Being Out of Integrity

This is a re-post I found inspiring to me today. Take time to find your middle ground and come home to your Self.

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meditating

I used to think that when I was out of integrity I was not walking my own talk and my thoughts were not in alignment with my beliefs and values.
That when my thinking and actions weren’t aligned, I was letting myself down in some away, and not honoring my best self.
And then I woke up and experienced it as something more.

The signs of being out of integrity were the same. For me, its an icky uncomfortable feeling in my gut. I’ve come to recognize this as my unconscious letting me know that something isn’t right. There is something to discover within.

When this feeling happens I ask myself two questions and then listen for an answer.

1. Am I feeling fearful? ….I didn’t defect any fear. There were no anxious thoughts or worries.

2. Am I out of integrity?…. and I couldn’t see anything “wrong”. I wasn’t letting myself down by being out of alignment with my thoughts and actions. Usually there’s something that comes up –  like avoiding exercise, over eating, trying to get out of a commitment I regretted having made, or feeling bad because I was snippy with someone when I was focused elsewhere. This time it made no sense whatsoever. But there was no “bad” deed or self denial to be dug up and exposed.

So what was going on?

I decided to set aside time to be with myself for yoga and meditation. I moved gently and then simply sat. Being fully present and open to see what would show up.

As I did, I felt a gentle wave of warm loving energy and a softening around my heart. A small voice without words seemed to say “Ah here you are. I’ve missed you.”

The well intentioned judge disappeared and was replaced by pure loving kindness. I gave it space to be and to grow. It moved through my very being. Enfolding me and nurturing my spirit.

My realization is this:

Before I would judge myself as in some way as being “wrong”, and then I would make it “right” by changing how I was behaving or thinking. My judge is well intentioned, but sees things as right or wrong and can be very critical.

When we let go of the judge, a loving connection with ourselves can seed itself and grow. Harmony is found again and everything is aligned once more with life and the world.

Now I know that when I am out of integrity then I am not taking time to be kind to myself.

It’s not about changing my thinking and actions, its about opening my heart and connecting to my Self.

Namaste

Peace is a Natural Mind State

This is a re-blog and a reminder for myself the morning. Peace is within us all. Take time to meditate today.

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This is one of my favorite quotes about inner peace from Dr Thynn Thynn . Every time I read it or share it, it makes me see how simple peace of mind can be if we only learn how to access it.

“Peace is a natural mind-state in every one of us. Peace has been there since the day we were born and is going to be there until the day we die. It is our greatest gift; so why do we think we have no peace of mind?

Experiencing peace is like looking at our hands. Usually we see only the fingers – not the spaces in between them.

In a similar manner, when we look at the mind, we are aware of the active states, such as our running thoughts and the one thousand and one feelings that are associated with them, but we tend  to overlook the intervals of peace between them.”

open hand

When we come to realize that peace of mind is already within us, our journey changes from searching for it, to one of letting go and being present. By letting go of what our thoughts are caught up with, and coming into the present moment, we connect to our inner being.

This is the secret place where peace resides.

I love the idea of shedding and revealing rather than striving for.

If you have a minute or two, why not slow down and join me here in a moment of  mindfulness.

Take a moment to notice your hands and the spaces in between your fingers.

Close your eyes and now picture the space between each finger.

Allow your hands to soften.

Notice the warmth in your palms.

Let your hands rest on your thighs with the palms up.

Allow your breath to soften and lengthen.

Breathe ….

Relax your jaw and forehead.

Breathing gently ….

Notice the calm in between the thoughts that come up.

Remember that this is always within you. Its up to you how you choose to access it and bring it into your everyday life.

Three Levels of Truth

deeper meaning

Free photo 18172741 © Melinda Nagy – Dreamstime.com

 

“There are three levels of truth: experience, reasoning, and knowing.

All other assertions should be rejected.”

 

The first type of truth is from our direct experience.

The second type, is truth gained from reasoning and analysis.

The third type of truth is different from the first two. This is the way of spiritual knowing. This knowledge is beyond words, description and rationalization There is no need for other investigations.

In fact, one must be careful not to let the fruits of one’s meditations pass into the realm of rationalization.

To avoid doubt and conflicting opinions, followers of Tao keep their revelations and spiritual knowing to themselves.

~ Deng Ming-Dao from 365 Tao

The more we try to analyze a truth, the more doubt and confusion arises in the mind.

The answer lies beyond our experience and our thinking mind.

This sense of knowing requires faith in the ultimate truth and in our ability to let go.

Namaste

Prana and Dealing with Pain

This is a re-blog of a personal story about dealing with some physical pain while I was at Kripalu. For those of you who live with chronic pain, I hope you will be inspired by this.keep calm breathe and ouch

I have a deformity of my low back, which was exacerbated in a skiing accident in the 1990’s. The bottom line is that I have to be really careful not to jolt it, do quick movements or backbends that could bring about spasms or make the condition worse.

So, going to Kripalu a few years ago, I made sure I had strong antispasmodics if my back went into spasm. I didn’t want to be incapacitated for yoga teacher training!

I was alert and prepared. I was also pretty tense about it.

The first two days I was being so careful; avoiding certain poses and making my own adjustments. I feel good about taking care …  “of this darn back of mine that is preventing me from having as much fun as everyone else!”

