Intuition

I remember resisting gps navigation when first came out. I was used to taking a moment to looking at a map before I started my route, capturing a picture of it in my mind, plotting the turns and imagining the intersections. Giving myself a "feeling" of how long certain portions of the drive would be, and what landmarks to look out for that would precede turns. 

With gps, an external guide, there was something that felt strange about not carrying the bigger picture in my head. Not planning the whole route from beginning to end, mapped out in my mind and plugged into my own memory for guidance. I didn't want to let go of the process and be told what to do in the moment just as a turn was approaching. I wanted to know the next step, anticipate it, and be keenly aware of every moment of the journey. 

Gps, felt lazy and out of control, but most importantly, made me feel like I wasn't creating a memory path in my mind. So that I could learn it, and over time rely on my internal computer to guide me with out my conscious mind having to think too much. 

I think there's something to be said for exercising the muscle of the mind to create internal maps. There something intelligent that goes on in the process of tightly focusing on the intricate details of your life's journey for periods of time, as you learn the way, and develop a sense of the bigger picture of your world map.

The twists in plots, the dynamics of relating, the powerful moments of self expression, the humble moments of self reflection. All as you manifest your dreams one step at a time. 

As learners and shakers on a soulful living path, this process is intentional and sweaty, AND it must eventually fall away.  Just as in the driving scenario, where your mind over time of intent focus, learns a map of a city and eventually you could be dropped on any block of it, and find your way to where you want to go; so too, does your muscle of intuition get developed by skillfully witnessing yourself and your balance with the universe. 

Watch what seems good, forward moving and on your best path, and learn to recognize the feelings associated with these subtleties. See the times you are in tune or out of tune. Then, and only then, you can let go during the moments of dis-tunement, and trust that though you may be lost, your internal Gps will right you again. You will have worked it enough to let go and be guided from within. 

Its nice to be guided by a source greater than ourselves. But that source is not simply an external hand of God. It is a partnership of the world and you in it, learning each other's nuances, and perfecting your dance together. More and more over time, despite big challenges, the mind can step out of the way, and trust in the relationship your highest soulful self has created with the big picture of awesome outcomes.

Let the map and the traveler be one.

Courage

Courage comes up from the deepest depths of my soul. It is something I do not need often, so when I do, it feels foreign, hidden. I can’t remember where I put it, or how it feels to use it. I spend a lot of time resisting the action that requires it, because in darkness, I doubt I have enough.  

Courage is not entirely my own. I own the seeds, and breathe life into it, but it gains strength from the eye-light donated by friends.  

Courage comes at a time when no evidence gives me cause to believe, and no map directs my steps. I curl my toes into new earth, I turn to face a new will, I move from the call of an unheard of wind. Courage gives me weight and vision from inside a black out dust storm that I have conjured.

And so my old friend, though you are always there, it is only a few times in my life that I need you to stand tall inside me and flood my arms and legs and voice with the richest blood from my heart.

I need you now. It has been years. Please come up and fill the space between the comfortable old and unlit new. I will look for the gazes that feed you, I will breathe full and pound my heart, and you will clarify my reflection in the mirror.

Thrive!

I was sitting near my friend on her wedding day as she was getting her hair done. I looked over at her face and I could see that her body was in the room, but her mind was in a million other places. Behind her eyes was a map of thoughts did all the relatives get in okay, is the catering going to work out, on and on and on… The details of life, especially surrounding the big things are endless. I could tell my friend was about to miss her wedding day. Her body was there, but her experience was split in a million directions.

I asked her if after her hair was done, if she wanted to join me in a five minute meditation. She said yes, absolutely.  We sat in two chairs, chaos all around, and breathed for five little minutes.

In that five minutes she became present to the beauty of the day. Her mind settled and released the unnecessary thoughts that were blocking her experience, and when she opened her eyes, there she was. She was back in her body, suddenly full of life and joy.

To this day, she thanks me for that moment.

