Love the weeds in your life


eyore ahimsa

In yoga, ahimsa or non-judgement, refers to the state of living in loving kindness toward all beings including ourselves.   And yet, sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do.  Let’s face it extending compassion in every situation — particularly conflict — can be hard. Why dispense love to the guy who cut you off in line when you don’t owe him anything?  Because you owe it to yourself to find the love and beauty everywhere.

As A.A. Milne — Winnie the Pooh author — once said, weeds are flowers too once you get to know them. You never know who’s going to come into your life and present you the opportunity to find love.  In fact, sometimes the universe sends us challenging people and situations for just that reason.

The next time someone really gets under your skin, rather than building up toxic emotion asking “why me”, ask yourself, “How can I extend compassion here? What am I supposed to offer? What am I supposed to learn?”

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Pinterest)

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Which wolf will you feed?


yin_yang_wolf

There’s a story I love that has been around for ages, and has recently begun it’s resurgence in internet circulation. I love the simplicity of it’s message, so I thought I’d share the story of an old Cherokee chief teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”

 “One is dark — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.”

 “The other is light — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

 “This same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.”

 The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

 The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Which wolf will you feed today?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Photobucket.com)

The yoga of Yoda, we all have


yoda meditating

“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wans apprentice.” ~Yoda

Call it Brahma, Atman, Allah, God, enlightenment, Tao, Shakti, Nirvana or consciousness, the nature of ultimate reality is evident in religious philosophies around the world. The Force is within all of us, so why do we fight and give into the dark side when peace and love are at the heart of all spirituality? Could it be the ultimate LACK of faith or are we just hard wired for conflict?

Let’s step back, and look at it scientifically.  “It is a bit of an irony that the same evolved mechanisms that enhance ingroup compassion and sacrifice also contribute greatly to intergroup conflict,” says Steve Neuberg, an evolutionary psychologist. In other words the very traits that make us social yet uniquely individual beings, create an us vs. them mentality as a way to protect our resources.

There appears to be a (slow) global shift in spirituality.  Some studies say we’re becoming ‘less religious‘ while there are indications that we are amidst a vast spiritual awakening.

“Religion comes from the Latin word, legare, meaning “to connect.” And the prefix, re, means again. Inspiration comes from the Latin, inspirare, with an original meaning to “breathe in spirit.”

I happen to lean towards the latter.  I think that while we’re gravitating away from organized religion in some respects, we’re moving toward a more unified spiritual consciousness. Perhaps we’re all looking for religious inspiration, seeking the Ultimate Reality, consciousness, God to bring meaning to our lives and the devastation and conflict that exists in the world.

What do you think?  Are we we Jedis or Siths that have fallen to the dark side? Meditate on this, I will.

May the force be with you.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Bonus: The Wisdom of Yoda Poster (courtesy of Deviant Art)

wisdom of yoda

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Celebrate the inner light of Christmas

Christmas-Lights

One of my favorite Christmas traditions has been to drive around to various neighborhoods and see their Christmas light displays.  As a child, it filled me with wonderment and made the holiday seem that much more special (still does).

On the tree, I love how the lights reflect off of shiny Christmas bulbs creating an infinite source of illumination. As an adult, yogi and yoga teacher, the word ‘light’ always inspires thoughts of our inner divinity, the pure love we all have inside each of us and that our light is a reflection of each other’s as well.

Like the luminaries the line sidewalks on Christmas eve, our inner light guides our way; illuminating the darkness. As you look around today, see the light in everything — the lights on the tree, the flame on a candle, the pure joy in a child’s eyes, and the light of love of family members as you celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.  The divine light in me acknowledges and honors, the divine light in all of you.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related post: Spirituality is bread bags on my feet

(Photo: Decoist)

Wander around yourself like a Hobbit

JRR Tolkien Quote

One of the things I love most about J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit series is the message under the message. Aside from the movie being visually stunning (I’m currently in the market for an earth shelter home in Scotland, if you know a good real estate agent), the poignant simplicity of Tolkien’s messages are beautiful reminders of what we already know to be true.

My favorite Tolkien quote is, “All who wander are not lost.”  I love this sort of “get out of jail free” card that emphasizes the value of soul-searching while comforting those who may feel they’ve never been able to fit in.

A lot of us feel we have our shit together by a certain point in our lives, and if we don’t fit a certain social norm by an invisible time-clock, we’re somehow lacking and not valuable.   And even if we DO fit the mold — Married, two+ kids, house, car and dog — we still beat ourselves up if we don’t have our personal shit together all of the time.

