"If it ain't broke...."
By Laura Mills
My two-year-old loves crayons. On our coffee table we have a box full of them, the usual eight colors plus various offspring hues. As the months have passed the box has lost most of its whole crayons and accumulated more and more half-crayons, third-crayons, quarter-crayons, and even smaller bits…my daughter doesn’t discriminate, though, and draws and colors with all of them.
My guess is in a few years she’ll be less likely to enjoy coloring with worn-down nubs, instead realizing she prefers pointed pristine crayons. As we age we place greater emphasis on something’s “whole-” or “broken-ness,” often allowing our perception of such to influence our positivity or negativity. Ironically, as we age we ourselves acquire our own broken-ness—broken health, broken hopes, broken dreams, broken hearts—which leaves us worn down, much like a well-used bit of crayon. Some days we may even feel little more than a nub, lost in the box.
But remember that a crayon’s broken-ness indicates the fulfillment of its purpose; the crayons that remain pristine the longest are the ones that are just “ho-hum,” the ones rarely sought out. Watching my two-year-old joyfully color with even the smallest bits of crayon—which in her tiny hands are often more useful than the larger pieces anyway—reminds me that on the days I feel most broken, somewhere my light still shines. In fact, my broken-ness may be just the perfect instrument to complete another person’s beautiful picture.
Look to the Sippy Cups
By Laura Mills
As the parent of an almost-two-year-old, my kitchen is home to a collection of sippy cups. Because my daughter didn’t initially get the hang of the common “spout” ones, early this summer over a period of several weeks I searched out sippy cups with straws, covered cups from which a child can sip along the rim, and additional cups with spouts that were at least slightly different from the ones we started with.
Contrary to what I assumed before my search, our collection of sippy cups today is much more than a bunch of cups with different drinking mechanisms. Looking along our kitchen counter, I see tall thin cups, short squat ones, square-ish cups with handles, and hourglass cups with gripping treads. I see cups that are clear pink, clear blue, clear green, pink with flowers, and green with butterflies. I see cups with tops that disassemble completely for washing, and cups with tops that have a sliding open-close. And each of these cups, in its own way, enables my daughter to easily and cleanly sip her water or milk.
To me, this is pretty amazing. The world, I know, contains great variety within categories of inanimate objects—one need only walk through a department store to see—but I guess I rush around so often that I needed a vivid example on my kitchen counter before I thought about it. If a manufactured product like a sippy cup can exist in so many varieties, all of which dutifully serve their purpose, in the same kitchen…how much more can human beings do?
How much more….
Putting the Party Away
Putting the Party Away
By Laura Mills
So TBYís Grand Re-opening is coming up on Sunday, September 18, and certainly it will be an amazing day that we long remember. But what will happen after that? We all know the expression, ìThe honeymoonís over; we've all experienced the day after our birthday or favorite holiday. And each one of us has at one time or another helped a friend clean up after a celebration, wistfully remarking at some point, Well, that was fun. Now what?î
Happily, the day after let-down shouldn't affect any of us here at TBY (students, staff and teachers) too badly. We share a unique perspective on life, for our practice of yoga includes celebrating every moment of every day. And while, somehow, celebrating every moment seems more difficult than handling difficulties as they arise, we remember that the purpose of yoga isn't to make life easy but rather to teach us appropriate strength and softness so that, when tested, we don't break.
So on the morning of Monday, September 19, be glad for the fun of the day before and more than excited to inhale and exhale, stretch, eventually set your feet on the ground and stand. Regardless of what the day holds for you, itís party time.
7TH CHAKRA SPRINGTIME ROYAL INVERSIONS HEADSTAND AND SHOULDERSTAND
April 6, 2011. Springtime is the perfect time to strengthen our 7th Crown Chakra because it is related to our personal development moving forward in the direction of our greater purpose. When we focus our efforts on this chakra we engage a dialogue related to believing in our place in the world. This requires Faith. Caroline Myss, in Invisible Acts of Power, writes "Faith is the power of the 7th chakra. It’s the circuit to the divine and a porthole to our intuitive resources. Miracles abound. The acts of service of the 7th chakra include the faith you convey to others through your own beliefs, actions and prayers."