The difference between surviving and thriving, is almost always in the perspective. It’s in what type of breath your taking in. Are you gasping in short shallow breaths to serve only the purpose of the moment? Or, can you breathe in big and ride the moments like a wave – whether tumbling inside it, or gliding on it’s crest, always with a laugh, just because your in the ocean at all!?  

That is what our yoga practice is, friends. We take that daily moment to get inside our experience, instead of hovering all around it.  Sometimes there’s resistance, because most days are not our wedding day. Most days are pulling through the grind to realize the bigger picture. But our practice gives us the touch of that big picture now in the present moment. Usually it takes a moment to get passed the stuff that doesn’t feel so good, and then we travel deeper inside our body and mind, and find that at our core we are peaceful. Just below the surface of stress, there’s a well of abundance that encompasses all the good and bad, and gives us the gift of presence. So we don’t wait to look back at the end of a particular journey and appreciate it. We get to feel the sweet and saltiness of life more potently in every moment.  

This month notice the times when you are only half there. Gripping on for survival, racing through just to get done, or just dull and bored with the moment. Take a deep breath and loosen the grip, slow the gate, or shine your eyes. This life is made up of a bunch of unmarked moments that you can either survive through, or drink in, and thrive on.

Expectation, Inspiration and Communication

Expectation can get get in the way of receiving. When we expect we are bound to be let down, but when we receive, everything is a gift.

I recently had an experience where my own expectations blinded me to the value of someone in my life. My own unmet expectations made me angry and uncommunicative. I realize in retrospect they were my expectations making me angry, not the person themselves. My own frustration made me unsuccessful at communicating any desires from the relationship as something positive, or inspiring. Instead, mired in anger and frustration, I simply shut down and became distant...and then I lost them because of this distance. The loss is a great one. It took losing them to realize that I had been a victim only to my own expectations, and not one to that person’s lack of having the ability to be, or give me what I wanted.

While I was dwelling in the story of what "should" have been, I became blind to the beauty of what was actually there. Something different then what I expected. Something I didn’t dream up myself, but that was being presented as a gift. Something that did actually make me happy, but in a different way then I had been attached to it looking.

We all have expectations from life. We dream things, are conditioned to want things, and also work hard toward achieving the things we want. But “expectation” is just a little far over the edge. Expectation is like the over ripe tomato. It has lost it’s inspiration to potentiality be something delicious by stewing it it’s own sense of itself.

When we were young and every experience was new, there was so much magic. It was so easy to get us to smile just by an adult presenting a simple thing in an inspired way. It could do us all some good to conjure back up that kind of open vision of what this life is to provide us.

So we want to keep, inspiration, momentum, communication, desire, achievement, and play, but experiment with high, but “OPEN” expectations of the result of all of those efforts. If you widen the scope if what comes your way perhaps it will contain just a little bit of something special that you hadn’t planned, for, but is in itself unique and amazing. How boring would life be if it was just a lever that we pull, and out comes exactly what we wanted.  

People are amazing creatures that each have their own gift, and our expectations of them can block the colorful rays they are trying to bestow on us. 

So, this month, enjoy noticing your own expectations, and ask yourself if they are serving you or brining you down. Transform them into inspiration and communication and see what you get!

Loving-Kindness

The philosopher Socrates is credited with offering this rule engagement:

“Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

You may have, in recent months found yourself on one end or another of an agitated engagement. Or, perhaps you are the type to hold agitation inside yourself, not letting it out in an attempt to follow the above instruction.

In the winter months, when the atmosphere can at times feel harsh, and the light and warmth of the sun is more scarce, the state of agitation can override our sense of well being.  This can cause us to feel and act without kindness either to ourselves or others.

I was sitting in my very first day of teacher training. It was a very large room with about 60 people in it, I was scared and excited, jetlagged from the long flight, and all of a sudden something my teacher said changed everything about how I live my life to this day. In one lesson, poof, a life long understanding of yoga was planted, never to leave. It changed everything about how I interact with myself and the world.

