SPRINGTIME WEEDING THE GARDEN OF YOUR MIND
April 21, 2011. Today's mantra is: I am dissolving.
Looking out my garden today I saw a bunch of dandelions and realized I hadn't done enough work lately to remove the weeds so that the greater beauty of the garden could be revealed. The same is said for why we practice yoga and our opportunity to weed out the negative thoughts in the gardens of our mind. Emotions like revenge are unhealthy and unproductive. Holding onto grievances which are just weeds (and what happens to weeds when they are left unattended...they duplicate!) So today make a pledge to forget about replacing lost money, ignore people who hit below the belt, overlook trivial annoyances, never try to second guess illness. Instead remain dignified and peaceful. Unproductive emotions are weeds and serve as blocks in the road to progress. They limit our ability to move forward, to focus, to think positively, and to act creatively.
And as a result time is wasted.
On the mat acknowledge your emotions like anger, hurt, criticism, frustration, but don't dwell there. Love is contagious and more effective over the long haul. So when choosing make love a priority. Especially since obsessing about grudges keeps them alive and only love forces them to die - like pulling weeds from the garden. This dissolves lifes bitterness and allows us to see lifes great beauty! Today make the beauty in your life even more evident - weed out the garden of your mind. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
CLASS PLAN HIPS/TWISTS/CORE CLASS
Supine Cobbler abs: Double pulse, single pulse
Bridge Prep: Single then double pulse
Bridge Prep Bike Twist: Knee, head, hold, twist
Apanasana: Supine lunge, Supine twist
Double Lunge (happy baby)
Bharavajrasana side bend lift up
sun salutation c
arm balance - twisted crow etc.
supine double balance - pigeon abs
supine cobbler abs
BALANCED LIVING IS NOT PERFECTION
February 14, 2011. Day 5 of Love Blogging 21 days in 2011. Each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical aspects of ourselves. These can become blocked and as a result a chakra can become either deficient or excessive and therefore imbalanced. Practicing poses that correspond to each chakra can release these blocks and clear the path to more balanced living. Today our focus is on balance and we practiced balance poses like tree, warrior 3, crane and even nurtured the balanced point in a Warrior 2 pose so neither foot is bearing more or less weight that the other.
From this we discovered that Balance is not hard to find. But it is certainly challenging to maintain. “We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.” Francis J. Braceland. The work of balance is that of the 4th chakra (in the middle of the 7 chakras). This is our heart chakra that when healthy and in balance helps us to maintain balance between our role as the lover and the beloved. For in yogic practice we are the one doing the loving and the one receiving the loving. If one doesn't know how to love oneself then it is impossible to love another person. We have to know the giving/receiving within our own hearts before experiencing it in relationship with the world. The key thing to know about balance is that it is NOT perfection. Love is messy, and falling out of a balance pose is just like losing our balance in life. We have the choice to get back up and try again and again. So on this Valentine's Day please do yourself a favor stop asking perfection of yourself or another person. Instead wake up to how great life is right now and how wonderful you are!
"Why wait for your awakening?
The moment your eyes are open,
sieze the day. Would you hold
back when the Beloved beckons?
"No, I can't step across the
threshold." you say, eyes
downcast. "I'm not worthy.
I'm afraid. I'm not perfect,
and surely I haven't practiced
nearly enough. My meditation
isn't deep. I still chew
my fingernails and the refrigerator
isn't clean." Do you value your
reasons for staying small more
than the light shining through
the open door? Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have
to be whole. Now is the sole
moment that exists to live in
the light of the true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite
for anything but pain. Please,
oh please, don't continue to
believe in your disbelief. This is
the day of your awakening."
--Danna Faulds, Go In and In
The most advanced yoga pose is loving yourselves. In this lies our ultimate resource for making the sensitive adjustments necessary to maintain balance in life. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS Join me on retreat www.alchemytours.com
BREATH ACCEPTS YOUR IMPERFECTION
OCTOBER 14, 2010. The breath accepts us unconditionally. It is always all forgiving and accepting. Think about it, we ignore our breath, treat it with total disregard, prevent it from entering our body by holding our breath out when stressed, we behave casually towards it making little to no commitment. If we were a lover and the breath was our boyfriend, he'd leave us!
