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Yoga Sadhana

     Yoga sadhana is a structured daily practice to recognize the divinity in all of us.  We can all think that intellectually, but it is the actual practice that brings our divinity into a felt daily reality. The practice of yoga is often seen in the general public as holding postures for endurance and strength, or jumping through postures for a cardio workout. None of that is yoga if it is done without the intention of revealing your own divine nature.  Most of the time this type of “yoga” practice only reinforces a sense of separation from our divine nature. 

     If the practice becomes a performance of doing postures, then it runs the risk of reinforcing the ego. Strong attachment to the ego is an obstacle to recognizing our inherent divinity. The performance approach to yoga can work well (up to a point) for the individual with low self-esteem who feels an inspired about oneself through the sense of...

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Fulfillment

     What does fulfillment mean to you? In the past I thought that fulfillment was what one received as a result of an achievement.  Instead, the end of one achievement meant reaching for another, while fulfillment remained ever elusive. Achievement can began with getting good grades in high school,  making it to the A team of a sport, then getting in the right college, then getting a good job,  getting the promotion or employee recognition, buying a house,  raising a family, getting praise from family, and on and on.  The social messaging pushes us to keep climbing the ladder of achievements in order to be fulfilled.  We are surprised when "high achievers" in politics, sports, and entertainment end up in divorce, with a substance abuse problems, or  as a suspect in a crime. They make news because they shatter the myth that achievement leads to fulfillment.

     However, there are times...

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Letting Go

     These days I measure my yoga progress not by how many outward postures I can do, but by the degree of familiarity with my inner being. What has kept me on the yoga path for over two decades was not the routine of exercise, but the seeking of life’s fulfillment. What I have discovered is that tapping into my inner essence leads me to greater fulfillment.

 

     With the Western (particularly in the United States) approach of seeking fulfillment through outward materiality, the practice of yoga has taught me that knowing my inner essence is most fulfilling.  Yet, living in the material world is can be very alluring and overpowering. Plus, the cultural push to emphasize our materiality through the acquisition of money and possessions does not leave much room to acknowledge, nor explore this inner dimension of ourselves.  To even mention this desire in some circles is dismissed as “woowoo.”

 

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Samskaras: Our Mental Grooves

   I took a walk today. It was almost 80 degrees outside. If this was June I would have worn shorts. But, my mind tells me that  November is suppose to be cold, so I wore long pants. Our minds have been conditioned to perceive and act a certain way. This mental habit is known in yoga as a samskara. There can be good and bad samskaras.  In this particular example, if I had been so conditioned as to go out to take a walk in long pants, a hat, and coat and subject myself to heatstroke that would have been a bad samskara.

    Despite evidence to the contrary, I skip over the reality of how warm it is and behave according to my mental conditioning that says November is a cold month so wear long pants. (I did at least wear a short-sleeve shirt.)  It is the ability to be self-reflective to even know that I am playing out a samskara.  When these mental habits are so entrenched that we do them automatically without thinking, then they are ...

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What Does Yoga Do for You?

    Someone commented to me the other day that he has a neighbor who is a yoga instructor and he said, “she is so mean.”  He said that other neighbors also had the same impression so this was not just an off-day the yoga teacher was having. Mean-ness is not one of the qualities you think of in a yoga practitioner.

     Since having a peaceful mind is the goal of yoga, a person who is agitated, or mean is not very far along the yogic path.  ( - Just like going to a physician who smokes and is grossly overweight is not far along the path of health.) There will always be people at various points along the path teaching yoga.  You have to decide for yourself whether that person would be the right yoga instructor for your needs.  The mean yoga instructor may have valuable information to enhance your alignment for the posture part of yoga practice, but will not be able to teach you the way to a peaceful...

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Imitation as a form of Samadhi

     In preparation for my trip to Assisi I started reading a book about St. Clare*.  (I know most people think of St. Francis when going to Assisi, but St. Clare calls to me more.) Like St. Francis she came from a wealthy family. In Italian her name is "Chiara" meaning clear or bright one.  From a very young age she was a devout seeker of universal love eventually ran away from home to join Francis and his brothers who liveded outside the walls of Assisi.  Being a woman she was not allowed the freedoms that the men had. Eventually she moved into a modest convent of San Domiano just below the city walls of Assisi.  Here she did her devotions and contemplated day in and out on the crucifixion of Christ.

    Agnes of Prague was destined to become queen, but instead renounced her nobility and sought guidance from Clare as she was about to enter the monastery in Prague.  It is through the four letters of...

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Connection

     Have you seen it?  The dogwood tree leaves are beginning to turn! September starts in nine more days. Autumn is just around the corner.  For those of you in other parts of the country maybe you noticed that the days are getting shorter. For those in the southern hemisphere the days are getting longer.

In the northern hemisphere the outward movement and activity of summer is winding down. Do you slow down as well? Much about our Western society does not allow much synchronization of our bodies to the rhythms of the seasons. Some only know that fall is arriving by the Back-to-school, and Labor day sales being advertised. Is this why we have been so slow in responding to climate change? We are so detached from our natural environment we do not have a feeling of urgency unless there is an immediate crisis.

Our disconnection to the earth is bad for the health of the environment.  What if we are also disconnected from our bodies?...

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What makes me try to learn a new mantra rather than watch Netflix?

 

        Initially, I came to yoga after getting bored with my Nordic track. I have always been committed to exercise but would get bored doing the same routine after several months. (I don’t get bored with running but my knees complained.) So, I was introduced to yoga as a form of exercise. Over time I was curious about the broader philosophy of yoga that delves into the totality of our being human. Learning about this richer aspect of yoga I became just as interested in yoga for exploring mental and spiritual aspects as well as for my physical body.  I never become bored with yoga because I continually discover new aspects about my being - physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The body, the breath, the mind and my higher Self are all intermingled and the study of this intermingled relationship expands into exploring life as a whole.

     Over the years of my yoga practice I have...

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Cycles of Life

     Life is a play of opposites.  This happens when we take our first breath which is an inhale.  From birth it is a cycle of inhale followed by exhale followed by the next inhale, and so the cycle goes until we leave our bodies with an exhale. Breathing is the alternating of opposites.

     The cycle of breath reflects all of our life's cycles.  With our breathing, as with life, we move from one end of the spectrum to the other.  We find our way through inflation and recession, through times of war and times of peace, through the crisis and the calm, through the love and the hurt, sunrise and sunset, hot and cold. Our breathing cycles within these larger cycles of life.

      We are mostly unconscious of our cycles of breath.  We do not judge whether the inhale is better than the exhale, or the exhale better than the inhale.  We appreciate both as the means to sustain our body. The...

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Calm in the Midst of Chaos

     My daughter commented about how calm I was when I called to tell her that a large tree fell on the roof of the new home.  Fortunately, no one was hurt by the fully grown red oak’s impact.  Fortunately, it is a solidly built house that seems to have taken the impact as well as could be expected.

     For the past several days rain that we had not seen in over a month or two began falling and softening the soil allowing weak roots to give way. Unfortunately, more rain was on the way the day the tree poked a hole in my roof. Unfortunately, not every tree service has a crane which would be needed to lift the red oak off of the house safely.

      After calling my insurance company, I called about 5 different tree companies trying to find someone who could do the work on a Saturday and before the rain that would come in the next few hours. Tree companies were saying this was the busiest week that they have had in a long...

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