Faith is a hopeful positive expectation for life. “The present moment is always full of inifinite treasure. It contains far more than you can possibly grasp. Faith is the measure of its riches: what you find in the present moment is according to the measure of your faith. Love also is the measure: the more the heart loves, the more it rejoices in what God provides. The will of spirit presents itself at each moment like an immense ocean that the desire of your heart cannot empty; yet you will drink from that ocean according to your faith and love.” --Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) France.
Practicing inversions literally turns our world upside down. No matter how many times we've been upside down it is an act of faith to keep listening to the Royalty of yoga poses like the King of poses: headstand and the Queen of poses: Shoulderstand Rumi writes "Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening."
While we practice asana we take apart these more complicated royal family of poses so we can take a step at a time (and gaining a new perspective as we change our vantage point). As Sharon Salzburg says, “No matter what is happening, whenever we see the inevitability of change the facts of our lives can become alive with prospect. We see that a self-image we’ve been holding doesn’t need to define us forever, the next step is not the last step, what life was is not what it is now, and certainly not what it might yet be.” So make time this Spring to work on yourself, go upside down! Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
Sahasrara is the Sanskrit word for "thousandfold." The crown chakra is the seventh main energy centre in the human body.
Fundamentals of the Crown Chakra
- Name: Crown chakra
- Element: White light, thought
- Sanskrit name: Sahasrara
- Colour: Violet/white
- Position in the body: Top of the head
- Associated endocrine gland: Pituitary gland
- Physiological form and functions: Muscular system, skeletal system, skin and central nervous system
- Emotional or spiritual functions: Spiritual search for meaning, issues of karma and grace, spiritual awakening, divine discontent
- Linked to: God/goddess, the creator, search for purpose and meaning in life, discovering ethics, unconditional love, symbolic vision, ultimate liberation
- Affirmations: Thy will be done. Love surrounds, nourishes and protects me.
- Asanas: Head stand, meditation
- Gifts connected to the crown chakra: These gifts are of the spirit. They come in the form of angels in disguise and simple acts of kindness. They can be embodied in moments of seeing the "truth."
- Level of relationship: Our relationship to our life’s true purpose, relationship between the ego and the higher self, relationship to god and spirit. Also connected to emotional and spiritual issues with regard to service to others. Humanitarian activities.
- Identification of weak crown chakra: the ‘long dark night of the soul’, feeling
- disconnected from God, meaning or purpose, migraines, chronic exhaustion, sensitivity to light and sound, greed and dominance.
- Negative thinking traits: There is no point in life. Why should I, I’m going to die anyway and none of this matters. Who cares, we’re just food for worms. I don’t see the point in any of it. There’s no hope.
- Questions to help chakra consciousness:
- ‘Who am I?’
- ‘What do I believe about the universe?
HOW TEACHER TRAINING HELPED ME FIND MY PURPOSE BY GUEST BLOGGER JANEEN HEINMAN
OCTOBER 5, 2010. On October 13th we start our 9th teacher training study group! I know I can't believe it either. Wow! I've seen so many amazing breakthroughs and incredible growth as a result of facilitating these trainings. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of previous trainees and send them love and gratitude for they have served as my teachers as much as I have been their teacher. And I have been deeply honored to see them all grow in discovering their Dharma, their purpose.
It's such a simple question: Why are you here? Or let me put it like this, What do you want to be when you grow up?
If you want to study yourself, then our program is for you. Enjoy this perspective from one of our 2009-2010 Graduates. Love in all ways, Silvia
How Teacher Training Helped me Find my Purpose By Guest Blogger Janeen Heinman
Last fall I took the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Total Body Yoga. I had only been a student of yoga for 2 ½ years when I signed up for the program, so I was a virtual beginner. But for me, yoga had opened up so much. My health was better, my attitude and anxiety improved, and I was more relaxed. I felt like I had found something totally real. I spent time reading books about yoga, taking workshops and classes, but there was still so much I didn’t know. I enrolled in Silvia’s program to expand my knowledge, but I didn’t have a solid idea of what I wanted to do when I finished.
