Never Too Old….
By Laura Mills
Me: “I have to clean the table.”
H (my daughter, age 3): “Why?”
Me: “Because there’s applesauce smeared all over it.”
Me: “Because you were finger painting with your snack.”
Me: “Because you like to make pictures.”
Me (still scrubbing): “Because that’s one of the things that’s special about you.”
Me: “Because that’s how God made you.”
Me (pause): “Because that’s what the universe needed.”
H (pause): “I go play now.”
A gold-medal parenting moment? Maybe not. But nonetheless a moment that reminded me of life’s very elusively hidden simplicity.
In the last two years or so the ups and downs of my life have marched a series of “whys” through my heart...with the response to each being just another why-inducing statement. As I continue asking “Why?,” the dissection of my life continues. Only when I pause, and I breathe away the layers of doubt and uncertainty, does the truth emerge as obvious as an applesauce fingerprint on clear glass: that everything is, indeed, as it should be.
Perhaps, then, the more correct response to every why-inducing statement over the course of each day is a bow of the head and a confident “Okay,” or an emphatic “Yes.” Or maybe, putting all trust in the unfathomable intelligence of the universe, even a joyful “I go play now” and a smile.
FAITH IS A VERB AN ACTION
April 7, 2011. Spiritual practice doesn't mean we don't ever face self doubt or worry. We do. The difference for me in my life is that when this happens I know better questions to ask myself. Then it’s a matter of believing, trusting, having pure faith. We are destined to rise to life’s highest ideal if we just keep the faith and trust in ourselves. This is like a promise we make to ourselves, an example of the most important kind of active faith for it’s the promise of believing in our best happiness. Now what I like most about Faith is best offered in the words of Sharon Salzberg who writes, “In Pali, faith is a verb, an ACTION, as it is also in Latin and Hebrew. Faith is not a singular state that we either have or don’t have , but is something that we do. We ‘faithe”. It is the willingness to take the next step, to see the unknown as an adventure, to launch a journey. Faith is what gets us out of bed, opens us to the possibility that our lives can be different. Though we may repeatedly stumble, afraid to move forward in the dark, we have the strength to take that magnitude of risk because of faith.”
Through FAITH we can see that although heartache or hurt exists in the world with Faith we will recover. Helen Keller says it like this, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” How do we action our faith? First we must accept that Faith is active, it’s something we have to take responsibility in doing. We can’t expect our healing to happen if we aren’t most interested in our own healings. I believe Jon Kabat Zinn who defines trust as “spiritual and emotional maturity”. It takes faith to have confidence in our potential for evolving in our maturity (physically, emotionally, emotionally). In yoga this is the most advanced pose, loving ourselves.
As Rumi writes, We are the mirror as well as the face in it. We are pain and what cures pain both. He encourages us to be the catalyst for faith healing our own wounds. How do we do this? Rumi puts it most simply when he writes:
I love myself...I love you.
I love you...I love myself.
So join me and let's faithe everyday, without fail and watch ourselves and the world grow in love. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS Here are the two Salutations we learned and practiced in backbending class this day.
4th Chakra Namaskar Hridaya Namaskar (Heart Salutation)
INHALE – Urdva Bhujangasana (Standing Backbend)
EXHALE— Uttanasana (Forward Fold-Hands Down Thighs)
INHALE – Eka Pada Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Splits)
EXHALE - Ardha Anjaneyasana Right (Low Lunge) Prep
INHALE/EXHALE – Ardha Anjaneyasana Flow Side to Side
INHALE -- Ardha Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)-Back Bend full expression!
EXHALE –Anahatasana (Quarter Dog)
INHALE – Bhujapidasana (Cobra)
EXHALE – (Lay on Belly)
INHALE -- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Up Dog)
EXHALE – Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog)
INHALE - Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Left Leg (1 Leg Dog)
EXHALE - Ardha Anjaneyasana Right (Low Lunge) Prep
INHALE/EXHALE – Ardha Anjaneyasana Flow Side to Side
INHALE - Ardha Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)-Back Bend full expression!