She taught us that...

1. The key to enlightenment was to “be kind.”

2. Being kind begins in our thoughts

I knew myself to be a good and kind person. I didn’t generally say anything to anyone that was unkind. I kept to myself and didn’t make too many waves. But suddenly bringing the yoga practice into my thoughts, was a whole new level of cleaning house that I wasn’t prepared for.  In a funny sort of way, I was surprised that my teacher even knew that I had thoughts. You just don’t usually think about the fact that other people know that you have thoughts. You keep thoughts to yourself, you try to act nicely, that’s it.  

I felt a new kind of nakedness in that teacher training. I was suddenly aware of a whole host of thoughts that maybe weren’t so kind, necessary, or even true running through my mind every minute of every day. Thoughts about myself, thoughts about others. These thoughts were blocking me from being truly peaceful and free with others.  I felt like I had to hide away much of the time. I lived in fear because of the bad vibes my own thoughts gave me.

The truth is, my thoughts mostly affect me. So any unkindness within them, leaves me the one feeling unkind. Not at peace. Even if the thought was supposedly about someone else!

Ever since that day, I feel as though there is a loving teaching inside my mind. Helping me distinguish my thoughts from one’s that are enlightened or not. Frustrated or angry thoughts about other people, have the opportunity to melt into compassionate accepting ones. (Although at times that does take a little bit of work and time.)

Do I still get upset? Sure I do.  But now I understand that my experience extends to my thoughts, so if I want peace, I first must change my own mind about something. Then if something necessary can be said, I can say it from a place of peace.

Additionally “true” took on a whole new meaning. The fact is, we know so little about what’s true. Much of our misguided agitation stems from assuming other’s were acting in a way that was unkind to us. But we do not know what is in the mind of others. On the other hand, when we assume kindness in others, the world takes on a whole new dimension. The world does start acting more kind.

Then there is the practice of being kind to yourself. How do we act kindly to ourselves? Over indulging in things we know don’t serve us well? Over doing things we think bring us happiness? Ultimately being kind to ourselves is having a special blend of balance whereby we attend to our own needs with kindness, compassion, and honesty.

We can’t change the weather, or even other people’s states of being, but we can control our thoughts and actions and shift them over to the kind side.

This month, fill up your well, so diligently with your yoga practice, and meditation, and loving kindness to yourself and those close to you, that you are abundant with kindness. Then the next time someone seemingly is unkind to you, you can just break off a little of your own kindness and give it to them, no charge.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Socrates 

Listen

by Ella Luckett

There’s a lot of background noise. From the city streets to the mumble of thoughts and worries in your head. Trucks belt out their gas guzzling roar, clashing music wars, arguments and conversations, thousands of people in short radius, talking, thinking, sending out frequencies to interrupt your clear personal connection to your inner peace.

In addition to the external sounds, there’s the clamor of your own internal dialogue. Have you ever slowed down enough to actually witness the many layers of thoughts in your head? The mind wants to dissect, assign value, meaning, judgment, to both yourself and others. It does that to protect you, to help you grow and learn, and progress. It’s an ever running engine. Until you slow down enough, to hear it, you may not even notice it’s been left churning, nor how much of your energy it’s draining to keep itself on.

The process of finding our deepest inner wisdom involves a journey through all this noise, to hear the truth beneath it all. The truth lies in the silence. Beyond the ramblings of the mental mind, the mind of higher intelligence has amazing things to say. But we have to listen.

That place is called the anahat nadam: The un-struck sound. It’s the nectar of your deepest truth and highest potential. A well spring of unwavering energy, and happiness. It’s always there waiting. If you can slowly start to move in, identifying each distracting sound as a never ending sea of “neti neti” “not this, not this” Eventually the soundless sound prevails, and you are swimming in wisdom and peace.

This month we’ll practice...

Listening to yourself: Meander through the noisy jungle until it gets quiet and there you will emerge.

