Tag Archives: inspiration

Vow To Show Up, Share, Notice…

The yoga sutras tell us that if we want to be successful at yoga, our practice must be steady and consistent, performed over time and done with love. In this way, we foster steadiness in our lives and thoughts.

The bodhisattva is an enthusiastic spiritual practitioner who devotes their life to service and awakening. They do this for the good of themselves, and even more so for the love of all beings.

Vow to show up…pay little attention to any worries about when to practice, what technique, what length of time. The most important thing is to arrive, set our intention to bring our practice to life.

Vow to share…harness the goodness we cultivate and offer it to the world. Through sharing, we ensure this stays alive in our collective hearts and minds.

Vow to notice…our practice is a tool for unearthing and tethering ourselves to the qualities of peace, faith, love, and patience. These benefits show up unannounced when we least expect them and when we most need them. Realize, embrace, notice this gift.

Take our seat, be at ease.

Thank ourselves for taking the time to show up and practice.

Whatever we commit to, wherever we put our energy, will flourish.

Like any relationship, be it yoga practice, a marriage, a business, if it is to grow, there has to be a commitment.

Bring our hands to our heart.

Bow our head in appreciation of these commitments we make to ourselves and others.

I am the bodhisattva of my life, a noble and awakened heart.

I vow to show up.

I vow to share.

I vow to notice.

May this practice fall like a snowflake into the hearts and minds of those in need.

– Author and Yoga Teacher, Gabrielle Harris

Focused Vision, Focused Life…

In yoga, the Sanskrit word drshti (drishtee) is seeing, or inner vision. It also refers to the act of gazing at a focal point. Practicing drshti can be as simple as choosing a spot on the wall to look at to help maintain our balance in a yoga pose. Eventually this external gazing turns into gazing inward, perhaps concentrating on our intuition or heart center. To focus means to steady ourselves, to direct our attention, to concentrate.

Concentration is a limb of yoga (Dharana). It’s just as important as practicing asana/postures. Without concentration, we cannot meditate, and we lose out on the first goal of yoga, which is to steady the chitter chatter of our minds.

To concentrate, we reduce the distractions that surround us. Through drshti, we temporarily narrow the scope of our vision. We temporarily put on blinders so that we can have a deeper experience with one thing rather than a broad experience of many things.

In yoga asana class, discipline yourself to keep your drshti gaze, no matter what posture you are in or how you are moving to / through them. Be aware of the room and other practitioners, yet narrow your focus, keep your eyes still and relaxed, gazing at one spot. Work to also keep your body still between postures and during postures. Lessen your fidgeting – for yourself, and also for other practitioners. Yogis work to limit our negative impacts on others – our movements, our words, our actions. Be rigorous, self-disciplined, and compassionate with yourself.

In this way, we begin to direct not just our attention, but also our lives. The more we practice concentrating and paying attention, the easier it becomes. We learn we can sharpen into focus, and then go back out broad with our level of awareness. We become very efficient, because our minds stay still while we perform the task at hand. We begin to tether ourselves to this deep well of peace within us, no matter how hectic things are around us.

Letting Go of Labels…

As human beings, we’re exactly the same – energy / light in the container of the human body. Unfortunately, we all identify with our many layers of labels, and it prevents us from seeing each other as human beings. Thinking of ourselves as “white” “black” “gay” “straight” “Buddhist” “Christian” “woman” “man” – whatever the label… is an obstacle that prevents us and others from discovering the pure human being in us. Of course, labels are an important part of our ego self-identification, but the label is not the essence of who we are. We get wrapped up in the labels, the notions and images of what the label means, and we fail to recognize each other as simply human beings – energy / light / goodness. It’s all there, underneath the layers of labels that separate us or make us feel more important or different from another person. The practice of peeling away all the labels so that our humanness can be revealed is truly a practice for peace and understanding.

Inspired from reading Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hahn

Listening, Silence, Presence…

A quiet place is a thinktank for the soul. Silence is an endangered species that we must preserve. Silence is not an absence of sound, it’s an absence of noise.

We create a lot of noise. As creatures among other creatures, what sounds of ours can become part of the greater soundscape – part of the silence? What is our message in the sounds that we create? Can we apply our own artistic sense, our own signature, our sense of timing, to the grand performance that creates a sense of place – a peaceful joyous welcoming home or workplace? Through our emmeshed sounds, the whole topography of the surrounding landscape can be revealed. Are our sounds creating noise or are they adding value to our place?

Listening is not about listening for sounds – listening is simply about listening to the place, and taking it all in. Being completely present. After deeply listening, we are all affected. We internalize whatever we have listened to. We live out whatever we listen to – through our later interactions with people. Can we hear the music of the place, of the land, and have it move and inspire us?