EXHALE - Eka Pada Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Splits)
INHALE/EXHALE – Uttanasana (Forward Fold-Hands Down Thighs)
INHALE – Urdva Bhujangasana (Standing Backbend)
*Repeat again but stand on left leg this time, step back right
5th Chakra Namaskar
INHALE - Upward Plank
EXHALE - Lower Hips
INHALE - Boat
EXHALE - Plow
INHALE - Tip Toe Pose Urdva Hasta Arm Position
EXHALE - Forward Fold Arms Fly Back Chin to Chest
INHALE - Tip Toe Pose to Camel
EXHALE - Camel backbend
INHALE - Place hands prepare
EXHALE - Plank to floor
INHALE – Cobra Low
EXHALE – Locust
INHALE – Bow no hands
EXHALE - Rest
INHALE – Cobra High
EXHALE - Downward Dog
INHALE - Jump to Sukhasana
NO MORE PROCRASTINATING SET YOUR GOALS TODAY
May 16, 2010 Finally after 3-4 years of procrastinating I set out to finish up a project yesterday and I did! It took all of an hour. Yup. That’s right. I spent years worrying about, putting it off, debating it, starting and stopping it but when all was said and done it took one hour. Spiritual practice has taught me that procrastinating is a perfectionist tendancy. And as one psychologist I read years ago put it, “perfectionism is the worst form of self-abuse.” So I am back on track and went back to basics asking myself “what are my goals: personal, professional and health related”? What are your’s? In class we wrote them out for ourselves. I would love for you to do this now in 5 minutes.
Then consider what is it that prevents you from going for your goals more fully and making them and keeping them important enough to check in on week to week? I would hazard to guess that the traitors of self-doubt and fear influence us to procrastinate. The antidote is to stay actively involved in your life yet slowing down enough to remember to wake up to what improves the quality of your life. What if everything you ever wanted came true? Yogic practice stands up to say of course that is not only possible it is your birthright to co-create with the universe the life of your deepest dreams, to tap into your greatest potential. So why not start today?
To help us take a moment to write in your Accomplishment Journal about all the things you’ve accomplished this week. Use this in tandem with your goals and intentions to see how far you’ve already come and to provide yourself the validation you need to know you can do this! Don’t put anything off a moment longer that holds meaning to you. Heed the words of Danna Falds and FALL AWAKE to your life! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
Soul Prayer by Danna Falds
“Lord, grant that I may fall awake, and not miss a moment of the mystery.
Dancing with the dawn, may I draw this day to my breast like a lover.
Rocked with laughter, let me lay waste the fields of doubt and fear,
finding there nor more substance than dandelion seeds flying weightless on the breeze.”
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
JANUARY 19, 2010: This is dedicated to Todd Bauschke, who suddenly passed away at the age of 56 years old on January 18th, 2010. Todd was a dedicated student at TBY and because he applied himself to the practice he got really good. In recent times he had to step off of the mat and do his yoga without the benefit of group classes because this last two years his health was suffering and he couldn't even breath. "He finally got his diagnosis in early November 2009. It’s a rare disease called Amyloidosis. It can attack different organs. It attacked Todds heart. The irony is that he was scheduled to have his stem cells harvested and transplanted next week. It was to be a three week hospital stay."
Yoga helps us all remember that our time here is brief even in the best of scenarios....and all to short for Yogi brother Todd. Please stop any all excuses for why you aren't living your best life. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Get to the mat, and free your heart so you can embrace the life you are meant to be living, right now.
"Your body is free but your heart is in prison. To release your heart, you simply reverse the process which locked it up. First you begin to listen for messages from your heart—messages you may have been ignoring since childhood. Next you must take the daring, risky step of expressing your heart in the outside world. . . . As you learn to live by heart, every choice you make will become another way of telling your story. . . . It is the way you were meant to exist. If you stop to listen, you’ll realize that your heart has been telling you so all along. (Martha Beck, "Finding Your Own North Star")
What do you plan to do with your one precious life?
If you can't hear your heart talking to you then consider your time on the mat a mini-retreat. A time to refresh your spirit, rekindle your passions, and cultivate balance in what you think, what you say and what you do with your life. This practice peels back the layers to help us move from self-doubt and uncertainty to a feeling of empowerment and a willingness to at least try at our lives. Like Todd, if we stay with it and practice moving in and out of these poses or shapes we create with our bodies you will achieve things you thought were impossible. This encourages us to see past our self-limiting beliefs and discover the power within us to realize that nothing is impossible!
But no one can do this for you, you have to take time for yourself. And if a yoga class isn't enough then do what I do go on a Spiritual Retreat. Take a time out for 4-7 days where you don't feel so rushed and you can step off the tread mill of your life to really feel and open up to the changes you want to make in your life. If you don't even know how to start then plan to join me in Moab in April or Tuscany in June or find enough space where you can tap into how to express your feelings and reconnect to your own inner wisdom. The insights are there and self-expression evolves to self-understanding. But really, DON'T WAIT. This is the year we have all run out of excuses. All you need to live the life of your dreams is a willingness to grow an open heart and a playful curiosity wouldn't hurt either. What do YOU plan to do with your precious life? Love in all ways, Silvia
WHO AM I? WHAT IS MY DHARMA? WHY AM I HERE?