Listen to others: Listen for their gift to you, for each encounter carries it. Wisdom, love, a lesson, or even just an opportunity to grow as you learn how to best relate to them. Each person has something to say, and appreciates greatly someone who will truly listen to them.

When you become an avid listener your ears become tuned like the top level sound engineer who can hear every detail separate from each other.  Where most people get lost in the noise,  the well versed listener can wade through the bramble of influences that don’t serve the highest in all, and land on truth.  The practice of listening, will help you have compassion and connection with others, and help you feel empowered in your own self. Knowing who you are is the most precious gift that takes a lifetime to discover, and it can only be done when we tune in and listen.

Making Peace with the Past

This month’s theme is making peace with the past.  In recent weeks as I look at the things in my life that I’m trying to improve, I’ve been tracing back lines to past twists and turns in my journey and holding the energy of “blame” on past events.  If I had only… If they, he, she had only… 

I’m whole heartedly positive that this is a colossal waste of time.  Everyone knows no good can come of blaming the past. It’s what you do with the present that counts. So why has my brain decided to go down that road lately and set up camp like an angry Golem at the side of the river, grumbling about how the Hobbit’s stolen his precious? If I know it’s a waste of time, why is my current frustration now focused so hard on the past?

Sometimes the only way around an obstacle is through it.

I can’t change the past, nor should I want to. But I’m trying to grow through this fitful night of struggle. I’m pushing at the edges of my cocoon in order to bust out and make major breakthroughs in a particular area that I’ve struggled with for over a decade now.

I’ve come to the present moment in a million ways. My practice has brought me peace and contentedness. But life is a myriad of moments, glowing different colors and qualities. Although every time we practice, we discover divine perfection and reset the dial to our true state of peace. I believe, there is also an earthly shadowed strife that mixes into our experience. There is a darkness we all go through to get to the next level.

This is why my mind is dwelling on the past. This is why it is intently studying it. The last barrier in the way of the break through, IS the regret itself that I hold and it IS the wisdom held in that container.

Through the witnessing state of meditations, I can see the characters of that time, myself and others with complete compassion. I can re-witness their actions as if I were watching a play. We love watching movies and plays with characters who play out the flawed hand they’ve been dealt both inside themselves and through circumstance. We love the compassion in evokes from our hearts to see them with understanding of all of their imperfections. When we study the play of our own lives, we have the opportunity to extract the nectar of old events to serve the present moment with wisdom, not pain. If we ignore them to simply arrive at peace now we divert the pain, but don’t welcome the opportunity for growth.

So, while putting the past to rest and seeing everything as in perfect order is important, we want to make sure we’re not practicing an kind of “spiritual bypass.” Skipping over dark, painful, or inconvenient material in your psyche and landing in ungrounded sweetness.

When your mind seeks to magnify a particular old event, just as in meditation, it’s futile to try to resist this thought land that you have wandered into. Instead, welcome this course of study. Know that ruminating in regret will not bring you resolve, but forgiving the regret in yourself and others will.  Sometimes that forgiveness takes time to sit there and be in the dark ugly feelings of sorrow, as long as you sit there with an unwavering commitment to not strengthen them, but to give them their ultimate peace.

Don’t stop there. Next use those feelings as fuel to fire you up for the present. You’re not dead till your dead, and people have made great strides and monumental life turn arounds at every stage of the game.

If your mind still hangs heavy on an old regret, whether you blame yourself, or someone else, don’t try to erase those feelings. They are trying to teach you something. Know that blame has no merit, but recognition does.

Recognize yourself as a human who wasn’t born knowing everything, but have the potential to learn everything.

Recognize other’s as humans who weren’t born knowing what’s exactly right, but are doing the best they can.

Forgive yourself.

Forgive others.

Then, use feelings of old regret for fuel in the present.

If you find your mind dwelling on the past, the greatest opportunity of your life is probably around the corner and your mind is just preparing you to use your past to do it better this time.