Cast of Characters
By Laura Mills
Why does it feel so good to step outside, even for a moment, on a summer morning? Many answers exist for me. I like the fresh air, the sense of renewal that drifts through my nostrils as well as the screen door and replaces the stale air-conditioned air of previous hours. I also like the sounds. I adore crickets, locusts and birds most of all, but the sounds of cars and planes and neighbors’ activities soothes me, too. And I love how I feel not-quite-so-contained, as if the simple act of opening the door and stepping onto the porch enlarges my space and physically connects me to everything else “out there.”
I know our relationship with nature has been talked and written about countless times. But it’s definitely worth discussing: at the very least, so many of us feel good when we see, hear, smell, or otherwise experience the outdoors. With our indoor worlds so full of stuff (noise-making-, light-blinking-, often-practical-but-sometimes-just-extra-stuff), whenever we reconnect with nature we plug back in to something powerful and real within ourselves. Nature speaks not in words but in feelings, and we don’t need to translate to be able to understand. It just feels good. It reminds us that we are included in a greater universe, and just like all living beings play a part in the big picture.
If we try, we can all be the “Best” at our own particular roles.
DOING NOTHING IS ENOUGH IL BEL FAI NIENTE
March 29, 2011. The practice of yoga is not about doing more or asserting more effort it is actually an experience where we try to make the smartest least effort or effortless effort. There is this space in a pose where we find that sweet space of "doing nothing." That is something I know well from my Father who was born in Italy and the Italian people have a deep respect for the philosophy of enjoyment. This is the idea of IL BEL FAI NIENTE which means "the beauty of doing nothing." Remember this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love "Generally speaking, Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused but that's not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment. Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today. Of course we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure.) Americans don't really know how to do nothing. But against the backdrop of hard work, il bel fai niente, has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this."
"My own ambition, my deepest and truest ambition, is to find within myself someday, somehow, the ability to do likewise, to do NOTHING - and find it enough." Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Another way I personally experience this doing of nothing is going to Moab. Utah. When I am there I understand what Edward Abbey is writing about since that is where he wrote the book Desert Solitaire. There is a quiet in the desert unlike anything I have found elsewhere in the world. And the joy of mountain biking or practicing yoga there feels so in the flow of this effortless effort that you come away from any excursion with more energy and calm. I can't wait to return April 16-19 to introduce a new tribe to the beauty of Il Bel Fait Niente! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
*To join us in April or in October in Moab visit www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com or facebook Alchemy Tours
THE IMPORTANCE OF RITUALS
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 Yoga is one of my most important Rituals. Actually the first time I understood what the word "practice" really meant the lightbulb went off and I realized oh yeah, "something I practice repeatedly over a long period of time". Well that is a ritual too.
Within my yoga life the ritual I have especially on Monday's is to do a balancing of my energies related to the elements. Before I believed in Chakras, I did believe in Earth, Water, Air, Fire. Then eventually I started to understand that all of the elements are within and outside us. And even beyond that the concept of Doshas and Chakras. And all of it got less intimidating. Two easy ways for me to stay connected to the elements and through that discover where I am excessive or deficient and do something about it are:
1. Each finger represents an element so I pray, meditate, focus on bringing my thumb to each finger.
2. I sing a song to the elements (I know lots of them but this one was the focus tonight). And in Spanish to my Latin roots (my Mom's side as my Dad's side is the Italian part)
Tierra mi Cuerpo
Agua mi Sangre
Aire mi Viento
Y Fuego mi Espiritu.
Hey even if you don't understand Spanish you might pick up a word here or there. So this is translated as: Earth my Body, Water my Blood, Air my Breath, and Fire my Spirit.
