ARE YOU GROWING? A TEST OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
March 20, 2011. I often ask myself what is the true test of my Spiritual Growth? Or more simply put I meditate on the question "Am I still growing?" When I was little my Mom measured us (me and my brother) against the door in our house and marked the little lines proving I was actually growing physically. You did that too, right? Well, I loved that. I was sad the day she stopped doing it and I stopped growing.
Well that's speaking to physical growth. I am as tall as I'm going to be (although to be honest by practicing yoga I've gotten a little taller, just a quarter inch but that's pretty cool).
However what I'm speaking about is emotional and spiritual growth. My aspiration continues to be that I grow into the BEST version of myself. And that's what I hope for you too.
Or as True Nobility is defined: it is not about being better than anyone else, it is about being better than you used to be, much better. This is the barometer of our ability to raise our spiritual energy. Are you better than you used to be? Are you growing?
"The only difference between a flower that is alive and one that is dead is that the live flower is still growing." - Dr Wayne Dyer
For me I received so much nourishment, like a flower, from my daily yoga practice that I wanted more. That's when I started taking yoga workshops: first they were the 2 hour kind, then the half day, then the full day, finally entire weekends both locally and eventually I started traveling all over the U.S to attend 2-3 day trainings and workshops until I went all the way by signing up for a one week yoga retreat in Italy with Sadie Nardini. Well that did it for me. I could experience for myself that to keep growing I had to keep investing in myself and more time dedicated to evolving my consciousness was required to do that. And traveling to new places and exploring new territories externally matched the growth I was making internally. They went hand in hand.
And that's when I made the commitment to start leading yoga retreats combined with other ways to express one's yoga and vitality like cycling and hiking. I want to give everyone a chance to really invest in your own growth and raise your energy by visiting places that support your evolution.
You see, until the last breath, I don't buy into wellness as defined by the AMA as the "absence of illness". I believe in the potential for radiant health (shakti) as the World Health Organization defines wellness. I am growing! And I am learning. And the higher my vibration the softer I get on the outside. I am kinder, more patient, nicer and easily more loving. I think we all are when we're growing. So make that commitment to yourself keep affirming your life! Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia
In the words of Lao Tzu,
"At birth all people are soft and yielding
At death they are hard and stiff
All green plants are tender and yielding
At death they are brittle and dry
When hard and rigid we consort with death
When soft and flexible we Affirm Greater Life."
BACK TO SCHOOL YOGA TIME!
AUGUST 28, 2010. My friend Sadie Nardini Omega Fall retreat named on of the best by Well+Good New York City. See link here
And if you are looking for other Yoga retreats consider joining me in Tuscany Oct 24-30, 2010. $500 OFF early bird pricing if you join with a friend. Or Moab, Utah Nov 4-7, 2010. Pagosa Springs, Colorado Dec 9-12, 2010 and Hawaii Big Island Dec 14-19, 2010.
Get back to yourself!
COURAGE - FIRE PRACTICE
JUNE 7, 2010. Who is the most Courageous person you know? How do they inspire you to be more courageous? When was the time in your life you were MOST courageous?
All these self-observations and contemplations were the focus of or practice today. And who doesn’t need more courage. When I come to the mat to teach my intention for each student is that this practice helps them rise with courage to meet the challenges of their life. And yes we all face challenges. Judith Lasater a national yoga teacher, author and a personal hero of mine says, “Courage is the second most important quality to cultivate in life. (Right after love).”
It is easy to fall into believing the old stories about ourselves and getting stuck. Or as my friend Sadie Nardini says in her book Roadtrip Guide to the Soul, “Alongside positive change, challenge appears. You will confront old fears, old ways of being, as you drive through to your soul. Along the road to your best life possible, be prepared for delays. There will be potholes, irritating construction, and long stretches of open space where nothing seems to be happening. That’s life, imperfectly perfect. The lag times and frustrations are necessary to hone your discipline and commitment to your path.”
This much I know for sure, that to live life to its fullest means to risk being hurt. We cannot numb out or check out. Oh for certain comfortably numb will keep us from pain but we’ll never get to experience the joys of love and passion and excitement and happiness that are our birthright. Having the courage to really action the secrets of your heart will bring you to your fullest potential. It doesn’t make it less scary but isn’t the scariest thing not about having the courage to try and fall but more so not beginning to live at all?