And this means it is something more than the role we play at work, the labels we wear like son, daughter, partner, parent. When we get onto the mat it is a special time to rediscover ourselves. Or for many of us, to discover ourselves for the first time. Through these poses and conscious breathing we learn to gain control of our emotions and harness the power of our mind to direct our 60,000 daily thoughts towards our great purpose. But first we have to know WHO WE ARE before we are able to give direction. It’s like using the GPS on the car, you have to know the destination. This practice breaths life back into us or as Rumi writes, “I was dead, then alive, weeping then laughing. The power of love came into me!” With every physical sensation we feel our humanity. As Stephen Covey puts it, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” So as a human being what is your Life’s Purpose or Dharma?
So right now say to yourself, “I AM THE CREATOR OF MY LIFE. I will listen with total attention to my experience, I will relish each sensation, I will love every minute of being with myself today.” You see the poses are the QUESTIONS. They are not the answers. They help us to be aware of our attitudinal alignment. For instance they ask us the fundamental question of whether or not we are focusing on our limitations or on our DREAMS, are we expecting the worst from life or the best from life? To co-create with the universe means we are taking responsibility to know who we are and are actively sharing our unique contribution with the world. Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States said it like this, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.” So how do we do this? We get to work on the mat, anchored in our body to try to peal back the layers to look inside where all the answers already exist. As the Buddha says, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”
It is not always easy. But we have to work harder than our fear, we have to work harder than our pain to make the truest discovery of WHO AM I. And the answer only comes from within, no one else can tell us who we are and why we are here. I know it’s sometimes scary (like doing a handstand against the wall) but through the poses we break down the self-doubt and grow more determined to live as who we really are. Eventually by the end of the practice we meet ourselves or as Derek Walcott puts it, “The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the others welcome, and say, sit here. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life.”
So this year face your fears, do not let them stand in the way of discovering the answer to WHO AM I. Best put by Earl Nightingale who says, “Don’t let fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Love to all, Peace to All, Courage to all! Silvia
THERE IS A POINT LIVING ON PURPOSE: CONNECTING THE DOTS
OCTOBER 8TH, 2009: Steve Jobs gave this commencement address talking about connecting the dots. It is a long time favorite. He gave this address in 2005 if you google it there is more to the speech but this is what I want to share with you today. On the mat there is a point to everything we do. It is on purpose. Robin Sharma says a life of purpose is one lived on purpose. Yup I keep figuring that out. So the alignment both energetic and physical is with great intent. It’s not haphazard. It also works as part of an evolutionary experience or what we might call kramas or waves. That by laying the foundation of a pose we build upon that. We learn through yoga to educate ourselves about our bodies and minds and each class grows this awareness from the previous class. Now of course things happen in life that we don’t see or understand why they are happening, like when I lost my dad when he was only 59 years old. But at some point I had to say ok enough already there must be a greater purpose behind this experience of being fatherless.
You see in times of doubt the key thing to know is that there is a point to it all. Even when we don’t understand why things are happening in our life we can rest assured as Sadie Nardini says, “alongside positive change, challenge appears.” Yes. So what is the greater point to spiritual practice? To help us PAY ATTENTION.
“The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” (Steve Jobs)
TAPAS: SHOWING UP FOR YOUR LIFE
So TAPAS helps us to be awake to our lives and articulate our intentions. In practice the determination to hold true to our dreams or visions for ourselves is Tapas in yoga. It is like this poem below:
"Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be."
So today challenge yourself to show up. Whether this means showing up for yoga class or just showing up for what makes you excited about your life. What is your vision for your life? Not just the idea but what can you resolve to make happen, to be with day after day until you see the fruition of your dream. Leonardo Da Vinci once said, "A good painter has two main objects to paint, man and the intention of his soul. The former is easy, the latter hard."
Ask yourself: If he would paint your portrait would DaVinci see that fire in your eyes?