What does this have to do with Rituals? Well when we disconnect from our rituals we lose touch with what Louise Hay calls our "inner ding" or intuition or good old fashion gut feel. So this practice was meant to bring our awareness to the four elements and feel that connection of each to ourselves, the micro experience, and to the world at large, our macro experience. All of this reminds us that we are in Yoga at every moment of our lives. There is this primordial power or universal intelligence that draws us together in balance, in union. And this goes beyond us to our ancestors and to the legacy we leave beyond this earthly body. Perhaps this inspires you to create your own Ritual around the elements, or even a single element, and I hope so. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS For the full blog, part of which I shared in class, of Dr. Enrique Saguil, TBY Teacher Trainee, click here: http://herbal411.blogspot.com/2010/09/lack-of-disease-doesnt-equal-good.html
LETTING GO TO CREATE SPACE FOR BEST LIFE
September 25, 2010. Vairagya is the sanskrit for letting go. Or relinquishing attachment to what actions we've already taken directly or indirectly. It is by letting go of the past that we create space for right now our our future intentions. This time of year is an excellent reminder because nature shows us that everything changes and comes to its natural end. The leaves are falling, nights are getting longer, days shorter. It is a unique time where we look back at the year and recognize all that we got done and all that we didn't and have to decide what we want to let go of.
I was speaking to a friend who is moving and since I did so in June she asked my advice how to prepare. I advised (1) pack the things you absolutely love and want to take with you first in your best boxes and (2) choose those things that you know won't serve you in your next home and let them go (don't deliberate, just decide with heart). Try not to grip at all of it for that will make the process more difficult and by releasing some things you create space for what you really want that fits your situation today.
This is an art form. This is yoga, knowing your heart well enough to choose wisely.
This practices goes on to challenge us to let go of the emotions associated with those things that didn't go the way you wanted them to. As Teitur says, all my mistakes have become masterpieces. Everything actually becomes the fertilizer for your best life. Instead of replaying old stories or reacting to past issues find a way to let go of attachment and create the space for your best life! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
LOSING THE PAST OPENS THE FUTURE
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010.
Losing the Past Opens the Future. It is such a simple statement and rolls up yogic philosophy so easily....and yet not always that easy to put into practice. Our humanness boasts to us in little mental self talk that of course we can rewrite the past! Why wouldn't we be able to? But we intellectually know we cannot. And until we surrender to our own letting go known as vairagya we cannot fully welcome the best future of ourselves.
The past and the future energies cannot fully occupy the same exact space. How or what happened yesterday is done. All we have now is this moment and the intentions for the next moments. Replaying things past only clutters our minds, leaks our energies and prevents us from engaging life right now. Through physical practice we let go of the old stories stored in the tissues of hurts, frustrations, disappointments and clear the way for our best experiences. And yoga works all day long mentally and emotionally to help remind us to lose the past, whether pleasant or unpleasant, so the world opens us up to the most magnificent future.
it is up to us not to hold ourselves back, to not remain stuck, but to create the space by letting go that opens the future.
I work on this everyday and I've experienced amazing results. it is still often very hard and sometimes easier but nevertheless always really powerful in letting grace and love flow towards my open heart. I wish for all us to find the courage to lose the past, and open to your future. Your best life. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS If you feel like you would benefit from more dedicated time to do the serious work of letting go then join me on an upcoming yoga retreat in Moab, Italy, Oregon, California, Colorado, and more! www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com
May 19, 2010, Tonight we focused on hugging in to our center. To cultivate that awareness of our own best strength. And what is inner strength really? Well it is love, that’s all. "We are kept from the experience of Spirit because our inner world is cluttered with past traumas....As we begin to clear away this clutter, the energy of divine light and love begins to flow through our beings." -Thomas Keating
We experienced this return to ourselves through a series of poses and mantras flowing through the elements such as:
Earth: I am grounded
Fire: I am rising
Air: I am free
When our minds and hearts are scattered in their energy we lose track of self-love and it always starts there in laying the foundation for a healthy life. So we come to the mat to rebuild. Beginning with the earth element and drawing nutrients and support from the earth to help us return to stillness. The healing then expands and as we return to our center by engaging principals of alignment such as hugging to the midline and muscular energy we return to our most powerful selves. We feel the confidence and enthusiasm of the third chakra. There is an aliveness and energy that expands out and up! And from there we connect to the air element of the fourth chakra feeling the lightness and freedom that are our true nature. We are once more in the home of our hearts, we are in love with ourselves and with our lives. You see inner strength is love…that’s all. With metta, Silvia
WITHOUT ATTACHMENT TO THE OUTCOME
This is the idea that we can practice experiencing each moment, not missing a thing, not missing the pretty colors, people and blessings right in front of us. On the mat we use the body to observe where we are, making sensitive adjustments to stay tuned in, and then allow the unfolding. This keeps us mindful to the moment rather than the goal or outcome. The Yoga Sutras speak to this as vairagya (non attachment), chapter 1 verse 15.
