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June 2016

Hold on Loosely…

The Buddha taught about impermanence and our lack of control.  He tells us that impermanence is an inescapable fact of life, but I am not sure that anyone was listening.

Everything changes.  Everything.  Nothing is permanent.  Yet, we live our lives as if things will last forever.  We become attached to people, to situations, to possessions, and then when they change, as they WILL, we resist the changes and cause ourselves to suffer.

Our thoughts change, our feelings change, our opinions change, our behaviors change. People change throughout their lifetime.  Work environments change.  Relationships change. The weather changes.  Our possessions wear out or break or become worn down. Our bodies age and tire and show signs of being lived in.  Nothing lasts forever whether it is good or bad.

Many times, in response to all of the change, we cling more tightly.  We dig in.  We try everything we can to hold on to things just as they are.  We get angry, disappointed, sad, and indignant.  We focus on, almost obsessively, what it will or would be like when what we are grasping is gone and that causes us to miss out on being with it in this moment.  We get caught up in the story we are telling ourselves about how bad it will be before it even happens.  And in doing that, we fail to acknowledge the emotions we are experiencing and to allow ourselves to just feel what we feel.  We fail to allow ourselves to live through it.

We fret, we worry, we resist.  We resist the fact that everything changes even though truly everything changes.  We cling out of desperation and not knowing. And in doing all of this, we are making ourselves unhappy.  We react this way out of fear.  As a therapist, I see so many examples of how people react out of fear.  We are afraid of what we do not know and change always brings uncertainty.  We may not necessarily always like things the way they are, but we at least know what to expect.  We also fool ourselves by living in that “it will never happen to me” mindset.  As if we will live forever and everything will go just as it always has and when this turns out to be untrue, we tell ourselves that we can’t handle it.

Resistance to change

In yoga, the ethical teachings called the Yamas address this.  Two have come to mind for me as I have been teaching in the past week.  One is Aparigraha or “non-clinging”, “non-possessiveness”.  It teaches that we must practice trusting life and letting go of our expectations of all things- possessions, people, experiences- to be more content in our lives.  Aparigraha warns us that what we possess will possess us as we become obsessed with clinging and attempting to control that which no one has control over.  The other is that of Asteya or “non-stealing” and it teaches us to not steal from ourselves and the opportunities in this moment by focusing on the past or the future. This stealing can also come in the form of limiting ourselves and “stealing” from who we could become by trying to force things to stay as we want them to be rather than to trust that things are going to go the way that they should.

We cause ourselves to suffer when we fight against what already is.  If we can remind ourselves about this law of impermanence in the good times, we can savor every moment and form happy memories to recall later.  In the painful times, we can remember that “this too shall pass” and have hope that things will improve.

Reminding ourselves of this is our responsibility.  We can have support, but WE have to do the work.  This is an inner transformation and when it’s done, we can experience things very differently.  We can learn to trust enough to be in the moment and to deal with whatever comes at us. And who knows, it may even be better on the other side.

In the coming week, try to remind yourself that nothing lasts forever, whether you are experiencing joy or pain.  Try to notice how you are stealing from the joy you could be experiencing in this moment or limiting yourself.  See if you can hold on loosely and trust that the Universe knows what it is doing.  If you can do that, in the end, you will be able to say that you authentically lived your life and experienced as much as you could.

I will be trying right along with you.

Talk again soon,

k

Stand in the place where you are…

In speaking to clients in counseling, as well as students in yoga, one of the subjects that has come up several times as of late is that of mindfulness.  I get questions about how to stop ‘racing thoughts’, how to ‘be here now’, and how to ‘worry less’.  My answer to all of these is usually to begin with grounding techniques on our way to a mindfulness practice.

If we were to define what a grounding technique does, it brings the practitioner back to the present moment and to exactly what they are experiencing in that moment.  I doubt I would be wrong in stating that everyone, at some point, has experienced what I call an “Out of Body Experience“.  Wait, not the kind you think.  I am referring to those times when our body is in one place, but our minds are miles away thinking, worrying, planning, or just wrapped up in something else. Some people seem to be living in this state.