Resolve starting now to find the inner strength and quiet determination to hold true to your biggest dreams. Big Love! Silvia
"Let no doubt into your dreams and intentions. The dreamers are the saviors of the world. Be one of those dreamers." (Dr Wayne Dyer)
POWER OF INTENTION
JULY 7TH, 2009:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
It is great to spend time in self-reflection looking back at our lives but equally as important is looking forward. And it is through the Power of Intention we realize our dreams! It all starts with a thought. Here are four key elements in forming strong intention for yourself. To begin just bring your hands together in SANKALPA MUDRA (a Mudra of commitment with everything that goes into it as the intention). So just begin to breath here and as you breath in setting this intention know in some sense you are setting an expectation for yourself - an expectation to your own growth and evolution. As you deepen your breath really deepen your connection to the promise you are making to yourself.
FIRST – DEFINE YOUR INTENTION. Use the time in Yoga to go inside yourself and explore the hidden chambers of your heart to find your TRUE self. This is really the 1st step in yoga. From there the next step is bringing forth from within our highest potential our best self that we discovered within and sharing it with the world. So right now through your attention and breathing do the following no matter where you are:
· Give your heart attention
· Give your heart nourishment
· Give your heart energy
SECOND – EXPECT BEAUTY. Show reverence for all life by expecting kindness and love along with beauty in your life. This is different than habitually looking for ways to be hurt, angry or offended. You can’t access your intention if you’re thinking about the impossibility of what you want to manifest.
THIRD – MEDITATE ON APPRECIATION. Cherish your body, your breath. Really acknowledge that you were chosen to breath today and having another day to be alive means another chance to focus on our intentions. Take a moment to appreciate your life and use this practice to deepen your commitment to promise to grow.
FOURTH – BANISH DOUBT. Doubt diminishes our creativity and potential. Shakespeare said, “our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
LESSONS FROM MY TRIP THIS WEEKEND
FEBRUARY 2ND: My Dear Yogi Friends, as you know I was away this weekend for four days in Colorado. I was totally getting that Rocky Mountain High: breathing, skiing, yogaing, enjoying the sunshine! I benefited from many life lessons as a result of this trip that I will share in classes this week related to yoga philosophy. As always the most important of which is to wake up, pay attention and BE PRESENT in order to live life more fully in each moment. A fave quote that speaks to this is:
“Most of the time we don’t even pay attention to the depth of life. We only see flat surfaces.” -Anonymous
Some other topics that came up during this weekend: AHIMSA - a fundamental principle of yoga often known as non-harming, kindness and safety. Every day we are fighting for our lives but how do we do so without hurting others. How do we create a safe situation for ourselves where we aren't driven by fear but by the desire to be kind? COURAGE - not the front page stuff but the quiet courage that requires trust, faith and a really brave heart. HABITS - those habits with attachments that prevent us from growing spiritually. You know those one's that give us a false of sense of ease because we grow dull doing the same thing over and over again. OPENING UP - When we close down we are like fish moving towards dry land, when we open up and even allow vulnerability we flow with grace towards the ocean. The mountains helped me remain open even though all I wanted to do was contract during challenging moments. BE PRESENT - It is easy to see everything as flat and "ok" but that means we really aren't paying attention. This is when we are not awake for if we were living in the moment (where true happiness lies) then we'd see the depth, like the mountain ranges I experienced this weekend.
Ok, many other lessons learned over the weekend like Managing Doubt, Simplicity, Facing Our Fears, Body Prayer, Spirtual Seeking, Peace of Mind, but I'll save those for my book. Please join me this week to learn more about these key one's above. I look forward to being with you on the mat! And remember today is not a rehearsal - this is IT! Love to all, Silvia
DO YOU! NO LONGER DOUBT YOURSELF
JULY 23RD, 2008: So on Tuesday night I was watching a show called "Shear Genius" on Bravo. The deal is that hairstylists compete for a grand prize survivor style. The main challenge on this night was teaching regular women how to style their own hair. The woman who self-styled her own hair the worst lost - her stylist then was out of the competition. Bummer that we have so little confidence in ourselves that we don't even believe we can style our own hair, you know? We don't know how to be as we are.
Dr. Wayne Dyer writes, "the greatest mistake we make, which causes a loss of self-respect, is making the opinions of others MORE IMPORTANT than our own opinion of ourselves." Even the word self-respect pretty much says it all, it originates from the self. Yogis have always recognized all we need is within us. These days it takes a great deal of courage to DO YOU (as Russell Simmons writes in the book of the same name which encourages "staying true to who you are.")
I hope your yoga helps you learn to make sensitive adjustments in your thoughts, in your actions and that this helps you take responsibility for doing YOU. Ultimately I wish that you no longer doubt yourself and stop withholding self-love. I leave you the words of Mark Twain, "A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval." Give it to yourself now, as you are. LOVE YOU! Silvia