We learned a lot right away in the training, including asanas and how to teach them, yoga history and philosophy and some basics of Ayurveda. I learned a lot for myself, but even more so, I wanted to share what I was learning. After all, who couldn’t benefit from practices like a full three-part breath, or viparita karani? I tend to get anxious when speaking in front of groups, but the training program was a really safe place to practice. I worked on finding my voice, which in turn led me to discover my purpose.
Through the Yoga Teacher Training, I was able to look honestly at some dissatisfaction I had with my career in psychiatry. I realized I was not offering my patients enough, in my mind, to truly become well. Yoga was the next step. My goal now is to incorporate yoga into my career by offering people tools to help themselves . The training helped me open to possibility and realize I don’t have to follow the beaten path, but I can chart a new course!
I am only in the early stages of developing my new job description, but I believe the teacher training started me on this path. The practice itself keeps me open to grace, and I have enjoyed unbelievable support from my colleagues and peers so far. I was stagnant, knowing I was not fulfilling my true purpose professionally, but fear held me back for a long time. The teacher training program forced me to look inward, and that practice of self-study has led me to something totally new. I don’t believe I would have come to this turning point without the support and guidance of my teacher, Silvia, and my fellow trainees.
May 3, 2010: At all times you have the potential for great joy in your life. You just need to find it within yourself and bring it into consciousness. This understanding is the first step. If you don't buy into this then what happens for many of us is that we convince ourselves we have to EARN our happiness. And we place all sorts of conditions and prerequisites on ourselves before we can be happy.
I know about living with conditional happiness.
I was really good at this from childhood. I would demand that I earned certain grades before I could be happy, or went to a particular college or in college got pinned, engaged, bought a small house, bought a big house, got a great job got promoted to a better job...it never stops. In the meantime life is just going by.
Happiness is not a paycheck you have to earn. There are no prerequisites to happiness just like going to yoga class requires nothing more than showing up.
Once you let this reality set in everything in your life gets easier. Happiness is the goal of all other goals. It is our birthright and here right now. Happiness is the purpose of my life! The universe wants this for us unconditionally. So go on, be as happy as you want to be...Love in all ways, Silvia
FULL PARTICIPATION ACTIVE LIVING
This is behind the idea in yoga of Tapas. Tapas helps us to take action to fully participate and be awake to our lives. To be active means we must articulate our intentions and practice with a solid determination to hold true to our dreams and visions for ourselves. Through yoga which is a system for mental, physical, and spiritual health we have full, democratic participation. On the mat we don’t even have to push ourselves to excel, all we have to do is show up and do the practice as best we can with full hearted effort. Just take part in your life make it active, keep it active and forget about the over perfecting it.
So where in your life have you been less than active or just plain stuck? I can tell you I came to realize this week for me it is in my extended family Thanksgiving. I am still at the kids table which I never want to leave. I’ve lost two cousins to the grown up table already through the years and don’t want any more to go. At the grown up table a lot more is expected of you. You are required to be more active so I’ve been hanging back. Now I like the kids table with my adult cousins, its cool, its casual. But this year I am thinking I might ask my Aunt and Uncle who host Thanksgiving for the Mordini’s every year about what I can help with. Now don’t get me wrong they will have to take me kicking and screaming away from the kids table when I’m ninety-five and not a moment sooner but I can still take a more active role.
You see this practice readies our bodies, hearts and minds for the deep work of active living. Yoga gives us the energy and clarity we need to create the lives of our dreams. And I’ll tell you as we go into the home stretch of the year and need the yoga the most, that’s exactly when many of us will fall away from active practice. Well that’s not good enough. To receive the benefits you have to keep showing up and doing the work. Living in alignment is not passive. Just like conscious breathing is not passive. We have to breath on purpose. We have to live on purpose. Life is active, Love is active. On the mat when we inhale we prepare, as we exhale we deepen our pose. Off the mat our active living requires we inhale fully and as we exhale we wake up to the best parts of ourselves moment by precious moment. Join me for more yoga, stay active. Big love! 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)
HAPPINESS IS NOT A PAYCHECK
This makes happiness unnatural, and certainly not democratic (only for the elite that can work themselves to death). It is really saying that we have to EARN happiness just like a PAYCHECK. No pain no gain mentality. The biggest application is that we have to postpone being happy until we've put in 60+ years or working and can retire...then we finally have proven our value and can get the reward of happiness.