Hey I get it. In April I finally took the risk and mustered up the courage to begin teaching Yoga Retreats. Does it take me away from the studio I love a little bit (well like 3-4 weeks a year)? Is that scary for me? YOU BET IT IS! But I know that by doing 3-4 retreats per year I not only help sustain the studio but I give myself the chance to try something I’ve always wanted to do. And that is to change the ecology of heart and mind for my beloved yoga students.
I come back a better teacher and I have more to offer everyone. So it’s a choice. You can use this practice to connect to your own best courage, open your heart and ride the biggest wave of your life or you can stay on shore and risk nothing. It’s up to you. May you rise up to meet the courage of your heart! Love the day, Silvia (I want to honor and humbly thank my teacher Shiva Rea for sharing with me the Agni Namaskar Fire practice we did today that I shared with you, pay if forward...)
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)
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: LOVE INSTEAD OF FEAR
MAY 14TH, 2009: When you think about it doing what feels good should be pretty easy. Two of my friends at dinner last night were sharing stories of their kids: 1) her son was on stage in second grade and front and center put his hands down his pants until he caught his Mom’s eye and realized I probably shouldn’t do that here. But he had a point, it felt good to him so why resist. 2) Another friend’s daughter as a tiny tot at dance recitals liked to lift her dress all the way up over her head. No fear, no doubt, just felt good to do it so why resist.
Yet as adults if feeling good is natural then why do we stay in hurtful relationships, jobs we hate, drive commutes that make us nuts, live where we don’t like the weather, edit who we really are for the sake of our neighbors? Why do we resist life’s natural inclination to move us towards happiness?
Can you imagine the energy you’d have if you stopped resisting life and lived without apology, without any embarrassment whatsoever? So when you come to the yoga mat I urge you to stop over thinking and begin feeling more. For if we are to live more authentic lives and begin to realize how Futile Resistance really is it has to happen from the inside out. Have the courage to acknowledge the person standing in our way is ourselves.
A friend recently gave me the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and the author starts off by talking about those activities that elicit Resistance including but not limited to: “Any health regimen; any program of spiritual advancement; any program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit; Any act of ethical courage – including the decision to change for the better some unworthy patter of thought or conduct in ourselves; any act that entails commitment of the heart.” Well, if you look at the list that’s pretty much what yoga touches upon in every class.
So for me the question is then what is resistance? Sadie Nardini writes “Resistance happens any time we stand in the way of our own forward momentum. We block ourselves from real happiness, love and fulfillment in countless ways. There are the obvious ones, such as self-doubt, but also the more covert, including procrastinating, rationalizing and engaging in drama. Resistance is the destroyer of dreams. And we must weaken its power over us or it will paralyze us.”
How do we address our resistance? It is the first principle of Anusara yoga, to open to grace. We soften, we say Yes, we expand into the flow of love. Otherwise when we resist or fight life we stop ourselves from LOVE, we stop the flow of all good things coming into our lives and instead build up walls. This spiritual practice takes down the walls so we can align again with love. Through love each and every one of us has the power to TRIUMPH over resistance!
What is resistance?
Pressfield says its invisible yet it has the power to distract us, prevent us from doing our life’s work. He calls it the enemy within. You know the one that is obsessive, constantly worried, filled with anxiety, overthinking. It is fueled by fear and we feed it the more afraid we are of admitting our fears. I believe it is most often fear of being really happy that is at the heart of resistance – at least this is what I’ve found in my life. Ask yourself, if everything you ever wanted came true tomorrow, how would your life be different? How would you live? Resistance is felt as UNHAPPINESS. This is why it is the enemy of love. If you are honest with yourself are you standing in your own way today of being happier, more peaceful more in love with life?
To overcome resistance in the body we have to stop forcing, fighting or holding ourselves back. Instead practice from softness, desire, gentle courage and resistance is futile in the face of you Being Love, Being Beauty, Being Happy! What am I suggesting? At a minimum I am promoting you get RADICAL! That you start a revolution from inside to overthrow the invader of resistance because it is NOT YOU. Will this be scary? Yes. Is that reason enough not to do it? You have to decide the life you want to live. For me the answer is easy, I want to be peaceful. And by facing what scares me I am starting a revolution I’d like you to join within yourself. Love to you all, Silvia