But not our breath. It lovingly accepts our human imperfection and gives us another chance, and another, and a million and more. There is a lesson here: when we breath we have another chance to try our best, We are not practicing to be perfect. We are practicing to make real, to realize the beauty of our humanness. Yoga philosophy helps us to see that we are perfectly imperfect. Eventually the more you practice becoming enamored with your breath you allow it to become your best teacher. And a shift happens.
As the breath accepts you, you start to accept yourself. Then as you practice this advanced yoga of self-acceptance you become more compassionate and forgiving of others, just as you are towards yourself. If you love yourself, you know how to love others unconditionally. And even when other people in your life make mistakes, you appreciate their imperfections and give them a second, third, millionth chance.
"You see the wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice (and in the other practices of yoga as well) to be able to remain “easy” in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom. When we learn this then everything we do and everything we say becomes an “asana”, a position of body, mind and soul which requires the attention that brings us into the present." And in that present moment there is perfect presence.
Practice breathing on purpose today. But pranayama is not about belittling the breath or forcing or making it perfect. The literal translation is below. And it doesn't say anything about perfect. It says conscious, deliberate. So we try.
Tasmin sati svasa prasvasaho gati-viccheda pranayama
Pranayama is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is possible only after a reasonable mastery of asana practice.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.49
Our key breath learning in this practice was about chest breathing. I have included a quick summary for you below. The greater take away is how the breath accepts your imperfections, it knows you will forget and will welcome you back to try and in that trying may you be PRESENT. Love yourself, Love your day, Love your life! Silvia
This is probably the most common breathing pattern in today's stress-filled society. Also known as paradoxical breathing, it is a natural reflex when we are suddenly startled or frightened. We gasp, pull the abdomen in and breathe high into the chest. The lift of the abdomen and pelvic floor prevents the diaphragm from descending completely as we inhale. Chest breathers restrict breath movement in the abdomen, forcing it higher up into the chest, while shoulders move up and down.
Effect on mind/body
Chest breathers rely on weak upper body muscles. Thereby developing chronic tension in thoracic spine, shoulders and neck. Moreover, this tension is resistant to massage or any other relaxation therapy as it recapitulates the moment the person resumes chest breathing, which is an incredible 22,000 times a day! Since we can't breathe in fully, we can't breathe out fully also. So we resort to breathing more quickly to make up for lack of oxygen. Scarier still is the fact that it sets the stage for an even more serious breathing problem: hyperventilation. Chest breathers normally sit on the edge of their seats and exude anticipation in their entire bearing. They never seem to have enough time to do all the tasks they set out on and often experience a chronic, free-floating state of anxiety. Scientific evidence now points to the connection between chest breathing, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Observe the movement of both. If both your shoulders and chest are rising, you are probably not a chest breather. A chest breather suppresses breath in the lower abdomen, forcing it to move higher up into the body.
How to let go
Relax your shoulders and upper back. Consciously follow normal breathing pattern. Mentally assess yourself without judgement. Ground yourself in the present.
(If you want to explore deeper learnings join me on retreat, yoga vacation www.silviamordini.com or www.alchemytours.com)
NOVEMBER 5TH,2009: Life gives us many opportunities to get stuck in the ills and discomforts of the past whether we are still upset with the guy who cut us off in traffic an hour ago or the crazy email from a colleague who threw us under the bus with our boss this morning or a lover who lied to us or we can even get upset with the weather. It doesn’t matter how long ago we harbor a grudge the point is that this type of thing sucks us dry of love energy and pulls us out of the present moment. So in the words of “Imagine we wake up and find that everyone has forgiven everything there was to forgive and instead of recycling the past, we could at last live FULLY in the present? We would all breath a sigh of relief. The atmosphere would be happier and many people would discover the wonder of living in the present moment instead of constantly investing huge parts of themselves in reliving events that are long past. Forgiveness is possible. It is NOT the same as condoning. It means not feeding anger for a wrong or slander. Forgiveness is the inner act of making peace with the past and of finally closing accounts.”