Key things to know include:
Non-attachment is not suppression: Non-attachment is not a mere personality trait that one practices in dealing with the other people of the world. It is very easy to fool oneself into thinking that non-attachment is being practiced when what is really happening is pretending to be non-attached. It is like saying that you have lost your inner craving to some object while inside you are longing for it intensely. Non-attachment is not a process of suppression or repression of wants, wishes, desires, thoughts, or emotions. It comes by the ongoing practice of awareness of the existence of attachments (kleshas, 1.5, 2.3) and gradually letting these weaken (2.4).
Non-attachment is cessation: If attachment does occur (whether attraction or aversion), wherein attention wraps itself around a deep mental impression, the ensuing non-attachment comes from the cessation of mental clinging, not from an act of prying attention away forcefully. It is easy to hear of the philosophy of non-attachment and then mistakenly walk around lying to ourselves, internally saying something like, "I'm not attached; I'm not attached." This is not non-attachment. It is better to see realistically where our minds are attached, and then learn to systematically release that coloring through the external and internal practices of yoga meditation.
Non-attachment is not detachment: It is not mere semantics to say that non-attachment is different from detachment. Detachment implies that there is first attachment, and that you then apply some method or technique to disconnect that attachment. It implies an act of doing something to cause the separation to occur. Non-attachment, on the other hand, means that the connection simply does not occur in the first place. Non-attachment is not a case of doing something, but is instead a non-doing sort of thing. It means that your attention does not grab onto that impression in the mind in the first place.
Non-attachment deepens through all levels: Patanjali explains that non-attachment applies to progressively deeper levels of our being. While we might begin with our more surface level attachments, such as the objects and people of daily life, the practice deepens to include all of the objects or experiences we might have only heard about, including the many powers or experiences of the psychic or subtle realm. We gradually see that even these are nothing but distractions on the journey to Self-realization, and we learn to set them aside as well.
PRACTICE BEING PRESENT
Do your practice and all is coming.” -- Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
As I mentioned yesterday I had this idea that with spiritual seeking I was meant to “figure it all out then practice it.” The yoga world was greatly influenced and saddened by the passing away of Pattabhi Jois this week through his teachings like “Do your practice and all is coming.” If we get on the mat day in and day out and simply practice (Abhyasa) we will experience the knowledge we are seeking. We are not going to get all the answers we seek about the challenges of life but we will gain the discipline (vairagyam) to help us keep going and stay present to all of it. The practice is then the opportunity to BE PRESENT.
It is only in the present that all the grace and beauty of the world find union (yoga) with us.
In the ancient writings one of which is known as the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches us that a practice will have a strong foundation if it’s supported by these 4 qualities:
1. practice for a long time – dirgha kala
2. continuous practice – nairantarya
3. positive attitude (faith) – satkara
4. enthusiasm (we want to do it) – adara
We can apply these to learning how to be present to the details of our lives. My friend David Romanelli once said something like, “if you jump in and out of the shower you get wet but not clean, if you jump in and out of the present moment you have a moment of clarity but not long term peace” So for us on the mat we practice and practice to not just jump in and out of the present moment but to be there for a long time, with enthusiasm and as a result of our faith it is possible. That’s what I hope for us all. End the mental torture, the disease of worry and join me in practicing being present. Be strong! Silvia