HOW TO SUCCEED IN LIFE
OCTOBER 22, 2009: Today I am thinking of what does it mean to SUCCEED IN LIFE? This has me thinking about ancient Yogic writings like that of the Bhagavad Ghita where it talks about Success saying that “the only real success in life is living with an open, loving heart.” “It explains the nature of success, emphasizing that all those things that are obtained in the world are transitory and not ultimately success. If we define success by material stuff we limit ourselves and miss out on life because there is not substitute for peace and love. At the same time it’s not the stuff that’s the problem the problem is the belief that stuff is the solution to the aching soul.” (Judith Lasater, Living Your Yoga)
So the question is how do we enjoy our worldly success and yet not identify with it. How do we make healthy choices that are not “only” influenced by our material desires from our head but also from our hearts? On the mat the yoga is our teacher revealing our mental habits. Do we try to “acquire” as many poses as possible like new shoes? Do we get more enamored with a fancy pose, like a fancy car or can we be really happy with the specialness of fundamental poses? As you make choices in the poses you can judge for yourself your own decision making process and how it applies off the mat.
Carlos Casteneda in his book The Teachings of Don Juan offers a great suggestion for considering what choices to make. To me this is speaking to the heart of the yogic definition of success. “You must always keep in mind that a PATH is only a path; if you feel you must not follow it, you must not stay with it under any circumstances…any path is only a path, there is not affront to yourself or others in dropping it if that is what your head tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and you alone, One question…it is this…DOES THIS PATH HAVE A HEART? All paths are the same; they lead nowhere. Does this path have a heart is the question. If it does, then the path is GOOD; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere, but one has heart and the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it you will be one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong, the other weakens you.”
Each individual can judge for himself which path has heart for him. Where paths cross there is union; where they run parallel there is peace, provided that each path loves and honors the other. Man must be free to make his own mistakes and learn from them what he can. Love is his guide. Love listens to its own needs. Society is replete with rules, regulations and guidelines to finding love and social acceptance. Often man is so taken up with what others believe or will think or say, that he stops listening to what HE believes, thinks or says. Love listens to its own needs and appreciates its own uniqueness. It abhors the fact that men are becoming more and more the same, so that it will not be long before the only way he will be identifiable as an individual will be through his social security number.” (Leo Buscaglia)
How easily do we share our energies in class with fellow students, sharing in our success in a pose by encouraging everyone else too? Or sharing our ease or the sound of our breath to inspire others breathing? In the book Love by Leo Buscaglia he talks about sharing like this. “Love shares with others. What purpose of knowledge if it isn’t offered? What good is love that isn’t freely given? Love is always active sharing. If one has love to give, he may impart it to all the world and he will still have the same love he started with. We never lose anything by sharing it, for nothing is ever solely ours to start with. In fact, love acquires meaning only as it’s shared.”
So no matter what we acquire Success is living in a state of such graceful openness we want to share and celebrate that which comes from our hearts! And the abundance we grow in our hearts comes from choosing those paths with heart. It’s not about money. Ultimately success is our willingness to enjoy life and life in balance and love. Or as Judith Lasater says “ LOVE, NOT WEALTH, IS SUCCESS. A big embrace to you all! Silvia
MARCH 6TH, 2009: Interesting enough, children laugh 300 times or more per day while adults laugh an average of 17 times per day. We clearly have lots of catching up to do according to Heather King. When it comes to yoga it is as my idol Judith Lasater who says, "yoga practice is important but not serious. Practice is too important to be serious." RIGHT ON! Life can appear pretty serious so as a result it can be easy to take it and ourselves way too seriously.
That’s how yoga can help. It works to maintain our balance by really finding the FUN on the mat through playful practice. This idea of Lila Tandava, “the playful dance of life” helps us to find the humor in even the most ridiculous and most challenging poses on the mat and off. We discover there is always play even within the most serious moments – this is how we thrive not just survive difficult situations. Even if you walk into class and don’t feel very playful it still works to help us soften our edges and be a little less rigid. Yoga helps make us feel lighter!
Of all the ways that yoga has saved my life. Without a doubt it is the Sacred Fun of the practice that has helped me live life more fully and with greater enjoyment. I implore you then today to waste not a moment longer stand up, wiggle, sway your arms, dance, move, breath. Reconnect to the kid inside your adult body! And feel how this helps you in the words of Tagore “attend the birthing of the radiant light within you.”
NO GRABBING, BITING, PUSHING OR PULLING
OCTOBER 5TH, 2008: Today our practice was focused on learning more about Attachment and Aversion by experiencing our breath, thoughts and physical sensations. It was also inspired by the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. You remember stuff from that age things like no pushing, no pulling, biting, or grabbing. Well this was yoga. Who knew!?
Yoga Sutras Chapter 2, Verse 7
Excessive fondness for pleasant experiences causes longing. Attachment (Raga) which is PULLING
Yoga Sutras Chapter 2, Verse 8
Excessive avoidance of unpleasant experiences causes disdain. Aversion (Dvesa) which is PUSHING
As Judith Lasater writes, “in life we are pulled between trying to get what you want and trying to avoid what you don’t want. Pulling and Pushing away both limit our freedom.” Now this doesn’t mean that we don’t have preferences of course we do! Attachment happens when we don’t get our preference. The still meditation allowed us to let our minds rest away from the push-pull energies that drive ego.
We started class with Pranayama geared towards observing our breathing patterns especially to see if we are “Breath Grabbers”. A single breath really has three parts: exhalation, PAUSE, inhalation. Breath grabbers tend to grab the next breath without taking the pause. This pause is where we experience a quiet sense of peace and relaxation. Breath grabbers often feel that if they don't grab what they want, then they'll miss out or be left behind. For the breath grabber time is always running out which cultivates a constant feeling of anxiety. In practice it causes folks to speed up and run out of breath.
In feeling out poses (asana) we took our time building each wave to its peak with time to focus on where our thoughts might have that “PUSH” energy and where they have that “PULL” energy. Push thoughts are things like “I don’t want to hold this pose, I don’t want to try this new or difficult variation”. And pull thoughts might be things like “I want another Sun Salutation, I should be able to do 35 vinyasas per class no matter what.”
Ultimately I hope this practice gave us time to stop bullying ourselves in poses like a bully on the playground pushing or intimidating folks and that it also helped us lessen our attachment to doing the practice in the same way (only vinyasa’s plank chatarunga, up dog, down dog a million times) like a lovesick second grader chasing after a crush. I wish that today helped you find the stillness that comes from finding the balance between the push and the pull.
Stay sweet and steady my friends! Silvia (www.robertfulghum.com)