I understand this thing about accounts because this week I was interviewing banks to see about moving my business elsewhere. The main reason for moving would be because of poor service. Hey I forgive the last 7 years but it is now time to move forward. And the funny thing is that in order to open my bank account elsewhere I have to close it out where I’m at. It is the same with forgiveness otherwise we create suffering (a type of hell) for ourselves. As John Milton author of Paradise Lost says “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.” Or consider this beautiful story sent to me by a dear sweet friend from the book Saltwater Buddha:
A burly samurai once came to a Zen master and asked the master, "Sensei, please teach me the difference between heaven and hell."
"Why would I give an uncouth cretin like you such a high teaching,"
the Zen master said, in apparent disgust. "You're a worm. You're less than a worm. You're a stupid samurai."
Samurai were never treated this way in ancient
But the Zen master didn't flinch. (They never do.) He said to the samurai, calmly, "That, Samurai, is hell."
Suddenly, understanding the teaching, realizing that he was about to kill a holy man because of his own pride, the samurai's eyes filled with tears. He put his sword down and his palms together in reverence.
He bowed deeply.
"And that," said the master, "is heaven."
So today forgive a grievance, let go of a grudge and choose heaven right now. As Robert Holden says in the book Be Happy, “Forgiveness is the biggie when it comes to emotional well-being. Forgiveness is the awareness that nothing has happened to the essence of who you are. Sure, your self-image may have taken a battering, but that is not you. The past is over." Close the accounts my friends. It is that simple, just not that easy. I just want you to try. Love, Silvia
SURRENDER INTO SAVASANA EVERY MOMENT
NOVEMBER 4, 2009: The practice of savasana is an interesting one especially today where we are all so good at promoting constant activity. Generally we are very good at getting new projects started and working ourselves ragged but how good are you at surrendering? Can you take a few breaths right now to empty the residue of your day and surrender to what it is happening right now. The quality of surrender is what we learn amongst other things in Savasana. So today we practiced Savasana, final relaxation, a number of times during class.
Savasana helps us in key ways:
1. To be ok with the non-doing which we talk about in yoga as BEING PRESENT
2. To embrace endings with as much gusto as we embrace beginnings. Art of CLOSURE (Pratikryasana)
3. To learn how to relax and self-comfort (this is the antidote to fight/flight response)
4. To recognize and admit to ourselves everything has an EXPIRATION DATE
So then what? How does savasana apply in every moment, every pose? It helps us notice that life is right now. There is no need to keep waiting to be happy, to keep looking for more or better but instead start enjoying the sweetness of our life right now. Ok so here's the thing I love lying down and being still. So maybe I was born to practice savasana but I think we all are, we just have to practice. I hope you can through savasana learn to be more present, put closure to open elements of your life so you can stay with the flow, learn practical ways to relax and make the most of this moment!
But remember we are only able to find surrender when we cultivate peace within ourselves. Shannon Gannon, Jivamukti founder says, “The practices of yoga create peace in ourselves, and that peace will be reflected in the world around us. If we truly want world peace we must begin by embodying that peace ourselves. The practice of yoga will end war, even wars of which we often are not even aware. Speak out for peace, live peacefully, think well of others, do what you can to uplift the lives of others. Find a way to live so that your own life enhances the lives of others. Give up the love of power for the power of love. Peace will come when we have given up hateful thoughts, cruel words, and violent actions in our own daily lives. Cultivate hopeful thoughts, sweet speech and kind actions. Don't wait for a better world. Start now to create a universe of harmony and peace. It is up to you.
Wishing you peaceful surrender, Silvia
DECISION TO FORGIVE IS NONRATIONAL
"Imagine we wake up and find that everyone has forgiven everything there was to forgive and has found the courage to say sorry for any wrongs that even individuals had forgiven one another every injustice and instead of recycling the past, could at last live FULLY in the present?
We would all breath a sigh of relief. The atmosphere would be happier and many people would discover the wonder of living in the present moment instead of constantly investing huge parts of themselves in recriminations and accusations, reliving events that are long past.
Relations between people would be open. And all the energy poured into blame, hatred and revenge would instead circulate freely towards love.