We are listening creatures, but our listening abilities are destroyed in noisy environments. In noisy environments, we are cut off from a level of intimacy with each other and we are less in touch. We are busy not listening to this, not seeing that, and we end up closing ourselves off to being fully present.

When we are in a relatively quiet place, we can hear all the information. Quiet places generally tend to be secure places, which calm us. No noise is being jammed into us. Quiet places allow us to open up and be receptive and truly listen. When we are truly listening, we may become changed by what we’ve heard. Real listening is about being vulnerable. A great way to practice real listening is to listen to nature, because we aren’t invested at all in what nature says to us. When we really listen to another person, we dare to risk listening to what they really are saying.

Inspired from listening to On Being w/ Krista Tippett – Gordon Hempton – Silence and the Presence of Everything

Breathe In “Serve” Breathe Out “God”

This simple breathing meditation has been incredibly helpful for me and I thought it may be helpful to you, too!

Start becoming aware of your breath and create a slow, deep, even inhale and exhale from your nose. It may be a for a count of 4, 5, or 7 – we all have a different breath cycle, so make it your own deep even breath. As you inhale, meditate on “Serve”. As you exhale, meditate on “God”.

As I move through each moment of my day, I go back to this breathing meditation. When anxiety fills me, or my heart becomes heavy, or my mind starts it’s incessant chitter chatter, I go back to: Inhale Serve, Exhale God. Everything slows down. Crystal clarity returns. Worry resolves itself. Stress melts away. I step back into my true purpose – in each moment, Serve God.

Yoga Videos During Covid

Hello there – I posted a few yoga videos on my YouTube Channel.

I hope this helps yoga practitioners feel well and stay tethered to the peaceful place inside yourself regardless of what’s going on in the world.

With Peace, Love, Inner Light,

Amy

The Best Way To Get Yourself Out Of A Negative Emotional Loop…

Inspired from an article by Eric Barker and neuroscience researcher Alex Korb

What am I grateful for

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we get into these “moods” and it feels like our whole being has a desire to stay stuck in a negative emotion. We know we aren’t being our best versions of ourself, but can’t seem to shift back into positivity, peace, and calm.

The best thing to ask yourself:

What am I grateful for?

Gratitude affects your brain at the biological level. Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine.

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable…

Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin.

One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

Sometimes life gets really messy and negative and it’s hard to find one thing to be grateful for – and guess what, it doesn’t matter – it’s the slowing down to think about gratitude.

It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

Gratitude is a ripple effect – it helps you feel happier and, if you express gratitute to other people in your life, it extends into those relationships.

Dying in “s” self to Live in “S” self…

As I lay here in Savasana, I come into stillness and surrender.

I allow myself to feel completely supported…

Because I am supported.

By something far greater than anything anyone can imagine. God.

 

 

 

 

 

I relax into the comfort of being supported and connected to God.

Inhaling, and God approaches me.
Holding the inhalation, and God remains in me.
Exhaling, and I approach God.
Holding the exhalation, and surrender to God.

I allow my whole body; physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically – to surrender.

Surrendering my little “s” self so that I may live in my higher “S” self.

To see clarity in God’s purpose for my life.

Breath by breath, moment by moment.

From the moment I was born until the moment I die, using the breath to come back into the simplicity of life lived through God’s plan.

The Practice Of Being Present For Experience…

Inspired from Yogi & Author Stephen Cope

Most yoga practitioners can attest to having a similar experience: While practicing asana, feeling a wave of energy arising during a pose. Muscles ripple and dramatically open. Feelings begin to overwhelm our whole being, and turn raw, real. Maybe it’s sadness, grief, elation. After the experience, we feel better: quiet, present, and soft. This is the real secret of yoga – the practice of being present for experience.

Through yoga, we find an orderly, safe, contained technique for making forays into our deeper inner world within ourselves. We first learn to have a full experience of feelings in the body, learning to tolerate the depth, range, and realness of this life force moving in us. We learn how to ride the wave – to be present for the wavelike movement of energy – acknowledging, experiencing, and bearing the inner world of sensation. Through this experience, we can shed the layers that are preventing us from living our best truest version of ourselves. We can cultivate a deep bond with our bright inner light – our wholeness.

