagining the life I want, and live the life I have.  It is the only one I will ever be given. 

"When we see our life, we bring it to life.  When we don't see our life, it seems lifeless"  Karen Maezen Miller 

Read more from Maezen on her blog www.karenmaezenmiller.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Digital Dexterity Deficit?

I have been writing my morning pages by hand the last couple of days.  I can tell that I have not been writing with my hands for quite some time by the way they ache and cramp halfway through my third written sentence.  Digital Dexterity Deficit?  I wonder if this is a thing.  

Hm...I think this calls for some research.  Honestly.  I used to have the most neat and tidy hand writing.  When I was in university my hand writing was pro.  I could blast out pages and pages of neat, tidy, organized notes, complete with underlines, highlighting and bulleted lists without so much as breaking a sweat.  Now,  well now I can't write two sentences without having to stop and massage my hand.  

What does this mean for our future?  This means to me our children are losing somethng.  With the huge advance of digital technology in education kids are not writing like they used to.  Yes, in elementary school they do try to control for this by ensuring that children are hand writing at least a portion of what they are responsible for academically, but what happens when they move on to high school?  How about university?  There are thousands of laptops, and tablets in university classrooms now.  These students are not writing their notes anymore.  I wonder if there is something being lost here, outside of the obvious fine motor skills that it takes to manually form letters, words and sentences with accuracy at speed.  What changes when our relationship to our product relies on digital technology? Further to this, what happens when that digital technology inevitably fails?  

Fear mongering? Maybe.  Doomsday thinking? Perhaps.  

In my mind these are simply logical questions to ask when the media that we use to record our ideas and our learning changes and evolves.  

Fear mongering or not, these questions must be asked.  

How is that change going to affect us as a species?  Will the less fortunate countries become advantaged if the digital technologies of the more affluent cease to operate?  Perhaps, if they have retained some educational structures that are accessible to all.  Otherwise we will just become a generation of people who cannot accurately get an idea out of our own heads.  

What do you think, dear reader?  

Do you hand write anything?

Is it harder than it used to be?

What do you see coming in the future with this evolution in the relationship between dexterity, ideas and communication?

Monday, May 12, 2014

From The Bottom of my Heart.

What is it that lies at the bottom of my heart?  I desire to change the world.  I feel that my place, my goal, my raison d'etre is to change the world one person at a time.  My mission to make people think, to question their assumptions, their beliefs and their steadfastness.  If I can inspire someone to question even one thing that they have never before questioned, I consider myself to have been successful at my goal.  My goal will never be complete.  My mission will be a continuous evolution of truth, questions, curiosity and humility wrapped in compassion.  It will be a continuous becoming, and there is no place that we can come from that is more alive, more vital than on the edge of becoming. 

I serve the evolution of peace.  I write to broaden minds, to open eyes, and to awaken humanity.  In the evolution of a state of mind, it is imperative that we come from a place of joy, of positivity and of compassion for our fellow human.  War, fear, hatred,  these will only bring more war, fear and hatred.  Fighting will do nothing but perpetuate struggle.  The revolution begins inside of our own hearts.  It is the choice that we make to not divide, demonize or blame another human but to love them, to see their humanity and to have compassion for their journey.  

Yes, I even mean the people who do things you don't agree with, the people who believe things that do not agree with what you believe. 

"Peace, if it ever exists, will not be based on a fear of war but on the love of peace.  It will not be the abstaining from an act, but the coming of a state of mind.  In this sense, the most insignificant writer can serve peace where the most powerful tribunals can do nothing" Herman Wouk.

What lies at the bottom of your heart?