You should also know that when we attempt to be mindful and fully present to every moment, our minds will jump around and try to distract us.  The moment we sit for quiet meditation, the brain amps up and thinks of random errands, items for the grocery list, magnificent ‘what if’ scenarios, etc.  In yoga, we call this “chitta vritti” or monkey mind.

mindful mind full

To remind myself to be present and to avoid an OoBE (Out of Body Experience), I have been using an affirmation that came out of a Yoga for Balancing Mood training I led at a YogaFit Mind Body Fitness Conference recently.  It works perfectly for me and you may like it too:

I am where my feet are.

Matt Tenney, co-author of The Mindfulness Edge, points out that mindfulness can be practiced on the walk to the bathroom.  It doesn’t have to be a big production, ya’ll.  He states that as we are walking to the bathroom, if we ask, “Am I awake in this step?”, “And now am I awake in this step?”, that we can mindfully walk to the bathroom in wakefulness. He also reminds us that situations are neutral, but our thoughts about the situation can make it nearly unbearable.  His example is of sitting in the car in a traffic jam.  He points out that it is really the same as when we choose to sit in the car voluntarily- maybe just to take a break, but that we so often assign negative thoughts to the situation when we don’t choose it, making it into a negative experience.

Simply by grounding ourselves into the present moment, changing our perspective, and taking a few big breaths, we can totally change our experience.

The following grounding techniques may help to provide a time-out from thoughts and help you to tune in to this moment:

  • Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, noticing how the air feels as it enters and exits through the nostrils, how your breath sounds, and how your body feels as it expands and contracts with the breath.
  • Look around the room you are in and list every color you can see in your head.
  • Feel every texture you can find in the room.
  • Check in with your senses: list 1 thing you can taste, 2 things you can smell, 3 things you can hear, 4 things you can feel physically on your body (ex. I can feel my watch on my wrist), and 5 things you can see.
  • Close your eyes and see how many different things you can hear both internally and externally.
  • Following the previous technique, when you open your eyes, imagine that they are movie cameras and your assignment is to record every detail of the room you are in- every texture, color, angle; notice the ceiling, the walls, the floor, etc.

This week, try to be awake.  Ground yourself.  Tune in to what you are feeling and check-in with where you are.  I will be reminding myself to ‘be where my feet are’ right along with you.

Talk again soon,

k

 

Your water is listening…

The words we use make a huge difference in shaping our life and our reality. We must carefully choose what we say to ourselves and to others, both verbally and non-verbally.

In The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is Be impeccable with your word.  “Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.”  He goes on to say that being impeccable with your word can act as protection against being affected by negative things others say to you, as the ‘garden’ of your mind will only be fertile for what you ready it for.

Words carry a vibration just like everything else in our world. Changing your thoughts can change your life. Your thoughts create the way you see the world and your perspective will have an effect on how you think, feel, and behave in response to the world around you.

Dr. Masaru Emoto was a Japanese researcher who explored the effects of words on water molecules. His book, The Miracle of Water, highlights the work he did in exposing water samples to different words prior to freezing them. Some of the words were kind in intention, for example ‘love’, ‘gratitude’, ‘hope’, and some of the words or phrases were unkind, for example ‘hopeless’, ‘hate’, ‘you’re no good’.  When examined under a microscope, we are able to see that when the water was frozen, the molecules created either beautiful or ‘unsightly’ crystals depending on the words that were spoken to it. “The energy of the words is reflected in the formation of crystals.” (Emoto 2007)

Here are a few examples of the water crystal formations:

Emoto water crystals

There is a great deal of proof showing that negative people typically suffer from more illness and pain than more optimistic and positive thinking people.  There are also reports of people becoming healthier and even healing from severe illness through the use of laughter, positive attitude, and affirmations.

Emoto goes on to say that “since our bodies consist of 70% water, we can infer from the crystals that the water within us also contains the energy of [our] words.”

If saying words with positive energy to drinking water prior to freezing it can create these beautiful patterns and shapes, imagine what our negative thoughts are doing to the water in our own bodies!

We must start with ourselves, so begin to notice what you are “saying” to yourself- about your life, your body, your relationships, your worth.  The vibration of our intentions, thoughts, and speech is shaping our lives.  We can see the proof of how changing our words can literally change the state of our bodies.  Your water is listening.  What are you going to say to it today?

Every day is different and some days it will be easier to say nice words than others.  Just keep practicing and you know that I will be practicing right along with you.

Talk again soon,

k

For more information on the work of Dr. Emoto and more pictures, please check out this website: http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html

 

 

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