Riding The Wave – The Technique (Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow – repeat)

  1. Breathe – to connect with the wisdom of prana (life force) is conscious breathing – using full yogic breath, or diaphragmatic breathing. The breath immediately penetrates the frozen structures within ourselves. Yoga postures done with conscious breathing are ten times more powerful than they otherwise might be. Because the breath is the switch that integrates the emotional prana-body with the physical body, postures done with conscious breathing open parts of the body that may have long been shut off from the life force. When the wave of breath moves into these exiled areas, the results can sometimes be instantly dramatic. The breath opens our emotional body and through it we can experience a deep reintegration of exiled sensations, feelings, thoughts, and memories.
  2. Relax – Muscular tension in the body prevents the flow of energy, sensation, and feeling, keeping areas of the body defended against the wave of energy. Even in the more strenuous postures, find parts of your body that you can relax, while still keeping your body safe and while continuing your full yogic breath. This automatically shifts our entire energy experience. It grounds us – what appear to be dense and solid thoughts and feelings become permeable to the wave of energy. We break up locked areas, our inner world becomes transparent to us, and we feel alive again. Relax and keep relaxing.
  3. Feel – Feeling in this technique is an active state. It doesn’t mean just “having feelings” – it means actively moving toward sensations, the energy, the emotions – and then moving into them. Breathe into them and develop an acuity of our awareness by feeling the whole range of sensations – their color, their texture, their intensity, their mood. We let go of our evaluations and judgements and focus deeply on the sensations without telling any stories to ourselves about what’s happening. We develop a curiosity – where in the body is the feeling most intense, what is the exact texture – are there patterns of movement? As we bring more awareness to exiled aspects of our energy body, we open these previously unconscious areas to the flow of prana. More consciousness results in more wave of life experiences – allowing life to happen.
  4. Watch – When we watch, we develop our witness consciousness – the zone of neutrality, where we aren’t choosing for or against any type of experience, but we are just being with experience exactly how it is. As we develop witness conscious, intuition arises – a knowing that cannot be experienced through the mind alone. Our attention is focused on “how is it” – not “why it is” or “do I like it”. Witness conscious is worth every ounce of effort to develop.
  5. Allow – we begin to surrender to the wave of sensation, feeling, and energy. We develop a remarkable freedom to let life as it is touch us, because at our core, we know that everything is already OK. We relinquish our resistance. We don’t have to “make” the wave of life happen – we can just “let it happen”. We don’t have to understand it. Insights may come later, and they often come when we stay present in the experience. This allowing is where life can change us – there’s an amazing sense of freedom – a deep letting go of our grip on life. This kind of surrender requires a willingness to be changed. A willingness to trust life, and to keep our awareness on the energy in motion instead of trying to understand what is happening.

Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow – Repeat.

Complete Mastery Over The Roaming Tendancies Of The Mind Is Yoga…

By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

Complete mastery over the roaming tendencies of the mind is Yoga. (Yoga Sutra 1:2)

The mind is a repository of all our thoughts, feelings, and memories. It is a storehouse of our likes and dislikes. We see the world – and ourselves through the eye of our mind. When the mind is clear and peaceful, we see the world as bright and peaceful. When the mind is convoluted, our understanding of the world and our relationship with it becomes equally convoluted. Our concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, depend on the quality of our mind, as do our likes and dislikes. The quality of our mind, in turn, shapes our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Memories pertaining to our deeds and experiences are deposited deep in our mind. These memories – subtle mental impressions – agitate our mind from deep within. Propelled by these impressions, the mind thinks and acts. Impressions and the thoughts and actions propelled by them are endless. That is why we find our mind constantly chasing one object after another. It has almost forgotten how to be still and be aware of its thoughts and actions.

The mind is disturbed because deep within the elements of attachment, desire, anger, fear, and doubt are active and the mind is operating under their influence. The mind is stupefied – dark, dense, and dull – because deep inside the elements of worry, grief, dejection, and hopelessness are active and have rendered the mind inert. The mind is distracted because disturbance and stupefaction are mingled with enthusiasm, courage, motivation, clarity, and purposefulness – and all these elements are randomly active. As a result, the mind is partly focused and partly dissipated.

A mind caught in any of these three states lacks clarity. It has no confidence in it’s own powers and privileges. It is indecisive and only halfheartedly willing to act on its thoughts and ideas. It seeks validation from external sources. When propelled by a disturbed, stupefied, or distracted mind, our endeavors, no matter how noble, bear little fruit. The fruit they do bear is invariably tainted by doubt, uncertainty, and fear.

This is where the quest for (samadhi) a perfectly still state of mind begins.

The mind becomes one-pointed when the elements of purity, clarity, and peacefulness are active deep within. Acting under the influence of these elements, the mind regains its power of illumination (sattva). A one-pointed mind is stable. It no longer grieves over the past nor worries about the future. The elements of disturbances, stupefaction, and distraction have been put to rest. The mind is serenely active and flowing peacefully inward.

Now the practice of Yoga, in its truest sense, has begun.