Forgiveness is possible. It is NOT the same as condoning. It means not feeding anger for a wrong or slander. Forgiveness is the inner act of making peace with the past and of finally closing accounts.
The decision is not easy. On the contrary it is nonrational because accounts do not balance. We do not even need to see forgiveness as the absence of resentment- an emotional void.
Rather forgiveness is a positive quality. It contains joy and faith, generosity of spirit. It frees us and whoever forgives feels uplifted."
FULL MOON, FRESH START, FOR HAPPINESS SAKE
Dear Friends on the Path,
This Friday, September 4th is the Full Moon. This is the time when the moon's energy is the strongest. It is considered an ideal time to start up a new endeavor, to begin again our most honest spiritual adventure. To make space for what comes next I've been working on letting go. Two key areas the practice points out that I need to focus on are: (1) offering forgiveness and (2) letting go of wanting to rewrite the past. Now I understand the teachings: that forgiveness is a form of self-compassion and by forgiving we are making the decision to be happy. Forgiveness helps the ego stop over-exaggerating the pain or tiredness of the past. As Robert Holden says, "Happiness is letting go. Forgiveness is letting go. When you choose one you choose the other."
What makes it hard for me is that I get stuck in wanting to rewrite the past instead of just letting it go. I waste time wishing things had been different which pulls me out of the present. Partly I do this so my legacy looks better on paper, but that's about what everyone else thinks instead of about how I am actually experiencing joy in my life.
"Sometimes in order to be happy in the present moment you have to be willing to give up all hope for a better past."
So this full moon I dedicate to a happy today and a happy future. Yoga teaches us that happiness is our true nature so I am realigning my heart to change the way I think about the past. I am trying to forgive more and make happiness more important today. What's done is done.
Basically this comes down to whether or not we choose the past or the present, the upset or happiness, fear or love. And with immense gratitude for my yoga practice I find the strength to say to myself each day, I CHOOSE LOVE. I choose to be present and enjoy each moment so as of now I don't miss a thing. With lovingkindess, Silvia
MELTING THE HEART A JOURNEY FROM ANGER TO FORGIVENESS
Today‘s Guest Blogger is Rachel Dewan
I've been struggling lately with a member of my family who is doing something pretty awful. I've been filled with feelings of anger - sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit, bordering on rage. It's been a long time since i've felt this way and it's really thrown me for a loop. I could literally feel my heart starting to close and harden as the situation in my family deteriorated - it was changing the whole way I saw and interacted with the world. I knew I didn't want to keep feeling this way, but was having trouble seeing my way out of it. I know that the only way to move beyond these feelings is forgiveness, but it felt somehow like if I forgive this person he "wins" - that it somehow condones his behavior. But as I meditate on this more and more I realize that when I find the space in my heart to forgive, I am the one that wins - when I open my heart it may make me a bit more vulnerable, and I might even get hurt sometimes, but it sure beats living in anger and fear.
On the mat we talk about “melting the heart” - the act of softening the space between the shoulder blades and opening across the front of the chest. But that’s really just the gateway to living our lives in a more open, loving way - softening the way that we deal with others and ourselves. It's always a choice, right? We can choose to live in a world where we shelter ourselves so we don’t get hurt, but then we are living our fears instead of living our dreams.
When our hearts are open and filled with love we live from action instead of reaction - we live from a place of softness towards all beings because we recognize that we are all part of the same source. When we honor the darkness we honor the light - different sides of the same proverbial coin. And that means honoring all beings equally – there is no hierarchy for race, sex, financial status, appearance, behavior, etc. It doesn't mean we accept it or condone bad behavior, but, as a friend told me, letting go of our own hurt allows us to move forward in the healing cycle.
Sue Monk Kidd in her wonderful novel "The Secret Life of Bees" gives us a beautiful little set of instructions on how to live in the world - told by a master bee keeper introducing her apprentice to her bees and offering "Bee Yard Etiquette: ...the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places: Don't be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don't be an idiot; wear long sleeves and long pants. Don't swat. Don't even think about swatting. If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee's temper. Act like you know what you're doing, even if you don't. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing just wants to be loved."
With love and blessings,