I don’t think we have to cast our worldly stuff aside and all become Sherpas or whirling dervishes, but why not wander around yourself for a while?  Take a look at the patterns and habits in your life that confine you.  Is there a place you’re terrified to visit?  Do you prefer the comfort of a sheltered life or perhaps you thrive in chaos?  Dive into your patterns and see what evolution may happen when you face your nooks and crannies head on.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)

Skip the resolution, set your Sankalpa for 2013

In Sanskrit, the term ‘Sankalpa’ means will, purpose, determination or resolve. It is the inspired intention we set allow our true nature to shine through bringing us peace and serenity. “Rod Stryker, founder of ParaYoga, explains that the chief architect of life is the mind. To create the life we are meant to live, we must draw the mind again and again to our dharma, our deepest intentions, and the qualities of the Divine within.” [Himalayan Institute]

Sankalpa isn’t about restraint like a traditional resolution as much as it is about acceptance and nourishing that which will help you realize your Sankalpa.

 

 

sankalpa infographic

 

 

Resolve to evolve in 2013, and set an intention.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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Accepting the unacceptable

mourning statue

At times like this, it’s hard for me to make sense out of the violence and suffering that occur in the world. I talk often about acceptance and awareness, and yet here I sit, a hypocrite, finding it near impossible to reconcile or make peace with what has happened this past week. But, I think what helps me avoid getting stuck in a glut of anger is realizing that acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean endorsement.

In 2012 there have been more than 50 mass shootings in the U.S., the most recent at a Connecticut school that left 27 people are dead, including 18 children. As I type the words, it’s hard for me to digest. I truly have no words.

Although I’ve never met him, one of my most beloved teachers is Eckhart Tolle. His words tranformed me when I was in a not-so-awesome place. I thought this video on dissolving suffering was poignant. It’s not about mass violence, but the message on transmuting suffering into peace is worth watching.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Be well. Love and be loved. Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: StLouisCatholic)

Don’t just lie there, scrape your tongue

woman sticking out tongue

Ayurveda is ancient Indian science and philosophy that focuses on the vital health of the whole individual, including the physical, energetic, psychological and spiritual.  Living a balanced Ayurvedic life includes taking care of the physical body with yoga, meditation, healthful eating for your Dosha, and a hygiene ritual called Dinacharya.

One of the more traditional components of the morning ritual is tongue scraping.  Your mouth in general, and particularly your tongue can reveal a lot about your health, specifically your digestive system. So, treating the tongue as a specific area of the body of hygiene focus is important. In addition to removing bacteria, scraping your tongue stimulates your digestive fire and enzymes.

Kick off the not-so-new-year with this morning Dinacharya that’s believed to promote health and prevent disease.  You may have to adjust your schedule to allow yourself the time to get up and accommodate a new routine, but see what it does for your physical and mental health.

1. Wake up – Be aware of your body, focus your awareness on positive things. You may even choose to say a prayer and express gratitude.  By the way, the optimal times to wake up based on your Dosha are:  KAPHA 3:00 – 4:30 am;  PITTA 4:00 – 5:30 am; VATA 5:00 – 6:30 am.

2. Nature calls – Go to the restroom as needed.

3. Wash the face – Wash face, mouth, and eyes – be sure to wake up your eyes with some simple eye exercises.

4. Brush your teeth & scrape your tongue – Scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper from base to tip.  You’ll be amazed at the funk you’ll get off of your tongue.  Some practitioners gargle with sesame oil, and rinse their mouth with a Triphala powder mixture as well.  But, there’s only so much time in the morning…

5. Drink water – Drink a glass of room temperature water on an empty stomach.

6. Self-massage – Abhyanga is a self-oil massage that stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory system.  Traditionally sesame oil is used. Start with your feet and work your way up to your scalp.

7. Clean out your nasal passages – Using a neti pot with a distilled water, saline & bicarbonate mixture flushes out bacteria harboring mucus that accumulated in the night.  Once you’ve cleaned out your nose, you can place a couple of drops of sesame oil just inside the tip of your noise to moisturize your nasal passages.  (I use a mixture of sesame oil, lavender and eucalyptus).

8. Shower

9. Yoga & Meditation – I try to do at least 30 minutes of yoga, followed by pranayama and 15 minutes of meditation.

15. Breakfast – Eat according to your dosha.  Here’s a great article from Body + Soul Australia on eating for your dosha.

It may seem like a daunting routine, but it’s really not once you get into the habit and you’d be surprised at how much better you feel.  Try it out, and see for yourself.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)