Then I experienced a sharp pain in my left knee. With all the sitting I wasn’t surprised, and I needed to give it attention.

pranayamaWe were doing pranayama and meditation practice, and what I was learning was to breathe deeply, adjust my body, and  let the prana or life force flow into the area that  hurt.

The idea is to allow the channels to be open so that the body’s natural healing can work. There are different breathing techniques to activate and move the prana energy.

The next day my knee stopped hurting. But there was a shooting pain in my ankle.

So I adjusted my position and breathed deeply letting the prana flow there.

The next morning, there was no pain.

What about my back? I had forgotten about it. It should have been aching after six days of sitting but it was doing okay.

In fact, I felt wonderful. No pain anywhere.

The lesson I want to share with you is:

Notice it.

Let it relax.

Give it space.

Breathe into it.

Let it be.

What I now understand is that this can work for all pain – whether its physical or emotional.

Our body has a way to deal with hurt and brings its own ability to heal when we recognize it, and are kind towards it.

I’ll still take the meds and apply heat  when needed …. but I’ve learned a valuable lesson about living from my Middle Ground.

I am so grateful.

Namaste.

What is the Purpose of Meditation?

man meditating

Image from Yoga Journal

“We know the outer world of sensations and actions, but our inner world of thoughts and feelings we know very little. The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose is to reach the source of life and consciousness.

Incidentally, practice of meditation deeply affects our character. We are slaves to what we do not know; of what we know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we discover and understand its causes and its workings, we overcome it by the very knowing; the unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious releases energy; the mind feels adequate and become quiet.”

~ “I am That” – Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“We are slaves to what we do not know; of what we know we are masters” is such a simple yet profound statement for seekers on the spiritual path. Being open to the unknown and taking time to pause and be an observer of our inner thoughts and struggles, is the gateway to a new way of being and self mastery.

In mindfulness and meditation practice we become aware of our inner life. When we are conscious of our thoughts and struggles, they lose their grip on us, and the mind can become quiet.

I have “I am That” as bedside reading. Maharaj’s  words are simple and direct, as he guides the individual to an understanding of his true nature and the timelessness of being.

I look forward to sharing more gems from this simple wonderful sage who did not propound any ideology or religion, yet guided people to self realization.

Haiku – Yoga and Life

Prana Flow

~

Let the prana flow.

Embodied presence and breath.

Find your Middle Ground

~

This is a definition of yoga, and what I bring to the mat every day. The intention is to move the life energy through awareness of the breath.  The body doesn’t need to be in motion to do this. At any moment we can guide our attention and our prana.

Where our attention goes, the energy flows.

I bring this to yoga and into my life.

Off the mat, I come back again and again, and bring awareness to where my attention is going. This is where the precious life energy will move towards.

Take a moment and close your eyes. Notice where your energy and thoughts are being drawn to right now. Is this expanding or contracting your energy? Is there a sense of opening or tension? Is this moment enriching or detracting from who you are or want to be?

Most of us don’t really want our energy to flow into our smart phone … mindless distractions … other people’s stories and drama … worrying about the future … holding on to what is past … judging others … being critical of ourselves. Yet it happens a lot.

Awareness is the first step. The next one is your choice.

Click here to find more about becoming present with the breath and living mindfully.

Namaste

 

Meditation – Finding an Anchor that Works for You

child meditating

A lot has been written in the past few years about Mindfulness Meditation.  This Buddhist based practice has become popular here in the west through the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program founded by Jon Kabat Zinn. Research clearly shows that meditating changes the neural pathways of the brain and aids in relieving stress and pain.

“Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentaly”~ Jon Kabat Zinn

Initially it begins with coming into a comfortable seated position and bringing awareness and observation of bodily sensations, most often the breath. The breath is the anchor for concentrating the mind.

The tradition in Yoga however, is different. As a yoga teacher, I have also learned other methods of meditation that can be practiced. Not everyone will find Mindfulness Meditation a good fit. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up on being mindful or meditation.

The key is to find the anchor that works for you.

How we breathe is directly connected to how we are feeling emotionally. If we sit to meditate in an already anxious state, we may become stressed when we realize our breath is short and jagged, or in our upper chest. In these circumstances, using the breath as an anchor is unlikely to work initially.

In the yoga tradition of Patanjali, there are two parts in meditation before we attain the ultimate state of enlightened bliss, where we shed our mind’s conditioning and connect to the infinite oneness of the universe. (Samadhi)

It starts with concentrating and focusing the mind (Dharana).  The next part is being able to sustain uninterrupted meditation (Dhyana).

The anchor is usually something we connect to through our senses. It can be an external sound or an internal mantra repeated over and over. It can be a smell, or the feel of something in your hand, or the feel of sun on your body. It can be gazing at an object in front of you  or a meaningful image in your mind. It can be focusing on a movement, a posture, or a particular part of your body. There are so many possibilities to explore.

Its all about focusing the mind and training it to concentrate on one thing.

As the mind wanders, which is naturally will, we bring it back to the anchor, and bring our full attention there.

Meditation is not about having a blank mind, its about bringing awareness, again and again back to the anchor or object of focus. Through this practice, over time, the mind is trained to recognize and let go of thoughts.

When we let go of our thinking we create space. In this space, we become witnesses to our inner life and the world around us. We begin to feel a connection to ourselves and a sense of Oneness.