HAPPINESS IS NOT A PAYCHECK.
Once the reality of this sinks in, your life is transformed forever! May you be happy as you want to be, as happy as you are! Love and light, Silvia
PASSION FOR ADVENTURE: FACING OUR FEARS
Trust yourself create the kind of life you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into the flames of achievement. – Foster McClellan
The purpose of life is a life with purpose. This is one of my most favorite quotes from the Monk Who Sold his Ferrari. So to honor this. We took time tonight as you could right now wherever you are when you read this to write out what you’re passionate or excited about. Why write it if we can just think about it? Well science tells us that by writing out your desires and goals on a piece of paper you send a red flag to your subconscious mind that these thoughts are more important than the other 59,999 ones you’ll have today!
This helps us to filter out what is unimportant and focus only on the important. We will enjoy life more fully if we stop focusing on the minor stuff and figure out what we want to major in life. And the greatest thing is that we can have fun while we’re progressing along our path. We can reclaim the joy of waking up each day excited about our life! Don’t you want to wake up filled with energy and enthusiasm?
I was thinking as I was preparing my class about having a passion for adventure and facing one’s fears about the movie Into the Wild. You may remember it was the true life story of Chris McCandless. McCandless graduated from
Even when it’s scary the unknown in life is what makes it an adventure!
So ask yourself right now: Where are you going, what path are you on, is this the right direction for you, if I could choose any path which direction would you go?
Or as Pantanjali says in the Yoga Sutras, "When you are inspired by some great purpose all of your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world!" Be the cause of your own future happiness! I hope this next half of the summer is a wonderful adventure for you doing what you love!
And take to heart, what’s written in the Alchemist, “Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
Here’s to first steps! Love you all, Silvia
GREEN LIGHT YOUR LIFE
LIFE ON PURPOSE - A LIFE OF PURPOSE
SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2008: By coming to class today you made a choice, you did something on PURPOSE – what does that mean to you? And the bigger question is WHY did you make this choice?
How do you figure out the WHY? In other words, how do we know our own minds? An easy answer is to sit in meditation and find out. There is power in silence and stillness. This reminds us that our minds can hold only one thought at a time. My Father liked to show slides for fun on a Saturday night at our house so we still to this day have multiple old fashion slide projectors. They are brilliant! What I like most is that they can only show one slide at a time. In these days of picture in picture, scrolling news and 5 things going on in the same screen this is pretty refreshing. Now think of your mind as a giant slide projector with every thought in your mind being a slide. Whenever a negative slide comes up on the screen, take immediate action to replace it with a positive one. DO THIS ON PURPOSE.
“Self knowledge is the stepping stone to self mastery.” Buddhist philosophy
In practice we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves and really do things ON PURPOSE. So we step forward on purpose, breath on purpose, think on purpose (how many times do you let gloomy thoughts enter? Replace them with cheerful thoughts). Ask yourself right now why are you breathing the way you are? What insights are you gaining?
Robin Sharma writes, “People who study others are wise but those who study themselves are enlightened. Those we are truly enlightened know what they want out of life, emotionally, materially, physically and spiritually. Clearly defined priorities and goals for every aspect of your life gives you direction. Lasting happiness comes from steadily working to accomplish your goals and advancing confidently in the direction of your life’s purpose. So may you all use this practice to discover your purpose, Dharma, and work towards it! Take to heart the words of Playwright George Bernard Shaw
“Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid
Torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want
To make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it
On to future generations.”
REMEMBER: THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS A LIFE OF PURPOSE