One of the Finer Things
By Laura Mills
Remember that friend from 2nd grade, that “best friend” who sat next to you and sometimes accompanied you to the park after school? Remember also that friend from high school, that one you sat with at lunch and ran track with, whom you thought had the coolest parents? And then remember that friend from college, that one who studied US History with you and played cards with you on Saturday afternoons?
Obviously, our friends and friendships change as we get older and our lives fill with more commitments and larger concerns. We have less time for playing, hanging out, and catching up. We lose touch with many; how many times have we thought, “I wonder what happened to so-and-so…,” or driven home from restaurants thinking, “She sure looked familiar—I wonder if she was from such-and-such….” And even among the friendships we do keep through the years, many of us maintain a large part of them technologically these days and devote less time to in-person contact.
It’s almost scary how quickly people pass through our lives, like shells we pass while walking on a beach: they’re there and then gone, with only a few remaining in our pockets for us to treasure long-term. Each particular moment with each particular friend never repeats itself, no matter how significant or wonderful, dramatic or memorable. So take a moment right now to mentally bless a friend. Then make an intention to seek out that person, and when together, look that person in the eyes and say, “Thank you.”
BEING A YOGA BEGINNER
February 8, 2011. Living in a new place whether it's a new apartment or new house or new city kind of forces you to be a beginner at everything. You have to learn where the forks go or the dishes and where's the toilet paper let alone how do you get to your favorite yoga studio or find a Pottery Barn. Quite frankly even grocery shopping is a whole new experience because of the volume of options and once inside the plethora of vegetarian choices. I have never felt more beginner in choosing food even after 20 years as a Vegetarian. I normally don't have a lot of options so I am learning all over again. I am the new kid in school everywhere I go these days.
Yogically speaking we aspire to maintain a "beginner's mind" in our poses, remaining curious to every new breath and treating the practice as if we are like a child learning to walk for the first time. The practice of beginners mind translates into our daily life where we can apply a prism of freshness to all we do and feel. As a result nothing in our lives gets stale. I've felt the blessings of this in my love relationships of friends and partner.
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing” (By Galway Kinnell)
To be in that place where we are always blossoming as we walk our own spiritual path moved by an inner sense to see things from a new perspective keeps us excited by life. Or as Roger Housden puts it “you may find, as I have, that we too, are buds, you and I, full of life unfolding into flower.” So after more than 7,500 hours of teaching yoga I am still only a "baby" teacher. I am forever a beginner seeing the poses, the breath, the world for the first time. So as folks ask me if moving has been hard I don't think so. My yoga practice has prepared me how to crawl, walk, run and even fall with delight. As I go around my new home and city I am stoked at being new to parks, beaches, beers even if I keep getting lost on the way to Pottery Barn or Lululemon. And most of all I am grateful to be a beginner again at making new friends!
But wherever you are, even if you've "done" downward dog a million times try it today as if for the first time. Make it extraordinary! And then go out and take a different route to get to your yoga studio and while you're at it why not challenge yourself this week to begin a conversation with someone new? May we all constantly allow ourselves to BEGIN AGAIN. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! See you in the flow! Peace out, Silvia
*PS join me on retreat www.alchemytours.com
THE FOUR AGREEMENTS
APRIL 5, 2010: This week in all my classes our focus will be the book the best selling book The Four Agreements where don Miguel Ruiz gives four principles to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. Totally very Yogic.
The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love. (SATYA is yogic principle April 5th)
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
FEBRUARY 22, 2010 "True giving radiant giving comes from the same inner place as deep happiness. It's having the self-esteem to feel that what we have to offer is valuable - our advice, wisdom, expertise, skills, physical labor. The manner in which we give these gifts is a reflection of who we are."
Philosopher Maimonides pictured giving on 8 spiritual levels. The top two are these here that Yoga really gets to the heart of right away.
1. "The motivation for real giving finds its source in the internal self, not in the expectations of others."
2. "Anonymous giving - happy people don't expect a return. They give because it comes from the heart and they believe that joy and happiness are abundant. They aren't going to run out."
In yogic philosophy the opposite of taking or stealing is giving and sharing (Asteya). And we are either living from a viewpoint of abundance or one of mental scarcity where you are hoarding or rationing for fear you are going to run out. You see these concepts are mutually exclusive. You either are practicing living life from one or the other. This idea that giving comes from a place of deep self-love and happiness has been one of the greatest lessons I take into my everday from this practice. The yoga has strengthened my confidence and instead of contracting when times are challenging I am able to maintain a self-generating self-esteem that reminds me to give with all my heart be it wisdom, love, affection or friendship. Everyday I practice yoga makes me want to open my heart up bigger to do more good in the world, to be a better friend, a more generous partner, a kinder sister, a more loving daughter.
My sincere wish is that you stay with this practice long enough to experience this for yourself. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! XXOO Silvia
STEP BY STEP AND SPECIAL DEDICATIONS
FEBRUARY 15, 2010: Today's class is dedicated to three of my friends and longtime TBY students Ashley, Jennifer and John all celebrating birthday's today and yesterday! Our birthday's serve as a positive reminder that we didn't just arrive to today out of the blue. We had to take many steps in our personal journey's to be where we find ourselves in this moment.
Other people's birthday's remind us too to take stock of where we have come from, take responsibility for it (gosh that part is hard), stop trying to rewrite the past but simply acknowledge what steps have been walked and then make a conscious choice of the direction we want this next year to go.
The very first Yoga Sutra Chapter 1, Verse 1 states "Now begins the study of yoga" or put in real person yoga terms..."Once upon a time." The story begins where we are but for any and all of us the book of our lives has fallen open to the book of our life already in process. Now it could be chapter 10 or 29 or 39 but wherever it is the story has much more to be written. That's where the yoga really comes into play. And I mean play. If you believe that our true nature (which yoga suggests wholeheartedly) is to be happy the the world is our playground. Where do you want to see yourself playing your life story out next?
This philosophy of starting where you are and building from there STEP BY STEP is one definition of Vinyasa Krama as a life philosophy and a sequencing technique. Take downward dog for instance. This one pose is an important step in preparing us for a million or more than a million other yoga poses. For instance, handstand! But don't freak out...this doesn't mean that the same day we learn downward dog we race to learn handstand within 30 minutes. This is a step by step process and it takes time. Yoga is not a quick fix.
So this week please join me Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday where during each of my classes we will take the foundational steps through the embracing and practicing of downward facing dog to prepare us for taking the step of Handstand maybe in this lifetime or in the next one. This allows us to work at our own pace and my teaching methods and techniques will be customized to class level, time of day, and what everyone's energy feels like too. So don't stop taking steps because you read handstand and get scared.
Whatever challenge, hurt, difficulty you are facing in your life please use this practice on the mat to come with you to help you take one step at a time in moving your life forward in the most positive way! Love to you all, Silvia
(And I want to say a special thank you to my brother Fred for his continued grounding and my best friend for their undying support and love. What I learned from you both even just today I offer with an open heart to all my students)